Swimming: Kiwi Erika Fairweather crowned world champion over 400m freestyle at Doha

Kiwi Erika Fairweather has become New Zealand's first-ever world champion in the pool, claiming the women's 400m freestyle title at Doha.

The Dunedin swimmer led from start to finish, clocking a 3m 59.44s national record that also qualifies her for the Paris Olympics this year.

Fairweather, 20, finished third last year in a star-studded field, dipping under four minutes for the first time, but has improved up the podium this year in the absence of Aussie Ariarne Titmus and American Katie Ledecky.

Erika Fairweather in action at the world aquatics championships.
Erika Fairweather in action at the world aquatics championships. Photo credit: Getty Images

She was second-fastest qualifier through heats in 4m 04.70s, behind Chinese Bingjie Li (4m 04.65s), but was not under threat in the final, leading by 1.65s at halfway and stretching that beyond two seconds by the end.

Li claimed silver and German Isabel Gose bronze, while fellow Kiwi Eve Thomas finished seventh in 4m 05.87s, also under the Olympic qualifying standard.

"I'm so excited," said Fairweather. "How crazy was that.

"I'm so stoked with that time. I'm so happy with where I am right now and I'm so excited for what's to come."

Fairweather, a former world junior champion over 200 metres, will contest the shorter event, along with 800m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay later in the world championship programme at Doha.