Paris Olympics: Kane Follows, Cameron Gray book tickets to Paris with records at NZ swimming champs

Kane Follows celebrates his Olympic qualification time.
Kane Follows celebrates his Olympic qualification time. Photo credit: BW Media

Kane Follows has swum the race of his life to break a national record and hit the Paris Olympic Games qualification time at the New Zealand Swimming Championships in Hawke's Bay on Friday night.   

Competing in the 200m backstroke, the Dunedin-based swimmer powered home in 1:57.13s to break a 12-year-old New Zealand record.  

Follows, 26, set himself up well, flying across the first hundred before executing a perfect turn into his second hundred. He then hit the accelerator to finish more than a second ahead of friend Lewis Clareburt.  

After missing out on qualification for Tokyo 2020, Follows was ecstatic with the result.   

"This has been a grind, I've missed a lot of teams but I've stuck at it, I've given so much to the sport and it feels so good to get this result," he said.  

"Sport is a lot of ups and downs but it's all worth it for this feeling, I've really enjoyed this week, racing with my mates and this is the most fun I've had in a long time."  

Cameron Gray also booked his ticket to Paris with a National Title in the men's 100m freestyle. Gray had already taken the pressure off himself heading into the final, after hitting the Paris qualification time in his heat with a time of 48.26 seconds, a time that also broke his own national record. 

Despite missing out on the 200m backstroke title, Clareburt continued his historic week in the water, picking up another national title in the men's 200m Butterfly in 1:57.06s.   

Clareburt's time was so hot it appeared to set off the fire alarm, resulting in a delay, after which Neve Tassicker won the women's 200m Butterfly in 2:18.68s.  

In para events, three-time Paralympic gold medalist Cameron Leslie earned his place in Paris by going 1:25.86s to qualify for the men's S4100 free.   

The final day of the meet will see Clareburt contest the 200m Individual Medley where he'll be chasing another Paris qualification time.   

Erika Fairweather and Eve Thomas will also be in action in the women's 800m Freestyle, while Cameron Gray will chase another title in the men's 50m Freestyle.