Plenty of positives in Fairweather’s 4th

Erika Fairweather dives into the pool to begin her 400m freestyle final at the Commonwealth Games...
Erika Fairweather dives into the pool to begin her 400m freestyle final at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham yesterday. PHOTO: REUTERS
The chance of a medal came alive as Erika Fairweather took off on her trademark final lap kick.

Kiah Melverton seemed to be drifting out of reach through the middle of the 400m freestyle final in Birmingham yesterday.

But, just as she did in her heat, Fairweather dug deep late.

The Dunedin swimmer began hauling in the third-placed Australian at an alarming rate, clocking her second-fastest lap of the race — 30.0sec — over the last 50m.

Melverton clung on, Fairweather’s time of 4min 3.84sec leaving her to finish fourth, 0.72sec outside the medals.

Perhaps it was not the medal many hoped for, but there was plenty to like in the performance — remember she is still only 18.

The time was quality — the second-best of her career and not far off the 4min 2.28sec personal best she delivered at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

Unlike Tokyo, though, when she faded in the final after that blistering heat, this time around she rose in the big race.

And a big race it was.

No, the Commonwealth Games is not the Olympic Games.

But in this event, many of the world’s best are in the Commonwealth and were competing.

World record-holder and Olympic champion Australian Ariarne Titmus was there.

She put in a stellar display to win gold in a Games record of 3min 58.06sec.

Rapidly rising Canadian 15-year-old Summer McIntosh was there, too.

Fairweather edged her in the heat, qualifying fastest for the final in the process, before McIntosh put on an impressive performance to win silver in 3min 59.32sec.

Melverton and fellow Australian star Lani Pallister were there too, the latter coming in just behind Fairweather in fifth place.

That is a star-filled field and Fairweather was right in the middle of it.

It leaves her well positioned with an eye to the Paris Olympics in two years, when she will be 20 and looking to enter serious medal contention.

The swim ends the Games for Fairweather, who finished fifth in the 200m freestyle.

It concludes a lengthy two-month stretch on the road, which also included the world championships.

Fellow New Zealander Eve Thomas finished sixth in the final in 4min 09.73sec.

Lewis Clareburt claimed a second medal of the Games, a bronze in the 200m IM.

He finished in 1min 57.59sec, less than a second back from gold medallist Duncan Scott, of Scotland.

It backed up his gold medals in the 400m IM and 200m butterfly.

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