Fairweather thrilled to go below Olympic freestyle qualifying time

Erika Fairweather knew Olympic qualification was within her reach.

It was just a case of delivering when it mattered.

She swam under the 400m freestyle qualifying time of 4min 07.90sec earlier this year.

However, that had been outside the Olympic qualifying period.

On Saturday, she went half a second below that time at the Auckland championships.

It all but guarantees the 16-year-old Kavanagh College pupil a spot at next year’s rescheduled Games in Tokyo.

The only way she could miss out would be if two other New Zealanders were to beat her time — and that is very unlikely.

While it had been a goal, it was something that was still sinking in for the Neptune swimmer.

‘‘I’m beyond stoked. I always wanted to qualify for the Olympics next year,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m just glad I could do it before the end of the year.’’

Covid-19 had presented many of disruptions to sports this year, although Fairweather had found plenty of positives.

It gave her a break away from the pool, allowing her to reset.

More importantly, it gave her the extra year she needed to improve and qualify for the Olympics.

While she admitted it felt odd returning at first, after a month back she had a feel for the water again.

Having been to several domestic competitions, she will be at a national camp in Auckland this week.

It follows a landmark 2019, in which Fairweather claimed gold at the junior world championships in the 200m freestyle.

She then went on to compete at the full world championships, giving her a taste of the top-level competition.

Tokyo will be another step up again and may require a balancing act.

She was entering her last year at Kavanagh and she wanted to do that justice.

However, she knew the Olympics were ‘‘a pretty big deal’’ and wanted to give them her best effort.

That was evident in her swimming plans for the next year.

‘‘I think just keeping on training. I want to do well if I go to the Olympics. So training to get faster is really my goal.’’


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