Lewis goes from junior champ to so-so senior
"Me? But I only finished sixth!"
That was Australian swimmer Clyde Lewis' response when a public relations staffer at the Fina/airweave Swimming World Cup approached him for an interview after his men's 50 backstroke final last Saturday.
The reply encapsulated the contrast in his fortunes, between the Fina World Junior Championships here last year and his transition to the senior stage.
"It's about coming back to the same place, trying to do the same things and trying to get the same performances," said the 18-year-old, who won the 200m individual medley world junior title at the OCBC Aquatic Centre last year.
Lewis (above) was also part of the Australian relay teams that took silver and bronze in the 4x200m free and 4x100m medley, respectively.
He was among four individual winners last year - the others were Kyle Chalmers, Tamsin Cook and Minna Atherton - as Australia topped the medal table with nine golds, seven silvers and three bronzes.
However, while Chalmers has gone on to win the men's 100m free gold at the Rio Olympics, with Cook finishing sixth in the women's 400m free, Atherton and Lewis did not make the Australian Olympic squad.
"This year has been my first crack at the senior level," said Lewis. "Although there are heaps of people ahead of me, I am still enjoying it."
The individual medley specialist has season-best times of 2min 0.09sec and 4:16.58 respectively in the men's 200m and 400m IM, which places him 43rd and 39th in the world rankings respectively.
Teammates Thomas Fraser-Holmes, Daniel Tranter, Justin James and Mitch Larkin are faster than him in the 200m IM, while Fraser-Holmes and Travis Mahoney are ahead of him in the 400m IM.
While most elite swimmers crave Olympic success, with many already setting their sights on Tokyo 2020, Lewis is setting himself more modest targets.
"The Commonwealth Games (in Gold Coast in 2018) is definitely a big long-term goal," he said.
"Of course I want to go to the Olympics, but it's important to keep your head level, keep your eye on your targets and not make outrageous goals yet."
- LIM SAY HENG