Clyde Lewis can call himself a Commonwealth Games champion after a last-minute call up to the men’s 400m medley, in a race that exacted one hell of a toll on his body.
Lewis put body and soul into a sensational swim in driving rain on the Gold Coast, streaking ahead in the freestyle climax that would be worth at least a place in an Olympic medley finals.
But the swim proved so draining for a man who scorched his personal best by more than three seconds — he was barely able to stand during his pool-side interview with the Seven Network.
Offered a chair to sit on with concerns he might faint, the keeled-over Lewis gave one-word answers as he tried to recover from incredible fatigue and build-up of lactic acid.
When asked how he felt immediately after his race, Lewis had just one response: “Obliterated.”
But having regained his strength shortly after the medal ceremony, the refreshed Lewis was able to praise coach Dean Boxall — a mentor he shares with Mitch Larkin.
“I can think now. It’s just fantastic. I don’t know how to describe it. I haven’t felt emotion like this in my sporting career before,” he said.
“[Boxall is] just as much a part of it as I am, and of the sport. He’s such a passionate man and he’ll get behind you no matter what, so I really appreciate what he’s done for me the last three years.”
Lewis was only a replacement for backstroke star Larkin, who was the first name pencilled in for the medley.
Australian teammate Larkin starred shortly afterwards with a gold-winning swim in the 100m backstroke final.
With fears Larkin had only 15 minutes to recover from a potentially gruelling medley race and his backstroke event, Larkin opted out of the medley, gifting Lewis a chance he took with aplomb.
“When I got the call-up to do it, there was no hesitation to say yes, and it all paid off in the end,” he said.
“I’ll buy Mitch a beer, he’s a legend. He won the 100m backstroke, so I guess his decision worked out well for him as well.
“And of course it worked out well for me.”