Rotorua swimmer Kane Radford finished 19th in the men's Olympic 10km open water marathon early this morning (NZT).

But he can't help wondering what might have been.

Radford, New Zealand's first Olympic open water competitor, swam the race in 1hr 53m 18s and was only 19 seconds behind winner Ferry Weertman from the Netherlands.

It was an agonising build up to the Olympics for the former John Paul College student who only had his place in the New Zealand Olympic team confirmed after having to appeal to the Sports Tribunal against Swimming New Zealand's initial non-nomination.


"I think at the end of the day I'm not exactly happy with my result - but I feel like I am walking away from this race feeling 100 per cent within myself," he said.

"I know I gave it everything I've got to be within 19 second of an Olympic gold medallist so that is pretty incredible in itself."

But the events in the build up to the Games took their toll.

"The things I've had to go through in the last couple of months with everything going on, it definitely hasn't helped and it has only made me realise what could have happened if I'd had the backing and support that all the other athletes that were in that race had.

"I knew within myself that I was always competitive with those guys and the support I had with the open water community around the world and from the swimming community, that gave me confidence, but when you are slapped in the face from your own federation who don't back you, it does affect you, there's no question about that - you can't say it t doesn't."

There were times, he said, that it was difficult to get motivated to train.

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Radford will stay in Rio until the Games' closure at the weekend, and said he will now turn to supporting the other Kiwi athletes that are still there and still competing and stay right through to the closing ceremony.

"Now for me, it's all about the experience and cheering on the fellow Kiwis."

Radford now lives and trains in Perth, Australia.

His family from Rotorua went to Rio to support the 25-year-old swimmer.