Swimmer Lewis Clareburt, New Zealand's biggest Olympics medal hope in the water since Danyon Loader took out two golds at Atlanta 1996, believes the Kiwi team will have an advantage over their competitors in Tokyo.
Clareburt was one of seven athletes named in the New Zealand swimming team on Wednesday, with all seven swimmers to make their debuts at the Games.
The 21-year-old, a New Zealand record holder in both the 200m and 400m individual medleys, is the most decorated member of the squad and claimed the bronze in his preferred 400m IM at the 2019 FINA World Championships.
The third-ranked swimmer in the world heads to Tokyo as a genuine medal contender, but he says he is trying to block out the expectation and just focus on himself.
"I guess you do feel some external pressures but I think for me, I just have to swim my own race," Clareburt told Newstalk ZB.
"If I can swim fast and I can get my personal best, whether that gets me a medal or whether that doesn't get me a medal, I don't think I can think about that too much. I just have to swim as fast as I can. If it gets me on the podium then sweet that's the greatest thing ever.
"But I can't control what other people do in the race and I'm sure there's going to be a few dark horses. Who knows how it's going to play out in the end. If I get a medal I'll be absolutely over the moon."
Clareburt has been working with coach Gary Hollywood on shaving as much as he can off his national and Oceania record of 4min 09.87secs in the 400m IM, which he set at the national championships in Auckland in April.
The early New Zealand swimming trials has given Clareburt – and the rest of his teammates – more time than many other competitors to prepare for Tokyo, and he's confident that he can swim faster than he's ever gone before.
"From trials a couple months ago, that's pretty much what we've been working on – the little things where we thought we'd be able to pick up a couple splits or a couple seconds or whatever it might be.
"I think we're lucky that we had our national selections a couple months ago so we could figure out those things and work on them for the next 100 or however many days we had. I think we've definitely got the advantage over say the Aussies or the Americans who are only just doing their trials now."
Another minor advantage for New Zealand could be the lack of crowds in Tokyo, with the Games following strict Covid-19 precautions.
Clareburt believes it will be more difficult for American and Aussie swimmers to adjust to the unique atmosphere.
"Most athletes that perform at the world level, we definitely relish the crowd and that atmosphere. I think that us Kiwis will probably have an advantage if there's not as many crowds just because purely the US guys, Aussie guys, that's how they race. They race in massive crowds.
"I think the US, they built their pool in a basketball centre and they've got huge crowds. So those guys I think might struggle with having no crowds. I think we've definitely got an advantage coming from New Zealand and not too many people usually come to our competitions. We'll see how it goes but it'll be fun either way I think."
Joining Clareburt in the New Zealand swimming team will be Zac Reid (400m and 800m Freestyle), Erika Fairweather (200m and 400m freestyle, 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay), Eve Thomas (800m and 1500m Freestyle, 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay), Hayley McIntosh (1500m Freestyle), Ali Galyer (100m and 200m Backstroke, 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay) and Carina Doyle (4 x 200m Freestyle Relay).
Clareburt said he's "super stoked" to be part of a brand new team.
"None of us have ever been to the Olympics which is pretty awesome. I've travelled with every single one of them before on an international trip and they're all super awesome to travel with.
"I think we're going to be a super unique team and we're going to work together like no other team before and try and perform for New Zealand."
"I feel confident that I'm going to Tokyo knowing that I've ticked all the boxes," he added.