At just 16-years-of-age Sunshine Coast schoolgirl Chelsea Gubecka will represent the Australian Dolphins Swim Team in the 10km open water event at her second FINA World Championships this July with a shot at the Australian Olympic Team for Rio.
Gubecka is one of eight swimmers on the open water team, named by Swimming Australia, based on results from the FINA World Cup in Cozumel, Mexico and the Australian Open Water Swimming Championships earlier this year.
A top-10 finish in the 10km events at the FINA World Championships will see the athletes nominated for selection onto the 2016 Australian Olympic Team.
Gubecka, who made her first senior Australian team in 2013 at 14-years-of-age, has had a string of impressive open water results, including two National 10km titles (2013 and 2014) and a bronze medal at the Hancock Prospecting Pan Pacific Championships in 2014.
The Kawana Waters teenager, who is coached by Michael Sage, secured her place on the team for Kazan, Russia after finishing seventh at the FINA World Cup in Cozumel, Mexico.
Gubecka said she is looking forward to her second World Championships and is learning more and more each time she races.
“It is difficult going into an open water race with a particular race plan, especially at an international event, however I just tried to stay relaxed and keep an open mind,” Gubecka said.
“The race certainly had its challenges both physically and mentally. To be inside the top ten in a very competitive field of athletes is something I have been striving to achieve since my debut team in 2013.
I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been given over the past few years. I feel I have gained so much experience and knowledge about open water racing. I am currently also completing my final year of school and the support base I have is just fantastic!”
Gubecka will be joined by her Pan Pacific Championship teammate, Kareena Lee (Mountain Creek, Mooloolaba, QLD) who finished 14th in Cozumel to secure her place on the Dolphins Team.
The men’s 10km will see Barcelona World Championship representative Simon Huitenga (City of Perth, WA) and Kurrawa’s Australian open surf race champion George O’Brien (Bond, QLD) take on the world.
Huitenga, who also finished eighth in a tough field at the Cozumel 10km World Cup race, has proven his potential on the international stage and will no doubt be looking to rise up the ranks in Russia.
Meanwhile, dual Olympian and former World Champion Melissa Gorman (Redcliffe Leagues, QLD) and Pan Pacific Championship representative JessicaWalker (TSS Aquatics, QLD) will take on the women’s 5km event.
Gorman previously held the title of 5km World Champion after winning the event in Rome, 2009.
London Olympian Jarrod Poort (Wests Illawarra Aquatic, NSW) and Lorne Pier To Pub specialist Sam Sheppard (Bond, QLD) will represent Australia in the men’s 5km event.
Swimming Australia Open Water Head Coach Ron McKeon said the swimmers impressed in Mexico and he was looking forward to seeing them raise the bar again in Russia.
“I was very pleased with the results out of the FINA World Cup in Mexico. We had two swimmers inside the top ten in a tough field and I’m looking forward to now seeing what results they can produce in Russia,” McKeon said.
“The team is well into their preparation and although it will be a tough block of work, we are taking a strong open water team and I believe every one of them is capable of achieving outstanding results in Kazan come July.”
The Australian Dolphins swim team including the IPC, FINA and Open Water swimmers will unite for Grand Prix 2 in Townsville at the Long Tan Memorial Pool this June as part of their preparations.
Australian Open Water Team, 2015 FINA World Championships, Kazan, Russia:
Men: 10km – Simon Huitenga (WA), George O’Brien (QLD); 5km – Jarrod Poort (NSW), Sam Sheppard (QLD)
Women: 10km – Chelsea Gubecka (QLD), Kareena Lee (QLD); 5km – Jessica Walker (QLD), Melissa Gorman (QLD)
Coaches: Ron McKeon (NSW) – Head Coach, Matthew Magee (WA), Michael Sage (QLD)
Swimming news courtesy of Swimming Australia.