Courtesy: Swimming Australia
Open water swimmer Chelsea Gubecka has been announced as the first Australian Olympic Team member selected for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC).
Gubecka will contest the 10km marathon swim in Paris 2024 in the iconic River Seine, 124 years after Olympic swimming was held in the river at the Paris 1900 Olympics.
The Brisbane local is a 2023 World Championships silver and bronze medallist, World Cup gold medallist and six-time national 10km champion.
Gubecka returns for her second Australian Olympic Team after making her Olympic debut at Rio 2016, only the second Australian woman with Melissa Gorman (2008, 2012) to contest the marathon swimming at two Games.
Swimming Australia Interim CEO Steve Newman congratulated Gubecka and said: “This is a terrific individual achievement for Chelsea. Her selection – and her silver medal on the world stage in Fukuoka – again illustrates our high performance unit is a global leader.”
Swimming Australia head coach Rohan Taylor said it was special for Chelsea to be announced by Chef de Mission Anna Meares, with Gubecka naming Meares as one athlete that inspired her the most.
“Chelsea has shown incredible resilience and it’s credit to Chelsea, her coach Kate Sparkes and the high performance team, that she is being recognized today,” Taylor said.
“Here is an athlete that first made an Australian Open Water team 10 years ago – at the Worlds in Japan, she was our most experienced Dolphin on campaign.
“Chelsea would be too humble to say this but the toughness and resilience that Anna Meares was admired for, Chelsea also has in spades.
“In Tokyo, Kareena Lee won a historic bronze medal – our first Olympic medal in open water swimming – and I know it’s not going to be our last.”
Chef de Mission for the 2024 Anna Meares added: “Chelsea is the first athlete selected of an expected team size of 460 to 480 that will represent Australia with pride at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
“This is also a day to celebrate for all those who have contributed to Chelsea’s Olympic journey – Swimming Australia, the Australian Institute of Sport and Queensland Academy of Sport, her coach Kate Sparkes, Yeronga Park Swimming Club, family, friends and supporters who have helped Chelsea become the athlete and person she is today.”
Twenty-five-year-old Gubecka was thrilled to be the first athlete selected for the Australian Olympic Team for Paris 2024.
“It doesn’t feel real at all … to be the first athlete selected is such an honor,” Gubecka said.
“To go to one Olympics is special but to be a dual Olympian is unbelievable.
“I was only 17 when I made my first Games so I probably didn’t soak in the experience as much as I should have but this is really special.
“I have such an amazing support system, my partner, our two dogs, my team at Yeronga Park, my coach Kate Sparkes …to get the call that I was officially selected as the first athlete for Paris just gave me goosebumps.”
Introducing our first @Paris2024 Australian Olympic Team member!!
— AUS Olympic Team (@AUSOlympicTeam) October 26, 2023
The women’s marathon swimming event will take place on 8 August 24, with the men’s event the following day, at the Pont Alexandre III Bridge venue.
The marathon swimming and triathlon swim leg will take place in the River Seine – seeing swimming return to the river for Olympic competition for the first time in 124 years, with the return of the river as a swimming location for locals a key regeneration legacy piece for the Paris 2024 Games.
Australia has additional opportunities to qualify in both women’s and men’s marathon swimming at the 2024 World Championships in February.