This weekend, June 11 and 12 will be the final opportunity for our open water swimmers to qualify for the Australian Olympic Team for Rio 2016 as they take on the FINA Open Water 10km course in Setubal, Portugal.
Queenslanders Chelsea Gubecka and Kareena Lee along with West Australian Simon Huitenga and Wollongong based Jarrod Poort will be racing for just one male and one female spot on the Olympic team, as well as battling against a tough international field and the unfamiliar and cold water in Portugal.
A total of 119 swimmers have entered the FINA event, with the Australians looking to finish top nine for a shot at selection. The best placed Aussie swimmer inside the top nine will then be nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for selection.
Failing a top nine position, the best placed Oceania swimmer will be nominated for selection in both the men’s and women’s event.
Both Huitenga and Gubecka will be out for redemption after only narrowly missing out on an automatic spot in the first Olympic qualifier, the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.
Gubecka, who is coached by Michael Sage on the Sunshine Coast, finished 13th in Kazan in 2015, just three places shy of an automatic Olympic qualification spot. But the gutsy 17-year-old hasn’t given up on her Olympic dream and continued her run of success taking out the 2016 Australian title earlier this year.
However, Gubecka will have stiff competition in Lee who has left no stone unturned in her training and recently swam in the icy waters of Jindabyne in an attempt to prepare for the colder water temperature in Portugal.
In the men’s event, Huitenga, who finished 15th at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, will be looking for a return to form this weekend. Huitenga lost the Australian title this year to Poort and Poort is as hungry as ever for a shot at a second Olympic Games.
Poort has previously won a FINA World Cup title in Portugal and will be looking to replicate his race success again this weekend.
Open Water Head Coach Ron McKeon said, “Every nation has two swimmers going head to head to be in the top nine. For us, we have four swimmers with very different race plans and different strengths, and I have no doubt it will be a battle all the way to the end.”
“We are going to see an incredible race within a race between the Aussies and I am excited to see what they can produce on the day.”
Swimming news courtesy of Swimming Australia.