Swimming Australia has named a three-swimmer team for the open water races at the 2018 Pan Pac Championships in Tokyo, Japan in August. Kareena Lee, Chelsea Gubecka, and Nicholas Sloman were named to the team after results were weighed from the Australian Open Water Championships, and 3 legs of the FINA World Cup Series in Doha, Portugal, and Hungary.
Australia’s selection procedures, which can be seen here, allowed for selection of up to 8 open water athletes (4 of each gender), which was increased from an original of 6. Athletes were awarded points based on their finish in the 4 above-named races, from 20 for 1st place down to 3 points for 10th-place finishers. Athletes who reached at least 22 points, based on a combined point score from the 4 events, were eligible for the team, and the top 4 of each gender were to be selected.
Just 2 women and 1 man were selected for the meet, however. While big points were scored at the Australian Championships (where the top 5 were already more than halfway to 22 points), a reformatted and rejuvenated FINA Open Water World Cup Series this year has created deeper races, with many Australians struggling to crack the top 10 needed to significantly increase their scoring.
In fact, other than the 3 selected swimmers (whose scoring figures are listed below), no Australians finished high enough to score points at any of the FINA World Cup Series races.
|OW Nationals||Doha||Setubal||Balatonfured||Total Points|
|Kareena Lee||2nd – 18 points||13th – 0 points||3rd – 16 points||5th – 12 points||46 points|
|Chelsea Gubecka||1st – 20 points||6th – 10 points||22nd – 0 points||11th – 0 points||30 points|
|Nicholas Sloman||1st – 20 points||54th – 2 points (Top Australian)||10th – 3 points||6th – 10 points||35 points|
19-year old Gubecka is the veteran of the team in terms of international experience, having placed 9th in the 10k and 25k at last year’s World Championships, and 15th in the 10k at the 2016 Olympic Games. Lee was also on last year’s World Championship team, finishing 10th in the 5k and 19th in the 10k, while this will be Sloman’s debut on a major senior national team.
“We’ve tracked the data of the Olympic and World medallists and there was a trend in the prior World Cups, with these athletes finishing on the podium or inside the top ten,” Open Water Program Manager Jamie Salter said.
“This year our qualification process aligned with this trend and our swimmers needed a good performance at our Australian Open Water Championships plus top 10 finishes at the FINA World Cups in Doha, Portugal and Hungary to achieve the 22-point benchmark.
“What is really pleasing is that we’ve got three swimmers whose consistency across all of the nominated races was excellent and met the challenge of the tough selection criteria,” Salter added.
“They have shown great tenacity and consistency so far this season and now the clock goes back to zero for what will be the toughest race of the season as we approach the Pan Pacific Championships themselves,” Salter said.
“The next eight weeks are crucial to ensure the three swimmers recover and begin sharpening their focus leading into the main event of the season.”
Among the swimmers who didn’t make the team was Kiah Melverton, who finished tied for 7th in the women’s 5k at Worlds last year as Australia’s top-finishing open water swimmer. The Pan Pacs open water race is a 10km swim.
At the 2014 Pan Pac Championships, Jarrod Poort took silver in the men’s race and a then-15-year old Gubecka took bronze in the women’s race, just 2 seconds behind American Eva Fabian and just 3 behind American Haley Anderson. Poort is currently serving a one-year suspension for failing to properly notify anti-doping authorities of his whereabouts for their testing protocol.