Aussie Open Water Olympic Hopefuls To Get A ‘Taste Of Tokyo’ on Queensland’s Lake Kawana

TT Men Hayden Cotter Nick Sloman Baziey Armstrong Jon Mckay
OPEN WATER WARRIORS: Hayden Cotter, Nick Sloman, Bailey Armstrong and Canada's Jon McKay at the 2020 Australian Championships.Photo: Courtesy Swimming Australia (Delly Carr).

Australia’s Olympic men’s open water hopefuls will get a “taste of Tokyo” at the rescheduled 2021 Australian Open Water Swimming Championships that will now be held on March 13 and 14, 2021 at Lake Kawana on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

The Championships, which will double as the first stage of Olympic qualification for the men’s 10km marathon, were initially set to take place later this month at the Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith, from January 29-31.

But Swimming Australia was forced to postpone its first event of 2021 due to Australia’s COVID-19 related inter-State border closures.

The men’s event will see local Sunshine Coasters, defending three-time Australian champion Nick Sloman (Noosa) and Bailey Armstrong (Kawana) joined by fellow Queenslanders Hayden Cotter (Belgravia) and Kai Edwards (TSS Aquatic) and WA pair Nick Rollo (City of Perth) and Jack Wilson (West Coast) as they all vie for the top two spots to contest the Fina Olympic Marathon Swim Qualification in Fukuoka on May 29 and 30.

The first Australian home in Fukuoka will join the already qualified women’s 10km representative Kareena Lee (Noosa) for the fourth running of the Olympic swimming marathon.

Swimming’s Open Water Performance Manager Greg Shaw said it was fortunate that Lake Kawana had an opening in March which aligned with timelines for the men’s open water Olympic qualifying event in Japan in May, as well as Swimming Australia’s domestic schedule.

“It’s also clearly a terrific venue which will give the athletes another chance to gain competitive race experience in warm and controlled conditions – similar to what they might encounter in Tokyo,” said Shaw, who indicated a range of factors contributed to the event relocating to the Sunshine Coast (an hour north of Brisbane).

“The decision to move north was not made lightly, but ultimately the availability of facilities played a big part in our decision making.

“Holding the event over the course of a weekend is really important and unfortunately that was not possible in Penrith.

“With that said, I’d like to thank the Sydney International Regatta Centre and Penrith City Council for their understanding and hope we can return to their region in the near future.”

At last year’s Australian Championships, Sloman showed he could mix it with the best of the best in Brighton, SA finishing third behind Olympic champion Ferry Weertman (NED) and former World Champion Jordan Wilimovsky (USA) in the helter-skelter Australian Championships 10km event.

It earnt Sloman and three other youngsters Rollo, Cotter and Wilson selection on the Australian team.

Cotter, the three-time Lorne (VIC) Pier-to-Pub winner and top 10 finisher from the 2019 World’s over 5km, was fifth home, with WA boys Wilson seventh and Rollo ninth putting their hands up to herald in some new names in the mix.

They clocked the four fastest times of the day from the Open and 18/19 years Age events that attracted 62 starters for the eight x 1.25km laps off the Brighton Jetty.

RECAP: Nick Sloman Wins Third Australian 10km Title

But the selection process was to turn quickly on its head as Cotter and Armstrong took an ascendancy that would come to no avail.

A process that has certainly reached marathon proportions after the 2020 selection race was halted mid-stream with the pair on the cusp of the last qualifying race for an Olympic berth before COVID-19 raised its ugly head.

This year’s 2021 re-scheduled Australian Championship program – with the exception of relays and the 2.5km exhibition event – will be delivered across the two days, allowing swimmers of all ages the opportunity to compete.

Athletes who had already entered and registered for races have been refunded, with entries now opening on Wednesday 3 February for the rescheduled event.

For more information, please visit Swimming Australia’s events page.

View the program here.