Gold and Silver For Australia’s Open Water Dolphins In Dramatic Finale To World Cup Series In Portugal

TOUCH AND GO: Australia's Kyle Lee (right) out-touches Hungary's Kristof Rasovszky in the dramatic final touch to there 4x1500m World Cup Open water relay with Italy's Domenico Acerenza close behind. Rasovszky and Hungary were later disqualified.

Gold and Silver For Australia’s Open Water Dolphins In Dramatic Finale To World Cup Series In Portugal

Australia’s open water team will begin the 2024 Olympic year on a high after Nick Sloman and a dramatic Dolphins victory in the 4x1500m relay team led the Aussies to a memorable season finale at 2023 World Aquatics Swimming World Cup in Funchal, Portugal.

Sloman (Noosa, QLD) has taken another step towards an elusive Olympic blazer, winning silver in the men’s 10km event, enhancing his claims for a place in the Doha World Championship team for February’s World Aquatics Championship – en-route to Paris nomination.

PORTUGAL PODIUM: World Cup, Portugal 10km podium (L-R) Silver Nick Sloman (AUS), Gold Domenico Acerenza (ITA) Bronze Kristof Rasovszky (HUN). Photo Courtesy World Aquatics.

With water temperatures at 22 degrees Celsius, the race conditions on the final stop were choppy in the island waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

And it was Italy’s Domenico Acerenza who used the conditions to his advantage, taking the 10km win in 1 hour 45 minutes and 06. seconds just five seconds ahead of Sloman (1:45:11.70) and Hungary’s Kristof Rasovszky (1:45:15.50) wrapping up his third overall crown, third.

While 21-year-old Australian young gun Kyle Lee (North Coast, WA) continued to grow in stature, showing maturity above his age to nail a close up sixth (1:45.16.50) – just 10 seconds behind Acerenza in what was a pressure cooker finish to the World Cup Series.

Sloman led one of two parallel lines into the finish, but it was Acerenza who surged around the leaders, ahead of Sloman, with the Aussie sprinting away from the pack, finishing four seconds ahead of Rasovszky.

Top 13 finishes in Doha can secure Australia’s Olympic nominations – two in the men and one in the women – with Chelsea Gubecka (Yeronga Park, QLD) the first female selected for Paris after her silver medal showing at this year’s World’s in Japan.

Gubecka (1:58.10.30) was the best of the Australian women, finishing sixth in a scramble for the minor places behind impressive runaway winner, American Claire Weinstein (1:56.54.30).

Moesha Johnson (Griffith University, QLD) was the only other Australian in the top 20, finishing 19th in 1:58.30.20.

Twenty-four hours after the individual races, it was the never-say-die Australian combination of Johnson, Gubecka, Lee and Queensland’s Bailey Armstrong (USC Spartans, QLD) who hung tough to snatch victory in a drama-charged finish which saw anchor swimmer Rasovszky and the Hungarians disqualified after they had led through the first three legs.

After their impressive bronze at the World Championships back in July, the Australians, led out by Johnson and Gubecka who set up the victory and a grandstand finish for Armstrong and Lee who, in the official placings, held off Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri and Acerenza.

Acerenza and Paltrinieri had lifted Italy to the World title earlier this summer in Fukuoka, but they switched positions this time around in Funchal on the back of Acerenza’s win in the 10km race the day before.

AUSSIE GOLD: Australia’s Kyle Lee, Bailey Armstrong, Moesha Johnson and Chelsea Gubecka celebrate their gold in the 4x1500m World Cup Open Water relay from left Italy (Silver) and France (Bronze. Photo Courtesy World Aquatics

The Hungarians, who won bronze at the World Aquatics Championships, had the lead through the first three legs thanks to a strong showing from David Betlehem as he gave way to this year’s overall World Cup champion Rasovszky.

Acerenza had his eyes on Rasvoszky on the final leg and had just about broken the lead at around the 4500m mark as it looked to come down to a race between Hungary and Italy on the final lap.

But as they narrowed themselves into the finishing chute, it was a cool hand Lee who found his line, held his nerve and was able to out-touch Rasovszky and Acerenza.

The drama continued when it was announced Hungary was disqualified due to interference on the final lap from Rasovszky.

Lee’s heroics in the final stages had given Australia the gold in their own right in 1:06:05.40 with the Italians awarded silver in 1:06:06.40 and Hungary’s disqualification elevated France to the bronze medal in 1:06:49.50.


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Swimming Fan
Swimming Fan
3 months ago

1) Hungarians won silver at this years World Championships & 2) Bailey Armstrong held form into the final changeover with David Bethlehem, Italy still had a gap to chase in the final leg.

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