Penrith’s Warm Welcome Awaits Australia’s Prospective Olympic Open Water Warriors

Ky Hurst
KING KY: Australia’s open water an surf racing king, two-time Olympian Ky Hurst. Photo Courtesy: Harvie Allison

Australia’s open water swimmers can expect a warm welcome following the announcement that the next saga in the men’s Tokyo Olympic 10km Marathon Selection Trial will be swum at Sydney’s Penrith Lakes.

It follows Swimming Australia’s announcement to move the Trial to the Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith – venue of the Sydney 2000 Olympic rowing and kayak events – the feature race of the 2021 Australian Championships from January 29-31.

It will see the next chapter hot up in the storied lead up to Australian Olympic selection and the next step in a process that has already had its twists and turns for open water swimmers.


pernrith course

WARM WATERS: The Australian men’s Olympic marathon swim selection will hot up in Penrith. Photo Courtesy:


BRIDGE TOO FAR: Penrith Lakes steeped in Olympic history. Photo Courtesy Sydney International Regatta Centre

The Penrith Lakes decision is a strategic move to provide warm water conditions, similar to what can be expected for next year’s Tokyo Games, following three successful years at Brighton Beach in Adelaide.

The national competition will form a critical part of the men’s selection process for a spot in the 10km event at the Tokyo Olympic Games, which will be contested at the Olympic qualification event in Fukuoka next May.

Who will eventually join open water swimmers Ky Hurst (Beijing and London) and Jarrod Poort (Rio) as Australia’s third male Olympic marathon swimmer who will join the already qualified female, Noosa’s Kareena Lee ?

As reported by Swimming World in May this year it has so far been a story about four young Queensland boys – Nick Sloman (Noosa Heads), Hayden Cotter (Belgravia, Burpengary), Kai Edwards (TSS Aquatic, Gold Coast) and Bailey Armstrong (Kawana Waters) – all with their sights set on that exclusive Olympians club.

It will be a tale made up of so much more than all the thousands of kilometres these boys have already churned through to get this far and the thousands more they will clock up before July next year as elite open water swimmers.

Cotter and Armstrong had already qualified for the final 10km selection swim around Seaside Momochi Beach Park in May at the postponed Olympic Marathon Qualifying Race.

But now the Olympic selection process begins again after the dreams of that Olympic blazer fitting were put very much on hold.

TT Men Hayden Cotter Nick Sloman Baziey Armstrong Jon Mckay

CONTENDERS: Three of the four major contenders (L-R) Hayden Cotter, Nick Sloman and Bailey Armstrong with Canada’s Jon McKay at the 2020 Australian Open Water Championships. Photo Courtesy: Hanson Media.

“Kid” Cotter, at 19, is the youngest of the foursome and a three-time Lorne Pier to Pub winner with victories over Rio Olympic champions Mack Horton and Gregorio Paltrinieri.

Cotter produced the swim of his life in the Fina World Series race in Doha to qualify for Fukuoka – finishing seventh and beating home another Rio Olympic champion in 10km gold medallist, Dutchman Ferry Weertman.

And joined by never-say-die champion Northcliffe lifesaver Armstrong, who landed his place in a frantic and controversial qualifying finish in Doha by just 0.1secs.

Due to the postponement of Tokyo 2020 to 2021, Fina announced that the same qualifying race has now been re-scheduled for May 29 and 30, 2021 – with the qualification process stopped and declared null ‘n void.

For Cotter and Armstrong it’s back to square one with the race for selection starting all over again at Penrith Lakes in January and open to all-comers – the revised events in the planning hands of Swimming Australia (SA).

“The boys have all accepted the situation and the challenges really well..each of them individually and each of them completely differently…it’s been encouraging to see them maintain some fire in the belly; it has been really exciting to see where they’re at and what they are planning on doing,” said Shaw at the time of the postponement.

But as Swimming World revealed the road to Tokyo would start afresh with the Australian Championships in January.

And waiting to re-join the selection fray will be Sloman, the reigning and three-time Australian 10km champion and Pan Pac bronze medallist from 2018, who was surprisingly swamped in Doha, finishing 25th and rising Gold Coast star Edwards, the boy Armstrong actually beat by the 0.1 margin in that controversial Doha finish – a result maintained after various video submissions.


The venue has been the home to major triathlon events in Sydney over the past 40 years and could well prove to be a masterstroke from Swimming Australia’s Open Water Performance Manager Greg Shaw.

“Penrith provides a fast, flat course very similar to Tokyo, which will be held in a protected bay with minimal current and waves,” Shaw said.

“The environmental conditions in Penrith at the end of January will also allow our swimmers to experience competitive racing in warm water and hot conditions, not unlike what our Olympians will face in Tokyo next August.”

Shaw said Penrith was an ideal venue for spectators to be able to view the country’s top open water swimmers perform.

“The course has a path the whole way around it so fans will get the opportunity to follow the entire race should they choose,” he said.

“Given it is a critical race for the men in our Olympic selection process it is sure to be one not to miss and we thank the Penrith City Council and the Mayor for hosting us.”

Penrith Mayor Ross Fowler OAM said the region was eagerly anticipating the return of the Australian Open Water Swimming Championships.

“We are delighted to be welcoming back open water swimming at the highest level. The Sydney Regatta Centre remains one of the best open-air swimming courses in Australia for athletes and spectators alike, and perfectly showcases the active, outdoor lifestyle that Penrith offers,” he said.

Entries for the 2021 Australian Open Water Swimming Championships will open in December.