Sunshine Coast swimmers Kareena Lee, Chelsea Gubecka and Nicholas Sloman have successfully swum their way onto the Australian Dolphins Swim Team for the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo this August.
Following on from their impressive performances at the 2018 Australian Open Water Championships and at the respective FINA World Cup legs in Doha, Portugal and Hungary, the trio managed to amass enough points to meet the high qualification standards set by Swimming Australia..
At just 19-years-of-age, Gubecka will be the veteran of the team having competed in three world championships and an Olympic Games and now taking her Pan Pacs tally up to two with her ticket booked to Tokyo.
Joining her will be Lee, also selected for her second Pan Pacs appearance, after she managed to chalk-up some terrific World Cup performances in strong international fields.
The John Rodgers coached Lee collected a bronze in Portugal just behind two Olympic Open Water medallists and a fifth-place finish in Budapest, once again in the mix with some world class competition.
Rodgers will have two swimmers on the team with Lee’s training partner and Dolphin debutant Sloman also successfully gaining selection.
Twenty-year-old Sloman will make his senior team debut at Pan Pacs after a 10th place finish in Portugal and a sixth-place finish in Budapest at the FINA Open Water World Cups, competing amongst a hotly contested men’s field.
Swimming Australia raised the bar for the qualification process to more closely align with the Olympic selection criteria (a top ten finish at the world championships) and the tough pool criteria that encourages performing when it matters on the world stage.
Swimming Australia Open Water Program Manager Jamie Salter said he was overall pleased with the efforts of the young open water group as they faced the new qualification process.
“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,” 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.
And whilst the trio have made the team, the hard work is only just beginning with Tokyo just eight weeks away.
“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.”
Swimming Australia took a total of eight swimmers away to contest these words cups and a spot on the team, five of which progressed from the Pathway Program.
Promising signs for the future of Open Water swimming heading into 2019 and the first opportunity to qualify for Tokyo at the World Championships in Gwangju, Korea.
The 2018 Hancock Prospecting Pan Pacific Championship Trials will kick off this week from June 30 to July 4 to select the pool teams for Tokyo (Pan Pacs) and Cairns (Para Pan Pacs) at the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre in Adelaide.
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