Will Nick Sloman’s Speed Warning Unlock A Second Chance Open Water Door For Tokyo?

Nick Sloman swimming
SECOND CHANCE FOR TOKYO: Nick Sloman looking to make amends at Coolum on Saturday. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Speed will be the key to re-opening an Olympic selection door that Nick Sloman thought had been slammed shut when he lines up against a red hot field of fellow Tokyo hopefuls in Saturday’s helter skelter Games Trial and Australian 10km Championship shoot out.

Australia’s leading male open water marathon swimmers will rekindle the race to Tokyo at the Oz Ski Resort at Coolum and Noosa’s defending National champion will get a second chance – thanks to COVID.

After the world wide pandemic thwarted the Tokyo Olympic qualifying process for Australia’s men last year it was a case of “all bets off” and it was back to square one – this Saturday at 7.30am on the Sunshine Coast.

The top two men will progress through to the Tokyo selection event on May 30 in Fukuoka, Japan and it will very much a case of deja-vu for the boys.

TT Men Hayden Cotter Nick Sloman Baziey Armstrong Jon Mckay

TOKYO TRIALISTS: (L-R) Hayden Cotter, Nick Sloman and Bailey Armstrong pictured here with Canada’s Jon Mackay at the 2020 Australian Championships. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Sloman, missed the cut in the Doha World Cup selection trial race last year which saw rivals 22-year-old Bailey Armstrong (Kawana Waters) and 20-year-old Hayden Cotter (Belgravia) take the next step towards Fukuoka – only for them to see their Olympic dreams crushed by the COVID curse.

FUKUOKA 2020 FOILED BY COVID

When Fukuoka was called off, organisers had no alternative but to start the process all over again with Sloman, Armstrong and Cotter to line up again in a field that will also include talented TSS Aquatic, Gold Coast pair Kai Edwards – who was so close in Doha – and 21-year-old Riley Clout as well as the likes of Queensland 1500m freestyle prospect Mitchell Tinsley (Chandler), WA’s Jack Wilson (North Coast) and Matthew Robinson (Kawana Waters).

Sloman, 24, is not long off the Dolphins National Event Camp on the Gold Coast where he hopes his “speed” racing against the cream of Australia’s Tokyo pool hopefuls will pay off for his second chance at a Games place.

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SHORT COURSE SHOOT OUT: Nick Sloman will be hoping his short course match racing with Jack McLoughlin (pictured) will give him speed to burn over the final 100om. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia),.

The week-long camp included an impressive short course racing set of 5x300s at Bond University where he went eye-ball to eye-ball with Rio Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist over 1500m and former open water swimmer Jack McLoughlin.

“I knew Jack had the pace; he had been doing the 4x200m freestyle relay camp and so I knew how quick he was and I had also been training with (rising distance star) Sam Short (Rackley)

“Sam had also pushed me along in the faster stuff; it was so good just to maintain my pace going into the open water…..and hopefully that will be an advantage.,” said Sloman.

“Especially in that last 1000 metres, when your fighting everybody and you need that little edge to get out in front and push people off your wash….it makes such a huge difference.”

COMPETITIVE MATESHIP

Sloman certainly remains thankful at getting a second chance at Tokyo after learning some valuable lessons along the way, with legendary coach John “JR” Rodgers in his corner at the Noosa Aquatic Centre.

“JR says to me ‘you’ve been given a gift so go out and make the most of it’ and I aim to use that to my advantage and do the best I possibly can.

“It has been important to work on my skills and working on my aerobic thresh-hold work…maintaining around 75km per week in training up until this week and before resting up and getting ready to race come Saturday.”

Sloman also completed 10km of racing at the recent Noosa Summer Series, finishing third behind Armstrong and Clout in the hotly contested 5km race before taking out the 2km and 3km events to make up his 10k race day.

The highest ranked Australian from Fukuoka will be nominated to join Noosa’s Kareena Lee on the Australian Olympic Team, after she secured her spot following a top-ten finish in the Women’s 10km event at the 2019 World Championships in Korea.

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SEAT BOOKED: Kareena Lee, with Olympic legend and Deputy Chef de Mission Susie O’Neill and coach John Rodgers at the presentation of a treasured ticket to Tokyo.  Photo Courtesy: Hanson Media.

Lee will headline Saturday’s Australian women’s 10km race alongside experienced campaigners Chelsea Gubecka (Yeronga Park) and Chloe Gubecka (Yeronga Park) and TSS Aquatic rising stars Bianca Crisp and Moesha Johnson.

The Australian Open Water Swimming Championships is the country’s peak open water swimming meet, attracting strong fields in male and female events for ages 14 and above who will compete for Australian titles in 14 events across two action-packed days, with distances ranging from 5 and 7.5km to 10km.

Eight young athletes will also compete for selection to represent Australia on the open water junior world’s team.

The team will consist of the top two male and female finishers in the 16-17 years 7.5km event and the 18-19 years 10km.

$20,000 In Prizemoney Up For Grabs

There will also be $20,000 in prizemoney that will no doubt be an added incentive in both the Men’s and Women’s 10km Open events, with Swimming Australia rewarding the top 10 finishers in both events.

There will be $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second and $1,500 for third and down to $100 for 10th.

Swimming Australia’s Open Water Performance Manager, Greg Shaw, said he was looking forward to watching the country’s best open water talent go head-to-head.

“It’s been a while since these athletes have had the chance to come together and race, so I’m anticipating some intense competition among all the age categories – especially those fighting for selection to represent Australia at international competitions,” Shaw said.

Kai Edwards action 2

BUOY O BOY: Kai Edwards surges through the white water. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr.

“We know the Olympic process for the men’s 10km event was disrupted by COVID-19 last year and those athletes who were in contention will be eagerly looking to advance to the next stage in Fukuoka in May,

“With the likes of Cotter, Armstrong, Sloman and Edwards battling it out in that race, it will no doubt be a tough contest and one to watch.”

Shaw was also quick to thank the Oz Ski Resort in Coolum for hosting the event and incorporating and implementing all the necessary CovidSafe measures to make sure all athletes, coaches and staff are protected during the competition. 

 

Event Details

What: 2021 Australian Open Water Swimming Championships
When: Saturday 13 to Sunday 14 March 2021
Where: Oz Ski Resort, Coolum Beach QLD
Event Program: View program here

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