Australia will field a small but select team of three swimmers against the might of the 10-strong USA team in tomorrow’s 10 kilometre Pan Pacs open water marathon at Tateyama in Japan’s Chiba precinct.
The Dolphins will have two women in Rio Olympian Chelsea Gubecka and experienced fellow Sunshine Coaster Kareena Lee – fresh from her fourth-placed finish to wonder swimmer Katie Ledecky in last night’s 1500m freestyle.
The girls are amongst a field of 17 – with five Americans including noted open water swimmer, Olympic silver medallist from 2012 in London, in Hayley Anderson, who finished fifth in the 1500m.
While in the men’s race, 20-year-old Noosa rookie Nick Sloman, the Australian Open Surf Race champion, will be Australia’s lone starter in the 14-strong men’s field.
Racing gets underway at 8am (AEST) with competitors swimming five two-kilometre laps.
Anderson is the two-time 5km world champion in Barcelona in 2013 and Kazan in 2015, who finished with the silver medal behind Eva Risztov of Hungary in 2012 before backing up for fifth in Rio.
Gubecka was 15th in Rio and has continued the ride in open water with another impressive National title double in Brighton this year before the World Series.
The six-time National representative, who has swum at the last three World Championships said the 10 Americans would certainly beef-up the fields in what she believes will be a very fast course,
“The Canadians are always strong and we’ve got Brazil this year who we didn’t have in 2014…it will be very exciting the two Brazilian girls who are ranked really high in the world,” said Gubecka, who is coached by Swimming Australia’s Open Water coach of the year Michael Sage at Kawana Waters.
“I have been doing this since 2013 and I have definitely grown with the sport; it’s nice to start the next Olympic campaign from the 2017 World Championships and seeing where I’m at this early stage.
“And being able to build that early stage and being able to build through this year and onto world’s next year and on to Olympic qualification.
“Tactically, I think it’s going to be really, really, fast; a few of the girls have been doing the 800 and 1500m freestyles here at the Pan Pacs so they obviously are ready to go with their speed….so the pace will be definitely on….and the course seems to put it in that perspective.”
Lee was one of those girls, finishing a close up fourth in a time just outside her best.
“The hard work is done and it’s now all about recovery,” said Lee, who has had some great success on the World Series.
“If I get my recovery right then I’m confident everything will be fine.”
Lee finished third in Setubul, 6th in Doha and 5th in Balatonfured (HUN) in the 10km FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series to clinch her spot in the open water team before coming home and two weeks later making the pool team.
Lee and Sloman are training partners under Master Coach John Rodgers at Noosa.
Sloman finished 10th in Setubul and 6th in Balatonfured (HUN) at the 2018 FINA/HOSA Marathon Series to seal his place on the Pan Pacs team.
He also tasted success at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships in Scarborough where he won the coveted Australian Open Surf Race championship and the 2km swim.
He will be up against former World Champion for 10km, Rio Olympian, Jordan Wilimovsky of the USA, who won silver in the 1500m last night as well.