World Championship representative Kareena Lee has proven her potential for Pan Pacs selection in the 10km FINA world cup race in Portugal over the weekend; posting a swim that could help her gain nomination onto the 2018 Open Water team set for Tokyo in August.
Lee, who finished 19th in the 10km event at the 2017 Open Water World Championships in Hungary, was third in the world cup race on Saturday, finishing just behind Olympic Silver medallist Hayley Anderson (2:05:18.89) and Dutch Olympic Champion Sharon Van Rouwendaal (2:05:20.26) in an impressive 2:05:22.25 – just over three seconds outside the eventual winner’s time.
A third place finish in a quality field is exactly the confidence boost that Lee would be looking for as our Open Water swimmers approach the final stages of Pac Pacs selection.
Lee is currently coached by the legendary John Rodgers in Noosa alongside up and comer Nick Sloman (10th in Setabul, 1:56:42.38), with the duo showing no signs of slowing down under Rodgers. Official Coach Number 17, Rodgers is a Dolphins veteran with plenty of knowledge to impart on his proteges ahead of Pan Pacs, and at 80-years-of-age; his first Team was the Commonwealth Games in 1982.
With just one stop to go on the world cup tour for our Aussies hoping for selection, Lee and Sloman are looking likely for a place on the Pan Pacs team. But the training partners won’t be able to rest on their laurels with the experienced and competitive Chelsea Gubecka and Simon Huitenga hot on their respective heels.
Rio Olympian, World Championship representative and Australian Open Water champion from 2018 Chelsea Gubecka is also in prime position for Pan Pacs selection after finishing 22nd overall in 2:10:10.59 in Portugal over the weekend and sixth in the Doha leg in a time of 2:02:28.00.
Chelsea will be looking to move up the ranks and as she has already secured her nomination for selection when the Open Water team takes on the familiar Balatonfüred course in Hungary on June 16, a course that both her and Lee know all too well from the World Championships last year.
Chelsea’s younger sister and rising star Chloe Gubecka, who has already gained selection for the Junior Pan Pacs Team, was 30th in Portugal and 32nd in Doha – gaining valuable international racing experience on her elite swimming journey.
With just four spots for men and four for women available on the Australian Pan Pacs team for Open Water, the final race in Hungary on June 16 will see our swimmers leave nothing to chance as they fight for the chance to wear the green and gold in Tokyo this August.