TSS Aquatic’s Kai Edwards will head to his maiden Olympic Games after securing the final ticket to Tokyo with a fifth-placed result in the Men’s 10km Olympic Marathon Swim qualifying event in Setubal, Portugal.
The 22-year-old finished ahead of fellow countryman Nick Sloman (Noosa) as the duo battled it out for the only Australian spot in the Men’s Marathon 10km swim at the Tokyo Games, and the final place on the Olympic swim team.
Edwards finished the race just over nine seconds behind leader Hector Pardoe (GBR), completing the 10km in 2:02:17.30. Meanwhile, Sloman crossed the line with a 2:03:03.60 to finish 15th.
Edwards and Sloman qualified for the Portugal decider earlier in March after finishing first and second respectively in the Men’s 10km Open race at the 2021 Australian Open Water Swimming Championship in Coolum, Queensland.
Unlike the warm conditions expected in Japan, the race took place in testing conditions with swimmers swapping their traditional racing suits for wetsuits to combat the cold temperatures off the shores of Portugal.
Despite training specifically for this occasion, Edwards described the qualifying event as one of the most strenuous races he has contested with wetsuits in the mix.
“It was so congested the whole way,” Edwards said. “That’s what I expected with a wetsuit swim, and that’s what I trained for.
“It’s one of the toughest races I’ve ever done, but again, that’s what I train to do – and I had an army of support all week, so I knew I could get in and get it done.
“The goal was always to be up the front and put myself in a good position from the start of the race, and yeah just swim smart, keep to the game plan, and come home strong.”
Edwards joins Noosa’s Kareena Lee as 10km marathon swimmers bound for their debut Olympic Games in Japan. Lee was the first swimmer to secure a spot on the Olympic swim team back in October 2019 after finishing seventh in the Women’s 10km event at the 2019 World Swimming Championships in South Korea.
The two swimmers join the 35 pool swimmers who qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games at last week’s 2021 Australian Swimming Trials at the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre in Adelaide.
The Olympic Games are 32 days away taking place from 23 July – 8 August, 2021, with Marathon swimming scheduled for 4-5 August.