Battling extremely tough conditions at Yeosu EXPO Ocean Park on Friday morning, TSS Aquatics’ Kai Edwards has placed fifth in the 25km open water event at the world championships.
Enduring pouring rain and strong wins – which threatened to call off the race with two laps to go – the 20-year-old pushed his body to the limit to finish in a time of 4:51:17.20, only 11 seconds behind the overall winner.
Speaking post-race, an elated Edwards said he was “over the moon” with his maiden performance in the 25km event at his first world championships.
“I’m over the moon, it’s the first time I’ve don’t this event and I came in with an open mind thinking it was a great opportunity,” he said.
“In the past we’ve had some really solid swims for Australia and to reinforce that legacy it’s pretty awesome.”
Heading in with a race plan, Edwards said he wanted to be relaxed for as long as possible and use this opportunity to test himself against the best in the world when it came down to the final stages.
“It’s just as much a mental game as a physical game, and I tried to approach it as easy as I could for as long as I could, and really just fight out the last ten kilometres.
“After that final turn it basically turned into a sprint and it was just about holding on and knowing who was around me, and then just giving it everything I had.”
In his first outing as a Dolphin representing his country, Edwards said he’s learnt valuable lessons across the last seven days of racing – including key takeaways from the 10km race in which he placed 14th overall.
“This past week has really built my confidence and I’ve had some amazing learning opportunities, so I’m just going to go back and work hard and try to establish a real dominance.”
Kawana Waters’ Bailey Armstrong also bravely fought it out in the 25km event, placing 18th in a time of 5:04:10.70. It was the first time Armstrong competed in the marathon race.
“I’m hurting now, it was a new kind of challenge that’s for sure,” Armstrong commented.
“I was trying to conserve energy through the start, and it felt like there were a few French athletes up the front pushing it and I was using a bit more energy than I probably should have, and I paid for it at the end.
“I never thought of giving up, I always wanted to finish it – I wanted to get under five hours, but I just missed that, I’ll be better next time.”
Chelsea Gubecka (Yeronga Park) was the only Australian woman to compete in the 25km race, however, after battling it out in the Women’s 10km event on Sunday and the 5km Team Relay on Thursday, she made the tough decision to pull out at the 7.5km mark.
Coinciding with the final open water race of the 2019 World Championships, Swimming Australia this morning announced the 2020 Australian Open Water Swimming Championships will be held at Brighton Beach in South Australia. It will be a key on the calendar as our male athletes fight for a spot on the Australian 2020 Olympic team.
More results from the week:
Men’s 5km – Bailey Armstrong 7th and Hayden Cotter 9th
Women’s 10km – Kareena Lee 7th and Chelsea Gubecka 29th
Men’s 10km – Kai Edwards 14th and Nick Sloman 21st
Women’s 5km – Chloe Gubecka 30th and Mackenzie Brazier 33rd
5km Team Relay – The team of Chelsea Gubecka, Hayden Cotter, Kareena Lee and Nick Sloman placed 5th overall
With the conclusion of the open water program, make sure you catch all the action from the Nambu International Aquatics Centre which kicks off on Sunday morning when the Dolphins pool team starts racing.