More than 420 competitors will descend on Adelaide’s picturesque Brighton beach this weekend, as South Australia hosts its third Australian Open Water Swimming Championships.
Taking place between 26-28 January, the event marks the first chance for Australian swimmers to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – which is now only 18 months away.
As Australia’s pinnacle open water swimming meet, both male and female athletes will compete in six events over the two days including, Men’s and Women’s Open 10km, Boys and Girls 18 & 19 years 10km and Boys and Girls 16 & 17 years 7.5km.
Athletes who secure a top-four finish in the 10km Open Water will be selected to attend the FINA World Cup in Doha, with the World Cup being one of two opportunities to qualify for the 2019 World Championships in July. Athletes who then secure a top-10 finish at the World Championships will earn a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – so there’s no doubt the competition will be fierce at Brighton.
After winning the men’s 10km Open Water title last year and claiming bronze at the 2018 Pan Pacs in the same event, Noosa’s Nick Sloman is tipped to be in contention, along with Simon Huitenga, who was named WA’s Open Water Swimmer of the Year in 2017 and 2018.
Kawana Waters’ swimmer, Chelsea Gubecka, will also be looking to defend her victory in the women’s 10km Open Water race, but with Pan Pacs silver medallist Kareena Lee also competing, it will be a tantalising battle.
The championship event is also a selection opportunity for the 2019 Junior Open Water development team, who will swim at the French Open Water Nationals in May. The first-placed boy and girl from the 18 & 19 years 10km race, and the boys and girls 16 & 17 years 7.5km race will be selected to attend the event in Brive - Lac du Causse.
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, David Ridgway, said South Australia had established itself as a premier sports and tourism destination, much-loved by athletes and spectators alike.
“We are delighted to host the Australian Open Water Swimming Championships for the third consecutive year and look forward to welcoming to Adelaide more than 420 competitors as well as their family and friends,” said Minister Ridgway.
“Events like these not only attract the attention of sporting media across the country but generate significant flow-on benefits for the local visitor economy, filling cafes, restaurants and hotels.
“We look forward to a spectacular three days of competition which could help influence Australia’s team for Tokyo 2020.”
South Australia’s reputation for hosting world-class events continues to get stronger and hosting the 2019 Australian Open Water Swimming Championships further cements this.
Swimming Australia’s General Manager – Paralympic & Open Water Programs, Adam Pine, reiterated Minister Ridgway’s sentiments and added that he was looking forward to the first event of the year.
“With the Olympics only 18 months away, this event is the first chance athletes have to start qualifying for Tokyo, so we’re expecting some high-quality performances and a really competitive field,” Pine said.
“Nick Sloman has continued to go from strength to strength since taking home the title last year, while Kareena Lee will give last year’s winner Chelsea Gubecka a real challenge in the women’s 10km Open.
“Australia Day is such an iconic holiday in Australia and where better to spend the long weekend than at Brighton beach supporting Australia’s top and emerging open water swimming talent.”
The 2019 Australian Open Water Championships also coincides with Australia Swims (19-28 January), which aims to get the nation moving by collectively swimming a virtual lap of Australia. So far, 20,230km has been pledged of the 35,877km journey around the country.