The competition has begun!
Australia’s first two Dolphins hit the water in South Korea on Saturday morning, marking the start of the 2019 World Swimming Championships.
Diving into the Men’s 5km event at Yeosu EXPO Ocean Park, Bailey Armstrong (Kawana Waters) and Hayden Cotter (Lawnton) both showed their class in a fierce international field, with the duo finishing in the top ten.
Within a pack of 60 competitors, Armstrong claimed seventh position in 53:34.80 while Cotter touched two places behind for ninth in 53.35.50. Only 13.70 seconds separated the first ten swimmers, with Hungary’s Kristof Rasovszky nabbing gold in 53.22.10.
Speaking to Swimming Australia post-race, Armstrong said it was a tough sprint to the finish line.
“It was a pretty quick race from the start which was expected and that last lap was just a big battle for who could get on the board first,” Armstrong said.
“I actually felt really good coming in. I was trying to push through because I knew I had the finish, but I just kept getting pulled back. However, I managed to get ahead of most of them and I had a really good finish, so I’m really happy with that.”
In his first world championship race, Cotter was pleased by his performance and ability to match it with bigger, more experienced campaigners.
“Yeah, I’m pretty happy with that, top ten in the world, you can’t complain,” Cotter said.
“The last 100 metres you get whacked and I had my shoulder grabbed, but it’s all racing. It was good to see where I’m at, matching it with everyone else and finishing in the pack so it was good to see that.”
While Cotter will begin to prepare for the 5km relay, Armstrong turns his attention to the gruelling 25km race which takes place on Friday – something he’s looking forward to.
“Now I just shift my focus to recovery and preparing, get back into some training and get my head in the game for 25km, that’s going to be a big mental challenge but I’m excited for it,” he said.
Tomorrow morning will see KareenA\a Lee (Noosa) and Chelsea Gubecka (Yeronga Park) battle it out in the Women’s 10km race. Stakes will be high, as any Australian swimmer who finishes in the top 10 of the men’s or women’s 10km race will be nominated by Swimming Australia to the Australian Olympic Committee for potential selection on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic team.