Kawana Waters open water swimmer Bailey Armstrong will be among those diving into the National Open Water Championships at Lake Kawana in March. Picture: Patrick Woods.
Kawana Waters open water swimmer Bailey Armstrong will be among those diving into the National Open Water Championships at Lake Kawana in March. Picture: Patrick Woods.

Athletes to chase Olympic open water dreams on Coast

The country's best open water talents will soon dive into Coast waters with not just national glory on offer but key Tokyo goals too.

The 2021 Australian Open Water Swimming Championships will be held on March 13-14 at Lake Kawana, after Swimming Australia was forced to postpone its first event of the year due to COVID-19 related border closures.

The championships were initially set to take place between January 29-31 at the Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith.

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"The decision to move the Australian Open Water Swimming Championships up north was not made lightly, but ultimately the availability of facilities played a big part in our decision making," Open Water Performance Manager Greg Shaw said.

"Holding the event over the course of a weekend is really important and unfortunately that was not possible in Penrith.

"With that said, I'd like to thank the Sydney International Regatta Centre and Penrith City Council for their understanding and hope we can return to their region in the near future.

"In turn, we were fortunate that Lake Kawana had an opening in March which aligns with timelines for the men's open water Olympic qualifying event in Japan in May, as well as our domestic schedule.

"It's also clearly a terrific venue which will give the athletes another chance to gain competitive race experience in warm and controlled conditions - similar to what they might encounter in Tokyo."

Noosa's Nick Sloman won the Mooloolaba Mile last year. Picture: Tom Threadingham
Noosa's Nick Sloman won the Mooloolaba Mile last year. Picture: Tom Threadingham

The Australian Championships at Lake Kawana will form a critical part of the men's selection process for a spot in the 10km event at the Tokyo Games, which will be contested at the Olympic qualification event in Fukuoka.

The women's open water position on Australia's Olympic team has already been secured by Noosa's Kareena Lee, who grabbed a top-10 finish at the FINA World Swimming Championships in 2019.

Noosa's Nick Sloman and Kawana Water's Bailey Armstrong will be Coast talents well in the mix at the event and on the hunt to further their qualification hopes for the Olympics.

Armstrong was gearing up for a swim off with compatriot Hayden Cotter at the final Olympic Team qualifier in Fukuoka in May last year but COVID-19 quashed those hopes.

He's been forced to restart his qualification journey.

Meanwhile, it's a second chance for Sloman who had been thrown out of the initial race following a 25th-place finish in the Fina Open Water Marathon World Series race in Doha last year.

The whole program for the open water champs - with the exception of relays and the 2.5km exhibition event - will be delivered across the two days, allowing swimmers of all ages the opportunity to compete.