Tokyo Bound Kareena Lee Showing The Hall Marks Of A World Class Open Water Swimmer

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STROKED: Noosa's Tokyo-bound Kareena Lee shows the style that is making her one of there most capable open water swimmers in the world. Photo Courtesy: Kareena Lee Instagram.

Australia’s Tokyo Bound Kareena Lee Showing All The Hall Marks Of A World Class Open Water Swimmer

 Noosa’s Tokyo bound marathon swimmer Kareena Lee is developing into one of the most capable open water swimmers in the world, according to Swimming Australia’s Performance Manager Greg Shaw after an eye-catching performance to win the Queensland State Open Water 5km title on the Sunshine Coast today.

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PLENTY TO SMILE ABOUT: Kareena Lee adds the Queensland State 5km title to her ever growing list of wins. Photo Courtesy: Kareena Lee Instagram.

Lee, 26, swam away with the title ahead of TSS Aquatic pair, defending champion Maddy Gough and former champion Kiah Melverton in a classy field as over 370 age group and open swimmers turned out at the Oz Ski Resort, Coolum.

While in the men’s race, reigning Australian 10km champion, Lee’s 22-year-old Noosa team mate Nick Sloman scored an all-the way victory from 21-year-old Bailey Armstrong (Kawana) with 19-year-old Hayden Cotter (Belgravia) out-touching 17-year-old up-and-comers Ruben Rees (Miami) and Thomas Raymond (Nudgee College) for third.

In the hotly contested women’s field, it was Gough, the Australian short course record holder for 1500m freestyle and Olympic hopeful in the newly-added Tokyo Olympic event, who set a tempo and a pace, right from the start – a tactic she is well known for.

Lee stuck with Gough for the first two laps and then at the back end of the third lap the John Rodgers trained Lee, shifted up a gear and swam passed Gough – showing the skills that is making her world class.

But the tenacious 21-year-old Gough stuck with Lee for about another lap but in the back-half of the fourth lap, Lee started to pull away and in the finish, touched a good 25m ahead of Gough and her training partner Melverton in a field of 47 swimmers which Shaw described as the most competent he has seen for some time in Australian open water swimming.

“From Kareena’s perspective it was certainly good for her to be able to demonstrate some of those (open water) swimming capabilities,” said Shaw.

“She has really developed over the past 12 months under JR (Rodgers) and that’s making her one of the most capable open water swimmers in the world.

“It’s just about giving her the opportunity to practice and demonstrate those capabilities consistently leading into the Olympics.”

Shaw said it was great to have the interest and support from clubs like TSS Aquatic with swimmers such as  Gough and Melverton, as well as Moesha Johnson and Laura Taylor and a strong showing from Yeronga Park with a rejuvenated Rio Olympian Chelsea Gubecka continuing to lead the way.

“All those young girls keep the race interesting, also keeping the senior athletes accountable; there’s such a good vibe to see our senior distance swimmers pushing each other; they work well together (as was shown in our recent Camp in Cairns).

“It’s a positive for us as a swimming nation to have a good group of girls in that distance space just pushing each other forward.”

In the men’s race, that started without the Kai Edwards (TSS Aquatic) who withdrew ill, it was Sloman who swam away with the race from the start and was never headed.

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OUT IN FRONT: Noosa’s Nick Sloman led all the way to win today’s Queensland State 5km title. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Sloman was on it from the word go and made the race from the front; turning the screws and it was Armstrong who went with him for about two laps before dropping off to finish second.

A group with Cotter, Rees and Raymond then staged a helter-skelter dash to the finish with Cotter’s experience giving him the final podium berth.

 

 

“Nick is at a good point at the moment from a training and capacity perspective and he has come off the back of our training camp in Cairns so he’s in a good place,” said Shaw.

“It was certainly a good demonstration of what he is physically capable of at the moment.

“It’s good to see those young boys stepping up, with Ruben and Tom hanging with Hayden and swimming with him. All these young boys are at a time of their careers where they are all going to be progressing across the board.

“It is incumbent on us at the moment to give them as many opportunities to practice close finishes and as much hard racing as possible and again they are progressing in training and in pool competitions as you would expect along their trajectory.

“With Covid, everyone is at different stages of their preparations.

“Hayden has not done as much pool work as someone like Nick but he is getting himself out and keeping himself moving in other ways, including plenty of surf training and there is still plenty of time until Trials (in January and the final Tokyo selection race in May next year).

“Hayden is coming along as expected. He just didn’t have the same level of background through Covid so that’s where he’s at..”

With Lee already securing her place for Tokyo with her top ten finish at last year’s World Championships, the process begins in earnest at Penrith Lakes in January at the Australian Championships with just one Olympic place up for grabs.

 

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