Kareena Lee hugging Australian teammate Chelsea Gubecka after the Olympic 10 km qualification race
Kareena Lee: 2020 Olympian With A Special Swim
Courtesy of FINA, Gwangju, South Korea.
Australia has a long tradition of great freestyles, from sprinters to distance swimmers. But it has been years since an Australian woman has reigned on top of the global open water swimming world.
Every since Melissa Gorman upset reigning Olympic and world champion Larisa Ilchenko at the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome, Australian women have been absent from the top echelon of the sport. But Kareena Lee intends to change that equation.
The 25-year-old finished 7th – securing her spot at the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – but she was only 3.3 seconds from gold in a tightly bunched lead pack after Xin Xin of China won gold.
The swimmer from Noosa was expectedly ecstatic, “I really just can’t believe it, I’m feeling so many mixed emotions at the moment, but I’m just so happy. The plan was to just keep up there, keep my sights on the top people and stay in the mix the whole way to give myself the best chance I could at the finishIt was very brutal at the end – but I just kept telling myself ‘I’ve got this chance and you’ve got to do it’, and I had ‘JR’ in my head the whole time, so I just put my head down at the end and gave it my all and tried to get my hand on that touch pad as fast as I could.”It’s an amazing feeling (to be nominated) it’s been a long time coming and lots of ups and downs in my career and…finally.”
She mentioned her coach John Rodgers (JR) who was recovering from an operation in Australia. “Nothing really changed except that he wasn’t here, and I just wanted to do it for him. Ringing him today after the race and hearing how proud he was just makes it special.”
It was as special as special gets en route to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games 10 km marathon swim.
Women’s Olympic 10 km Qualification Race Results:
Creator of the WOWSA Awards, World Open Water Swimming Association, the Daily News of Open Water Swimming, Oceans Seven, Open Water Summit, Openwaterpedia, KAATSU Global and KAATSU Research Institute. Inductee in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, recipient of the Poseidon Award and Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and a member of the Ice Swimming Hall of Fame, and former FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee member, Technical Delegate with the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games, and 9-time USA Swimming coaching staff.