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Historic open water relay gold for Dolphins at World Swimming Championships

Australia’s open water swimming team capped off an historic 2024 World Championships in Doha with a dramatic victory in the mixed 4x1500m relay.

Australia’s open water swimming team capped off an historic World Championships in Doha with a dramatic victory in the mixed 4x1500m relay at Old Doha Port with Kyle Lee – the fastest man on course in the last 20 metres – snatching a fingertip victory.

Decided in a photo finish, the quartet of Moesha Johnson, Chelsea Gubecka, Nick Sloman and Lee had a nervous wait on the pontoon before the result was confirmed that they had just won Australia’s first open water relay world title.

The Doha gold medal comes on the back of a memorable meet in which Australia qualified all four quota spots for the Paris Olympics, and experienced racer Chelsea Gubecka won an individual silver in the women’s 5km swim.

The maturing Lee is fast earning a reputation as one of ocean swimming’s best finishers.

In a private battle with Italy’s Domenico Acerenza, Lee moved to Acerenza’s hip and then shoulder before heading inside to get his hand to the board first in 1:03.28.0 with Italy 0.2 seconds behind and Hungary third in 1:04:06.8.

The fingertip victory was built on a cracking first leg by Johnson, positioning Australia fourth which Guebecka held on to, allowing Sloman to take the lead for the Dolphins in the third leg before Lee gutsed his way to the finish.

Lee, who sat a two-hour accounting exam yesterday, said: “It was the team that out me in the best possible position … I couldn’t ask any more of them.”

“I just tried to stay calm and it is so hectic in that finishing shoot … I guess I got lucky on the touch.”

Johnson added: “I am just so proud of this team. We won a bronze medal as the underdogs last year. And, you know, I think that just has driven us all just to strive to get better.”

“To be on top of the podium today against some really incredible nations is just so special for all of us and … we’ve all had an incredible week with our 10ks and Chelsea’s silver yesterday.”

Gubecka, who had secured her Paris berth with a silver medal at July’s World Championships in Fukuoka, added: “Securing the spot last year was unbelievable.”

“But then to see three of my teammates come in and secure spots for Australia is just the best thing in the world and I’m really proud of the team that we’ve put together.”

Sloman said: “As a team we really wanted this. We spoke about it last night and personally when I hit the water just wanted to make the most of effort that Moe and Chelsea had put in – I just didn’t want to let them down.”

With an eye on Paris, Team Leader and Swimming Australia’s High Performance Director Greg Shaw applauded the performance and said: “All of those achievements and efforts in the moment may not see like a lot but they add up in the end, Kyle won’t be in the position to put his hand on the wall unless everyone has done their bit.”

“The entire open water group has really grown, and as a whole team it really is a case of we make each other better. It permeates everything we do as a Dolphin. Our focus this year is Paris, but this is a very important stepping stone.”

Image credit: World Aquatics

  • Written by Ocean Swims on 8 February 2024
  • (Updated on 8 February 2024)



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