Venue change after shark sightings to boost our odds
A SHIFT in venue could bolster national open water champion Chelsea Gubecka's Pan Pacific campaign, says coach Michael Sage.
The 10km event was originally to be staged at the Spit on the Gold Coast but has been moved after several shark sightings were reported to officials.
The swim will now take place at Lake Hugh Muntz, about 2km inland of Mermaid Beach. "We only found out last night," Sage said.
"It does change the game plan slightly because it means the pack will be bigger for longer. There won't be a big straight where you can build up speed and hold speed to pull away over a long stretch."
But Sage reckons the new course will suit the 15-year-old on account of the significant addition of turns.
"She grew up in the surf swimming around the cans and there will be a lot of corners now - 40 instead of 20," he said. "We feel it will be a fast finish more than anything but that is one of her strengths."
Gubecka will come up against some of the globe's top endurance athletes, most coming from Brazil and the United States.
"The field is very strong but we aren't too focused on the outcome as much as we are at getting the processes right," Sage said.
Gubecka finished 30th at the world championships in Spain last year after being crowned the 2013 Australian 1500m champion. She finished second in the same event this year.
"We didn't want to enter the 1500m here because it is such a different preparation," Sage said. "It's all about the 10km event and that's the one she loves."
Following the Pan Pacific Championships, the 2016 Rio Olympics loom as her next major goal. To earn a berth at the Games, she has to perform well throughout a series of events next year, including the Australian titles, a Mexico meet and a race in Russia.
Sage said today was a fantastic chance to gain valuable experience ahead of her pursuit of Olympic glory. "It's about getting used to these international events rather than worrying about where she finishes at this stage," he said. "As far as qualifying for Rio goes, the result from here has no bearing on that."
And with so much time ahead of her - open water swimmers generally peak in their late 20s- Sage said the most important thing was letting her develop at her own pace. "We have got to have a mindset of long term and she has got so much still to develop," he said. "I have an idea what she is capable of but want to keep her relaxed and focused."
Meanwhile, Melanie Schlanger will again be forced to contest the 50m freestyle B final, despite being the third fastest qualifier in 24.87s. Brittany Elmslie (25.23) missed the cut.