ON FIRE: Queensland Open Water Swimming Champion Chelsea Gubecka won the 10km event at Lake Kawana yesterday.
ON FIRE: Queensland Open Water Swimming Champion Chelsea Gubecka won the 10km event at Lake Kawana yesterday. Che Chapman

Gubecka’s charge to Rio heats up

CHELSEA Gubecka has reminded the world of her credentials by winning the Queensland state championships at Kawana as she builds toward Rio qualification.

Gubecka finished second in the shorter 5km distance yesterday after a three-way sprint finish and then continued swimming to comfortably win the open-water 10km race in the same leg.

The 16-year-old Kawana Waters swimmer narrowly missed out on the top 10 and automatic 2016 Olympic qualification at the world championships earlier this year when she finished 13th.

And yesterday's win did nothing to dint her confidence on the road to her last opportunity for Rio qualification at an event in Portugal next year.

"It was great, my main focus today was tactics, which is a really important part of open-water swimming," she said.

"It was a sprint finish for 5km against some girls who are highly ranked in the pool, which was quite a challenge.

"I just had to swim out the lactate, just float a bit and make it as easy as possible prepare for next 2.5km.

"It's great to do it that way and I'm grateful that I had competition today (yesterday)."

Although she took it relatively easy yesterday, Gubecka said missing out on automatic Olympic qualification had lit a fire in her belly.

"IT was bitter sweet (finishing 13th) - I was happy because it was good to improve quite a number of places from my first world championships," she said.

"But again it was just a bit bitter (because) I was only three spots away and not too far off qualifying.

"I was disappointed, (but) it kind of just makes me hungrier.

"It was kind of snatched away from me."

The top-placed Oceania competitor at Portugal will gain qualification and Gubecka is ranked number one in the region after winning the past two national titles, aged just 14 and 15.

Fellow Sunshine Coaster Kareena Lee finished second in the 10km.

It was Lee who gave Gubecka the opportunity to test her mettle at the world championships in Russia earlier this year, as Lee pulled out of the 25km race after being hospitalised following the 10km.

Gubecka said: "I'm feeling pretty good I've had a solid month or so of work, which has been really great post-world champs after the 25km messed with my body and head," she said.

"It took a while to get the swing of things once I got home.

"It was a last-minute call-in.

"My trainer decided it would be good to have another swim, which was difficult to get my body and mind ready to race after a two-day turnaround.

"It was a good challenge I was willing to take."

Although the double left her exhausted, Gubecka said she'd be doing it again in the lead-up to Portugal in June next year.