Natasha Harrison, 18, won the 17-18yrs, 5km and 10km Australian Open Water Swimming Titles.
Natasha Harrison, 18, won the 17-18yrs, 5km and 10km Australian Open Water Swimming Titles. Kari Bourne

Harrison's Olympic goal closer

SIPPY Downs’ Natasha Harrison is eyeing a berth at the 2016 Olympics after her encouraging showing at the world swimming championships in Shanghai.

The 20-year-old was putting her feet up yesterday after returning from China, where she finished a respectable 14th in the 25km open water race.

Amazingly, it was the 5km specialist’s first attempt at the longer distance.

She went into the event hoping for a top-10 placing but said she was content with her effort after contending with a high water temperate of 32C.

Harrison earned her place on the team after finishing third in both the 5km and 10km events at the Australian championships earlier this year.

She missed a place on the national squad in her pet events but since there was no 25km trial, selectors threw her a world championships lifeline with a spot in the longer race.

Not only did she have to contend with an interrupted preparation due to a shoulder injury, she also had to deal with 35C temperatures on race day.

She crossed the line in five hours 53.35 minutes, 24 minutes behind Brazilian winner Ana Marcela Cunha.

With the Australian place in the 10km at the London Olympics snapped up by Melissa Gorman, following her fourth at the world championships, Harrison said she was eyeing Rio de Janiero in 2016.

“My next race is going to be the Australian championships next year. Hopefully, with a better preparation I can jump up one or two places,” she said.

Despite the world championship result, Harrrison said she did not envision a future in the longer race.

She said she was just happy to cross the line after energy-sapping temperatures caused six of the 23 competitors to pull out mid-race in Shanghai.

“To be at that heart rate for that long and with those water temperatures, it affects the body really quick,” he said.

“A lot of people weren’t able to finish.

“It was pretty tough to keep the mind going and to keep pushing forward.”

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