Swimming-First Australian named for Paris Games shrugs off Seine pollution concerns

FILE PHOTO: Fukuoka 2023 World Aquatics Championships - Open Water Swimming - Seaside Momochi Beach Park, Fukuoka, Japan - July 15, 2023 Silver medallist Australia's Chelsea Gubecka celebrates on the podium during the medal ceremony for the women's 10km final REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

(Reuters) - Australian marathon swimmer Chelsea Gubecka is hopeful organisers will fix water quality problems in the Seine river in time for the Paris Olympics, having been unable to swim at a test event this year.

Brisbane local Gubecka, who won an individual silver medal and a team bronze at the world championships in Fukuoka, was the first athlete confirmed on Australia's Olympic team on Thursday and will compete in the 10km open water event at the Games.

Organisers were forced to cancel the Open Water Swimming World Cup in Paris in August after heavy rain caused the Seine's water quality to dip below minimum health standards, leaving Gubecka and other swimmers unable to compete.

Swimming legs of test events for triathlon and Para triathlon were also scrapped in August over water quality concerns.

"Of course, it raised an issue earlier this year. We did go over and unfortunately could not swim," the 25-year-old told reporters in Brisbane on Thursday.

"I don't have too much concern and I know the mayor and the town is really trying their hardest and expressed a lot of disappointment at the time.

"They really are considering their options and are going to try to make sure we have the best experience possible next year."

Paris has been working on clean-up efforts to make the Seine swimmable again, as it was during the 1900 Paris Olympics.

But heavy rain causes the city's sewage system to overflow into the river.

Bathing in the Seine has been banned since 1923, though officials have long promised to restore water quality to safe levels.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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