CLAIMING COOLY: Chelsea Gubecka takes victory at the 2016 Cooly Classic Ocean Swim.
CLAIMING COOLY: Chelsea Gubecka takes victory at the 2016 Cooly Classic Ocean Swim. Matt Roberts

Sunshine Coast teenage swim champ hopes to make Rio

SWIMMING: Australian open water swimming champion Chelsea Gubecka says her attention to shorter distances could see her claim a third 1500m title at this week's Australian swimming championships.

The 17-year-old first won the event at just 14 in 2013, before again claiming the 1500m last year.

She finished second in 2014.

The endurance pro is in solid form as evidenced in Sunday's victory at the 3km Cooly Classic on the Gold Coast.

"I have been doing a bit more preparation for the 1500m which will hopefully help me," Gubecka said.

"I am determined to successfully defend my title and hopefully I can come away with a win."

The championships double as a qualifier for Rio, however the 1500m event is not offered to women as an Olympic event.

"Unfortunately we don't get to race in it at the Olympics so winning a national title is as good as it gets for the 1500m," Gubecka said.

She will also contest the 800m freestyle, which is an Olympic event, with the Coast swimmer a strong chance to make the final.

And although not her favoured distance, Gubecka would not rule out qualifying for Rio in the 800m.

"It might be a bit of a stretch, but if I can pull out a personal best I have a chance," she said.

Regardless of how she fares at the national titles, Gubecka's greatest hope for Rio qualification looms in the open water event at the World Championships in June.

Should she be the highest ranked Australian, she will find herself heading to Rio.

To do that she will have to hold off fellow Coast open water ace and good friend Karina Lee, who looms as her biggest threat.

"Portugal is the big thing for me after nationals," Gubecka said.

"Karina is a great friend and it is awesome to have someone else from the Sunshine Coast doing so well.

"No matter who makes the (Olympic) team, we will be happy for each other and I'm sure they will do their best for Australia."