Zimbabwe-born swimming star Kyle Lee was the star of the show as
Australia claimed their first swimming gold medal at the aquatic world championships in Doha, clinching a nail-biting win in the 4x1500m mixed open-water event on Thursday.
Lee, who was born in Harare before moving to Australia with his family, was part of the team of Moesha Johnson, Chelsea Gubecka and Nicholas Sloman which held off a fast-finishing Italy to win by two-tenths of a second in the Qatari capital.
The 21-year-old star touched in a time of one hour three minutes 28 seconds to just pip the defending-champion Italians (1.03:28:20), with fellow Europeans Hungary (1.04:06:80) claiming bronze more than 28 seconds behind.
Lee’s achievement was remarkable as it came just a day after taking a two-hour auditing examination, as part of his accountancy degree course, in the Australian team hotel in Doha, supervised by the team management.
“I just tried to stay calm and it is so hectic in that finishing shoot … I guess I got lucky on the touch,” said Lee, who’s proved himself a considerable “finisher” for the Australian team with memorable anchor legs at the 2023 world championships in Fukuoka and the 2023 World Cup in Funchal.
“It was so exciting to race today and to know you’re not swimming for yourself, you’re swimming for your country. Everyone swam so well so going into the water, they were wishing me the best of luck – and I tried to do my best for them.”
Lee migrated to Western Australia from Zimbabwe with his parents at age six, grew up near Bunbury – 170km south of Perth where he forged his swimming career, before the successful move to Perth’s North Shore Swim Club and the astute coaching of Ian Mills.
He went into Thursday’s open water relay on a high after his dynamic eighth place Olympic qualifying swim earlier in the week, making the cut for this year’s Paris Olympic Games where Australia will be one of the few teams with a full complement of four.
And Lee emerged after one of the most exciting finishes (and there have been some) hailed along with teammates Moesha Johnson, Nic Sloman and Chelsea Gubecka as the latest heroes of Australia’s Dolphins Swim Team.