TORONTO – In a finish where the entire podium was separated by just one-tenth of a second, USA Swimming National Team member Eva Fabian (Keene, N.H.) claimed gold in the Pan American Games women’s 10-kilometer open water race Saturday at Ontario Place West Channel.
Fabian finished in 2 hours, 3 minutes, 17.0 seconds, as did silver medalist Paola Perez Sierra of Venezuela. Samantha Arevalo Salinas of Ecuador took bronze in 2:03:17.1.
“That was a hard-earned victory,” Fabian said. “It was a difficult sprint at the end and I was really happy to come out with my hand on the top first.”
Fabian’s teammate Emily Brunemann (Crescent Springs, Ky.) finished fourth in 2:03:17.5, just four-tenths off the podium.
The U.S. duo established itself among the leaders from the get-go, setting the early pace along with Cecilia Biagioli of Argentina, the 2011 Pan American Games champion. At the midway point, Fabian sat fourth and Brunemann fifth in the lead group of 13 swimmers.
By the time leaders hit the sixth and final lap, the contenders had been whittled to six, including Fabian and Brunemann. With about 400 meters remaining after the final turn, the three eventual podium finishers moved into the lead, with Brunemann close on their heels. She eventually closed that gap and all four entered the finish chute simultaneously.
In the end, Fabian, who is just 5-foot-3, reached to get her hand on the touch pad first, just ahead of the second-, third- and fourth-place finishers.
“That’s what every swimmer lives for, it’s what every athlete wakes up thinking about. It’s a dream come true,” Fabian said about winning gold for Team USA. “That’s the tradition we have with the National Team. You saw all the pool swimmers come out and support us. We have a tradition of excellence; it’s something that we respect very much.”
Fabian, a swimmer at Yale University, was fourth in the 10K at the 2011 Pan American Games in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.