Open water swimmers Jordan Wilimovsky and Sean Ryan qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team with their first- and fourth-place finishes in the 10-kilometer at the FINA World Championships Monday afternoon in Kazan, Russia.
Wilimovsky, 21, and Ryan, 22, become the third and fourth U.S. athletes of any sport – and the first swimmers – to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Pentathlete Nathan Schrimsher and table tennis player Yue “Jennifer” Wu qualified at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games earlier this month.
Rio will be the first Olympics for all four athletes.
Both Ryan and Wilimovsky took advantage of their first opportunity to qualify by name for Rio, with Wilimovsky winning gold with a time of 1:49:48.2 and Ryan coming in fourth in 1:50:03.3. Placing two swimmers in the top 10 at the world championships is the only opportunity for a nation to qualify multiple open water swimmers in a gender to the Olympic Games.
The two swimmers were surprise qualifiers for the 10-kilometer at world championships, upsetting a couple of Olympians at the 2015 Open Water National Championships. Wilimovsky earned his spot on the team for worlds by touching 0.006 seconds ahead of 2012 Olympian Alex Meyer.
2012 Olympic silver medalist Haley Anderson and Becca Mann will attempt to qualify for the Olympic team in the women’s 10-kilometer on Tuesday.
The next chance for open water swimmers to qualify for the Olympic team is a top-nine finish at the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier in early 2016.