Jordan Wilimovsky made a huge surge on the final leg of the 5-kilometer relay, taking Team USA from fifth place to second, where it eventually finished for a silver medal in the first-ever mixed gender 5K team relay at the FINA World Championships on Thursday in Lake Balaton, Hungary.
Brendan Casey, Ashley Twichell, Haley Anderson and Wilimovsky finished in 54 minutes, 18.1 seconds, behind the gold-medal team from France, which finished in 54:05.9. Italy took the bronze medal in 54:31.0.
Wilimovsky and Twichell both claimed their second medals of the 2017 world championships. Twichell now has four career world championship medals, while Wilimovsky and Anderson have three apiece, and Casey earned his first.
Anderson is a two-time Olympian and 2012 silver medalist for Team USA, while Wilimovsky is a 2016 Olympian.
Twichell, who won gold in the women’s open water 5K on Wednesday, is the first American athlete with four career open water medals at the FINA World Championships, and Wilimovsky joins Chip Peterson as the only U.S. men with three career medals.
Casey gave the U.S. a seven-second lead on the opening leg. Twichell, swimming against a field that included men, dropped back to fifth place after a shaky entry exchange. Anderson kept the pace before tagging off to Wilimovsky for the decisive anchor leg.
“A couple of them came up on me, and I tried to stay on their feet,” Twichell said of swimming against the men. “I felt like I was drafting pretty well, and then I had a few more come up on either side of me. They’re pretty strong, so it takes a little bit out of you, but I stayed with them as best as I could.”
“We don’t get to do relays a lot, so when you do you want to try and win,” Wilimovsky said. “I knew I was a fair ways behind the French guy and right behind the Italian guy … It was kind of hard to see … I just put my head down.”
The open water portion of the world championships concludes Friday with the men’s and women’s 25K.