Ashley Twichell swims at the FINA World Championships on July 25, 2015 in Kazan, Russia.
Four U.S. swimmers are closer to realizing their 2020 Olympic dreams after Friday’s Open Water National Championships in Miami.
Swimmers Ashley Twichell and 2016 Olympian Jordan Wilimovsky repeated as national champions in the open water 10-kilometer and qualified to compete at the FINA World Championships in July in Gwangju, South Korea. Joining them in qualification are the No. 2 U.S. finishers in Friday’s race, two-time Olympian Haley Anderson for the women and David Heron for the men. The top 10 finishers for both men and women at the world championships will qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The four athletes also qualified for a spot at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games, which begin in July in Peru.
Friday’s race took place in the warm waters of Florida on a course protected from waves and similar to the conditions in which athletes will be racing in both South Korea and in Tokyo.
Twichell, 2012 Olympic silver medalist Anderson, Erica Sullivan and Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha all jockeyed for top position throughout a tightly contested women’s race. Although Cunha prevailed in a close finish, Twichell finished second and is the national champion for the third straight year. The former Duke standout was the 2017 open water world champion in the 5K, a non-Olympic distance.
Cunha finished in 2:00:00.17, followed by Twichell in 2:00:00.67. Anderson’s third-place time was 2:00:01.10.
The men’s race wasn’t quite as close. Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri pulled ahead in the second lap, and by the fourth he had a one-minute lead. He finished in 1:49:25.37, and Wilimovsky followed in 1:50:57.35 with Italian Mario Sanzullo almost a minute behind him. Wilimovsky finished fifth in the open water 10K at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and won the silver medal at the world championships in 2017. He won the world title in 2015 to secure his spot in Rio.
The battle for the second U.S. men’s spot at the world championships was much closer, however, with a group of four fighting to finish fourth. Three of them were Americans, and it was Heron who made the push and held off the rest for a time of 1:52:22.03. Brennan Gravley was behind him in 1:52:25.43 and Indiana University’s James Brinegar was sixth in 1:52:28.86.