CASTAIC LAKE, California, June 13. IN two races that swapped leaders throughout, Becca Mann and Andrew Gemmell each won the 10K U.S. open water national titles and will lead a talented U.S. squad in the event at the Pan Pacific championships.
After allowing Megan Rankin, Haley Anderson and others to lead in the early stages of the women’s race, new North Baltimore Aquatic Club member Becca Mann forced her way into the lead in the final 1000 meters. The 16-year-old won her first-ever national title, pool or open water. Her time of 1 hour, 59 minutes, 13.95 seconds was nearly eight seconds faster than runner-up Haley Anderson, who qualified for Pan Pacs with a time of 1:59:21.55.
USA Swimming is sending four swimmers from each gender to the Pan Pacs for the 10K, and third-place finisher Eva Fabian (1:59:22.08) and fourth-place finisher Christine Jennings (1:59:23.91) will be returning to the meet after winning medals in 2010. Jennings is the reigning open water Pan Pac champion, while Fabian picked up a silver medal.
Emily Brunemann and Ashley Twichell were fifth and sixth, respectively, to qualify for the open water national team, a crucial finish that guarantees them travel stipends from USA Swimming for the next year.
The men’s race played out in much the same pattern. Ryan Feeley took a blistering pace in the opening half, but fell back considerably after Chip Peterson, the reigning Pan Pac champion, caught him and pushed the pace. In the final 1.5 miles of the race, Sean Ryan attempted to take command with defending national champion Alex Meyer, but lurking in the pack was Andrew Gemmell, who built his pacing and took the lead. Gemmell never relinquished his lead, but Jordan Wilimovsky attempted to overtake Gemmell before the entrance into the finish chute.
Gemmell got to the finish pad first with a time of 1:50:45.93, with Wilimovsky qualifying for his first major international competition thanks to his runner-up finish time of 1:50:49.36. Also getting on the Pan Pac team were Sean Ryan and Alex Meyer, who amazingly tied for third place with down to the hundredth of a second (1:51.30.28) after more than six miles of swimming. Meyer competed in the 2010 Pan Pac 10K race, but was pulled from the race after feeling ill.
David Heron was fifth, while Peterson finished sixth to earn spots on the national team.
The 5K championships will be held Sunday morning, with spots on the junior world championship team on the line.