CASTAIC, California, May 17. CHRISTINE Jennings won what will be regarded as one of the closest 10K races in USA Swimming history, earning the first spot on the American world championship swimming roster this morning against some marathon swimming heavyweights.
Jennings, who turned 26 on May 7, lurked inside the lead pack for the two-hour-plus swim, using a strong kick to pull away from a crowded field in the final 100 meters to earn a place in the 10K swim at the FINA world championships in Barcelona. This will be Jennings' second time in the FINA 10K world championship swim, having placed 13th in the 2011 edition in Shanghai. She was also part of the 2010 open water world championships, finishing seventh.
This also marks Jennings' first open water national championship, having placed as high as fifth in previous races.
“I had no idea where I was in the pack,” Jennings said in a post-race interview. “I was just thinking about kicking as hard as I could (into the finish). I'm excited to represent the U.S. and I'm going to give it my best.”
Placing second was 15-year-old swimming prodigy Becca Mann, who qualifies for her first senior international competition. Mann has been making a name for herself under Coach Randy Reese at Clearwater Aquatics in Florida, making three championship finals at the 2012 Olympic Trials and posting impressive swims at the 2012 U.S. Open. Mann has been in a few open water races previously, but this would likely be the biggest 10K race of her life … so far. Mann lurked in the lead pack, hanging in 10th place for the first half of the race before inching her way to the lead pack around the 8000-meter mark.
With five swimmers sprinting to the finish pad, results of the top five finishers were not official for about five minutes. Third place was awarded to Eva Fabian, who finished just mere tenths behind Mann. Emily Brunemann placed fourth.
In addition to the 10K swim at worlds, Jennnings and Mann have the option of swimming the 5K and 25K swims in Barcelona. If the top two finishers in the 5K do not wish to swim the 5K at worlds, they will be next in line. Jennings and Mann will compete in the 5K on Sunday.