WUHAN, China, May 2. Yesterday, Erica Rose became the first-ever female — and the first foreigner — to win the Yangtze River Speed Crossing, a 2000-meter race across the fast-moving Yangtze River, the longest river in China. SwimInfo caught up with Erica today for a brief chat about her historic victory. Here's what she had to say…
SwimInfo: Congratulations on your win in yesterday's race. How does it feel to be the first-ever woman to win this race?
Erica Rose: Thank you. Winning this race has really been an honor. It is a huge event here in Wuhan, and to be able to be a part of this tradition and to be in the first competition involving international competitors has been exciting.
SwimInfo: Did you have any significant competition?
Erica Rose: Most of the competitors were from China and are local champions from their hometowns. Since the race depended so much on strategy and on swimming with the current and dealing with the water conditions (VERY COLD!!), the field was fairly even going in.
I really had no idea how fast the other girls would be, but I knew that they probably had more river swimming experience than I did.
The finish of the race was close because I had to swim against the current to reach the finish board, and the girl who finished second took a more direct route and nearly beat me.
SwimInfo: Speaking of race strategy, what was yours?
Erica Rose: My race strategy was to focus on swimming straight to the other side of the river, and to let the current carry me downstream in the direction of the finish. I didn't want to aim for the finish because with the current as fast as it was (2 meters per second in some places), I knew I would be pushed too far. I also knew I had to relax and not tense up too much in the cold water. Oh, and I tried to mentally prepare myself for running into bamboo shoots in the river!
SwimInfo: What ahs your reception been like since your win — by the Chinese people, the media, other swimmers and sports officials?
Erica Rose: The reception here has been incredible. I have never been in an event where the local people were as excited about the race as they were yesterday.
For miles along the river, there were people as far as you could see. They openly welcomed us into their traditional event, and they seemed to love having me as their champion, even though I'm not Chinese.
They have gone out of their way to make this week an unbelievable experience, and they want us to come back in the future and to take part in more of their events.
SwimInfo: Thanks, Erica. And congratulations again!