By Steven Munatones, Swimming World Open Water correspondent
TIBURON, California, September 13. THE always exciting RCP Tiburon came to a close with Oceania swimmers walking away with the men's and women's elite titles. New Zealand's Kane Radford and Australia's Melissa Gorman surfaced victorious from the open water event.
With two-time Tiburon Mile champion Vladimir Dyatchin and Olympic gold medalist Ous Mellouli on his right and defending champion Trent Grimsey of Australia on his left right, Radford split the stars down the middle to win the $10,000 winner-take-all first prize at the 2009 RCP Tiburon Mile in San Francisco this morning.
"I tried to go all out right from the start," said Radford, who has been training with the Mission Viejo Nadadores this year. "I was confident in my line. I saw Trent over to my left and was grateful that I had the best line [to the finish]. It's a great way to start the season."
With a field filled with some of the world's best open water swimmers, Radford left no doubt that his upcoming season should be a good one. As he powered through to the shore, he comfortably finished ahead in 22:13 over Grimsey's 22:13 and Dyatchin's 22:50.
The women's race was completely different with several lead changes between Gorman, Eva Fabian of Greenwood Swim Club and Chloe Sutton of the Mission Viejo Nadadores.
Sutton got off to an excellent start and was holding her own against the top men while she was in the chase group between Dyatchin. Meanwhile, Gorman and Fabian had swum into rocks near the start, resulting in numerous gashes on Eva's stomach and arms.
"Even my suit ripped, but I really didn't feel it until I got out," said Fabian.
By mid-channel with the majestic Golden Gate Bridge in the background, Gorman had pulled behind Fabian and was drafting as the savvy world champion she is. Within minutes, Fabian and Gorman had converged with Sutton's group and the race was on – and no one was giving an inch. Sutton and Fabian went stroke-for-stroke into the harbor with Gorman only slightly behind. With 200 meters to go, it looked like a 1-2 American finish.
"But Eva and Chloe swung a little wide coming into the harbor and I saw an opening," Gorman said.
It was all she needed.
Gorman swung into overdrive, like she did at the 2009 World Championships where she upset Olympic gold medalist Larisa Ilchenko and edged by Fabian and Sutton.
"I saw her go by Chloe and me," said Fabian. "She was swimming fast."
Gorman just finished a stroke and a step ahead of Fabian and Sutton in the respective times of 24:06, 24:08 and 24:09.
"It was fun. It was a very good race," Fabian said.
Gorman was beaming with joy after winning.
"I've never won so much money in a race," Gorman said. "I am not sure what I am going to do with the money yet. Probably save some of it."
More than 750 swimmers started the 1.2-mile swim across San Francisco Bay in 65˚F (17˚C) water on an overcast day.
Overall men's results:
1. Kane Radford, New Zealand, 22:13
2. Trent Grimsey, Australia, 22:18
3. Vladimir Dyatchin, Russia, 22:50
4. Ous Mellouli, Tunisia, 23:47
5. Andrew Beato, Australia, 23:58
6. John Koehler Jr., USA, 24:20
7. Thiago Pereira, Brazil, 24:23
8. Brendan Capell, Australia, 24:42
9. Zach Hansford, Australia, 24:44
10. Ben Hinshaw, USA 25:17
Overall women's results:
1. Melissa Gorman, Australia, 24:06
2. Eva Fabian, USA, 24:08
3. Chloe Sutton, USA, 24:09
4. Britta Kamrau, Germany, 24:24
5. Ekaterina Seliverstova, Russia, 24:41
6. Luane Rowe, Australia, 24:53
7. Stacey Hansford, Australia, 25:51
8. Taylor Nanfria, USA 25:58
9. Caitlin Leverenz, USA 26:00
10. Lauren Matevish, USA, 26:02