By Phillip Whitten
TIBURON, Calif., Oct. 6. OLYMPIANS Ryk Neethling and Cristina Teuscher emerged victorious in the Third Annual RCP Tiburon Mile today, earning $10,000 each.
The event attracted some 730 competitors, including
what meet organizer Bob Placak called "the strongest open water field in history."
Neethling, a South African who was a finalist in the 1500 meter freestyle at last year's Olympic Games in Sydney, won the men's title for the second straight time, completing the one nautical mile race from Angel Island to Tiburon in 19 minutes 31 seconds.
Teuscher, a gold medalist for the U.S. at the 1996 Olympics and a bronze medalist in 2000, was the surprise women's winner, upsetting three-time Olympic champion Brooke Bennett, who was bidding to win the race for the third straight year.
The men's race was close all the way. 2000 US Olympic silver medalist Chad Carvin took the immediate lead, holding it for the first 12 minutes, when Chris Thompson, the American record-holder at 1500 meters and the bronze medalist in that event in Sydney took over. Thompson continued to head a tightly-bunched lead pack of ten swimmers, incluing Teuscher, until the final 150 meters, when he made a wrong turn, taking himself out of contention and boosting US open water star Mark Leonard into the lead.
Neethling unleashed a furious sprint over the final 100 meters to overtake Leonard and win by four seconds. Carvin was another four seconds in arrears with Thompson just behind him.
In contrast to the men's race, the women's race was never in doubt. Teuscher took command right at the start, and repeated surges by Bennett, winner of both the 400 and 800 meters at the 2000 Olympic Games, were of no avail. Teuscher finished in 19:42, the fifth-fastest swimmer overall, to beat Bennett by 14 seconds.
Neethling said the race was his toughest ever open water swim. "There was an incredible field this year," he said, "and even the girls were pushing us. Last year I had the luxury of swimming a few strokes backstroke so I could get a good look at the Golden Gate Bridge. This year it was all business."
Teuscher, who was sporting a black eye after getting kicked in the face by a male competitor, pronounced
"it was worth it. I definitely plan to come back next year."
1. Ryk Neethling (South Africa) 19:31 ($10,000)
2. Mark Leonard (USA) 19:35 ($2,000)
3. Chad Carvin (USA) 19:39 ($1,000)
4. Chris Thompson (USA) 19:41
5. Alex Kostich (USA) 19:44
6. Eugueni Bezroutchenko (Russia) 19:46
7. John Flanagan (USA) 19:46
8. Justin Barber (USA) 19:46
9. Steve McLeod (USA) 19:49
10. Sean Gruver(USA) 20:37
1. Cristina Teuscher (USA) 19:42 ($10,000)
2. Brooke Bennett (USA) 19:56 ($2,000)
3. Lindsay Benko (USA) 20:38 ($1,000)
4. Edith Van Dijk (Netherlands) 20:38
5. Dawn Heckman (USA) 20:40
6. Lauren Costella (USA) 20:43
7. Ashley Whitney (USA) 20:59
8. Amanda Beard (USA) 21:12
9. Suzanne Heim-Bowen (USA) 21:58
10. Julie De Fabrique (USA) 24:06