LAKE LANIER ISLANDS, Georgia, September 23. NEARLY a dozen Olympians gathered at Lake Lanier just north of Atlanta Saturday to race in the fourth annual Swim For Your Life event, with Ashley Whitney and Matt McLean each winning events.
Eric Shanteau’s brainchild was created to help raise awareness and funds for cancer research through a swimming event. Each year, Shanteau’s Olympic connections have helped him bring several former teammates to the event to race, give clinics and share their desire to end cancer.
This year, Anderson was one of the top stars of the event. She won the silver medal in the 10K swim at last year’s Olympics and is the reigning world champion in the 5K from July’s race in Barcelona. But on Saturday, it was 34-year-old Whitney, who won a gold medal in the 800 freestyle relay as a member of the prelim squad for the United States, who got to the finish ahead of Anderson in the 5K in 58 minutes, 29 seconds to win the overall women’s race. Anderson was not far behind with a 58:34.
Cody Bekemeyer, 16, won the men’s 5K with a time of 54:11, just ahead of 15-year-old Taylor Delk (54:11) and 16-year-old Tyler Mazurek (54:56).
Whitney and Anderson were the only Olympians in attendance to brave the 5K. Three Olympians chose the 1K race, and Matt McLean finished in 8 minutes, 47 seconds. That was a nearly a minute ahead of the second place finisher, 14-year-old Kenny Chen who swam the distance in 9:46. Another 14-year-old, Drew Whitmoyer, was third in 9:49.
Sprinter Megan Romano finished the 1K in 10:15 for 17th place, while Shanteau finished 27th overall in the 1K with a 10:34. Recently retired Alyssa Anderson’s 10:44 netted her 33rd place, while Allison Schmitt placed 35th with a 10:50.
The fastest female in the 1K was 41-year-old Wenona Van Derhei with a 9:59.
The day also featured a stroke clinic featuring Olympians, including Amanda Weir and Aaron Peirsol. Rowdy Gaines was also on hand to offer enthusiasm to the crowd and support the cause.