BEIJING, China, May 30. ACCORDING to unofficial on site reports from Steven Munatones, Swimming World's special correspondent in Beijing, Chloe Sutton of the United States has won the 10K test event and the Olympic roster spot that goes along with it.
After faltering at the initial World Championships Trials in the U.S. and not qualifying for a shot to make the Olympics while in Seville, Spain, Sutton made the most of her second chance, available because neither Kirsten Groome nor Micha Burden qualified in Spain.
USA Swimming elected to send Groome and Sutton, already a grizzled veteran of the open water scene at the age of 16, over Burden – a relative newcomer to the international scene – to the test event. The move paid off for USA Swimming and Sutton as she vindicated the decision with the victory. Groome wound up finishing 17th overall.
"God has a plan," Sutton said after breaking down in tears at the finish. "I felt comfortable and powered through that last lap."
The Italian duo of Martina Grimaldi and Alice Franco finished second and third. The Italians were working under a similar dynamic of a race within a race as Sutton and Groome were but with much closer results. The third-place finish for Franco was not enough as Grimaldi edged her for a spot in Beijing.
Sutton joins Mark Warkentin as the two members of the U.S. Open Water Olympic team in Beijing.
The official release from site organizers stating all 11 qualifiers is as follows:
American Chloe Sutton clocked 2:00:48.5 to finish first in the "Good Luck Beijing" 2008 Marathon Swimming Olympic Women's Qualification, which opened at Beijing's Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park today. All together 11 swimmers have qualified for the Olympic Games in August.
In the last pre-Olympic women's marathon swimming qualification event, 11 tickets were up for grabs as Australia failed to win the last qualification event in April.
Chloe Sutton of the U.S. ended in 2 hours and 48 seconds to win the gold, ahead of Italian Martina Grimaldi and her compatriot Alice Franco, who were 2:01:19.7 and 2:01:36.5 respectively.
According to the International Swimming Federation (FINA), each NOC could dispatch two athletes with only one being eligible for the Olympics, and the silver medalist Martina Grimaldi turned out to be the lucky one getting a spot in the 2008 Olympic tournament.
Greek Marianna Lymperta clocked 2:02:10.7 to be the fourth and Ukrainian Naraliya Samorodina (2:02:25.3) and Chilean Kristel Kobrich (2:02:47.8) sat in fifth and sixth tandem.
Mexico and Slovenia each had two swimmers in the top 11 with the tickets being awarded to No.7 Mexican Imelda Martinez and No.10 Teja Zupan of Slovenia.
The other four tickets went to No.9 Eva Berglund of Sweden, No.12 Argentine Antonella Bogarin, No.13 Olga Beresneva of Israel and No.14 Daniela Inacio of Portugal.
Press conference footage is available here.
Full photo galleries from site organizers are here.