Chip Peterson has been on a major physical and emotional rollercoaster ride since winning silver in the 10K swim at the 2007 Pan American Games, which makes his gold medal swim at the 2015 competition more poignant.
Peterson has been one of the world’s best open water swimmers, winning the world title in 2005 at 17 years old. After his silver medal at Pan Ams, it appeared he was on track for a spot on the American team for the first 10K swim at the Olympics in 2008. But not long after the 2007 Pan Ams, Peterson was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which was so debilitating that he was unable to swim to his potential in 2008.
Peterson believed he had the symptoms under control and was able to take the gold medal in the 10K at the Pan Pacific championships in 2010. This put him back in the driver’s seat for a shot at the Olympics, but in 2011, he felt the abdominal cramps that signaled that the ulcerative colitis was back. This time, Peterson chose not to put his career on the line, and retired in 2011.
Peterson had surgery to completely remove his colon, and all indications are that he’s healthier than he has been in a long time. He’s been back in the water for a couple of years, working his way back into the form that got him onto medal podiums in previous years. Sunday’s win in Toronto is just one step of many toward that elusive spot on the Olympic team, but it’s a big step in the right direction.
Peterson took a wait-and-see approach to the 10K swim, letting Canadians Eric Hedlin and Richard Weinberger take the lead in the main pack. It wasn’t until the final 1500 meters that Peterson turned on his kick and surged ahead to beat teammate David Heron by four seconds.
On the eight-year anniversary of his silver medal performance at the 2007 Pan Ams, we’re happy to give Chip Peterson the Swimming World Performance of the Week for his medal upgrade!