"It Doesn't Get Much Better"
By Robin Schaefer
IT was slightly overcast, no sign of rain, no wind, no fog. You could see Angel Island, like a gem, resting peacefully off the shore of Tiburon, in the San Francisco Bay. Things were looking good. At 6:00 a.m. you could have rolled a bowling ball down Main Street, Tiburon and it would have kept going. By 6:15 a.m……no such luck. The more than 530 registered swimmers in the 2nd Annual RCP Tiburon Mile Open Water Swim had started to arrive for check-in and Main Street, Tiburon was resonating with excitement.
There were familiar faces, Alex Kostich, open water world record holder and triple Pan Am gold medalist; Lisa Hazen, national record holder; Susie Maroney, international open water swimmer from Australia; and John Flanagan, 2000 Olympic Trials qualifier & gold medal world champion. And new faces: Mark Leonard, Olympic Trials finalist & 2000 open water national champion; Adam Messner, captain of the Stanford swim team; and Dawn Heckman 2000 USA Swimming open water World Championship team member & Pan Pac gold medalist.
And among the crowd two more familiar faces: Brooke Bennett, 3 time US Olympic gold medalist, (400m and 800m Free); and Ryk Neethling, 2000 South African Olympic finalist in the 400m and 1500m free. Even to the non-swimmer, these two Olympians stood out in the crowd.
With an elite field of 75 swimmers (13 women and 62 men) competing for a purse of $20,000 in cash and prizes the 2,000 spectators standing at the shoreline were in for a treat!
This 1 nautical mile race had been a tradition of the Corinthian Yacht Club up through the 1950’s. Not much information exists on the history of this race. But so thrilling and challenging are the currents in this area of the San Francisco Bay that Robert C. Placak decided in 1999 that the tradition needed to be resurrected.
Swimmers from 14 countries and 15 U.S. states were present. They came from places like Ohio, Virginia, Mexico, Brazil and Egypt. They swam for the fun of it, they swam for the thrill, they swam for the win!!
First across the finish line was Ryk Neethling (25:58). On his heels was Mark Leonard (26:02). The two battled the entire course, at one point cruising tightly next to each other. Two seconds behind Mark, John Flanagan (26:04) placed third.
The men may have thought the top six slots belonged to them, don’t be so sure….there was Brooke! Half way through the race, Brooke was sandwiched between four of the top six men – two on each side. She kept up her pace and came in 5th overall, first in the women’s division with a time of 26:10.
Post-race on the waterfront green were the smiles of many exhilarated swimmers. Feasting on the savory dishes prepared by 12 of the best restaurants in Marin County and basking in the site of the Golden Gate Bridge as it loomed majestically above the course they had just swam.
What could have been better? What a race, what a spectacular finish!
Swimmers are waiting for October 6, 2001 when they will have the chance to do it all again!
For more information on the RCP Tiburon Mile Open Water Swim call the Race Hotline at (415) 721-9990 or visit the website at www.rcptiburonmile.com. The 2nd Annual RCP Tiburon Mile Gold Sponsors included The Waters Edge Hotel, Tiburon and Frigidaire Financial Corporation.
2000 RCP Tiburon Mile Race Results
Women’s Elite Top 6 Winners
1. Brooke Bennett, 20, Valrico, FL 26:10
2. Dawn Heckman, 23, Los Angeles, CA 27:16
3. Karen Reeder, 38, Colo. Spr., CO 27:44
4. Heidi Hannenian, 29, El Segundo, CA 27:51
5. Lisa Hazen, 36, Saratoga, CA 28:53
6. Angie Wester-Krieg,35,Campbell,CA 29:06
Men’s Elite Top 6 Winners
1. Ryk Neethling, 22, Tucson, AZ 25:58
2. Mark Leonard, Ann Arbor, MI 26:02
3. John Flanagan, 25, Honolulu, HI 26:04
4. Peter Marshall, 18, Stanford, CA 26:09
5. Alex Kostich, 30, Burbank, CA 26:15
6. Markus Rogan, 18, Stanford, CA 26:17
Women’s Age Group Top Five Winners
1 Lauren Costella, 15, Carson City, NV 28:49
2 Liane Teplitsky, 24, Santa Clara, CA 32:30
3 Alison Sundberg, 16,Tiburon, CA 33:28
4 Melanie Von Hartitzsc, 23, Berkeley 33:31
5 Miriam Carlson, 23, Ukiah, CA 34:08
Men’s Age Group Top Five Winners
1 Justin Barber, 15, Carson City 26:13
2 Robert Hudek, 38, Dallas 28:36
3 Ryan Hudson, 18, Reno 28:41
4 Bob Childs, 31, San Francisco 30:55
5 Ryan Theilemann, 16, Carson City 31:25
Women’s Wetsuit Division Top Five Winners
1 Tiffany Forbes, 33, San Francisco 31:01
2 Janet Renner, 38, Puunene, HI 32:46
3 Scotia Miller, 35, San Francisco 34:56
4 Natalie Frank, 16, Cupertino 35:36
5 Emelie Gunnison, 24, Oakland 35:56
Men’s Wetsuit Division Top Five Winners
1 Jamie Mc Junkin, 25, San Mateo 28:38
2 Nick Pivonka, 26, Alameda 30:01
3 Jon Ballack, 35, Redwood Shores 32:15
4 Dave Paris, 26, Galveston 32:26
5 Matt Paige, 30, San Francisco 32:47