2021 TYR Pro Swim Series: Ashley Twichell, Kieran Smith Win 400 Frees

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Ashley Twichell; Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Ashley Twichell, Kieran Smith Win TYR Pro Swim Series 400 Frees

Time is chasing Ashley Twichell and Haley Anderson. Two of the most enduring stars of the U.S. Open Water program, each in the second decades of storied careers, both women have accomplished plenty, at age 31 and 29, respectively.

Rarely is the collision of present and future rarely on display as blatantly as Saturday’s 400 freestyle at the January TYR Pro Swim Series stop.

In a field loaded with teens, some less than half their ages, Twichell and Anderson showed they’re still on top. Twichell, swimming at the Richmond location of the meet, took the overall title in the 400 free in 4:09.78. Second was Anderson, the champion of the San Antonio meet, in 4:11.13.

Each of the decorated veterans – Twichell an open-water World Champion and World University Games gold medalist; Anderson a three-time Olympian, who’ll join Twichell in the Tokyo open-water race – has more international accolades than the rest of the field combined.

Twichell was the only non-teenager in the Richmond final. Second there (and third overall) was 15-year-old Cavan Gormsen, who went 4:11.30. Sixth overall was Claire Weinstein, at 4:15.29. She’s all of 13.

Anderson fended off Emma Weyant (4:11.81) and Bella Sims (a 15-year-old who went 4:13.09 in her second final of the night) in the San Antonio championship heat.

On the men’s side, the latest installment of the duel between Kieran Smith and Zane Grothe went Smith’s way, the Florida distance star going 3:49.37 to east past Grothe by nearly four seconds. Smith won the 200 free a night earlier after Grothe took the 800 free Thursday.

“I have high standards for myself so it wasn’t bad,” Smith said at the end of the night in the virtual press conference. “It was a pretty routine swim. I think I might want to take the next step and swim a really, really good time in-season. I feel like I have to be more aggressive with the race and I feel like I’m not taking enough risks at the 200. I think I was like 55.5 on the first 100 which is pretty slow for me. Next time I will probably take it out more aggressively.”

“My best time was at the 2019 US Open in Atlanta. I might have been a little more fresh than I was here but I took it out really aggressive and I was like 54.2 on the first 100. I feel like I need to go a little harder in the first half.”

Smith has been on a role the last 12 months, breaking the American record in short course yards in the 500 free in February, but was unable to conclude the season at NCAAs. This has left him with a little bit of an underdog role.

“I know that I haven’t tapered long course since summer 2019 and I haven’t swam the 400 free tapered since high school because I got sick the day of the 4free at 2019 Nationals. For me, I really don’t know what I can go in the 4free long course so it is kind of exciting to swim it race by race and see how I progress. Hopefully I’ll rip a good one when I’m tapered.”

The top five finishers all came from the San Antonio meet. David Johnson was third, fractions ahead of Mitch D’Arrigo, with Will Gallant fifth. Josh Parent won the four-man final heat in Richmond in 3:59.24, he and Drew Kibler each breaking four minutes.

TYR Pro Swim Series 400 Freestyle

Women’s

  • Ashley Twichell 4:09.78 (Richmond)
  • Haley Anderson 4:11.13 (San Antonio)
  • Cavan Gormsen 4:11.30 (R)
  • Emma Weyant 4:11.81 (SA)
  • Bella Sims 4:13.09 (SA)
  • Claire Weinstein 4:15.29 (R)
  • Evie Pfeifer 4:15.33 (SA)
  • Caroline Pennington 4:15.70 (R)
  • Katie Crom 4:17.04 (SA)
  • Olivia McMurray 4:17.41
  • Erin Gemmell 4:17.50 (R)
  • Katie Grimes 4:17.56 (SA)
  • Erica Sullivan 4:17.57 (SA)
  • Claire Dafoe 4:18.86 (R)
  • Paige McKenna 4:19.15 (R)
  • Sophia Karras 4:19.86 (R)

Men’s

  • Kieran Smith 3:49.37 (SA)
  • Zane Grothe 3:53.07 (SA)
  • David Johnson 3:55.06 (SA)
  • Mitch D’Arrigo 3:55.24 (SA)
  • Will Gallant 3:57.90 (SA)
  • Josh Parent 3:59.24 (R)
  • Drew Kibler 3:59.84 (SA)
  • Liam Custer 4:00.35 (SA)
  • Anders Aistars 4:01.81 (R)
  • Peyton Werner 4:02.29 (R)
  • Jack Stelter 4:03.64 (R)
  • Mark Theall 4:07.26 (SA)