Maggie Wallace Ready to Lead Next Generation of Open Water Greats

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Photo Courtesy: Maggie Wallace

by Kevin Gill, Swimming World College Intern.

With the ever growing popularity of open water swimming, both domestically and internationally, many young faces are beginning to emerge as the future of the sport. Seventeen year-old Maggie Wallace has recently proven that she is ready to lead the next generation of great open water swimmers.

Wallace swims for the Egg Harbor Township Seahawks under Coach Brian Elko. The rising senior also competes for Ocean City High School.

At the 2017 Open Water National Championships at Castaic Lake, Wallace competed in her first ever 10K race. Alongside open water stars like Ashley Twichell, Haley Anderson, and Becca Mann, Wallace finished the race in a time of 2:08:13.905, good enough for 16th overall.

After an impressive first ever 10K performance at Open Water Nationals, Wallace was selected to represent Team USA at the 2017 UANA Pan American Championships in the Cayman Islands, an event where team Canada claimed victory. While competing for the first time internationally, Wallace finished seventh alongside some of world’s best open water swimmers.

During her time at this competition, Wallace was able to do something she had always wanted to. “It has always been my dream to be able to represent my country so to be able to get my shot was absolutely amazing,” she said.

Wallace took full advantage of the opportunity she had to compete against some world class open water swimmers. “I learned how competitive the swimming world actually is on the international stage,” she said. Many times it is hard for swimmers to truly realize this until they are stroke for stroke with experienced swimmers such as Eva Fabian.

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Photo Courtesy: Maggie Wallace

When asked how she began her open water career, Wallace discussed how it had been something she had been participating in from an early age, “I have lived near the ocean all of my life so I started swimming open water as soon as I knew that there where races in my home town.”

A race like the 10K is challenging, both mentally as well as physically, yet Wallace finds enjoyment in an event most swimmers would be hesitant to try, “I like the solidarity of the whole thing. It’s just you by yourself and you controlling how you race”.

Although the longer distance is relatively new to Wallace, she and Coach Brian Elko both knew it was a challenge that would take Wallace’s distance career to the next level.

Elko increased her yardage significantly in hopes of preparing Wallace to hold as solid of a pace as she could for the grueling two hour race.

maggie wallace1Photo Courtesy: Maggie Wallace

With all of this open water success, Wallace’s pool swimming should not be overlooked.

After finishing second in the 500 free at the New Jersey high school state championship meet, Wallace took her talents to Christiansburg, Virginia for the Speedo Sectionals Series meet. There, Wallace placed first in the 500, 1000, and 1650 yard freestyle.

She is a senior nationals qualifier and competed at the 2016 Speedo Winter Junior Nationals. Her versatility expands beyond freestyle, as Wallace has a very solid backstroke and IM as well.

Looking towards the future, Wallace will continue with open water swimming, hoping to have similar success as she has had recently. “I plan on keeping up with the 10k and all open water swimming now that I have found my calling for it.”

With the success that she has had, Wallace aims to represent her country on an even higher level, “I hope to make it to the world stage sometime in the future”.

The addition of the women’s 1500 in the Olympic schedule gives Wallace more opportunities to break out onto the sport’s biggest stage. “For true distance swimmers like myself adding the 1500 is a blessing from the swim gods and it gives us a shot at another Olympic event,” Wallace reflected.

Whether it be in the pool or any other body of water, Wallace will definitely be a name to remember as a new generation of great swimmers emerges for Team USA.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.