Sean Ryan, Ashley Twichell Capture 2011 5K Open Water National Titles

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida, June 12. SEAN Ryan (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and Ashley Twichell (Fayetteville, N.Y.) claimed the top spots in the 2011 5K Open Water National Championship in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. For both swimmers, it's their first open water national title.

The men's race started with Ryan making a straight beeline alongside the markers to take the early lead. Ryan never looked back touching the finishing structure in 53:11.79. At one point, he stretched his lead to one minute and 42 seconds. Chip Peterson (Pine Knolls Shores, N.C.) and Ryan Feeley (Rye, N.Y.) battled all morning for the second and third spots. Peterson eventually prevailed in a time of 54:42.73 with Feeley touching half a second behind in 54:43.29.

"I really wanted to get out ahead from the start and take it around the first turn," Ryan said. "Once I saw that I had a break between myself and everyone else I knew I couldn't slow down and I had to continue my lead."

For the women, much of the race was a three-person battle between Twichell, Christine Jennings (Longmont, Colo.) and 13-year old Becca Mann from the Clearwater Aquatic Team. For much of the first half of the race, Jennings led the pack but decided to allow Twichell to pass in hopes of drafting behind her. In the final 400 meters, Twichell began to pull away followed by Mann then Jennings and that's how they would finish.

"My strategy worked well today," said Twichell. "I wanted to stay strong for about three-quarters of the race then pick up and try to break away."

On Friday, June 10 Alex Meyer (Ithaca, N.Y.) and Eva Fabian (Kenne, N.H.) won the 10K Open Water National Championship. Ryan was the runner-up on the men's side with Andrew Gemmell (Wilmington, Del.) placing third. Jennings and Twichell finished second and third, respectively, for the women.

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