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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ashley Twichell Goes 3 For 3 At Open Water Festival

Another race in the Miromar Lakes proved another demonstration of the strength, high navigational IQ and the increasing confidence of Ashley Twichell.

The recent Duke University graduate who moved to the Mission Viejo Nadadores in Southern California specifically to train for the Olympics won another USA Swimming Open Water Swimming Championship today in the 5 km race.

But it was a long weekend in Miromar Lakes in Fort Myers, Florida for Twichell and all the women who went back-to-back-to-back with a hard 10 km selection meet on Friday followed by a fast Crippen Sunset Mile on Saturday night and today's quick 5 km national championship. "I was sore and exhausted, but excited. I like swimming in smaller packs so I want to be in positions where they are not a lot of swimmers around me..

A la her British rival Keri-Anne Payne, Twichell grabbed the lead from the start and navigated nearly the entire 5 km course by herself out in the lead. As she pushed the pace, the lead pack dropped from the 60 starters to a smaller pack of 10, then 5, then 3. The 3 swimmers included Twichell, Christine Jennings and Emily Brunemann.

Twichell maintained a 1-2 body length throughout the first, second, third, fourth and fifth kilometers. With 200 meters to go, Brunemann blasted past Jennings and latched onto the feet of Twichell. With 100 meters to go, Brunemann began a fast charge and moved alongside Twichell, looking strong.

But the weekend was Twichell's breakout performance. The pair went side-for-side for final stretch, giving it all they had. Brunemann had the benefit of drafting the entire race, but it Twichell who had the longer arm and better finish on this last race of a long weekend (see video of the dramatic finish below after the sponsor message).

Back and forth, both women sprinted like the world depended on it over the last 300 meters. Twichell and Brunemann both put on a tremendous kick and each looked liked they had the momentum coming down the final 100 meters. And what will bode well for Twichell in Portugal, and possibly, London, Twichell reached up only slightly - very slightly - ahead of Brunemann. It was a great race to watch and a great show of sprinting speed and the competitive spirit of two great endurance athletes.

"I got touched out by 3 tenths of a second at the world championships so that played on my mind," commented Twichell on her slightest of victories.

"Ashley is such a great swimmer. Going into it, we were both tired after a 10K and Crippen Mile last night, but I was proud of the effort we put in," said Brunemann after one of the closest and most exciting races in USA Swimming women's open water swimming championship history.

1. Ashley Twichell 58:54.17
2. Emily Brunemann 58:54.47
3. Christine Jennings 59:11.01
4. Brooke Lorentzen 1:02:04.09
5. Liliana Casso 1:02:39.87
6. Danielle Nuszkowski 1:04:00.25
7. Jessie Arnold 1:04:01.12
8. Casey Francis 1:04:17.14

The full results are here.

Photo of Ashley Twichell at the USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships by Mike Lewis.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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