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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Affray In The Bay - Mann vs Twichell vs Gorman vs Jennings vs Brunemann


Intensity and uncertainty. It is the RCP Tiburon Mile.

Talk about an all-out dogfight in the open water: the RCP Tiburon Mile has it all with the top American and Australian marathon swimmers going at it this Sunday from Angel Island to Tiburon, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay.

Not only are the top women going to battle mano-a-mano among each other, they are also going to clash among a large pack of competitive Alpha Dog men who do not want to be beat by the feminine gender.

Right now, Christine Jennings and Becca Mann are riding a hot streak. Jennings is training 18,000 meters a day in the high altitude of Colorado and most recently came down to sea level to win US$10,000 at the BCT Gdynia Marathon in Poland. After missing out at qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics, Jennings has turned her disappointment into some heavy training mileage and impressive victories around the world.

But Jennings is going to have to deal with the brightest young American star in its emerging open water corral of Olympic aspirants, Becca Mann. Mann is riding high after her double dominating victories in Junior Pan Pacific Swimming Championships and the Waikiki Roughwater Swim.

While Jennings and Mann are headlining the pre-race favorites, Ashley Twichell, world champion and 2-time Olympian Melissa Gorman and World Cup winner Emily Brunemann all can easily emerge as victors to claim the US$10,000 winner-take-all first prize. Gorman is the defending champion, knows her ways in the Bay and, most definitely is the most nimble out of the water in the final few steps in the onshore finish. Insiders believe with many good reasons why the Australian star is the real race favorite.

Of course, Twichell has the speed and hunger to beat them all, especially after finishing second to Gorman last year despite opening up a bloody gash on her leg near the start. "I was picked up by a swell and dumped onto these rocks. I knew we were getting close to the rocks, but I was just following the guys ahead of us," recalled the 2011 world team pursuit champion.

But it would be a poetic ending if teammates Emily Brunemann and Michael Klueh both end up on the winner's podium. They both certainly have the speed, savvy and stamina to take the race and win a cool US$10,000 each.

Because the top women typically swim right alongside and behind the top men (Gorman finished 4th overall in 2011 within striking distance of men's winner Kane Radford, 2nd place Codie Grimsey, and 3rd place Ryan Napoleon), it would be quite appropriate for Brunemann to cruise behind Klueh. If Klueh picks the right navigational line, then expect Brunemann to follow right behind. They may go 1-2...as in US$10,000 for him and US$10,000 for her.

Race day is on Sunday morning, September 9th with the elite field starting off the festivities that end in the most delicious, extravagant post-race meal in the entire open water swimming world. The RCP Tiburon Mile is going to be a fast one and the women's race is especially going to be a joy to witness. Who is it going to be standing up first at the end of the race?

Photo of Emily Brunemann courtesy of NYC Swim. Video by Gold Medal Mel.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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