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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fog Rolls In Fast And So Does Ashley Twichell

The athletes at the Queen of the Sea event in Rio de Janeiro this week faced all kinds of weather: torrential downpours, bright sunny skies, stiff winds, summer humidity, and water that ranged from 16ºC to 18ºC.

But the skies opened up at the start of the Queen of the Sea as sunlight rained down on the 8 pros lined up from Canada, Germany, USA and Brazil.

Timed to air nationwide on TV Globo, the eight women took their starting positions and started off with a comfortable pace. Seemingly mimicing the victorious strategy of Trent Grimsey, the race would come down to the last two loops of 800 meters. "I didn't care who was in front of me. I know I have the endurance," said visiting American Ashley Twichell.

The pack of 8 stayed together in a pod for the first 3 loops and then Twichell dropped the field like a Ferrari against a Prius.

While the first three loops were swum in 8:58, 9:06 and 9:09, Twichell upped the pace to 8:23 and 8:14 on the last two loops to win comfortably in 44:15 over Poliana Okimoto's 44:40.

"I felt strong. When I pushed the pace, I did not want to kill myself. If they were still with me, I could have swum faster. But I saw [the rest of the field] and I felt good even though the water was a bit chilly."

And she looked good going into the last loop of five. But then a heavy fog bank quickly rolled in and obliterated the vision of the athletes and the spectators on the beach. "I could barely see the buoys on the last loop. I thought it was my goggles [fogging up], but fortunately the buoys are bright enough and big enough to see."

Third-place Zsofia Balazs of Canada was thrilled with the entire event. "I quite enjoyed the Queen of the Sea. I liked it a lot. It was a change with the run on the beach. When we ran, the crowd really cheered us on and their enthusiasm picked us up."

"Running in and out of the ocean changes things," agreed American Lexie Kelly. "The pace was not so fast at the beginning, but when Ashley started to go fast, running in and out of the ocean in the white soft sand really works your legs...and then you have to dive back in and chase Ashley. She's swimming so well now."

The final results:

1. Ashley Twichell (USA) 44:15
2. Poliana Okimoto (BRA) 44:40
3. Zsofia Balazs (CAN) 45:11
4. Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA) 45:14
5. Nadine Reichert (GER) 45:16
6. Betina Lorscheitter (BRA) 46:12
7. Izabela Fortini (BRA) 46:13
8. Lexie Kelly (USA) 46:57

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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