North Carolina Dominates The Southern Zone Open Water Championships

North Carolina Dominates The Southern Zone Open Water Championships

By Ashley Cox//Contributor  | Tuesday, June 13, 2017

“Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or it can crash. Be water my friend.” -Bruce Lee


Throughout the weekend of June 2-4, the waters at Lake Echo in Pinehurst, North Carolina, crashed and churned as the Southern Zone open water teams fought their way to the top of the podium. 

Coming into the weekend as the reigning two-time champions, the North Carolina team sought to defend their title and achieve another win as other Southern Zone teams chased them down. But North Carolina, led by 2005 Open Water Swimmer of the Year Chip Peterson and 2017 10k Open Water Nationals champion Ashley Twitchell, focused on their team goals and strategies, culminating the weekend in another Zone victory. Winning the weekend with an overall score of 474 points (24 points over 2nd place), the North Carolina team accomplished what no other Southern Zone team had achieved before -- a three-year consecutive win in the Southern Zone Open Water Championships.

North Carolina’s open age group men's and women's teams both dominated in their individual races, as each teams’ 4 members placed in the top 8 of their 5k races. The 15-16 boys’ age group saw a 1-2 finish by 2016 Olympic Trial qualifier Ross Dant, followed closely by Thomas Brentzman (2nd) and Owen Lloyd swimming in 5th. The 13-14 teams commanded their age groups, as Sydney Morgan and Isabel Pennington both placed in the top 3 for the girls, and Jared Carter, Connor Hughes, and Danny Qaqish achieved top 8 points for the boys. 

Throughout the weekend, head coach John Payne and team manager Jonathan Bescher promoted atmospheres of camaraderie and fun as well as strategic and technical approaches to each of the teams’ individual and team pursuit races. The coaches’ encouragement to work together in line-ups, starts, and pacing was clearly evident as these swimmers from across NC came together to secure a historical win for North Carolina Swimming. 

Complete race results are linked below, and you can follow the North Carolina Zone Team’s updates and photos via their Facebook and Instagram pages.


Top 3 Teams & Overall Scores: 

North Carolina, 474 points

Florida, 450 points

Southeastern Swimming, 362 points


11-12 Girls 2k 

Makenna Topp, 7th


13-14 Girls 5k

Sydney Morgan, 1st

Isabel Pennington, 3rd


13-14 Boys 5k

Jared Carter, 1st

Connor Hughes, 2nd 

Danny Qaqish, 7th


15-16 Girls 5k

Faith Hefner, 6th


15-16 Boys 5k

Ross Dant, 1st

Thomas Brentzman, 2nd

Owen Lloyd, 5th


Open Women 5k

Ashley Twitchell, 1st

Anna Durak, 5th

Emmaline Peterson, 6th

Ellie Marquardt, 8th


Open Men 5k

Chip Peterson, 1st

Ben Fenwick, 3rd

Alan Hudgens, 4th

JD McCray, 5th


14 & U Girls Team Pursuit 2k

Isabel Pennington, Sydney Morgan, Amanda Ray, Caroline Pape, 3rd


Open Women Team Pursuit 5k

Faith Hefner, Emmaline Peterson, Anna Durak, 3rd


Open Men Team Pursuit 5k

Chip Peterson, Ross Dant, Thomas Brentzman, 1st


NC Open Water Zones Coaches

Head Coach: John Payne

Team Manager/Asst. Coach: Jonathan Bescher 

Asst. Coach: Chick Ciancanelli

Asst. Coach: Ashley Cox

Asst. Coach: Chip Peterson

Asst. Coach: Ashley Twitchell



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