By USA Swimming | Sunday, May 5, 2019
Photo courtesy Mike Lewis @mike2swim
The men’s and women’s 5k concluded a great weekend of swimming at the Open Water National Championships, held in Miami, Fla., at the Miami Marine Stadium. Over 120 competitors chased down the 5k title, but ultimately Gregorio Paltrinieri (Italy) and Ashley Twichell (Fayetteville, N.Y./TAC Titans) won their respective events.
The top-2 American finishers in each event earned invitations to compete in the 5k at the Open Water World Championships, to be held July 13 – 19 in Yeosu, South Korea. Joining Twichell among top finishing American females, Hannah Moore (Cary, N.C./Wolfpack Elite), claimed third place overall.
In the men’s 5k, Zane Grothe (Boulder City, Nev./Boulder City Henderson Swim Team) and Brennan Gravley (Las Vegas, Nev./Sandpipers of Nevada) were the top-American finishers, but it will be Gravley and Michael Brinegar (Columbus, Ind./Indiana University) who are slated to compete. The official Open Water World Championships team roster will be announced at a later date.
The women’s 5k came down to the wire Sunday morning, with just two seconds separating the first and fourth-place finishers. In the end, Twichell’s time of 58:25.97 was just three one hundredths of a second ahead of 10k winner, Ana Marcela Cunha. Twichell will come away from the weekend with two top-3 finishes, after earning a second-place spot in the 10k.
“I just wanted to be controlled and comfortable [today], It’s pretty tough to bounce back after the 10k,” said Twichell. “I felt pretty good from the beginning and was up at the front of the pack which I enjoy. Then the last lap I just tried to stay really strong the whole way through. Obviously, it came down to the finish just like the 10k did, so I tried to put my legs into it a little bit and finish strong.”
For Moore, her 58:27.15 performance earns her the first World Championships team invite of her career.
“It feels amazing to make the [World Championships] team in the 5[k] because I wasn’t really expecting it, I’m a little bit better in the 10[k]” she explained. “I gave it my best effort and I’m really happy that I came out on the team.”
Along with Twichell and Moore finishing in the top-3, five of the top-8 finishers represented U.S. National team athletes. Erica Sullivan (Las Vegas, Nev./Sandpipers of Nevada), finished in 58:34.50, good for fifth place and the top time among 18 and under competitors.
The men’s 5k saw Italian swimmer Gregorio Paltrinieri clinch his second win of the weekend, touching in 53:42.32. The top-3 male finishers all hailed from Italy, as Domenico Acerenza and Mario Sanzullo touched the wall just after their fellow countryman.
Though finishing just outside of the top-3, Grothe and Gravley's times of 54:34.71 and 54:36.22, respectively, earned the duo top-American times. Gravley’s efforts in the water also earned him the honors of top finisher among 18 and under male competitors.
“I knew from the beginning, watching the Italians go right to the front that they were probably going to do something similar to what they did in the 10k,” Gravley explained. “I tried to get in the front as quick as possible and stay on the Italian’s feet, I knew they would probably push. It just so happened that a lot of people dropped back and I just stayed there for most of the race and had a pretty good finish, so I’m pretty happy.”
For Grothe, he followed the same strategy as his fellow top-American finisher en route to his fourth-place finish.
“I wanted to be a lot more aggressive starting out up front,” said Grothe. “I got behind real fast in the 10k and it took me out of the race, so I was more aggressive up front [today], I was always near the front and it developed into a good spot.”
The men's fourth through eighth place finishers consisted entirely of United States National Team athletes, with Grothe, Gravely, Brinegar and David Heron (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo Nadadores) finishing in respective order. All of whom posted sub-55 minute times.
With 2019 World Championships quickly approaching, teams are starting to shape up. For more information on the event, visit fina.org.