The 2021 Open Water National and Junior National Championships debuted this morning with the women’s and men’s 10K. Titles were claimed by Erica Sullivan and David Heron to give them the first 10K national titles of their careers.
Sullivan went out fast and held the lead for the duration of the swim. She finished in 2:02.43, nearly 20 seconds ahead of the field.
“It’s really exciting, this is my first (10K national title). It hurt really bad because I was pretty much by myself for most of the race but I was pretty happy with it.
“I haven’t done a real race in open water since the 25K at (FINA Open Water World Championships) in 2019, so it was honestly really exciting. I was kind of nervous prior to the start, but I’m glad it still turned out okay and that I still have my touch.”
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 qualifiers Ashley Twichell and Haley Anderson finished second and third, respectively. The duo has finished in the top three in each U.S. Open Water National Championships competition since 2017.
David Heron took the men’s title in 2:05.24, just one second ahead of fellow U.S. National Team member Brennan Gravley. The lead group consisted of about five swimmers from start to finish, switching order throughout the race. This marks career appearance No. 10 on the Open Water National Championships stage for Heron and gives him his sixth 10K finish inside the top five.
“I’m happy to finally win my first 10K after so many years,” Heron said. “It was a pretty smooth race— I felt pretty good. I never really felt like I was struggling and felt actually way stronger the last couple of laps there.”
The event was also the qualifying event for the 2021-22 U.S. Open Water National Team, giving the top-five qualifiers the selection alongside Ashley Twichell, Haley Anderson and Jordan Wilimovsky, who earned National Team qualifications by punching tickets to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. For the 10K women, Sullivan, Katie Grimes, Blair Stoneburg, Cadence Fort and Juli Arzave earned National Team selections through top-five finishes this morning. For the men, it was Heron, Gravley, T.C. Smith, Joey Tepper and Dylan Gravley.
The competition continues through Sunday, with all action being streamed on www.usaswimming.org/watch
. All information, including schedule and water quality, can be found on https://www.usaswimming.org/event/2021/04/16/default-calendar/open-water-national-and-junior-national-championships