The 2021 Open Water National and Junior National Championships concluded Sunday morning in Fort Myers Beach, FLorida with the 5K and Junior 7.5K. Titles were claimed by David Heron (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo Nadadores), Ashley Twichell (Cary, N.C./TAC Titans), Jacob Pishko (Raleigh, N.C./TAC Titans) and Mariah Denigan (Walton, Ky./Lakeside Swim Team).
The men’s 5K kicked the morning off and saw Heron win his second title of the meet following Friday’s 10K win. For Heron, who has competed at every U.S. Open Water National Championships competition since 2011, this gives him his third 5K title of his career.
“This competition was really exciting because it was truly ‘open water,’ the conditions were a little bit more rough than swimming in a lake,” Heron said. “It’s fun not knowing what to expect in a race, and I like that about open water.”
Twichell, also not a stranger to 5K National Titles, won today’s women's event to increase her career total to four on her decorated career. For Twichell, this is the final open water race she’ll have before she competes at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 this August.
“I feel like my endurance and speed are both really there, which is really exciting,” Twichell said. “I’m just looking forward to continuing to train and competing at (the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming) in the pool and then heading to Tokyo. The competition and atmosphere will be different there but the U.S. has a lot of talent so these races weren’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. This definitely gives me confidence."
Pishko’s Junior 7.5K title came in impressive fashion. He was one of only four swimmers to complete the race in under 1:36.00 and finished with a 20-second gap separating him from the field.
“It was kind of weird— this was my first time ever swimming a 7.5K,” Pishko said. “I had a couple of friends who were in the 10K so I kind of picked their brains on the course and how it felt. What I got from that was going north, up the coast, it is better to swing out a little bit and then go back into the buoy, so that’s what I tried doing most of my race. When I did that in the first lap, I don’t think anyone really noticed me and then things just kind of took off from there.”
The women’s event went to U.S. National Junior Team member Mariah Denigan. This marked the first time Denigan had swum a 7.5K, but the new experience didn’t phase the versatile swimmer as she held a top-three position from start to finish.
“It felt really good,” Denigan said. “The waves got harder on the back half, but I knew I was in a good spot and just had to finish strong.”
All information, including results and previous recaps, on the 2021 Open Water National and Junior National Championships can be found at https://www.usaswimming.org/event/2021/04/16/default-calendar/open-water-national-and-junior-national-championships