USA Swimming’s National Open Water Championships ran this past weekend at Tempe Town Lake in the suburban Phoenix community of Tempe, AZ. Among the racers competing in distances ranging from 5K to 10K were a trio of SwimBC athletes looking to hone their open water racing skills alongside some of the best racers in the world.
The feature event of the weekend was the 10K race. After a few kilometres of close pack racing, six of the top Americans, led by eventual winner Jordan Wilimovsky, made a break, looking to open up some clear water between themselves and the rest of the field.
By the time the BC guys responded, it was a little too late, however. Eric Hedlin (UVPCS) and Jon McKay (UVPCS) gave chase as best they could, closing some of the gap eventually, but not nearly enough to catch the leaders. They finished 7th and 8th, respectively, while Hau-Li Fan (UBCD) swam at the front of the next pack back, breaking away in the final stages of the race to take 9th place.
The following day was the 5K race, and all three of them raced with much more confidence and authority, in a race that was close all the way to the finish. Hedlin finished second just 1.0seconds behind the winner, David Heron of Tennessee, while Fan and McKay finished 6th and 7th, respectively, with Fan just 20seconds behind the winner and McKay less than a second back of that.
The races provided valuable experience for the three athletes, who all plan to race the Canadian Open Water PanPac Trials race in George Town, CAY, next month. While Hedlin has already pre-qualified based on his 1500 performance from 2018 Westerns, he will be looking to refine his skills at the race; McKay and Fan will be doing likewise, but with the added impetus of looking to make it onto Canada’s Open Water team to PanPacs this summer in Tokyo