Eva Fabian Turning Third Into Gold At The World Champs

Eva Fabian Turning Third Into Gold At The World Champs

Eva Fabian turned a third-place finish at the USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships into a gold medal in today’s 2010 World Open Water Swimming Championships in Roberval, Canada.

How she did this is a profile of courage. Tenacious. Tough. Tactical.

After a disappointing finish to the 10K championship only a few days before when she took the wrong course, Eva – true to her nature – channeled her energy and focus to the 5K. Ever-smiling, friendly and gracious, the 16-year-old dynamo regrouped and took to the 5K like she attacks every workout – with a passion.

With the water temperature at 18°C (64.4°C) and a stiff wind that generated 1-2 foot surface chop, Eva was a playful dolphin in the water.

At the start, Eva played a bit coy, allowing Cassie Patten, the Olympic 10K bronze medalist, Giorgia Consiglio, the 10K silver medalist, and Nadine Reichert of Germany to take the early lead by the 500-meter mark. Off to their right, Eva stuck with the lead group, sometimes swimming on the far right of a 7-wide (7 swimmers going shoulder-to-shoulder). Right in the picture was her Brazilian rival Poliana Okimoto.

By the first turn buoy, Eva took control of the race, swimming at 96 strokes per minute. Right behind her were women tapping on her feet, just bidding their time and willingly forking over the lead to Eva. Minutes before the race was to begin, Olympic 10K silver medalist Keri-Anne Payne pulled out for medical reasons, so it was up to Eva to pull the train of 38 swimmers.

In the lead pack by the 2.5K loop, Ekaterina Seliverstova of Russia, a former 5K silver medalist from Russia, Li Xue of China, Cara Baker of New Zealand, Christine Jennings of the USA, Aurelie Muller of France, Ophelie Aspord of France and Olga Beresnyeva of Ukraine were also in the hunt – all bunched up behind Eva at the point and Cassie, Giorgia and Nadine right behind.

As the winds picked up, Eva looped deftly up and down the growing swells. At one point, one of the safety boats went speeding by the lead pack. As the field fought through the wake, Eva has the presence of mind to use the occasion to bodysurf.

She used the occasion to open up a 3-body lead and really turn on the heat as she shifted from a 96 stroke-per-minute tempo to between 98-100 strokes per minute. Eva pushed and the field reacted. Eva surged again and the field reacted again. If Eva was going to win her first gold medal in international competition, her competitors were not going to make it easy.

At the 3.5K mark, Eva quickly rolled over on her back and checked out her competition. One stroke on her back, over on her stomach and boom she was off again. But Giorgia and Poliana fought back and gained ground on Eva. With three turns to go, Eva went a bit off-course allowing Giorgia and Poliana to gain a body on her. But Eva hit the turn buoy just right and regained the lost ground. But the savvy Giorgia kept on tapping on Eva’s feet, repeated gentle taps on her soles of her feet. Eva, keeping her composure, picked up her kick a few times to ward off Giorgia, but mostly ignored the slight bit of constant physicality and reminder that Eva was still in the lead.

At the 4K, Eva was firing on all cylinders but the stress of being in the lead was getting to her. Giorgia and Poliana had pulled up even and Ana Marcela was swimming up fast. Stroke for stroke, the trio was swimming as fast as they could. 98 strokes per minute, 100 strokes per minute, Eva was breathing mostly to her right, but threw in a quick breath to her left to check on Poliana and Giorgia.

Down the final stretch, it was clear that Giorgia was battling Eva for the gold. As Eva was being pushed off the straight line, Giorgia looked like she had the upper hand. But Eva, who trains with her older brother and other boys, was not one to back down. 100 meters, 50 meters, 10 meters, 3 meters…it was going to come down to Giorgia and Eva.

With 1 meter to go and the much taller Giorgia in position, it appeared that a silver was in Eva’s cards. But two quick strokes to Giorgia’s one gave Eva her first gold. A video of the finish can be seen here.

Tough, tenacious and tactical.

Eva, a champion with a heart of gold.

The results:

1. FABIAN Eva (USA), 1:02:00.98
2. CONSIGLIO Giorgia (ITA), 1:02:01.08
3. CUNHA Ana Marcela (BRA), 1:02:02.68
4. OKIMOTO Poliana (BRA), 1:02:02.78
4. JENNINGS Christine (USA), 1:02:02.78
6. MULLER Aurelie (FRA), 1:02:04.48
7. ARAOUZOU Kalliopi (GRE), 31:36.758 1:02:04.78
8. ZUPAN Teja (SLO), 1:02:06.38
9. BAKER Cara (NZL), 1:02:07.28
10. SITIC Karla (CRO), 1:02:07.58
11. FRANCO Alice (ITA), 1:02:08.28
12. REQUENA Yurema (ESP), 1:02:09.18
13. PECHANOVA Jana (CZE), 1:02:11.38
14. ASPORD Ophelie (FRA), 1:02:13.58
15. PATTEN Cassandra (GBR), 1:02:18.08
16. FANG Yanqiao (CHN), 1:02:18.88
17. BERESNYEVA Olga (UKR), 1:02:23.78
18. DE FRANCESCO Danielle (AUS), 1:02:26.28
19. REICHERT Nadine (GER), 1:02:29.68
20. MACDONALD Bonnie (AUS), 1:02:37.68
21. DU TOIT Natalie (RSA), 1:02:38.18
22. BULAKHOVA Maria (RUS), 1:02:41.08
23. LI Xue (CHN), 1:02:42.08
24. BARROS ESQUIVEL Katia (ECU), 1:02:47.98
25. JEWEL Karyn (CAN), 1:03:22.58
26. CALDAS CALLE Nataly (ECU), 1:03:26.48
27. GONZALEZ Alejandra (MEX), 1:04:46.88
28. KOTSUR Inha (AZE), 1:05:18.28
29. BALAZS Zsofia (CAN), 1:05:30.28
30. SALDIVAR Odette (MEX), 1:06:55.98
31. FARKASOVA Alexandra (SVK), 1:10:42.08
PAYNE Keri-Anne (GBR), DNS
SELIVERSTOVA Ekaterina (RUS), Disqualified

Photo of Eva Fabian by NYC Swim.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones
Steven Munatones