Long Beach Brings Open Water Swimming To The Fore

Long Beach Brings Open Water Swimming To The Fore

The 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships will be the signature event over an exciting week of open water swimming events in Long Beach, California during the first week of June.

Elite athletes as well as age-group swimmers and masters athletes will be in for quite a treat.

Marine Stadium, site of the 1932 Olympic Rowing competition and the 1968 Olympic rowing trials, was recently designated as an official state historic site. The flat-water course is an ideal venue for watching some of the fastest open water swimmers in the world up close and personal. Olympic swimmers and national team swimmers from the USA, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and Egypt will be competing for a handful of spots at the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Championships in July in Quebec, Canada.

On the women’s side, Olympian Chloe Sutton (see photo) will headline a tough field with NCAA champion Emily Bruneman, Eva Fabian and SIU’s Kirsten Groome are all expected to battle for the top position.

Each woman has a completely different style of swimming and employ different racing strategies, so fans of the sport will be able to watch swimmers up close and observe who will have the right strategy and closing sprint to represent the USA at the world championships.

On the men’s side, everything also appears up for grabs, but recent FINA World Cup victor Fran Crippen has the hot hand now. He has the speed, experience and endurance to be considered the strong favorite.

However, 2009 World Championship silver medalist Andrew Gemmell, Harvard University senior Alex Meyer and a host of young up-and-coming stars from coast-to-coast, as well as the international stars, are going to give Fran, one of the world’s best closers, all he can handle.

Canada, Egypt and Azerbaijan will also bring their top open water swimmers to Long Beach to add an interesting competitive angle to the championships. The Canadians will start the races swimming shoulder-to-shoulder with the Americans, but they will be separately competing for spots on their national team that will compete in the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Championships in Quebec.

The up-and-coming American swimming stars will be treated to an intensive training camp before the national championships where they will be taught the tricks of the trade. Most of America’s international open water swimming stars come from this Open Water Select Camp, so we expect these young swimmers in the mix.

The course for the USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships in Marine Stadium will be set up on the Wednesday before the Championships so the athletes will be able to practice before. Pool training can be done at the Belmont Plaza Pool, only 5 minutes from Marine Stadium, in the morning, afternoons and evening. For a complete practice schedule, go to event website here.

The athletes will compete five 2K loops with an in-the-water start and finish (see photo) which will provide great experience for the same expected course and water conditions as the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Championships and the 2012 London Olympics 10K Marathon Swim to be held in Hyde Park in central London.

The waters of Long Beach are ideal to help the athletes become accustomed to the relatively cool waters of Lac St-Jean at the World Championships and of the Serpentine Lake at the 2012 London Olympics.

After the 5K championships, the organizers are also holding a new 2K and 4K Open Water Pursuit races for swimmers of any age and ability where teams of swimmers will be set off 15 seconds apart. The team’s final times are clocked when the last swimmer finishes the swim, which encourages the teammates to effectively draft and collectively position themselves for the fastest times. Five pre-race Drafting, Navigating, Positioning and Pacing Clinics will be held in advance of these Open Water Pursuit events.

Additionally, a Global Open Water Swimming Conference for elite swimmers, triathletes, channel swimmers, age-group swimmers, masters swimmers, endurance athletes, coaches, parents, officials and administrators will be held concurrently at the host hotel to the championships – the first time such an open water swimming conference will be held. The sport of open water swimming has quietly and steadily grown in size – escaping the eye of the media – and the global demand for the latest information on the techniques, trends and tactics of the sport has now justified a global conference. Speakers and attendees are coming from as far away as Australia, Azerjaidan, Canada, Cayman Islands, Egypt, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago and across the United States to share information and meet other like-minded passionate open water enthusiasts.

With a sport that had 1.4 million participants in the US alone in 2009, and over 3,000 events worldwide, the open water swimming community of vendors, athletes, coaches, administrators and race promoters are now clamoring for information-sharing and networking opportunities. Long Beach will deliver on the demand.

Long Beach was selected as the location for the Global Open Water Swimming Conference because so many great open water swimmers have trained in the waters of Southern California or live(d) in the area over the past 50 years including Florence Chadwick, Greta Anderson, Lynne Cox, Penny Lee Dean, Paul Asmuth, Chad Hundeby, Chloe Sutton, Mark Warkentin and many others.

It will certainly be quite a week of open water swimming in Long Beach this coming June.

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Steven Munatones