Thrilling Down-to-the-Wire Victories For Crippen And Sutton

Thrilling Down-to-the-Wire Victories For Crippen And Sutton

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

At the start of the USA Swimming National 10K Open Water Swimming Championships 47 men and over 40 women started shoulder-to-shoulder … and the race came down to a shoulder-to-shoulder battle where Fran Crippen and Chloe Sutton emerged victorious.

Alex Meyer of Harvard University who pushed the pace during the last loop of five loops in the flat-water course in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics rowing course said, “It was tough, coming down to the finish.” After Alex took off with 2K to go, he had the lead until the last turn buoy.

With 550 meters to go, Alex was hanging onto a shrinking lead, but was still in command. However, it was the last 400 meters where the tough race culminated in a six-wide all-out mano-a-mano finish.

his In a remarkable last 400 meters, Alex, Fran, Andrew Gemmell of Georgia, Chip Peterson of North Carolina Richard Weinberger of Canada and Joe Kinderwater of WSY Swimming literally were shoulder-to-shoulder, kicking, sprinting and slamming into one another as the pace went from fast to furious.

With 200 meters to go, 2005 world 10K champion Chip took about 30 sightings to get his bearings straight and then took off. His trademark 8-beat kick boosted him into the lead as the 6-wide went down to a 5-wide. But his strategy played right into the hands of Fran, the fastest-closer-in-the-business. Fran swimming immediately to his right took off after Chip once he realized that the final all-out sprint was on.

Fran chased Chip right off his hip perfectly catching his draft and gaining the extra boost that he needed. As he moved up the torso of Chip, he moved ever so expertly to the right giving him so extra separation. Now parallel with Chip but with momentum on his side, Fran had the advantage that he needed.

Fran won in 1:57:14 to Chip’s 1:57:15.7 with Andrew taking third in 1:57:15.8 and Alex in fourth in 1:57:16. Richard was fifth in 1:57:19 and Joe sixth in 1:57:21. The complete results are here.

In a first, Powerhouse Timing was able to get the split times of the athletes during a race. An analysis of Andrew’s race was telling and proved that the men were truly saving it all for the thrilling finish.

First 2 km loop: 23:22
Second 2 km loop: 23:44
Third 2 km loop: 24:05
Fourth 2 km loop: 23:46
Fifth 2 km loop: 22:30

The women’s race was equally exciting. Eva Fabian of the Greenwood Memorial Swim Club in New Hampshire started a take-no-prisoners approach as she blasted out to the lead right from the start. Unlike Alex’s wait-til-the-last-loop surge, Eva created separation between the top women and the rest of the field at the start.

Her gutsy approach quickly strung out the field and the race quickly turned into a four-women battle with Sutton of the Mission Viejo Nadadores trailing behind behind Christine Jennings of Colorado and Emily Brunemann of Club Wolverine. The little dynamo from New Hampshire never let up and continued to push the pace as the foursome traversed around the five-loop course.

Unlike the men who played cat-and-mouse for four loops and then went for it on the last loop, Eva led the top pack on an evenly-paced race. Chloe’s split times over the 10,000-meter course are illustrative of their pace:

First 2 km loop: 23:49
Second 2 km loop: 23:59
Third 2 km loop: 24:12
Fourth 2 km loop: 23:35
Fifth 2 km loop: 23:42

Throughout most of the race, Chloe lurked behind in fourth place, occasionally as far as four bodies behind Eva. But with 1 km to go, Chloe shifted into higher gear and then pulled up along Emily, then Christine, then Eva. Like Fran over the last 100 meters in the men’s race, Chloe had momentum on her side and never let up as her trio of competitors valiantly tried to keep up. But Chloe had the endurance and speed, and most importantly, the strategy and patience to pull off an important victory.

Chloe finished in 1:59:18 with Christine second 1:59:20.3, Eva third in 1:59:20.4 and Emily in fourth in 1:59:24. The women’s final results are here.

In a race within a race, Swimming Canada also selected its top athletes
Steven Munatones