Big race today

Big race today

The USA Swimming Open Water National Championships are this weekend in Fort Lauderdale, FL. I would have posted this earlier, but I didn’t realize the 10K is actually today – actually, 5 minutes from now! – to give athletes a rest day before the 5K on Sunday.

There’s a live webcast here.

The 10K main event is effectively the “Olympic Trials” for London 2012. “Effectively” because the top 2 Americans at today’s race advance to the FINA World Championships in Shanghai, and the top 10 from that event advance to the Olympics. Steven Munatones explains the full process here.

A couple friends-of-the-blog will be competing. Mark Warkentin will be trying for his 2nd straight Olympic berth in the 10K; and fellow Masters swimmer Adam Barley will race the kids in the 5K.

Best of luck to both of them.

UPDATE: Alex Meyer and Sean Ryan took top two, with Gemmell, Warkentin, & Frayler close behind (not sure about order). Mark led for much of the race but Meyer and Ryan pulled ahead into the finish. On the women’s side, Eva Fabian and Christine Jennings took top 2.…


2011 OW Nationals (real nationals, not Masters nationals)

2011 OW Nationals (real nationals, not Masters nationals)

USA Swimming just released the qualifying times for the 2011 open-water national championships in Fort Myers, FL (h/t Adam B.).

And, the standards for the 5K are surprisingly doable! 9:08 for 800m or 17:29 for 1500m? I think even I could do these times with a decent taper behind me…?

In order to compete in the USA Swimming 2011 Open Water Championships, a swimmer must have:

  • Finished in the top 15 at a 2010-11 FINA World Cup Race, or
  • Finished in the top 10 at the 2010 USA Swimming 5K or 10K National Championships, or
  • Attended the 2011 Open Water Developmental Camp (by invitation only), or
  • Achieved the following pool times standard(s) between April 1, 2009 and the entry deadline
                                1500 LCM 800 LCM 1650 SCY 1000 SCY
Women 5K Race Qualifying Times  18:20.89 9:35.99 17:57.39 10:43.19
Men 5K Race Qualifying Times    17:29.89 9:08.99 16:59.39 10:10.99
Women 10K Race Qualifying Times 17:20.49 9:03.49 16:48.49 10:05.99
Men 10K Race Qualifying Times   16:15.49 8:35.59 15:51.49 9:26.09
  • Athletes who meet these times standards will be permitted to enter the Open Water National Championships.

Pan Pacs: The story of the splits

Pan Pacs: The story of the splits

Splits tell the story of a race. It’s perhaps even truer in open-water swimming than in the pool, because the races are more “spread out” over space and time. Splits are rarely kept for O.W. races, though, due to obvious logistical obstacles.

Powerhouse Timing has been working to change this – at least at the elite level. At this past weekend’s Pan Pacific 10K Championship, they captured splits at each 2K for the entire field, both men and women. And what an interesting story they tell. Here are the 2K splits, which I converted to pace-per-100m:


2K 4K 6K 8K 10K total
JENNINGS (USA) 1:11.4 1:11.9 1:11.3 1:13.6 1:13.4 2:00:34
FABIAN (USA) 1:11.3 1:11.8 1:11.4 1:13.6 1:13.6 2:00:36
BRUNEMANN (USA) 1:11.5 1:11.9 1:11.4 1:13.6 1:13.5 2:00:38
ANDERSON (USA) 1:11.7 1:11.9 1:11.3 1:13.6 1:13.6 2:00:41
GORMAN (AUS) 1:11.4 1:12.0 1:11.2 1:13.6 1:14.7 2:00:57
BALAZS (CAN) 1:11.7 1:11.9 1:12.0 1:14.0 1:17.6 2:02:23
DEFRANCESCO (AUS) 1:11.6 1:11.9 1:11.6 1:13.5 1:18.7 2:02:26
BAKER (NZ) 1:11.5 1:11.9 1:11.7 1:14.6 1:21.5 2:03:44
WILLIAMS (CAN) 1:11.7 1:12.0 1:14.7 1:18.2 1:15.7 2:04:07
HOSCHKE-EDWARDS (AUS) 1:11.6 1:11.9 1:12.7 1:17.9 1:18.9 2:04:21
HANSFORD (AUS) 1:12.0 1:12.2 1:16.4 1:18.9 1:21.1 2:06:52
KIDA (JAP) 1:11.8 1:12.4 1:16.1 1:19.2 1:24.5 2:08:00


2K 4K 6K 8K 10K total
PETERSON (USA) 1:12.2 1:09.5 1:09.0 1:09.2 1:08.0 1:56:00
CRIPPEN (USA) 1:12.7 1:09.3 1:09.0 1:09.3 1:07.9 1:56:03
WEINBERGER (CAN) 1:12.0 1:10.5 1:08.0 1:09.2 1:08.4 1:56:03
CARMO (BRA) 1:12.4 1:10.8 1:08.0 1:09.1 1:08.0 1:56:05
FRAYLER (USA) 1:12.5 1:10.5 1:08.2 1:09.2 1:14.8 1:58:23
O’BRIEN (AUS) 1:12.1 1:11.5 1:11.5 1:11.5 1:11.4 1:59:20
ASHWOOD (AUS) 1:12.3 1:11.6 1:11.2 1:11.4 1:11.7 1:59:25
RYAN (USA) 1:12.8 N/A N/A 1:12.2 1:11.5 1:59:26
KLEUH (USA) 1:12.4 N/A N/A 1:11.6 1:11.5 1:59:26
BROWNE (AUS) 1:12.3 1:11.5 1:11.0 1:11.4 1:12.1 1:59:27
KING (CAN) 1:12.2 1:11.3 1:11.3 1:11.8 1:12.0 1:59:32
MAINSTONE (AUS) 1:12.1 1:11.5 1:11.3 1:11.7 1:12.3 1:59:39
ENDERICA (ECU) 1:12.4 1:10.9 1:08.2 1:09.1 1:20.9 2:00:28
CHETRAT (CAN) 1:12.2 1:11.8 1:11.3 1:12.3 1:20.6 2:02:45

Some notes:

  • The women – led as usual by Eva Fabian – took it out fast, and were almost 20 seconds ahead of the men at 2K.

Elite vs. Masters in the open water

Elite vs. Masters in the open water

What’s the difference between Masters open-water races and elite FINA or USA-S open-water races? I would argue, it’s not so much the absolute swimming speeds (1:10 per 100m for 10K, compared to 1:20 to win almost any Masters 10K), but the variability of swimming speeds.

Masters races have a much wider spread of abilities. In this year’s USMS 10K at Morse Reservoir, the top 10 finishers were separated by 9 seconds per 100m, and the winner was a full 29 seconds per 100m faster than the median finisher. What this means is, most people are swimming most of the race by themselves.

In FINA races, the spread in abilities from top to bottom is (I would guess) less than 5 seconds per 100m. What that means is: lots of pack swimming. In order to successfully break away from an open-water peloton, a swimmer will not only have to swim faster than the others in the pack, but fast enough to break out of the peloton’s draft.

As a result, elite races are characterized by 8-9K of conservative, highly tactical swimming followed by 1-2K of balls-out sprinting.…


Roberval Recap

Roberval Recap

This past week in Roberval, QC Canada, the best open-water swimmers in the world converged on Lac St-Jean for the FINA World Championships. The contested distances: 5K, 10K, and 25K. Team USA made an impressive showing: Eva Fabian (5K) and Alex Meyer (25K) took gold in dramatic fashion, and Fran Crippen took bronze in the 5K (and 4th in the 10K). Fabian, who kicked my ass ’round-and-’round the Miami Marine Stadium in April, was also co-leading the 10K until she was disqualified for missing the final buoy.

In a sport that has been traditionally dominated by Europeans, the Americans took 2nd in overall points (behind Italy).

For those who missed Steven Munatones’ coverage, here are videos and recaps for each event:…


Interviews with Rich Abrahams and Mark Warkentin

Interviews with Rich Abrahams and Mark Warkentin

As Chris Anderson described in The Long Tail, the internet has made possible a previously unthinkable wealth of content for niche interests – e.g., Masters and open-water swimming.

Here are two great examples from the past week:

First, Rich Abrahams. The consensus “swimmer of the meet” at the recent Masters Nationals in Atlanta, Rich threw down a 49.4 100 Free and 22.1 50 Free. Fast times for anyone, but guess what? He’s 65 years old. In other words, not just fast, but almost-unbelievably fast.

How did Rich do it? Through several candid posts on the USMS forums and a video interview with Swimming World, you can gather hints. The most interesting nuggets, to my mind:

  • his focus in practice on lots of race-pace swimming
  • his approach to dryland training:
    • focus on overall, balanced strength rather than swim-specific strength
    • one long workout Sunday morning, one shorter workout Wednesday (providing several days recovery between each)
    • the importance of long-term consistency (i.e., over several decades)
  • his preference for swimming with 1-3 like-minded training partners, rather than with a team

Second, 2008 open-water 10K Olympian Mark Warkentin.…