Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

2012 Olympians Andrew Gemmell and Alex Meyer have long dominated the American open water swimming scene with some impressive wins over the last several years.

The Big Two face off with each other and 32 other men at this week’s USA Swimming Open Water National Championships in Miromar Lakes, Florida.

But all their previous victories means nothing in the do-or-die, winners-take-all 10 km race where only the top 2 men will advance to the 2015 FINA World Swimming Championships in Kazan, Russia. The pressure-packed race is the only route to the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim; finish third and there will be no racing in Copacabana Beach at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

While there will undoubtedly be surprises during the race, Gemmell’s overall stamina and speed and Meyer’s savvy and strength will put them in good stead. But the two will have to deal with another savvy pair from Team Santa Monica, Jordan Wilimovsky and Brendan Casey who will have a Plan A, B and C ready to roll out. They will also have to deal with Arthur Frayler, David Heron, Joey Pedraza, Chip Peterson, Ryan Feeley, and Sean Ryan who will all take shots at pushing the pace and with definitive shots of winning.

Whatever pair comes out on top, it will undoubtedly be one of the closest and most strategic races on American waters unless someone like Gemmell or Wilimovsky make an early break that the lead pack cannot maintain. With so much at stake and with so many top swimmers devoting years of training to this race, the race will be entertaining to watch on the live webcast available online via usaswimming.org.

Start List:
1. Taylor Abbott
2. Aaron Apel
3. Michael Brinegar
4. Billy Cadigan
5. Brendan Casey
6. Andrew Faciszewski
7. Ryan Feeley
8. Arthur Frayler
9. Andrew Gemmell
10. Christopher Grimmett-Norris
11. Zane Grothe
12. David Heron
13. Logan Houck
14. Kevin Jackson
15. Jerad Kaskawal
16. Roger Kriegl
17. Simon Lamar
18. Ben Lawless
19. Sam Magnan
20. Blake Manganiello
21. Nicholas McDowell
22. Alex Meyer
23. Daniel O’Connor
24. Jacob Ores
25. Nathan Pawlowicz
26. Joey Pedraza
27. Chip Peterson
28. Evan Pinion
29. PJ Ransford
30. Sean Ryan
31. Steve Sholdra
32. T.C. Smith
33. Cameron Stitt
34. Jordan Wilimovsky

The 10 km USA Swimming national championships for the women will be held before the men’s race at 8:00 am New York time with the 5 km championships held on Sunday. The championships will serve as the selection meet for the FINA World Championships Open Water Team, Pan American Games Open Water Team, World University Games Open Water Team, USA Swimming Open Water National Team and USA Swimming Open Water National Junior Team.

For information on the women’s race, visit here.

Photo shows son Andrew Gemmell (left) and father-coach Bruce Gemmell (right), the American Swim Coaches Association’s 2013 Coach of the Year at Nation’s Capital Swim Club.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association