When a slew of Olympians and six world champions come together and race in the open water, it is a highly unusual situation.
It is even more unusual when a non-Olympian and non-world champion wins.
But Ashley Twichell proved herself more than up to the challenge and won the 2016 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships, literally on the last stroke.
After Aurélie Muller and Twichell traded off leading the talented pack for most of the 10 km race, it was Ana Marcela Cunha and Rachele Bruni who sprinted to the lead and were leading at the last 1000 meters. Olympians Haley Anderson and Poliana Okimoto were also in position to win the race, but it was recently married Twichell who had something left in the tank.
“She just lifted out of the water and had a great finish,” observed her father. In the last 50 meters, Twichell still has a body behind Italy’s leader Bruni. But reminiscent of Jason Lezak’s relay finish at the 2008 Olympics, Twichell shifted to an entirely different gear.
“It was a tremendous race,” said Mike Lewis, the race commentator. “She was in the lead most of the race, pulling the pack along with her. Then to come back and win in a close sprint. That is a testament to her fitness and tenacity.”
As the crowd cheered, Bruni and Twichell both reached up on their last stroke, but it was Twichell who put her hand on the finish pontoon first.
Women’s 10 km Marathon Swim Results>
1 Ashley Twichell (USA) 2:01:51.78>
2 Rachele Bruni (Italy) 2:01:52.02>
3 Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil) 2:01:55.41>
4 Haley Anderson (USA) 2:01:56.28>
5 Poliana Okimoto (Brazil) 2:01:56.43>
6 Aurélie Muller (France) 2:01:56.44>
7 Sharon Van Rouwendaal (Netherlands) 2:02:00.51>
8 Emily Brunemann (USA) 2:02:02.72>
9 Arianna Brini (Italy)2:02:05.50>
10 Eva Fabian (USA) 2:02:09.99>
11 Yumi Kida (Japan) 2:02:31.07>
12 Stephanie Peacock (USA) 2:02:40.64>
13 Sarah Bosslet (Germany) 2:04:18.42>
14 Taylor Pike (USA) 2:04:19.13>
15 Alice Franco (Italy) 2:05:07.03>
16 (Canada) 2:05:51.03>
17 Jade Dusablon (Canada) 2:05:52.23>
18 Kensey McMahon (USA) 2:05:52.86>
19 Kendall Brent (USA) 2:05:52.88>
20 Chenoa Devine (USA) 2:05:53.46>
21Joy Field (USA) 2:05:56.94>
22 Samantha Harding (Canada) 2:07:10.56>
23 Erica Sullivan (USA) 2:07:23.21>
24 Natalie Ward (USA) 2:09:03.80>
25 Angelica Andre (Portugal) 2:10:22.46>
26 Mary Margaret Banick (USA) 2:10:40.45>
27 Chase Travis (USA) 2:10:47.90>
28 Libby Walker (USA) 2:11:09.00>
29 Hailey Houck (USA) 2:11:17.72>
30 Jessica Hespeler (USA) 2:12:38.94>
31 Ana Pozder (USA) 2:13:51.15>
32 Brook Travis (USA) 2:22:09.58
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