Ashley Twichell finishes Third at World Championships

SHANGHAI -- American Ashley Twichell won a bronze medal Friday in the 5K open water race at the 2011 FINA World Championships, her time of 1 hour, 40.2 seconds just five-tenths behind the winner, Swann Oberson of Switzerland. Twichell’s teammate, Eva Fabian, finished 12th in 1:00:50.0.

Both Twichell and Fabian got out to a quick start and swam with the lead pack for most of the race. Twichell then went neck-and-neck with Oberson and France’s Aurelie Muller down the homestretch, with Oberson nipping the other swimmers with a time of 1:00:39.7. Muller was second in 1:00:40.1.

“I knew it was going to be a close race,” Twichell said. “I also knew there was a really big pack behind me, so I just tried to maintain the speed I had and about the last 100 meters I gave it everything I had, put my kick in and just tried to touch the finish pad as quick as I could.

“I’m more comfortable towards the front. It kind of stresses me out to be toward the back, so I just tried to stay up with the lead pack, which was actually pretty big. I’m new to the sport, so the turns are still a little rough for me, so I tried to get as good a positioning as I could in the turns. Those were still pretty congested and little rough. I got a little beat up on those, but I just tried to maintain a good tempo and a strong pace. After we made the last turn, I tried to pick it up with the lead pack.”

Andrew Gemmell was the top American in the men’s 5K, finishing fifth in 56:24.8. Teammate Sean Ryan was 11th in 56:30.1.

Gemmell was in a good position in the last 500 meters of the race, but couldn’t quite keep up with the lead pack as it pulled away. Thomas Lurz of Germany finished first in 56:16.6, followed by Spyros Gianniotis of Greece (56:17.4) and Evgeny Drattsev of Russia (56:18.5).

“I would have liked to have come away with a medal,” Gemmell said. “World Championship medals are pretty hard to come by. I came pretty close, but didn’t have it at the end. It was a really rough race. That was probably the most physical race I’ve ever been in. I caught a couple bad positions coming around the turns and never really recovered the last 1200 meters.”

Twichell, Gemmell and Ryan took home the gold medal Thursday in the 5K team pursuit. The team pursuit was a new addition to the World Championships with 17 nations entered. Each team consisted of three swimmers per team with each gender represented. Teams left one minute apart, and the time of the slowest swimmer determined the order of finish.

The open water races of the 14th FINA World Championships finish up Saturday with the men’s and women’s 25K. Haley Anderson and Claire Thompson will be competing for the U.S. on the women’s side, while Alex Meyer will compete for the men.

Meyer, who finished fourth in the men’s 10K Wednesday and qualified for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, is the reigning world champion in the 25K.


Complete results for the 5K races can be found at