July 22, 2011
WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
U.S. open water swimmer Ashley Twichell is making a name for herself at the XIV FINA World Aquatic Championships in Shanghai, China.
The Duke graduate and All-American reached the medal podium for the second time in two days after taking the bronze medal in the women’s 5K open water event on Friday at Jinshan City Beach.
Twichell of Fayetteville, N.Y. finished in 1 hour, 40.2 seconds, just 5/10ths of a second behind gold medal winner Swann Oberson of Switzerland. Aurelie Muller of France took the silver in 1:00:40.1.
“I knew it was going to be a close race,” Twichell said. “I also knew there was really a 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.”
It was her second medal of the world championships. Twichell helped the U.S. win the gold medal in the 5K open water team pursuit.
“I’m more comfortable towards the front,” Twichell said. “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 positioning as I could in the turns. Those were still pretty congested and little rough. I got a little beat up on those.”
Teammate Eva Fabian, who won the world 5K title last year in Roberval, finished 12th in 1:00:50.
Thomas Lurz of Germany won the men’s 5K race in 56 minutes, 16.6 seconds. It was his seventh consecutive 5K world title victory. Greece’s Spyros Gianniotis finished second in 56:17.4. Evgeny Drattsev of Russia took the bronze in 56:18.5.
Andrew Gemmell was the top American male with a fifth place finish in 56:24.8. Teammate Sean Ryan was 11th in 56:30.1.
“I would have liked to 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.”
Due to the safety concerns of swimmers and coaches over the water temperature, the men’s 25K originally scheduled for 7 a.m. Saturday was moved back to 6 a.m. and the women’s 25K was moved to 6:15 a.m. The Netherlands has already withdrawn its team from the field. Americans Alex Meyer, reigning world 25K champion, Haley Thompson and Claire Thompson will compete.
China continued its domination of the diving competition with its eighth consecutive gold medal at the Oriental Sports Center.
China’s He Chong won his second world title on the men’s 3-meter springboard. He, 24, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist, scored an impressive 107.25 points on his final dive, a forward two and a half somersault with three twists, to finish with 554.30 points.
He is the first male diver to successfully defend his world title since Russian Dmitry Sautin did it in 2001.
“I was exhausted after the prelim and semifinal yesterday so the gold medal is really satisfactory,” He said.
Russians Ilya Zakharov (508.95) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (493.55) took the silver and bronze medals. China’s Qin Kai, in gold medal contention for most of the event until slipping on the board and missing his forward four and a half somersault badly, was fourth with 481.90. It was the first time the Chinese did not finish 1-2.
China has now won eleven diving medals and its chance to sweep the gold medals for the first time at worlds remains on track with two events remaining.
Devon Diggle scored five goals to lead Canada’s men’s water polo team to a 13-9 victory over China and into the playoff round of the world championships. Canada plays the U.S. in the elimination round for a berth in the quarterfinals. Brazil drew eighteen penalties and had three players ejected.
Hungary, Serbia, Croatia and Italy won their groups to advance straight into the quarterfinals. Italy edged Germany, 7-6 to win Group D; Croatia beat Japan, 18-7, to win Group C; Hungary edged Spain, 12-11 to win Group A; and Serbia beat Australia, 12-9, in Group B in the 16-team tournament.
The women’s elimination rounds are Saturday.
Natalia Ishchenko, known as “the Michael Phelps of her sport” won her fifth gold medal when she combined with Svetlana Romashina to win the duets free title.
Ishchenko, 25, also won both solo titles and was a member of the winning team. The duo also won the duets technical title.
Ishchenko now has fifteen world titles and her five gold medals at a world championships topped her previous best medal haul of four.
The duet won with 98.410 points for their routine. Russia has dominated the world competition. Russia has won all six title with the team free competition remaining on Saturday.
Taking the silver were China’s Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen with 96.810 points and Spain’s Andrea Fuentes and Ona Carbonell took the bronze with 96.500 points.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org