By Sharon Robb

June 13, 2014—Former Clearwater Aquatics swimmer Becca Mann of North Baltimore Aquatic Club won her first national open water title Friday at the U.S. Open Water National Championships in Castaic Lake, Calif. and qualified for this summer’s Pan Pacific Championships in Australia.

Mann, 16, followed her race strategy staying within sight of the early leaders. With two laps to go, she made her move to overtake the lead and win in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 13.95 seconds,a seven-second margin of victory.

Olympian Haley Anderson was second in 1:59.21.55, Eva Fabian was third in 1:59.22.08 and Christine Jennings was fourth in 1:59.23.91.

Megan Rankin of University of Florida was ninth in 1:59.54.57. Summer Finke of St. Petersburg Aquatics was 19th in 2:04.14.01. Casey Francis of Pine Crest Swimming was 24th in 2:05.27.71.

In the men’s race, Andrew Gemmell, 23, of Wilmington, Delaware came from behind to win the men’s 10K title.

Gemmell also took the lead late in the race to win in 1:50.45.93. It was his second U.S. national title.

Jordan Wilmovsky of Malibu was second in 1:50.49.36, Alex Meyer and Sean Ryan tied for third in 1:51.30.28.

Miami’s Blake Manganiello, 18, of AquaKids Sharks finished in tenth place in 1:52.28.34 and won the 18-and-under title. He placed higher than the top three qualifiers for Jr. Pan Pacs. However, Manganiello will age up before the event and will not be eligible to swim. Brendan Casey (14th), Chris Yeager (16th) and Logan Houck (20th) qualified qualified for Jr. Pan Pacs.

Joey Pedraza of Azura Florida Aquatics, in early contention, faded to 15th in 1:54.44.32. Ryan Rosenbaum, 19, of Swim Fort Lauderdale and University of Florida was 17th in 1:54.48.67.

The top four men and women finishers earned spots on the U.S. open water team, for Pan Pacs in Gold Coast, Australia. The men’s and women’s 5K races are Saturday.

This year’s nationals are serving as the selection meet for several international competitions including Pan Pacs, Jr. Pan Pacs and Junior Worlds.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

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