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Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.
It’s an eerily quiet time in the world of swimming, as the championship meets of the summer have wrapped up and athletes are getting back into the swing of things for the school year and club season, meaning there’s a lack of racing going on.
But the World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships are doing their part to fill that void, as the three-day competition kicked off on Friday from the Seychelles, an island nation located in the Somali Sea (700 miles northeast of Madagascar).
The opening day of competition featured the 5k and 7.5k events, which were exclusively for swimmers aged 13-15 and 16-17, respectively.
In the girls’ 7.5k, it was an absolute tour de force from American Katie Grimes, who bulldozed the field with a final time of 1:22:38.50.
In open water, conditions dictate times, making it impossible to truly compare someone’s clocking from one competition to another. However, we can look at margin of victory, and Grimes’ was significant.
The 16-year-old led runner-up Narin Burcunaz of Turkey by a full two minutes and 18 seconds, or nearly two seconds per 100 meters.
Granted, Grimes has experienced success at the highest level of the sport, including a pair of silver medals at the 2022 World Championships in the women’s 1500 free and 400 IM, while her competitors in Seychelles are still on the way up. But nonetheless, this open water effort was impressive.
— FINA (@fina1908) September 16, 2022
Her time of 1:22:38.5 averages out to 1:06.1 per 100 meters. Holding that pace in the pool would result in a 16:31.5 1500, which is just two seconds shy of the FINA ‘A’ cut implemented for the 2022 World Championships (16:29.57).
However, the times across the board on Day 1 were incredibly fast—Claire Weinstein‘s winning time in the girls’ 5k averages out to 1:02.2 per 100 meters, and the top boys in the 7.5k averaged sub-1:01 pace.
For comparison, Grimes finished in 1:41:44 when she won the 7.5k at U.S. Nationals in April (in tough conditions).
It’s possible the courses are a bit short, given these results, but that doesn’t take away from Grimes’ dominance.
Post-race, Grimes said the conditions weren’t optimal, but she managed to maintain her poise and execute a successful race.
“I didn’t come in with too much of a tactic; I just didn’t really know what to expect at the junior worlds,” she told FINA. “Every day we’ve been out here before, the conditions have looked like a lake and today it was pretty rough, so I just really went with the flow of everything and stay calm.”
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