Heron/Twichell Win 5k 2021 National Titles, Pishko/Denigan Win Junior 7.5k


The 2021 U.S. Open Water National Championships wrapped up on Sunday morning in Fort Myers Beach, Florida with four different distance races going off at Lynn Hall Park. The men’s 5K opened the morning followed by the women’s 5K. Then, the men’s and women’s 7.5K closed the evening, with the top two eligible finishers (ages 17-18) qualifying for the 2021 World Junior Open Water Championships in Victoria, Seychelles from August 13-15.

Official Men’s 5K Results

  1. David Heron (Mission Viejo Nadadores), 59.29
  2. Brennan Gravley (University of Florida), 59.33
  3. Dylan Gravley (Sandpipers of Nevada), 59.36
  4. Simon Lamar (FAST Swim Team), 59.45
  5. Ivan Puskovitch (USC Aquatics), 1:00.07

After the first lap, Mission Viejo’s David Heron led the head crew along with Joey Tepper and Florida’s Brennan Gravley. Into the second lap, Tepper faded out of the top three as another Florida Gator, NCAA champion Kieran Smith, was swimming with the top three swimmers. During the final lap, Smith faded out of the top five as Dylan Gravley accelerated towards Heron and B. Gravley.

When interview on his race strategy, Heron explained, “It was rough again like the 10K. It felt fast going down (the course) and then slow going up because it was so choppy going against the waves. The pace was a bit quicker; my goal was to stay behind someone until that last straightaway and it worked out well. I felt strong on that last lap. I was just trying to conserve as much energy on my stroke while still staying strong.”

At the touch, it was Heron who earned his second open water title this weekend at 59.29, just four seconds ahead of B. Gravley (59.33). Earlier, Heron won the 5k title on Friday. When gathering his thoughts on the accomplishment, Heron commented, “This is the first time I’ve been able to win both at the same meet, so that’s pretty exciting. This competition was really exciting because it was truly ‘open water,’ the conditions were a little bit more rough than swimming in a lake. It’s fun not knowing what to expect in a race, and I like that about open water.”

Sandpipers’ D. Gravley placed third at 59.36 while FAST’s Simon Lamar (59.45) and USC’s Ivan Puskovitch (1:00.07) rounded out the top five. Tepper placed in sixth at 1:00.11 while Smith finished two seconds later in seventh at 1:00.13.

Official Women’s 5K Results

  1. Ashley Twichell (TAC Titans), 1:01.31
  2. Haley Anderson (Mission Viejo Nadadores), 1:01.38
  3. Erica Sullivan (Sandpipers of Nevada), 1:01.41
  4. Katie Grimes (Sandpipers of Nevada), 1:02.24
  5. Bella Sims (Sandpipers of Nevada), 1:06.58

Friday’s 10k champion Erica Sullivan led the first two laps of the 5k over Haley Anderson and Ashley Twichell. Veteran Twichell told USA Swimming about her 5k race that, “I tried to stay really comfortable until those last couple of laps. As I get older, it’s harder to do a 5K just two days after a 10K, so I just tried to stay with the pack. I knew that back stretch was going to be choppy and be hard for anyone to really make a move, so I tried to make a move on the front half of that third lap.”

Yet Twichell avenged her runner-up finish in the 5k by passing Sullivan and Anderson on the last lap, taking the 2021 national title at 1:01.31. Finishing seven seconds later was Anderson at 1:01.38 while Sullivan faded to third at 1:01.41. Rounding out the top five were World Junior 5k qualifiers Katie Grimes (1:02.24) and Bella Sims, both 15-year-olds from Sandpipers of Nevada. Grimes won the junior 5k yesteday at 1:04.04, improving by 1:48s while Sims placed second at 1:04.46.

Heading into the Tokyo Olympics, Twichell mentioned, “I feel like my endurance and speed are both really there, which is really exciting. I’m just looking forward to continuing to train and competing at (the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming) in the pool and then heading to Tokyo. The competition and atmosphere will be different there but the U.S. has a lot of talent so these races weren’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. This definitely gives me confidence.”

Official Men’s Junior 7.5K Results

  1. Jacob Pishko (TAC Titans), 1:35.24
  2. Joshua Brown (Highlander Aquatic Club), 1:35.44
  3. Brice Barrieault (Sandpipers of Nevada), 1:35.51

TAC Titans’ Jacob Pishko held onto the lead of the men’s junior 7.5k lead for the entirety of the race. Pishko took the title at 1:35.24 while Highlander’s Joshua Brown took second at 1:35.44, punching their tickets to Seychelles. Sandpipers’ Brice Barrieault took third at 1:35.51 while Carlile placed fourth (1:35.59) and Glass faded to 10th overall (1:43.09).

“It was kind of weird— this was my first time ever swimming a 7.5K. I had a couple of friends who were in the 10K so I kind of picked their brains on the course and how it felt. What I got from that was going north, up the coast, it is better to swing out a little bit and then go back into the buoy, so that’s what I tried doing most of my race. When I did that in the first lap, I don’t think anyone really noticed me and then things just kind of took off from there,” Pishko said during his post-race interview.

Official Women’s Junior 7.5K Results

  1. Mariah Denigan (Lakeside Swim Team), 1:40.05
  2. Paige Kuwata (Sandpipers of Nevada), 1:40.38
  3. Blair Stoneburg (Treasure Coast Aquatics), 1:44.28

Gabby Goodwin of Blue Dolfins took the early lead over Treasure Coast’s Blair Stoneburg and Lakeside’s Mariah Denigan. Then, Sandpipers’ Paige Kuwata took over the lead at the 2.25k-mark (or 2.5 laps), with Denigan and Stoneburg following her newly-established lead. Then, Denigan took over the lead heading into the final lap, securing her spot on the 2021 World Juniors team with a 33-second winning margin at 1:40.05. Puching her ticket to Seychelles was Kuwata at 1:40.38.

Stoneburg settled for third at 1:44.28, yet placed fifth in the open 10k earlier in the meet, earning national team status. Goodwin took sixth in this event a 1:47.59 behind NOVA’s Sanna Peterson (1:47.06) and East Coast’s Anna Auld (1:47.34).

When Denigan was asked on her experience with the 7.5K, she told USA Swimming, “It felt really good. The waves got harder on the back half, but I knew I was in a good spot and just had to finish strong. This is my first time doing a 7.5K, I’ve done a 10K and a 5K all in one weekend before, so I figured the 7.5K shouldn’t be too bad as doing both of those so I was really excited to swim it going into this weekend.”


Here’s a look at the age brackets and qualifying events for the World Junior meet:

  • 5K Event
    • Ages 15-16 as of December 31, 2021 (Athletes born in 2005 or 2006)
    • Two highest-placing eligible swimmers from the 5K event on Saturday
  • 7.5K Event
    • Ages 17-18 as of December 31, 2021 (Athletes born in 2003 or 2004)
    • Two highest-placing eligible swimmers from the 7.5K event on Sunday
  • 10K Event
    • Ages 19-20 as of December 31, 2021 (Athletes born in 2001 or 2002)
    • Two highest-placing eligible swimmers from the 10K event on Friday

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

You may want to go back and check with the announcers and video of guys 7.5k. Will Glass never led that race, they didn’t have the right number. Pishko led that race from beginning to end.

Reply to  Daddy-o
2 years ago

Is it just me or was that 7.5km race in tough conditions? I know each Openwater race can’t be judged on time alone but this seems quite slow for a national level swim. Commenting from outside of US, so have no idea if this is normal times for you guys over there? Appreciate response from anyone there.

Reply to  SHRKB8
2 years ago

It was tough conditions.

2 years ago

Pretty sure that the National team selection criteria says the team is only picked based off of the 10k from Friday…

About Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro started swimming at age 11, instantly becoming drawn to the sport. He was a breaststroker and IMer when competing. After joining SwimSwam, the site has become an outlet for him to research and learn about competitive swimming and experience the sport through a new lenses. He graduated in …

Read More »