David Heron of Mission Viejo finished 10th in the men’s 5-kilometer open water race Saturday in the 17th FINA World Championships at Lake Balaton, Hungary after being 35th at the race’s halfway point.
Heron was 13th in the field of 62 swimmers after the first lap, 15.2 seconds behind the leader and eventual gold medalist, Marc-Antoine Olivier of France.
“That first straightaway was a lot faster than I thought it would be,” the 22-year-old Heron said. “It was pretty rough going around that first turn. After that first lap I was pretty far behind.”
Heron fell further behind at the halfway point, dropping to 35th, 20 seconds off the pace.
“I know I’m good at finishing a race,” Heron said.
“I knew it was just 2.5K, so I just got on the side of everyone so I wasn’t in the mix with the group and just told myself `Let’s see how many people I can pass and catch back up there.”‘
Heron had the ninth-fastest time in the second half of the race, 39 minutes, 23.4 seconds. He completed the race in 54:48.2, 6.1 seconds behind bronze medalist Timothy Shuttleworth of Great Britain.
Olivier and Mario Sanzullo of Italy pulled away from the pack over the final 1,000 meters, entering the finish chute 10 seconds clear of the field.
Olivier won in 54:31.4, seven-tenths of a second ahead of Sanzullo, who finished second.
Defending champion Chad Ho of South Africa finished 11th in 54:48.6.
The race’s other American, Andrew Gemmell of Wilmington, Delaware, finished 17th in 54:59.30.
Heron finished sixth in the race in the last world championships, held in 2015 in Kazan, Russia. The world championships are conducted every two years by FINA, swimming’s international governing body.
Heron qualified for the world championships by winning the USA Swimming Open Water National Championships in Castaic Lake May 21, finishing 0.33 of a second ahead of Gemmell.
Heron graduated from Mission Viejo High School in 2013 and is entering his redshirt senior season at Tennessee.
Heron began swimming when he was 7 years old because “my mom wanted me to learn to swim stroke.” He said he swims about 16 kilometers (nearly 10 miles) per day, seven days a week.
—City News Service
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