Jordan Wilimovsky of Malibu and David Heron of Mission Viejo moved one step closer to qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics with second- and fourth-place finishes in the USA Swimming men’s 10K national championship Friday in Miami.
As the top two American finishers, Wilimovsky and Heron assured themselves of berths in the 2019 FINA World Championships 10K open water race in Gwangju, South Korea in July. The top 10 finishers at the world championships are assured of berths in the Olympics.
The 25-year-old Wilimovsky was second in one hour, 50 minutes, 57.35 seconds. Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the 1,500-meter freestyle, won in 1:49.25.37. Mario Sanzullo of Italy was third in 1:51:41.21 and Heron fourth in 1:52:22.03, 2.45 seconds ahead of fellow American James Brinegar.
Wilimovsky moved into second on the third of six laps behind Paltrinieri and remained there at the end of the fourth and fifth laps. Sanzullo moved into third on the third of six laps and remained there at the end of the fourth and fifth laps.
“It was a fun race,” Wilimovsky said. “I’m stoked that I was able to make the world’s team in the 10K.
“I just tried to hang back for the first little bit of the race, and I noticed that Greg (Paltrinieri) and the other Italian guys were working hard and pulling away, so I had to get moving the second half of the race. But I was happy overall on how it went and I felt strong the whole way.”
Heron said his plan was “to just be around top-five because I think I do better in the lead group, but my first half didn’t go as well as planned.
“I was falling off a little bit, I was using a lot more energy because it was definitely a lot faster than normal, but I hung on,” Heron said. “Half way, I was telling myself to relax, regenerate your energy, and I was able to hang on at the back of the front group.
“Lap four and five I just kind of regenerated my energy and saved up for the last 500 (meters) where I started feeling strong again, and I was able to have a fast finish.”
Wilimovsky won the men’s 10-kilometer open water race at the 2015 FINA World Championships, finished third at the 2017 FINA World Championships and fifth in the event in the 2016 Olympics. The world championships are conducted every two years by FINA, swimming’s international governing body.
Wilimovsky graduated from Malibu High School in 2012. He completed his college swimming career at Northwestern in 2017.
Wilimovsky said he began swimming when he was 9 years old to qualify for the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Lifeguard Division’s Junior Lifeguard Program, which required participants to swim 100 yards in one minute, 50 seconds.
Wilimovsky failed to meet that standard in his first attempt, then joined the swim team at the Palisades-Malibu YMCA in 2004 and qualified for the Junior Lifeguard Program.
Heron was sixth in the men’s 5-kilometer open water race at the 2015 FINA World Championships and 10th in the event at the 2017 FINA World Championships.
Heron graduated from Mission Viejo High School in 2013. He completed his college swimming career at Tennessee in 2018.
Heron began swimming when he was 7 years old because “my mom wanted me to learn to swim stroke.”