Jordan Wilimovsky of Malibu qualified for the 2020 Olympics Monday with a fifth-place finish in the men’s 10K open water race at the 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.
In a race where the top 10 finishers in the field of 74 swimmers were assured of Olympic berths, Wilimovsky was 15th through three of six laps. He moved up to ninth through four laps and fifth entering the final lap.
Wilimovsky took the lead with 600 meters to go, but was passed by four swimmers. However, he still finished high enough to qualify for his second consecutive Olympics.
The 25-year-old Wilimovsky was timed in one hour, 48 minutes and one second. Florian Wellbrock of Germany won in 1:47:55.90.
The other American swimmer, David Heron of Mission Viejo, was 25th in 1:49:57.60.
“Usually, I try to hang back a little more, but this being an Olympic qualifier and everything, the first half of the race I went a little harder than I normally do just to make sure I was in a good position and be safe and be at the front the whole way,” Wilimovsky said. “So I changed my strategy a little bit compared to what I normally do.”
Wilimovsky said he was “super stoked” to qualify for the Olympics.
“Any time you get to represent the U.S. is super cool, so that’s awesome,” Wilimovsky said. “I definitely wanted to do better than fifth, but I’ve got a year to work on that, so overall I’m happy.”
Wilimovsky won the men’s 10-kilometer open water race at the 2015 FINA World Championships and finished third at the 2017 FINA World Championships. The world championships are conducted every two years by FINA, the international aquatics governing body.
Wilimovsky is the third American to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. USC alumnus Haley Anderson and Ashley Twichell of Fayetteville, New York qualified Sunday with second- and sixth-place finishes in the women’s 10K open water race.
Wilimovsky was fifth in the men’s 10-kilometer open-water race and fourth in the 1,500-meter freestyle in the 2016 Olympics.
He is the only American to qualify for both open water and pool competition at the Olympic Games in the same year. Open water swimming has been part of the Olympics since 2008.
Wilimovsky is scheduled to swim the 800-meter and 1,500-meter freestyle next week at the FINA World Championships.
Wilimovsky graduated from Malibu High School in 2012, and completed his college swimming career at Northwestern in 2017.
He 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.
He 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.
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