Ashley Twichell went six years between world championships medals, making it three straight open-water 5km world titles for U.S. women on Wednesday.
Twichell, 28, edged world 10km champion Aurelie Muller of France by 3.5 seconds, touching the board in 59 minutes, 7 seconds for gold in Hungary.
Twichell became the oldest U.S. woman to win an individual world swimming title since Jenny Thompson in 2003 and the oldest American of either gender to ever win an open-water title.
“The goal here was to get on the podium,” Twichell said, according to USA Swimming.
Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha earned bronze, 4.4 seconds back, for her eighth career world open-water medal.
Olympic champion Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands and American Haley Anderson, the 2013 and 2015 World champion, were fourth and fifth.
Twichell notched the biggest win of her career, six years after earning 5km bronze and team gold at worlds. In between, she missed the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams.
But Twichell came back strong this year. She won her second straight open-water national title in the 10km in May and made the team in the 5km, finishing fourth behind Anderson and two Italians.
Twichell was 10th in the world 10km race on Sunday.
“I didn’t feel awesome during the 10km, so I took the two days in between to really try to recover and get my mind back straight,” Twichell said, according to USA Swimming.
Pool swimming events at worlds start Sunday.
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