The youngest member of the U.S. Olympic team in Tokyo could be the first member of the U.S. Olympic team for Paris.
Katie Grimes won the open-water swimming nationals 10km in just under two hours in Sarasota, Florida, on Friday, qualifying for July’s world championships.
The medalists at worlds will become the first swimmers to earn places at the 2024 Paris Games.
Grimes will be one of two U.S. women in the open-water 10km at worlds. The other spot goes to the top American finisher in an international race in Italy next month.
Brennan Gravley. the top U.S. man from open-water nationals later Friday, also earned a worlds spot and the chance to qualify for Paris. Gravely was 12th at last year’s worlds.
Four years ago, Haley Anderson and Ashley Twichell became the first athletes to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team for Tokyo via the open-water 10km at worlds.
Anderson, the lone American to win an Olympic open-water medal (silver in 2012), retired after finishing sixth in Tokyo.
Twichell placed fourth on Friday in her first open-water race since May childbirth.
Grimes, who placed fourth in the Tokyo Olympic 800m freestyle in the pool at age 15, followed that up last year by qualifying for the U.S. team for worlds in both the pool and the open water.
She earned silver medals in the 1500m free and the 400m individual medley in Budapest’s Danube Arena, then placed fifth in the open water in Budapest’s Lake Lupa.
Open-water swimming favors experience more than the pool does. The four women who placed ahead of Grimes at worlds were all 25 and older. Every Olympic open-water swimming medalist has been at least 20 years old save one, according to Olympedia.org.
Since open-water swimming was added to the Olympic program in 2008, one American has competed in both the pool and the open water in the same Games: Jordan Wilimovsky, who in 2016 was fourth in the 1500m free and fifth in the 10km.
Ron Aitken, who coaches Grimes with the Sandpipers of Nevada, said, ideally, Grimes would race both should she qualify for the Olympics in each discipline.
The open-water 10km races at the Olympics come after the pool swimming events have all finished.
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