Katie Grimes was the only open water swimmer on the women’s side who made the 1500m final heat in the pool at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.
Grimes won bronze in a very tight race in the 10 km marathon swim in Hakata Bay 10 days ago and raced in the final heat in lane one, finishing eighth. The 17-year-old qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games 10 km marathon swim with her third-place finish. She is the first American athlete – in any sport – to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Grimes finished fast in the 10 km in 2:02:42.30, overcoming Olympic gold medalists Sharon van Rouwendaal in 2:02:43.40 (fourth) and Ana Marcela Cunha in 2:02:42.50 (fifth). Grimes explained the photo finish, “I was really just trying to not look over there at them. They were there, but I was trying to focus on having a perfect finish. That was something the past couple days, I would spend 15 minutes just working on timing it perfectly in case it is a three, maybe eight-woman finish. I wanted to make sure going into that chute I had the best position, but I was a little scared to look over there because I knew it was going to be really tight. They are both incredible swimmers, I was just happy to be in the mix.”
While Grimes is unique among pool-open water swimmers among the most elite women, the men’s side is much different. Florian Wellbrock of Germany [shown in the middle below], Gregorio Paltrinieri [shown on the left below with Italian teammate Domenico Acerenza], and Mykhailo Romanchuk of Ukraine are among the fastest men in the open water – and are expected to be among the men competing for podium positions in both the 800m and 1500m freestyle events in the pool, both at the World Aquatics Championships and at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Wellbrock and Paltrinieri have won the last four world championship titles in the 1500m freestyle.
Top photo of Chelsea Gubecka, Leonie Beck, and Katie Grimes by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images.
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