Molloy, Miller Take Feature Race in Open Water Championships
Another impressive field of participants and a large gathering of spectators assembled Saturday in Seven Lakes for the 2012 North Carolina Open Water Championships.
In the event’s premiere race, Kiera Molloy and Ben Miller emerged as the female and male 5K champions.
For Molloy, who will be a member of the Duke University aquatics team this fall, the victory marked her second straight in the featured event as she turned in a time of 1:16:51 to top second-place finisher Lauren Greenberg by just seven seconds.
“I love this race so much anyway,” Malloy said, “so to come back and win it again is a really nice feeling. This will probably be my last year, as I am going to college next year and don’t know if I will be participating — so it’s an exciting way to finish.”
In the boys’ race Miller won going away with a time of 1:13:39, which was more than two minutes faster than second-place finisher Alex Fox’s mark of 1:16:15.
“My first open water was the 3K here about three years ago,” said Miller, who placed fourth in the 5K in 2010 and 2011. “With it being my last one before I go off to college, it was nice to finally win the 5K here. Even though I started back in the second group, one minute later, I was able to catch up with the main pack and chill with them.
“So I did that, then on the third lap I saw someone else coming up on me, and then I think I left everyone right at the beginning of the fourth lap and started sprinting from there (through the fifth and final lap). While the water conditions were great there was a lot of bumping and stuff in the pack, so it helped and worked to my advantage.”
Molloy is a recent graduate of Wakefield High School in Raleigh, while Miller attended high school at Middle Creek in Apex. This fall he will be enrolled at the University of Tennessee, where he will be a member of the Volunteers combined-team swim program.
Because the pair placed in the top four in their previous two years at the race, they were able to attend the N.C. Open Water Select Camp, qualifying as a non-college-bound top-four placer in the 5K. The top-four finishers for boys and girls in the 3K (age 13-14), 2K (age 11-12) and the 800-meter race (for ages 10 and under) also qualify for the camp each year.
Both swimmers had rave reviews for the select camp and felt it was just one of many reason why the Open Water championships at Seven Lakes, which started back in 1998, is such a unique, fun and potentially life-changing experience.
“Two years ago was my first 5K and I made it to the open water select camp that year, which was great,” said Miller. “I can’t say enough about that camp, and I had so much fun with it that it actually enticed me to do the national open water (championship), which is a 10K in Florida. So I did that last year.”
Molloy especially enjoyed her visits to the select camp because it was quite a change from her familiar experience with the sport of swimming.
“Normally we don’t swim open water around here,” said Molloy, “so that was a cool camp. We learned all things about swimming long-distance open water — like feeding and stuff — so you just get to learn a lot more than the other kids can. So when you come back you know exactly how to swim it, you know exactly when to turn, you know exactly how to pace yourself — it’s a cool thing.”
This year’s N.C. Open Water Select Camp is scheduled to take place in Moore County from Sept. 7-9 and will be held at Auman Lake and Lake No. 2 (of Seven Lakes) and Whispering Pines Lake.
The opportunity for swimmers to make it to the select camp is one thing race director Taylor Cooper really feels is a critical part of the overall open water experience, as is the Poseidon Award, which was instituted for the first time two years ago at the 2010 North Carolina Open Water Championships (NCOWC) in Seven Lakes.
The Poseidon Award goes to any swimmer that completes the 5K, 3K and 2K races. This year 13 swimmers won the award at the NCOWC including Julia Lattarulo, Kevin Duffy, Eli Brightbill, Grayson Davis, Brett Malmstrom, Logan Kirkland, Haylie Moore, Jacob Werden, Adelaide Cairns, Lauren Greenberg, Jimbo Short, Alan Stephens and Chris Hartwiger.
“I went to a race 20 years ago and the Australian national team was there,” Cooper said, “and that is where I got the idea for it (the Poseidon Award). The race was 10K nationals and they were coming through on a training thing, and there were like only four of them, and they all had to swim the 10, 5, 3, 2 and 1K, and they had one guy win everything.
“So it came from that experience, and the idea is to reward the swimmers who challenge themselves to compete in the three longest races we have here and swim that full 10K distance competitively.”
Always looking for ways to improve the NCOWC, Cooper and his staff developed a system of using cap colors to distinguish different swimmers out on the water that debuted this year. The top-10 seeded swimmers in each race were in red and blue caps in each age group, the Poseidon swimmers donned orange caps, and the open-entry contests were in green.
“That was the change we made this year,” Cooper said, “and I feel it helped dress the event up a little bit. Two years ago it was the Poseidon Award and because I have had so much help from my staff, I am able to focus on different things to keep enhancing it more and more.” Last year the major change was a design of the actual race course itself.
In an effort to make the event more fan friendly, Cooper and his crew reconfigured the triangular course. Still using a long opening straightaway leg going straight out, away from the shore and dam line, the new design has swimmers making the turn on the side of the lake closest to the damn and taking a path that runs parallel to the “Spectator Lane,” which also serves as the stretch run on the final lap.
Along with the 5K, other open competitor races contested Saturday were the 3K, 2K and 800 meter.
According to Cooper, a complete list of the 2012 results can be found at www. sandshark.org/OpenWater/index.asp.
Contact F.W. Manning II at email@example.com.
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