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Frimerman-Bergquist Finds Way to Open Water Title in Chattanooga

Minnesota swimmer, Whitney, Dawkins, Valdivia win open water national titles

Daniel Paulling | June 7, 2017

Last weekend didn’t start well for Sandra Frimerman-Bergquist. She faced a river full of elbows and received an imprint on her back after someone kicked her during a 1-mile swim at the Chattanooga Swim Fest in Tennessee on Friday.

But she finished the weekend with a win in the 2017 USMS Ultramarathon Distance Open Water National Championship on Sunday and placed fifth in the 2017 USMS Middle Distance Open Water National Championship on Saturday.

“Going into Sunday, I thought ‘I just want to have fun,’” the Minnesota Masters Swim Club swimmer says. “I just got myself in the zone and just had fun going down the river.”

Gulliver Swim Club’s Ricardo Valdivia was the fastest male in the ultramarathon distance, which was 9.2 miles, with a time of 2:05:30, slightly more than 2 minutes faster than Frimerman-Bergquist’s mark of 2:07:45.

Southwest Indiana Masters swimmer Adam Dawkins won the men’s middle distance race, which was 2.4 miles, with a time of 30:57, while Nashville Aquatic Club Masters swimmer Ashley Whitney finished first among the women with a 31:38.

Frimerman-Bergquist’s success comes despite not being able to do much open water swimming of late. She won three of the four races in the SCAR Swim Series in Arizona, but living in Minnesota means she can’t swim outdoors during the winter.

Still, she finds a way—kind of—to do open water training.

“Lots of times, I’m pool-swimming with a bunch of 6-foot-2 men, so I’m doing open water training in there,” Frimerman-Bergquist says. “It gets pretty wavy. We swim six people per lane. They help me with sighting and maneuvering.

“The pool gets completely foggy every morning when everyone gets in. It’s one of those five-lane, built-in-the-’50s pools. It’s actually pretty good for open water training because [when] the water gets churned up, the turbidity is very high.”

She’s not the only competitor who needed to be creative with training.

Arizona Masters Swim Club Inc. swimmer Kurt Dickson finished second in the ultramarathon distance and fourth in the middle distance after spending part of the week in Augusta, Ga., where his wife, Catherine, competed in a national cycling competition.

While she did a 19-kilometer time trial last Thursday, Kurt did a 30-minute swim in the giant body of water next to the start/finish line.

Dickson entered the weekend hoping to beat Valdivia, which he did by 31 seconds in the 2.4-mile race.

“I knew I was going to be racing Valdivia, so I thought I would go 0 for 2, so I at least got him in one,” Dickson says. “I’ve never beaten him so I’m happy to get him in one of them.”

The two races totaling 11.6 miles are something of a warm-up for the 49-year-old Dickson, who intends to do the 20 Bridges Swim Around Manhattan (formerly the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim) later this month, compete in the USMS Summer National Championship in early August—“if my shoulders aren’t totally gone,” he says—and then swim the English Channel in late August.

In addition to his pool workouts his preparations include 5-to-8-mile open water swims each week in a lake near his house, with his wife serving as his kayaker.

“I’m just trying to get my miles up for (the English Channel crossing),” Dickson says. “I thought (the Chattanooga Swim Fest) would be a good one to do to get going on it.”

Full results of the Chattanooga Swim Fest are available.

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About the Author—Daniel Paulling

Daniel Paulling works as the managing editor of SWIMMER magazine and manages content development and production for the STREAMLINES eNewsletter series and articles published on usms.org. He swam for four years at Rollins College and covered Southeastern Conference athletics, Major League Baseball, and the NFL for a number of newspapers and websites across the country, including the Kansas City Star, MLB.com, and USA Today, before joining USMS in March 2017.

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