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  • USMS-Nationals
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by Daniel Paulling

September 28, 2017

Leake, Erwin Win National Titles in Washington

Blue Wave Aquatics hosted the final USMS open water national championship of 2017

Mackenzie Leake realized something after speaking with her coach following her four-year swimming career at Scripps College: She wasn’t ready to quit the sport.

Her desire to keep training pushed her to join the Stanford Masters Swimming club and do more open water events in addition to pool meets. Leake’s dedication led to a win in the U.S. Masters Swimming Sprint Distance Open Water National Championship, a 1-mile-long event held in Seattle on Saturday, with a time of 21 minutes, 55.0 seconds.

“It was perfect race conditions,” says the 24-year-old Leake, who is pursuing a doctorate in computer science at Stanford. “I took a few points during the race just to take a look at and enjoy the surroundings. It was a nice way to end the summer.”

The national championship was only part of her weekend, which she describes as “swimming-filled.” Leake, who completed an internship in Seattle over the summer, flew back to school on Saturday and competed Sunday in the 14th Annual Alan Liu Memorial meet. She then returned to practice early Monday morning, the first day of the academic year at Stanford.

Leake plans to continue swimming, saying she was interested in open water swims in the Bay Area and some national championship events in Oregon next year.

“I’ve enjoyed the open water in terms of being able to travel and see really beautiful places and meet people from all over,” Leake says. “I feel like Masters Swimming enabled me to meet people that are incredible in all aspects of their life. We have a love of swimming in common.”

Erwin Wins Another One

Jeff Erwin finished the summer 3-for-3 in national championships.

The Sawtooth Masters swimmer won the USMS Sprint Distance Open Water National Championship with a time of 20:07:0, his third national title this year. He also won the 2-mile cable swim and a 5K, which were in June and July, respectively.

Erwin’s victory Saturday wasn’t easy. Because the air temperature was in the 50s and the water temperature around 68, he figured he should skip warming up because he’d become cold once he exited the water, reducing the impact of his warm-up.

“That was a mistake,” says Erwin, who is from Boise, Idaho. “I should’ve got in. It was a little painful. But it worked out OK. I was really sore afterwards.”

Erwin stayed with a few swimmers in the lead pack through the early parts of the race before eventually pulling away. Still, it was a close race. Four swimmers—Mark Loftis and Kevin Jackson, unattached members within the Pacific Northwest LMSC, and Matt Miller of Oregon Masters—finished within 20 seconds of Erwin.

“Once we kind of settled in, I felt, ‘OK, right there,’” Erwin says. “But when I tried to get away, that’s when I wasn’t very comfortable. It’s one of those just put your head down and go [situations].”

Final results are available online