The event drew 73 swimmers from 18 states and 23 clubs
After finishing her swimming career at Macalester College in 2011, Elizabeth Vermann decided to take a break from the sport, but it wasn’t a long one. She only needed three months before she jumped back in the pool because she missed swimming so much.
She continued her return to the water with the top women’s time overall in the U.S. Masters Swimming Sprint-Distance Open Water National Championship, a 1-mile race, at Little Grassy Lake in Makanda, Ill., about a two-hour drive south from her home in St. Louis.
Her time of 24 minutes, 42.77 seconds on Saturday edged out Illinois Masters’ Madeline Bruce, who went a 24:44.47 to win the 18-24 age group. The competition drew 73 swimmers who represented 23 clubs and 18 states.
Vermann swam with a large pack of swimmers for majority of the race. Once she started to pick people off and see less people in front of her, she knew the race was hers to win.
“I honestly had no expectations going into [the race] at all,” Vermann says. “But when I got in the water, I lined up close to a friend who races a little faster than me. I was very optimistic I could get on his feet, and so I just kicked it out really hard.”
Vermann, 30, competes in USMS meets when she can but has spent most of her post-college career focusing on triathlons. Competing in open water competitions is key to her triathlon training.
“I think it’s awesome because you get to test out different strategies and what are more like triathlon conditions since it’s open water versus the pool,” Vermann says. “For me, especially this past weekend, I was more focused on racing the race and sometimes I lose that in a triathlon.”
Vermann hasn’t decided when her next swimming race will be, but she’s preparing for the New York City Triathlon on July 1.
A Sweet Homecoming
The USMS Sprint-Distance Open Water National Championship was a homecoming of sorts for Oregon Masters’ Matt Miller, whose parents had an opportunity to watch him compete a few hours from their home in the St. Louis area.
His family also had something to celebrate, as he was the fastest swimmer overall with a time of 22:12.07. He beat CSP Tideriders Master Swim Club’s Jacob Jarzen, who went 22:32.60, following Miller’s strong push at the end of the race.
“There was a little doubt going into the first couple of turns, and then when we were swimming stroke for stroke, I started getting hot,” Miller says. “But I could tell he was hurting too, so that’s when I started to get a little more confident in the back stretch.”
Miller’s victory comes as a result of his training. He swims almost every day with a group of friends on the Southern Oregon Masters Aquatics workout group. Although his focus used to be on pure distance training, he has been trying to mix it up by incorporating more sprints.
Miller plans to compete in a number of races this summer. He’ll be paddling for teammate Hardy Lussier in the USMS Ultramarathon Open Water National Championship in Portland, Ore., on July 8 and will compete in the 2-Mile Cable Open Water National Championship at Foster Lake near Sweet Home, Ore., on July 12.
- Open Water