Malibu Swimmer is Olympic-Bound

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Malibu High School graduate Jordan Wilimovsky qualified for the 2016 Olympics after winning a race at the FINA World Championships in Russia.

Jordan Wilimovsky, a 2012 Malibu High School graduate, gained a spot on the 2016 U.S.A. Olympic team by winning the men’s 10-kilometer open water swimming race at the 16th annual FINA World Championships on July 27 in Kazan, Russia. 

Wilimovsky told media he was “stoked” about winning the race, which took place a world away from the shores of Malibu. 

“I guess I surprised myself, but I know that I have been putting in a lot of work with my coach,” he said. “I knew this was going to be a competitive race and, with so many guys, it was rough at the beginning. I always thought that I would be able to pull away at the end.”

The open water swimmer won the event by traversing the Kazanka River, an 88-mile-long body of water in the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, in a time of 1:49:48.2. Wilimovsky is the first American since 2005 to take home gold at the 10k race.

The older brother of 2015 Malibu High graduate and 2014 Nautica Malibu Triathlon winner Alec Wilimovsky said his strategy was to hang back for the race’s first five kilometers and have enough power to finish the last five kilometers fast. 

“I was lucky enough to have energy left for the end of the race, and I hoped that I would be ready for the last 1,000 meters,” Wilimovsky explained. 

The Northwestern University student took the lead in the third lap of race and led the last three kilometers. 

Wilimovksky looked back once, he told media. Heading into the finish, he looked to his right and saw swimmers coming up and no one on his left. 

“I climbed out for a couple of strokes and saw the orange finish chute and I was like, ‘I’m just going to kick for that as hard as I can,’” Wilimovsky said.

Wilimovsky outlasted 69 other swimmers from around the globe in the 10k swim. All of the race’s top 10 swimmers are guaranteed spots in the Olympics. The games will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from Aug. 5 to 21, 2016. 

Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands earned silver in 1:50:00.3, and two-time 10k world champion Spyridon Gianniotis of Greece won bronze in 1:50:00.7. 

Twenty-two-year-old Sean Ryan of Chattanooga, Tenn. also qualified for the U.S. team by finishing fourth with a time of 1:50:03.3. 

Wilimovsky and Ryan are the third and fourth U.S. athletes of any sport, and the first two swimmers, to qualify for the Olympics.

Wilimovsky’s win in Russia came four months after he and Ryan qualified for the world championships by upsetting a pair of Olympians at the 2015 Open Water National Championships in April. Wilimovsky earned his spot on the team for the worlds by touching 0.006 seconds ahead of 2012 Olympian Alex Meyer. 

Wilimovsky’s swimming career includes earning a silver medal in the 7.5k race at the 2012 FINA World Junior Open Water Championships in Welland, Canada and placing third at the 1,500-meter freestyle at the 2014 Phillips 66 USA National Championships.

Wilimovsky also placed second at the 10k open water nationals in 2014 and 16th at the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia. 

Wilimovsky said he is fortunate to be part of a great U.S. team, and he is excited he and Ryan are heading to the Olympics.  

“I was just trying to get into the top 10 and qualify for Rio,” he said, “so I’m pretty excited.”