June 2, 2006

University of Notre Dame women’s swimming freshman Claire Hutchinson (Baltimore, Md.) competed in the 2006 USA Swimming Open Water National Championship on Friday, June 2, in Fort Myers, Fla., finishing eighth in the highly competitive field.

Open water racing is fast becoming a key facet of competitive swimming with long races competed in open water and no lanes. Hutchinson finished the over three-mile race in 59:57, ending up just an arms length out of third place overall. Irish head coach Carrie Nixon was in attendance at the event and noted that Hutchinson battled throughout the race with in a close group of swimmers – and has the bruises and scratches to show for it.

Open water swimming competitions have drawn more attention this season because a 10,000 kilometer open water race has been added to the 2008 Olympic program in Beijing, China. Adding to the excitement, this year’s nationals will give swimmers the opportunity to qualify for three upcoming international events: 2006 Mutual of Omaha Pan Pacific Championships (Aug. 17-20, Victoria, British Columbia); 2006 FINA Open Water World Championships (Aug. 29-Sept. 3, Naples, Italy); and 2007 FINA World Championships (March 25-April 1, Melbourne, Australia).

Fort Myers has hosted this event since 2002, and 2006 is the third year that the event will be contested in a festival atmosphere with fun events interspersed with the competitive open water races. This year’s festival will feature the Toyota Dash for Cash, a 1-mile race with up to $5,000 in cash awards to the top five males and females, in addition to a beachfront concert. People can also participate in the Triterium, a 1-mile run, 1/4 mile swim and 1-mile run.

For more information on the meet, visit the festival’s web site by clicking here.