Northwestern rising senior Jordan Wilimovsky (center in above photo) won the 10K open water world title July 27 at the FINA World Championships, earning an automatic berth into the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Wilimovsky swam the course in 1:49:48.2 to win the world title by nearly 12 full seconds over silver medalist Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands. Greece's Spyridon Gianniotis took bronze while fellow American Sean Ryan was fourth. Wilimovsky took the lead with three kilometers remaining and never looked back as he raced away from the 72-man field.
Wilimovsky and Ryan are the first swimmers and just the third and fourth United States athletes in any sport to qualify for Rio. Two others -- Nathan Schrimsher in the modern pentathlon and Jennifer Wu in table tennis -- qualified at the Pan American Games earlier this month. Swimmers who finished in the top-10 of the 10K race at the World Championships earned automatic entry into the 2016 Olympics, with a maximum of two entries per country.
Wilimovsky is just the second American to ever win the world championship in the 10K open water event, joining 2005 world champ Chip Peterson.
The rising senior -- who will take an Olympic year off for the 2015-16 season to train for Rio -- has been on fire at all distances all summer long. He won the USA Swimming 10K national championship in April to earn entry into the World Championships, then won the 2015 Cayman Islands Flowers Sea Swim one mile and 10K titles in June before capturing the 1,500 freestyle at the Los Angeles Invitational three weeks ago.
Wilimovsky won the 2015 Big Ten championship in the mile and finished third in the event at the NCAA Championships. A three-time All-American, he is Northwestern's school record holder in the 500, 1,000 and 1,650 freestyle events.
With Wilimovsky's qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics, Northwestern will have representation in its sixth-straight Summer Olympiad dating to alumni Antoinette Lucas (field hockey) and Jim Carpenter (fencing) competing at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Beginning with Mike Alexandrov swimming for Bulgaria in 2004, NU has had at least one swimmer compete in each of the last three Olympics. 2007 graduate Matt Grevers won a combined six medals in the 2008 and 2012 Games for the United States.
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