June 13, 2014
CASTAIC LAKE, Calif. -- Freshman David Heron finished fifth in the 10K at the U.S. Open Water National Championships on Friday.
Heron ended the distance swim strong in a time of 1 hour, 51 minutes, 31.61 seconds.
"David was the man," Tennessee associate coach Tyler Fenwick said. "Tactically, he played it smart. He led for a while. He was in the middle of the pack for awhile. He was back about 30 meters from the lead swimmers late in the race and really closed at the end."
Despite the length of the race, the end of the race was incredibly close. The third- through sixth-place finishers all reached the end of the race within two seconds of each other. Andrew Gemmell won in a time of 1:50:45.927.
Thanks to his top-six finish Friday, Heron earned a spot on the USA Swimming National Team.
"This time next year will be the early rounds of Olympic selection," Fenwick said. "He's shown he'll be in the hunt."
Heron was off to a fast start to his 2013-14 season at Tennessee. He earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors and had the Vols' top distance freestyle times before he broke his wrist in December. He missed two months out of the pool before returning to training while the team was preparing for the championship season.
"For any kid, coming from high school to college throws so many challenges at you, and he's handled one challenge after the next," Fenwick said. "His ability to focus on open water when everyone else was training for SECs and NCAAs, it's hard to show that kind of poise."
Heron, a native of Mission Viejo, Calif., made his return to competition in April at the Crippen Cup 10K in Ft. Myers, Fla., where he finished ninth.
His next event will be the Phillips 66 National Championships in Irvine, Calif., from Aug. 6-10.