Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Andrew Gemmell's Breakout Year

Today is the last day to vote for USA Swimming's Golden Goggles Awards which will be given out at USA Swimming's showcase black-tie event. This year, America's greatest swimming stars and Hollywood celebrities will celebrate the swims and athletes at the Beverly Hilton on November 22nd.

Andrew Gemmell's exciting come-from-behind 10K silver medal swim at the 2009 World Swimming Championships, was nominated for the 2009 Breakout Performance of the Year.

You can vote here for Andrew or here for his fellow nominees Kasey Carlson, Tyler Clary or Eric Shanteau.

From our admittedly biased perspective, Andrew's nomination was richly deserved. Andrew fought from behind over 50 meters in the middle of the race to replicate a Jason Lezak-type closing finish. His incredible comeback did not get more media play primarily because he did it out of eyesight of the entire world. But Andrew courageously reeled in the strongest and most experienced open water swimmers in the world over the last 3K of the 10K race held off the coast of Rome.

Andrew was competing against men who not only were older and more experienced than him, a significant advantage in the open water, but he had just finished a tough 5K race the day before.

Andrew recalled his swim, "Over the last 1000 meters, I was really pushing it. I made up time [from being 50 meters behind the leaders] and was in fifth or sixth [around the last turn buoy with another 650 meters to go]. I was right on the feet of [eventual victor] Lurz and I felt good – much better than I did in the 5K. We took a wider line. I didn’t see Fran, but when we went past Cleri, we were moving a lot faster."

Andrew, an accomplished swimmer at the University of Georgia with an established pedigree in the pool, but with as much upside as anyone else in the world of open water, is a legitimate Olympic 10K Marathon Swim medal contender. Whereas, before the World Championships, literally, no one in Rome knew him and he was certainly on no one's radar - with the exception of his teammates.

That, in our opinion, is the very definition of a Breakout Performance of the Year.

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