By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
When Jordan Wilimovsky was 9 years old he wanted to attend lifeguard camp but he was five seconds too slow to pass the swim test. So he joined the Palisades-Malibu YMCA swim team to get faster and the next year he made the cut. He spent six summers in the Junior Lifeguard program at Will Rogers State Beach and now he is out to prove once again that he is one of the fastest distance swimmers in the world.
Wilimovsky, who grew up near the Getty Villa in Sunset Mesa, is one of the favorites at the 2020 US Open meet, which starts today at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine. He is entered in four events: the 200, 400, 800 and 1500-meter freestyles. The 26-year-old has the top seed time in the 800 (7:49.76) and the 1500 (14:59.94) and the second-fastest seed time in the 400 (3:50.63).
Wilimovsky set three school swimming records at Malibu High and went on to a successful collegiate career at Northwestern after making the 2012 U.S. and World Junior National Open Water Teams. He had a strong showing at the 2012 Olympic Trials, placing in the top 20 in the 1500 meter freestyle while still in high school. In 2016 he became the first American to qualify for the Olympics in both open water and pool events.
At the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Wilimovsky just missed medaling in the 1,500, placing fourth in in 14:45.03. Three days later he swam fifth in the 10K marathon. Then, at the 2018 U.S. National Championships, he won the 1500 freestyle (14:48.89) and was the runner-up in the 800 freestyle (7:47.51) at the Phillips 66 National Championships. On the first day of the Pan Pacific Championships, Wilimovsky captured his first international medal in the pool, clocking 14:46.93 in the 1500, just off his personal best of 14:45. He also took silver in the men’s 800.
Having already qualified to represent the US at the 2016 Olympic Games in the 10K open water event and the 1500 freestyle, Wilimovsky qualified for his second Olympics in 2021 by virtue of his fifth place finish in the 10K at the World Championships last year.
In October, at the West Coast Open Water Championships at Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada, Wilimovsky won the men’s 10K Elite Open Water Swim by over 30 seconds in 1:34:58.89. The much-anticipated showdown between he and American record-holder Kieran Smith never materialized as Smith settled for seventh place in 1:38:31.92.
Wilimovsky made the Palisadian-Post’s Athletes of the Year list in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. A three-time All-American, he is the school record holder in the 500, 1,000 and 1,650 freestyle events. Leading up to the Rio Olympics Wilimovsky did 10 pool workouts a week totaling 70,000 to 90,000 meters, along with two intense weight sessions.
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