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Americans Earn Two Titles, Eight Medals at Aquathlon Worlds

The swim-run event marked the start of the world championship weekend

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Team USA picked up two age group world titles and eight medals at the 2012 ITU Aquathlon World Championships on Wednesday, the opening day of multisport competition at Queen’s Wharf. 

The gold medals for the United States in the 1,000-meter swim, 5-kilometer run event were won by two athletes in the 70-74 age division — Dave Robinette (Centennial, Colo.) and Lois Leon (Key Biscayne, Fla.). Robinette successfully defended his 2011 title, having won gold in this event a year ago in Beijing.

Team USA, which is comprised of amateur multisport athletes who represent the U.S. at each ITU world championship event, also claimed four silver medals and two bronze.

The weather was clear on Wednesday, but the chilly water on the swim portion proved to be a challenge. “It was a little windy and a little choppier in the water, so that took away a bit of my energy,” said Gerardo Goldberger (50-54, Marlboro, N.J.), who has been a member of Team USA in the past. Even with a tough swim, Goldberger loved his race experience. “It was great conditions, weather-wise, and a great venue. The whole place is just beautiful.”

Another Team USA member, James Silk (50-54, Pleasanton, Calif.), was in agreement about the day’s events. “It was a tough swim, but other than that, it was a really well-done race,” he said. Silk will be sticking around to watch his wife race in the Olympic-distance event on Monday. “It’s a long way to travel,” he said. “But we’re going to get a lot out of it.”

Aquathlon is still gaining popularity in the U.S., but those who tackle the swim-run discipline are grateful for the opportunity to compete on the world stage. “I love the aquathlon, so I really enjoyed it,” said Erika Binger (40-44, Minneapolis, Minn.). “I like being able to compete. I like being able to go up against the best in the world and be able to do something I love. I don’t like the bike, so this is perfect for me.”

Wednesday was just the start for the Americans in Auckland. Age-groupers will be in action again on Monday in the sprint- and Olympic-distance events, and 20 of the athletes set to compete also raced in the aquathlon event. Michelle Mehnert (20-24, Champaign, Ill.) used the event to prepare for her Olympic-distance race since she had never experienced a swim in sea water before. “It’s so exciting and emotional,” Mehnert said of her Team USA experience. “It’s something really special. I’m representing my swim team and my state at the University of Illinois, but to come here and represent America is just fantastic.”

Three more days of events are still to come in Auckland, which will host the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final on Saturday and Sunday. Nearly 400 Americans are slated to compete in the events, which also include sprint- and Olympic-distance age group triathlon world championships, as well as paratriathlon, junior and under-23 events. Visit usatriathlon.org for full coverage of each event.

2012 ITU Aquathlon World Championships – Click here for complete results
1,000m swim, 5k run
United States Age Group Medalists
Female 45-49
2. Kerry Simmons (Point Lookout, N.Y.), 37:35
Male 60-64
3. Kevin Simmons (Point Lookout, N.Y.), 40:19
Female 65-69
2. Heysoon Lee (Stuart, Fla.), 1:03:02
3. Carole Mawson (Woodside, Calif.), 1:07:24
Male 65-69
2. Don Utsinger (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), 46:19
Female 70-74
1. Lois Leon (Key Biscayne, Fla.), 1:08:52
Male 70-74
1. Dave Robinette (Centennial, Colo.), 46:15
2. Marshall Wakat (Charleston, S.C.), 47:08

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