CENTRAL NEW YORK – From her roots at Fayetteville-Manlius High School to international waters, Ashley Twichell has taken a memorable journey in swimming that has covered most of her life.
Now, having competed for the second time in the Olympic Games and fallen just short in her quest to reach the medal podium, Twichell, nearing age 32, is ready to move on.
Twichell finished seventh in the 10-kilometer open water swim Wednesday in the waters near Tokyo, Japan, the end of a prolonged wait to return to the Olympic stage.
Back in 2020, Twichell had earned her place on the United States team for the games in Tokyo before COVID-19 caused a 12-month postponement.
So Twichell continued to train close to her current home in Cary, North Carolina, which is not far from Duke University, where she swam in college following a local carer that included Section III records in the 200 and 500-yard freestyle events.
Even with COVID cases surging in Japan, the Olympics proceeded and Twichell, unable to qualify for shorter races at 400 and 1,500 meters (the latter won by Katie Ledecky) at last June’s U.S. Olympic trials, focused on the marathon swim, her specialty.
In this 10,000-meter race, the swimmers do seven laps, and Twichell sped her way to the lead, keeping it through the opening laps.
With one lap to go, Twichell still appeared in good position to, at worst, reach the medal podium since seven swimmers had broken away from the initial pack. All of them would pass her, though, having paced themselves early.
Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha, in her third Olympic appearance, would claim the gold medal in one hour, 59 minutes, 30.8 seconds, having not taken the lead for good until deep in the final lap.
2016 Olympic champion Sharon van Rouwendaal, from the Netherlands, was the silver medalist, just 0.9 seconds behind Cunha, with Australia’s Kareena Lee earning the bronze less than six seconds ahead of Twichell’s 1:59:37.9.