Leonard and Bergen win 25K nationals

The 25K National Championships was the quailfying race for the FINA Open-water World Championships in Hawaii  Credit: Courtesy of USA Swimming
Racing in choppy waters, Mark Leonard (Club Wolverine) and Briley Bergen (Bolles' Sharks) took the titles in Saturday's 25K Open Water National Championships at Daytona Beach in Florida. This is the second title for Bergen, 16, who won in 1999, and took second in '98. This is the first title for Leonard, who is racing in his first 25K event ever.

The pair will represent the United States at the Open Water World Championships this year in Hawaii, along with second-place finishers John Kenny, the 1999 25K national champion, and Regan Stacey Scheiber, who placed second last year as well.

"My dad and coach helped me through the race," said Bergen, who was slowed down by the rough water, evident in her 5:40 finishing time, over 40 minutes off of her 1999 time of 4:57.12.

"They had a dry erase board they kept writing funny and encouraging messages on, like 'Keep it up!' 'Here we come, Hawaii' and 'Shopping Spree.' I have to remind my dad about the shopping-spree one."

While this is Leonard's first 25K race, he has had success in other open-water races, placing second in the 5K at the 1999 Nationals.

"I was pretty confident today, but I had no idea how I would do because of my lack of experience in this event, but I knew I had it in me."

Leonard beat out last year's champion by only one minute.

"I was five minutes ahead of (Kenny) at the halfway point, and then he came up behind me," said Leonard, who finished the race in 5:20, with Kenny right behind at 5:21.

Leonard, a 1999 World University Games medalist, is also training for the Olympic Trials, hoping to qualify in the 200- and 1500-meter freestyle.

Bergen, 1999 Pan Pacific gold medalist in the 25K, will also be racing the 10K Nationals, and looking to earn another spot on the World Team.



1. Briley Bergen, Bolles, 5:40
2. Regan Stacy Scheiber, Bellview Swim Club, 5:49
3. Dawn Heckman, Gator Swim Club, 5:56
4. Annie Moore, Bolles, 6:13
5. Daniella Muniz, Miami Metro Swim Club, 6:40 Morgan Filler DNF


1. Mark Leonard, Club Wolverine, 5:20
2. John Kenny, Foxcatcher, 5:21
3. Gabe Lindsey, Athens Bulldogs, 5:27
4. Christopher Derks, Fort Lauderdale, 5:30
Nicholas Grossman, Anderson Swim Club, DNF

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