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USA Swimmer Ashley Twichell Takes Down Reigning Olympic Gold Medalist to Conquer Pan American Games Open Water 10k Championship

Published 10/31/2023, 8:37 PM EDT

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USA’s Ashley Twichell recently produced a top swimming performance and displayed her readiness for the upcoming Paris Olympics. The aquatics sensation showcased top-tier swimming ability as she didn’t just win, but surpassed a very big opponent.

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Ashley Twichell is a 2x open-water swimming World Champion. A social media post recently showed her participating in the final round of the 10k open swimming event of the Pan American Games. The video showed the US swimmer pushing hard as she beat the reigning Olympic champion to take the win.

Ashley Twichell outswims the Tokyo champ with a big margin


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The 34-year-old Ashley Twichell is known for her fast speed and endurance in the open waters. The finals of the open water 10k swimming at the 2023 Pan American Games witnessed her beating Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha.

USA Swimming uploaded the video of the new Pan Am Champion as she crossed the finish line before anyone else. The video carried the caption, “@atwall616 is your Pan American Games open water 10K champion after defeating the reigning Olympic gold medalist by 13 seconds.” Tichwell completed the 10K course and recorded a time of 1:57:16.


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The video later displayed Twichell standing in the center with the gold medal. Standing alongside is Brazil’s Cunha, who was trounced by Twichell by 13 seconds.


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While Twichell was the first one to finish the race, this race was a victory for Cunha as well. In fact, the Brazilian claimed that the silver medal holds as much importance as the gold for her in a post-race interview.

Ana Marcela Cunha on overcoming a great fear 

Ana Marcela Cunha was the strongest favorite for the race owing to her status as the Pan American defending champion. While Cunha had arrived to win the championship as well, she was also facing another battle.


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The Brazilian made a recovery from shoulder surgery in January 2023 and also received a new swimming coach. Speaking about the racing experience, Cunha said, “We arrived here still without being 100% sure that I would compete.” The Tokyo gold medalist also revealed a fear plaguing her mind.

Cunha further stated, “I had the surgery 11 months ago and it was precisely wearing the suit that I ended up injuring. So there is always a fear, a fear of putting it on again. I hadn’t put on this outfit for almost a year and a half. For me, it was a great test of overcoming, me against myself the whole time.” She also mentioned that she was able to swim without pain, and that held more importance for her.


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The Brazilian also mentioned that she has to be fit for the upcoming Olympic trials. Thus, keeping that in mind, she said that she was happy with how she swam and happily accepted the silver medal. The world would patiently wait and look forward to another duel between Cunha and Ashley Tichwell. 

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Written by:

Ankit Singh


One take at a time

Ankit Singh is a US Sports Writer at EssentiallySports. This surfing enthusiast has kept his watchful eye on all things Kelly Slater and started off his vocation at ES by creating insights on surfing. Yet, his skills are not limited to the oceanic turf.
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Edited by:

Purva Jain