Granite Bay's Haley Anderson just misses open-water swimming gold

08/10/2012 12:00 AM

10/08/2014 10:37 AM

Granite Bay's Haley Anderson and Hungary's Eva Risztov have developed quite a rivalry this summer in women's open water swimming.

Trailing most of the 6.2-mile 2012 FINA Olympic Marathon Swim qualifier in Portugal in June, Anderson, 20, outsprinted Risztov, 26, in the last 500 yards to win by 1.4 seconds.

Thursday morning in London, at the 10-kilometer Olympic Marathon finals in the Serpentine at Hyde Park, Anderson again made a late charge at Risztov. But this time, the Hungarian held Anderson off in a photo finish to win the gold medal.

Risztov reached up with her right hand to touch the timing pad, beating Anderson by four-tenths of a second after nearly two hours of racing around the historic 28-acre lake.

Risztov, who retired from traditional pool swimming after the 2004 Olympics, won in a time of 1 hour, 57 minutes, 38.2 seconds. Anderson finished in 1:57.38.6.

Anderson was gaining on Risztov coming to the finish line but couldn't overtake her. The American stuck up her left hand to nick the pad just behind the winner, also slapping it with her right hand just to make sure she had the silver.

"Of course, I'm disappointed that I missed out on gold," Anderson told reporters after the race. "But I gave it everything I had. I'm happy with the result."

Anderson's sister, Alyssa, won a gold medal in the women's 4x200 freestyle finals earlier in the Games.

Open-water swimming was added to the Olympics in 2008, and Anderson is the first American to medal in it.

A huge crowd lined the lake to root for Great Britain's Keri-Anne Payne, the world champion and gold medal favorite. But Payne finished fourth behind bronze-medal winner Martina Grimaldi of Italy.

Risztov was in front after the first of six laps around the narrow lake. She dropped back to third on the second lap, then took the lead for good on the third.

Anderson has only been swimming open water for about two years after doing everything to avoid the sport while at Granite Bay High school and with the Folsom-based Sierra Marlins, where her coach, Jeff Pearson, is a big supporter of the sport.

But once at USC, where the 5-foot-10 Anderson just completed her junior year and won the NCAA 500-yard championship, she learned to embrace it.

"Open water is growing and gaining more attention," Anderson told reporters Thursday. "You kind of have to be crazy to do it, but it's rewarding."

Anderson almost made the Olympics as a pool swimmer, too, finishing third in the 800-meter freestyle at the Olympic Trials. Only the top two finishers advanced to London in that event.

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