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Pan Pac open water swimming: Chip Peterson, Christine Jennings win

August 22, 2010 |  5:57 pm

Dad is a marine biologist.

His older brother started swimming first, and even his two Labrador dogs, of course, like swimming.

So you could say Chip Peterson was born to be in water for long periods of time. Long periods of time while moving rapidly,

After almost two hours toiling in the near-perfect water of Marine Stadium in Long Beach, Peterson got to the finish first, winning the 10K open water race in the Pan Pacific Championships on Sunday morning.

Peterson survived the tough finishing kick of American teammate Fran Crippen, and Richard Weinberger of Canada took third. The American women were similarly dominant, with Christine Jennings and Eva Fabian going one-two.

Chloe Sutton of Mission Viejo, who won the 400-meter freestyle, was disqualified when she picked up her second yellow card a little more than an hour into the race, resulting in a red card. Officials said she pulled on a turn buoy both times.

Peterson, like Sutton, also has Orange County ties, though his are relatively new ones. After graduating from the University of North Carolina in May, he moved to Fullerton to start training with Jon Urbanchek and the FAST staff.

Race tactics came down to the final couple hundred meters.

“I know the Americans the best and they were all behind me, so I was thinking if I could get in the lead here and break away a little bit and make some of those guys work that it would benefit me in the end,” Peterson said.

“This is exactly the same course as nationals was, and at nationals I went a little bit too early…. I think I timed it much better this time. I was able to keep my legs going the whole way into the finish. Fran is a great closer, so I knew it would be a race when the two of us were coming down the stretch."

In the women’s event, Sutton’s disqualification changed the tenor of the race.

“I think it affected a lot of people’s races, on how strategy changed after that,” Jennings said. “For me, it allowed me to have better positioning behind the leaders … knowing I was up there and in better position to make my move.

Jennings, 23, talked about her religious faith sustaining her during difficult times, even recently, when she worried about her future in the sport.

“I was to the point in June where if I didn’t qualify first or second to get some stipend money from USA Swimming, I probably would have had to quit swimming. And I love swimming. It’s a passion."

-- Lisa Dillman