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Ohio 10th-Grader Wins Ocean Swim

January 7, 1998

PERTH, Australia (AP) _ Erica Rose, a 10th-grader from Cleveland, easily won the 5-kilometer ocean swim today for her first victory in a major international race.

The smiling, 5-foot-4 swimmer was dwarfed on the victory podium by the other two medalists at the world championships. Minutes later, she heard the U.S. national anthem again as part of the American team that won for the best men’s and women’s combined performances.

``I knew I had a good chance, and it was my goal,″ Rose said. ``It was a surprise that I was as far ahead as I was, but I’m not surprised I won it.″

Rose, who began swimming at age 7, has been training four hours a day.

``I like the challenge,″ she said. ``Unlike most people, I also like the practicing. ... I have an amazing ability to just keep going and keep my pace _ and I can’t sprint.″

Her previous best international performance was third place at last year’s Pan-Pacific Games at 1,500 meters.

Rose’s parents and her 12-year-old brother Brad were on hand for her victory.

``I love having them here but I won’t say I wouldn’t have won if they weren’t here,″ Rose said. ``My parents started me in swimming because it’s a good sport and because you don’t get a lot of injuries.″

Halfway through the swim she broke from the pack, and no one came close again.

She finished in 59 minutes, 23.5 seconds. Edith van Dijk of the Netherlands was second in 1 hour, 58.80 seconds, with Peggy Buchse of Germany third in 1:01.05.80.

``I was getting frustrated at the halfway mark and I wanted to get away from them,″ Rose said. ``I wanted to go out with the pack and then pull out.″

Rose eventually wants to try such long-distance swims as circumnavigating Manhattan and crossing the English Channel.

``Right now,″ she said, ``I want to do longer distances than the 5k _ 10k, then the 15, work up to the 25, and then go from there.″

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