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A Rose In Open Water, from the NU Alumni Magazine[]

by Molly Browne, NU grad, J04

Unlike mos of us, Northwestern University Wildcat varsity swimmer, Erica Rose, gets VIP treatment when she takes a dip in the ocean. In Australia (also known as AUS) Flag of Australia for example, a helicopter circled overhead while scuba divers armed with spears fought off unwelcome sharks. Then a junior, she was named USA Swimming's Ope Water Swimmer of the Year, gladly abandons the safety of lanes and chlorine to swim with the fishes every chance she gets.

Rose make history in May when she became the first non-Chinese to win the International Yangtze River Speed-Crossing Competition, a 2,000-meter bank-to-bank competition in Wuhan, China (also known as CHN) Flag of the People's Republic of China.

Thogh she only spent three days in the country, Rose had two translators who took her out to see the best of what China had to offer -- restaurants, shopping, you name it. I got an incredible warm welcome," she said, despite the 58-degree water temperature.

Swimming in open water for Rose started in 1996 during the US national swimming competition in Florida. Rose's coach suggested that she enter an open water race off Fort Lauderdale. She shocked everyone by taking second place and next year won the open water world championships in Perth, Australia (also known as AUS) Flag of Australia.

The aggravations in open water are manifold. In additoin to sustaining countless jellyfish stings, Rose has been tossed around by the waves, dodged floating trash off Atlantic City and gotten lost in the middle of a race, only to sprint against the current to regain the lead and take first place. Yet she persists, stating, "It's so much more interesting than the pool!"

And so much more hazardous. Asidefrom avoiding marine life,open water swimming is much more of a contact sport than pool contests. Rose rarely emerges from a race without bruises and scratches from tightly packed-in competitors. But even though open water swimmers must be wary of their neighbors' strokes, "Everyone looks out for each other," she said.

Before winter sets in,Rose often swims inthe lake by the University. In September she took the men's team out. "It was two hours out in the cold water,"Rose said, "but they havent's stopped talking about it since we went. They're hooked." She understands perfectly.

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