FINA 10km MSWC 2009, Overview of Race 1 (Santos, BRA): Great season opener!
The first race of the FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup 2009, which was held in Santos (BRA) on January 24, has been hailed as a resounding success by organisers and in global open water swimming circles.
The competition doubled as the widely popular Maratona Aquatica Internacional de Santos / Travessia Renata Agondi and the event included festive amateur races in the distances of 1km, 2km and 4km in addition to the premier 10km. More than 1000 athletes participated in front of thousands of spectators.
To the delight of the crowds, the winner of the women’s 10km race was home favourite Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA, 2h09:49), the 16 year old who finished fifth in the Beijing Olympic Games 10km, while her compatriot Poliana Okimoto (seventh in Beijing) took silver in 2h09:58. Third among women was Nadine Pastor (GER, 2h10:00), while Olympian Martina Grimaldi (ITA) took fourth just one second later. Among men the medals went to three Italian swimmers. Gold was reserved for Simone Ercoli (2h05:44), silver for Luca Ferretti (2h05:49) and bronze for Valerio Cleri, defending 10km MSWC champion from 2008 (2h05:54). Finishing seconds later in fourth and fifth were Olympians Allan do Carmo (BRA) and Luis Escobar (MEX). As a result of their top local finishes, Cunha, Okimoto, do Carmo and Marcelo Romanelli Soares (15th, BRA) have earned berths to the 13th FINA World Championships in Rome this July.
Some of the best open water swimmers in the world took part in the race, including Olympic silver medallist David Davies (GBR), defending OWS Grand Prix 2008 champion Petar Stoychev (BUL), fellow Olympians Luis Escobar (MEX), Arseniy Lavrentyev (POR), and rising stars Daniel Fogg (GBR) and Loïc Branda (FRA). The women’s contest welcomed Olympic bronze medallist Cassandra Patten (GBR), 2008 10km World Cup defending champion Angela Maurer (GER) and fellow Olympians Kristel Kobrich and Daniela Inacio (POR). Alice Franco and Rachele Bruni (ITA) posed additional opposition in what proved to be a great opening race for the 2009 season.
Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA)
In the women’s race, Cunha’s strength and position improved with every turn. In the final stretch for home, she made an unsurpassable sprint that prevented her rivals from successfully reacting. After the race, she could not contain her happiness. Smiling, she praised the perfect strategy conceived by her coach Marcio Latuf. “At the first turn I was calm and stroking well, preserving energy in sixth or seventh position. In the second turn I was up to third; still leaving room to move to a better place and in the final turn I moved up a little more and then was at the front with Kristel (Kobrich) and Angela (Maurer). At the last buoy, I pressed hard.” Cunha attributes her victory to her tranquillity of mind during the race, and her belief that she could obtain victory. “Now Marcio (Latuf) and I will go to Rome,” she explained, adding that her ultimate goal for that race will be to secure a medal.
In second, Okimoto was also satisfied with her performance. “My goal was to guarantee myself a spot in Rome. The race was difficult with the choppy sea. I swam very well and obtained the berth to Rome, which is what I have been waiting for. I didn’t expect this result until half way through the race,” said the athlete of 25 years.
Among men, Ercoli admitted that he did not expect the victory he obtained in Santos. “In the last turn I felt really good and found myself at the front,” he said, denying the Italian contingency competed as a team. “We were all doing well, but one was better,” added the 29 year old Ercoli, who has medalled in various elite international competitions in his career, including a 5km bronze from the Montreal FINA World Championships in 2005 and a 10km silver from the FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships in 2002 (Egypt).
10km MSWC 2009 - Santos (BRA)
The event was part of the commemorative ceremonies taking place in honour of the 463 year anniversary of the City of Santos. Igor de Souza, Technical Director of the races, said everyone collaborated and a great event resulted, despite a week of cold rainy weather preceding race day. In the end, the sun appeared, the sea settled enough and the public showed up. De Souza is also one of the only eight swimmers in the world to swim across the English Channel and back.
The occasion also pays homage to open water swimming legend Renata Camara Agondi, who made history in the 1980s before dying while attempting to cross the English Channel in 1988. Agondi always had a dream of stimulating the popularity and quality of open water racing, and to bring international acclaim to the City of Santos, where she lived.
Santos Mayor Joao Paulo Tavares Papa emphasised the importance of the event for the City. “This race projects Santos onto the world. It is an international competition of the highest quality that draws top athletes. At the same time, it marks Santos as a tourism city, a port city, but one with great responsibility to sport development. It is the type of event we want to strengthen each time it is held.”
10km MSWC 2009 - Santos (BRA)