Riccione 2012, Open Water: Record swimmers take to the Adriatic Sea
Never before in the history of open water swimming have so many competitors entered an event than at the FINA World Masters Championships in Riccione. About 1349 men and 594 women dived took to the clear water of the Adriatic Sea. Air temperature was about 30 degrees Celsius and water temperature 23. The organising committee had prepared the triangle course for a great final of the championships. Due to the great number of entries, it was decided in advance, that the race would be split in two days. The younger age groups (40-44 and younger) competed at the same time. On the last day of the championships, a huge crowd of spectators, some even took to the water to be as close as possible to the competitors, celebrated the final event of the successful championships.
In 2004, when Riccione hosted the FINA World Masters Championships for the first time, 1083 competitors had entered the open water race, a record in participation at the time. Now the figures are nearly doubled and the organising committee has registered a new record. The great number of competitors was also a great challenge for safety and security instructors. No less than eight water crafts, 15 rescue boats, four boats for the organising committee, another four with coast guards and divers managed the swimmers throughout the race. “In my opinion, we provided the best ever conditions for the competitors”, said Andea Prayer, vice chairman of the organising committee and a member of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee.
After crossing the finish line, many swimmers were surprised by their times. In the 3km effort, Italian Valeria Vergani was the fastest among women in the age group 40-44 with a time of 30:43.9. The oldest woman to win the race was the impressive Jane Asher from Great Britain, in the 80-84 age category, clocking 46:55.0. This is just another title for the avid British swimmer, who has a collection of successes in Masters swimming. In the men's event, local hero Domenicantonio Casolino was the oldest champion to complete the race in a time of 45m04s7 in the 85-89 age group. Julien Baillod from Switzerland registered the fastest time among men (27:32.4), swimming in the 30-34 age group.