Open Water, Day 1: USA's Haley Anderson wins women's 5km

BCN2013 - Open Water

Anderson (USA) - credit: Andrea Staccioli/InsidefotoHaley Anderson of the USA won the women's 5km race outsprinting Brazilian Poliana Okimoto Cintra in the final 100 metres. Anderson timed her stroke cycle perfectly and reached for the touch-pad just ahead of the Brazilian who was leading the 42 swimmers for most of the final 1500m. The margin of victory between the swimmers was 0.2 seconds; the American finished in a time of 56.34.2.

Anderson, the silver medallist in the 10km Olympic Marathon at last year’s London Olympic Games, was the surprise leader of portions of the first lap: "I didn't realise that I was going to be in the lead but when you are the leader you are in control of everyone behind you. If I drift off course I take them with me." Okimoto led the race for most of the second lap with Anderson trailing by a full body length.

Anderson, still dripping with water from the Barcelona Harbor was all smiles about her race.

"It feels good, it was my first medal at the worlds, I usually swim the 10km but the 5km is half the distance and double the fun. My plan for the second half of the race was to get beside Poliana and draft off of her. I waited for the perfect moment to spring ahead. You don't really know how much you have left, but it was a good finish."

Shortly after her silver medal at the Olympics, Anderson returned to the University of Southern California for her senior (final) year, competing on her college swim team. "I got right back into the water after London and I really didn't have a break from swimming so I'm going to take one after this." She finished eighth at the US Trials in the 10km in May and wasn't eligible to race her Olympic medal winning distance in Barcelona.

Brazil's strength in open water swimming was evident today with Ana Marcela Cunha finishing in third place about 10 seconds after her teammate. A swimmer from South Africa withdrew from the race, two athletes were issued red cards for missing buoys.

Women's 5km race - credit: Andrea Staccioli/Insidefoto
Women's 5km race - credit: Andrea Staccioli/Insidefoto


Gold medal winner: Haley Anderson (USA)

"The race felt great. I led from early in the first lap until I had a mishap when I swam a little off course. For a split second I wondered if I was getting tired or if they (my competitors) were swimming faster."

"I learned from the past to stay calm and confident. After Poliana took the lead I was drafting behind her until the finish. I decided to stay on her feet until the last 300m and then sprint to the finish."

"I swam poorly in the 10km race at the US Trials in May (finishing 8th place - only the top 2 would represent the USA in Barcelona). It was the day of my graduation (from University of Southern California) and it was a rough day for me. Not all races always go well. I always work to be better to learn from my mistakes."

"In order to go to the World Championships I needed to win the 5km race so I had to put the 10km out of my mind. I just went for it and won. Since qualifying, I have been focused only on the 5km race here."

"Fran Crippen was a mentor for many of us on the US team. We always think of him and we try to live our lives like he lived his. He taught us to be a great competitor and an even better friend."

Silver medal winner: Poliana Okimoto (BRA)

About the fact that is the first time that Brazil won two medals in the same podium at the FINA World Championships:

"It is very difficult to even make a double podium in a high level competition like this. So everyone is to be congratulated. It proves that Brazil is doing a serious work in open water swimming because it’s a tough competition and everyone is very well prepared."

Asked about her feelings winning a medal after the Olympics 2012:

"I am very happy because I spent a very complicated year because I couldn’t complete the race in the London Olympics. I was also worried because I was sick two days with food poisoning. We were evaluating if it was better to give up and rest to the other events, but I got better and we decided to run into. I feel like I'm coming to compete well and recovering myself as an athlete."

Asked about Rio 2016 Olympic Games: "Yes, I want to be there! But first it is necessary to arrive in Kazan in a very good shape, because Brazil has a place in the race because it is host country, but we want two athletes in the race."

Okimoto (BRA), Anderson (USA) and Cunha (BRA) on the podium - credit: Andrea Staccioli/Insidefoto
Okimoto (BRA), Anderson (USA) and Cunha (BRA) on the podium - credit: Andrea Staccioli/Insidefoto

Bronze medal winner: Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA)

"It is the most difficult race to me in the competition. I was imagining it would be my worst placement because I can’t sprint a good pace from the start. I am very surprised with the medal. When I saw the Greek (Mariana Lymperta) growing on my side I felt that could be difficult to achieve."

"In 2011, the first race was the 10km where I stayed away from Olympic berth for a position, then I grew up in the contest and finished with gold at 25km. Now I started with the bronze, let’s see if it is possible to get better."