MSWC 2014: Meyer (USA) and Cunha (BRA) dominate Magog race
Alex Meyer (USA), 2010 world champion in the 25km event, won a hard-fought race in Lac Magog, Canada on August 1, the fifth stop of the FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup 2014.
In the last meters, a strong pack of more than a dozen swimmers was heading for the finish line. 18 out of 25 swimmers touched home within the same minute. A photo finish decided the winner and it was Meyer, who edged German veteran Thomas Lurz by 27 hundredths of a second, clocking 1h55m10s63. Brazil's Allan do Carmo took third in 1h55m12s94.
On his race, Meyer said: "It was a really nice race. The water was clear, the temperature was perfect, I felt strong the whole way."
"I wanted to stay close to the front, I tried to save energy and stay strong to the end," he added, on today's strategy.
Meyer, Lurz, do Carmo, local hope and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Richard Weinberger, "Chip" Peterson (USA) and newcomer Zibin Zhang (CHN) formed a strong pack where each of them took the lead at some point during the race.
27 hundredths of a second - that's 'all' it took for Alex Meyer (USA) to beat Thomas Lurz (GER) - credit: Delphine Schmutz/FINA
2012 Olympic silver medallist Lurz, who took first in Cancun last April, reflected on his performance: "In the last 400 metres, I made a mistake: I was a body-length in front and I didn't see Alex [Meyer] coming on my right."
Asked what keeps him in the water after so many years, Lurz, the most-decorated open water swimmer in history, smiled and said: "You need to have goals, otherwise you lose your motivation. My next big goal is the 2015 World Championships in Kazan. I'm going to keep going until Rio 2016."
First emotions after the finish - credit: Delphine Schmutz/FINA
'Chip' Peterson, 2005 world champion in the 10km event in Montreal, placed fifth. Post-race, he said: "I felt relaxed for the first half, then the field packed up a lot but I was able to stay up with the tough guys."
"I came back in training seven months ago so I'm happy where I am right now," he continued.
On the atmosphere in the sport, Peterson said: "It's like a family: we train the same way, eat the same way, do everything the same way."
"Open water swimming is so exciting: anything can happen in a race," he concluded, with a broad grin.
First minutes of the women's race, water temperature 22°C - credit: Delphine Schmutz/FINA
5/5 for unstoppable Cunha
At 12:30 pm sharp, 11 women from eight countries (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chili, China, Croatia, New Zealand and USA) took to the 22-degree Celsius calm waters. Cunha led from the get-go, closely followed by Kristel Kobrich (CHI), Cecilia Biagioli (ARG), Emily Brunemann (USA) and Charlotte Webby (NZL). Three Chinese - Fang Yanqiao, Shi Yu and Cao Shiyue - were behind, keeping up with the pace.
Loop after loop, Cunha was gaining a comfortable lead but still cranked up a powerful sprint in the last 100m for the win (2h06m41s83), claiming her fifth podium out of five races this season in the World Cup series.
Cunha, who won the 10km World Cup in 2010 and 2012, said: "My coach and I set a tough objective this year: to win every race."
"Every race is hard to do but this one today felt better than the previous ones in Cancun and Setubal [where she placed third and first, respectively]."
Always up for a challenge, laid-back Cunha said: "What I like the most in open water is the hard conditions. The harder, the better!"
Brazilian 'torpedo' Ana Marcela Cunha and her coach Fernando Possenti - credit: Delphine Schmutz/FINA
Her coach Fernando Possenti added, on the road to the home Olympics in 2016: "We take it step by step. The first will be the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, where we'll try to have her in top shape. She'll swim the 10km and 25km events."
China's Yu Shi made her first podium appearance in the World Cup series, taking second in 2h06m42s70.
"I'm very excited about this medal," Yu said. "My strategy was to stay behind the leading pack and keep catching up."
Cecilia Biagioli of Argentina, a four-time Olympian, arrived a second later (2h06m43s94) to secure the bronze. This is a nice result for Biagioli, whose last podium in the series was in 2011.
"I'm very happy about this medal. I gave birth last year and tried hard to be back in shape," Biagioli said.
"I competed for the first time at Worlds in 2011 [where she took fifth in the 10km event]. I then knew open water could open possibilities for me, even though my heart remains in the pool."
American Emily Brunneman, winner of the 2013 World Cup series, finished sixth.
Cecilia Biagioli (ARG) - credit: Delphine Schmutz/FINA