PR45 - Return of the Grand Prix this weekend with 36km Capri-Napoli International
Action from the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix 2009 returns this Sunday, June 21 with the staging of the fifth race on this year’s nine-stage circuit – the 36km Maratona Del Golfo Capri-Napoli, or Capri-Napoli International Swimming Marathon. Twenty-four swimmers are expected to start; 16 men and 8 women. This is the first race to be held since April 18, and thus represents a good opportunity to review how the series has unfolded so far, in the context of who will be competing in the Capri-Napoli.
The headliner in Italy will be 10km Olympian Damian Blaum (ARG), who is currently ranked 2nd overall in the Grand Prix rankings behind Bulgaria’s Petar Stoychev, who won both Race 1 (Santa Fe, ARG) and Race 4 (Sumidero Canyon, MEX). Blaum has raced all four 2009 Grand Prix stops so far, and has medalled in three of them, earning silver in Santa Fe, and bronze in Races 2 and 3 (Rosario and Viedma respectively).
His strongest competition will come from his fellow Olympian Rotislav Vitek (CZE), who has been performing well (despite his modest 7th ranking overall), including a bronze medal swim in Santa Fe and a 5th-place finish in Rosario. Vitek shared that bronze medal however, with another experienced open water swimmer: Rodolfo Valenti (ITA), who took 4th and 5th in Santa Fe and Viedma respectively.
Further pressure can be expected from the other marathon swimming Olympian to race the Capri-Napoli - Saleh Mohammad (SYR), as well as Gabriel Villagoiz (ARG), the silver medal winner in Rosario on February 7. Other potential threats include Daniel Katzir (ISR), who will be seeking a medal after having swum every 2009 Grand Prix race so far without finding the podium, and Andrea Volpini (ITA), who finished a respectable 7th in the 25km at the 2007 Melbourne World Championships (defeating Blaum in the meantime).
Among women the start list is lighter. The favourite is most likely Pilar Geijo (ARG), who is currently 4th-ranked overall. Geijo too has participated in every 2009 Grand Prix race so far but has not managed higher than a 5th-place finish. She will therefore be looking to improve as the series progresses and should not be underestimated. Geijo raced the 10km in Melbourne 2007. She finished 24th, but has nevertheless come a long way since then. Her closest competitor could well be Camilla Frediani (ITA), who has been holding her own on this year’s circuit.
The remaining Grand Prix races are scheduled for: July 18 at Ohrid Lake (MKD); July 25 at Lac St-Jean (CAN); August 1 at Lac Magog (CAN) and October 25 in Dubai (UAE).