Aimee Berg, FINA Press Correspondent

Some of the world’s best open water swimmers have assembled in Quebec, Canada, to contest the fourth leg of the FINA/HOSA 10km World Cup circuit – less than a week after vying for world championship medals in Budapest, Hungary.

So on Thursday, when 48 athletes from 16 countries dive into Lac St-Jean and race six laps of a 1.67-kilometer loop, they not only hope to win prize money and move up leaderboard on the seven-stop tour, but they will also demonstrate who has recovered quickest from Worlds.  

On the women’s side, that could translate into a battle between the newly-minted 10km world silver medalist Samantha Arevalo of Ecuador and the two athletes who tied for bronze: Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil and Arianna Bridi of Italy. (Bridi currently leads the 10km World Cup standings.)

Cunha appears to be in top form, as she swam every event at the World Championships – 5km, 10km, 25km, and mixed relay – and claimed a medal in every individual event (including 25km gold on Friday). On the other hand, it also meant Cunha raced 8 hours, 35 minutes, and 43.3 seconds over a five-day span.

“I’m very tired,” Cunha said on Wednesday – and not only from swimming. “After Budapest, it was a three-day trip to come here because I went back to Brazil first,” she said in fluent English. “But this is a very important competition because I’m in third place in the rank – tied with Samantha – so it’s important to have good results here.”

Other challengers will include the 2016 Olympic silver medalist Rachel Bruni of Italy who is attempting to win her third consecutive World Cup overall title at age 26. Also worth watching is Angela Maurer of Germany, a two-time Olympian who won the 10 km at Lac St-Jean in 2008.  

Headliners on the men’s side include 21-year-old Marc-Antoine Olivier of France, who took bronze in both the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2017 World Championships at 10km.

But the German team could be a triple threat as it features Christian Reichert who placed third in Lac St-Jean three times (in 2011, 2012, and 2014), Alexander Studzinski who won the race twice (2009, 2013), and Andreas Waschburger who placed third last year and won it in 2014.

Reichert said that the key to victory on Thursday will come down to “who trained most after Worlds. It’s hard to train the week after Worlds because all the pressure is away – but that’s most important in the end tomorrow.”

Also keep an eye on two Italians: the current World Cup leader, Federico Vanelli, and the 2016 World Cup champion Simone Ruffini – both of whom skipped Lac St-Jean last year to prepare for the Rio Olympics (where they placed seventh and sixth, respectively).

Meanwhile, Canada’s biggest name on Thursday will be Richard Weinberger who shined brightly in 2012 when he won the Lac St-Jean 10km and, two weeks later, captured a bronze medal at the London Olympics.

The men’s 10km is scheduled to start at 11:45 (local time) followed by the women’s race at 14:45. Winners should finish in approximately two hours.

The forecast calls for rain, a high temperature of 21 degrees Celsius (70 F), and 10-14 mile per hour winds. Cunha, for one, welcomes it all. “It’s perfect if we have rain and wind,” said the Brazilian multi-tasker. “I swim better if the water is cold and more difficult.”

Reichert agrees: “No problem,” he said.