Greg Eggert, FINA Media Committee Member

USA's Jordan Wilimovsky won the men's 10km to become the first swimmer to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at the Kazanka River venue beating 69 other competitors to the finish line. The 21 year old swimmer from Santa Monica, California finished 12.1 seconds ahead of Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands. The top ten swimmers qualified for the next Olympic Games including Greece's Spyridon Gianniotis who will be going to his fifth Games.  At the final red buoy, Wilimovsky was firmly in the lead but he appeared to take a line towards the turn buoys as if he was taking another lap, rather than aiming for the straighter line to the finish. After leading his challengers slightly off course, the American quickly realised his mistake and immediately got back on track.  

A total of 70 athletes from 43 different countries races for a ticket to Rio de Janeiro and a spot on the starting dock at the next Olympic Marathon. Race conditions were picture perfect in 20.1 degree water with only a gentle breeze.

Wilimovsky (USA) took over the lead from Hungary’s Gergely Gyurta (the first at the 2.5km and 5km turns) at approximately the 6km mark and was the leader at the 7.5km turn. The American college student is taking a year off from Northwestern University to train for the Olympics. He placed third in the 1500m freestyle at the 2014 Phillips 66 USA National championships and will likely enter the 1500m event at the 2016 US Olympic Trials next June aiming to qualify for a spot on the USA pool team competing in Rio. He earned a silver medal in the 7.5km race at the 2012 FINA World Junior Open Water Championships in Welland, Canada. He is the second swimmer from the USA to have won this event following Chip Peterson who claimed gold at the 2005 FINA World Championships in Montreal.

Jordan Wilimovsky (USA) at the end of his effort - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

Weertman began his open water career with a bronze in the 5km at the European youth championships in 2011. Two years ago he finished sixth in the 10km in Barcelona and was the European champion in Berlin last summer. Weertman becomes the first medallist from Netherlands in the men's 10km at the FINA World Championships. Maarten van der Weijden (NED) won the first Olympic gold in the 10km at the Beijing Olympic Games and also won the men's 25km and bronze in the men's 5km in 2008. 

Bronze medallist Gianniotis was in eighth place after the third lap, 7.1 seconds behind Wilimvsky, aiming for a top ten finish to secure Olympic qualification. The Greek swimmer won the 10km race at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai and repeated in Barcelona. Perhaps hoping to become the first swimmer to claim a gold medal in three consecutive editions, he becomes the oldest medallist in men's 10km in the history of the world championships. Gianniotis at 35 is the oldest competitor in the race while 15 year old Ho Yin Kwan (HKG) is the youngest swimmer, and finished in 63rd place.

Gianniotis's three career medals in the 10km are ranked behind only Vladimir Dyaychin (6) of Russia and Germany's Thomas Lurz (8). Surprisingly no Russian or German swimmers qualified for the Olympic 10km from today's race.

Today's 10km race included the reigning Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli (TUN) who finished in a disappointing 23rd place. The 2014 FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup winner Allan do Carmo from Brazil finished ninth and the current World Cup leader Jack Burnell (GBR) finished fifth, both earning a trip to the next Olympic Games.

1:49.48.2 Jordan Wilimovsky, USA
+12.1  Ferry Wertman, NED
+12.5  Spyridon Gianniotis, GRE
+15.1  Sean Ryan, USA
+17.6  Jack Burnell, GBR
+18.2  Marc-Antoine Oliver, FRA
+20.9  Simone Ruffini, ITA
+31.7  Richard Weinberger, CAN
+34.9  Alan do Carmo, BRA
+34.9  Federico Vanelli, ITA

The three medallists of the men's 10km race - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia


Jordan Wilimovsky (USA, gold): “I am stoked with this win. I guess I surprised myself but I know that I have been putting in a lot of work with my coach. I was just trying to get into the top 10 and qualify for Rio, so I'm pretty excited. I knew this was going to be competitive race and with so many guys it was rough at the beginning. I always thought that I would be able to pull away at the end”.

“Was I surprised?  No, I was just trying to find the finish line. I looked to my left and didn't see anyone and thought, 'that can't be good'. Luckily no one was catching me and I got back on course. I was lucky enough to have energy left for the end of the race and I hoped that I would be ready for the last 1000 metres”.

“I am fortunate to be a part of a great USA team. There is a core group of open water swimmers and every year we get a little bit better. We are fortunate to be having more open water events and more swimmers are turning out for our races”.

“I haven't been to Brazil but it looks pretty cool and I'm excited to go”.

“Sean Ryan (USA teammate) and I didn't have a plan, instead we had our own strategies. When I came around the last buoy I turned around for a quick look and I saw Sean and knew that we were both in a good position. I'm thrilled that we both have made the Olympic team”.

Ferry Weertman (NED, silver):
“The course was really big. Navigation was hard and everyone was swimming up against each other and that made it fun for all of us, I guess. At the end, Jordan was just going crazy, and I was trying to get close, but I wasn't close enough. I am very happy with my second place”.

“In just two and one half week I will be heading to Rio with my coach for the test event. In 2012, I thought, 'maybe I can race the 10km’ and I tried to qualify for the Olympics but I finished in 30th place”. 

“Now I can also try to qualify for the pool as I only need to drop 0.7 in the 400 free. I am also the fifth swimmer on the relay so maybe I can make a personal best and I can qualify for our relay team. I would like to be able to swim pool and open water events and maybe, if I have a good day, I can get a medal in Rio”.

Spyridon Gianniotis (GRE, bronze): “My goal was to be in the top 10 and to finish in third place is wonderful. I'm the oldest guy in the race and we joked that I could be the father to some of the competitors. I'm proud that I am 35 years old and still competing with top athletes. I saw Ferry swimming near me and passing me, but I'm pleased with my medal”.

“This moment is about Greece. Everyone knows the situation that our country has been dealing with and for me it has been hard to keep my focus with so much on my mind. Today I swam for my country and I think that gave me a psychological boost. I was so proud to see my flag raised”.

“I have qualified for my fifth Olympic Games. I will stop swimming after Rio but it will still be my goal to be on the podium. The Olympics is the highest level of competition and I would like to go out on top. Tomorrow I start training for Rio and hopefully I will be in good condition. I hope to be in even better shape than I was at the last Olympics. It will be my first race in the sea. I have never raced in Rio but I have raced in Santos”.

“It was my goal to strive for 10th place but once you are in the race you see how good your tactics are working and then you can swim even better. I realised that I could finish in the top three”.