Greg Eggert, FINA Media Committee member

Olympic bronze medallist Marc-Antoine Olivier of France won today's 5km race in 54.31.40. Italy’s Mario Sanzullo finished .7 seconds behind the winner. Contributing to the European sweep of the event was Timothy Shuttleworth of Great Britain who touched 10.7 seconds behind the Budapest 2017 world champion. Each of these medallists earned their first ever world championship medal in this event.

The choppy waters of Lake Balaton welcomed 62 swimmers for the men's 5km event, in the first of seven open water swimming events to be contested in the freshwater body which is the largest lake in Central Europe. In Hungary, the lake is called Balaton; it is a relatively shallow lake with an average depth of 3.2m.  Balaton is quite long at 77 km long but only 14 km at it widest.

A stiff and steady windy was at the backs of the large field that included Rio's Olympic Marathon bronze medallist Marc-Antoine Olivier and the defending champion Chad Ho of South Africa, winner of the 5km event in Kazan 2015. The 23.2 degree water temperature was actually warmer than the 21 degree air temperature at the 10 am start of today's competition. 

Germany's Ruwen Straub made the first breakaway of the race within only a few hundred metres of the start. The German swimmer wearing cap number 1 set the pace for this discipline's shortest event.

Marc-Antoine Olivier (FRA) - Photo credit by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

By the 1000m mark the Olympic bronze medallist Olivier had overtaken the German's pace, passing the 1000m in the time of 11:45.5 seconds, building a lead of 4.1 seconds ahead of his closest rival. Hungary's hopes rested in the hands of Kristof Rasovszky who trailed the decorated French Olympian by 10.1 seconds.

At the 1500m mark it was the Hungarian who would take a narrow lead over South Africa's other competitor, Danie Marais who swam to the front, only .70 of a second behind the leader. France's Olivier was positioned only 7.4 seconds back, within easy reach of the leaders, but conserving his energy.

Logan Fontaine, the French teammate of Olivier made his drive to the front of the pack. Fontaine was only 1.1 seconds behind the Hungarian leader at the half way mark. Andrew Gemmell of the USA was only one-tenth of a second behind the French swimmer. Olivier was strategically in position 1.8 seconds behind his teammate at the 2500m mid-point of the race. 

The two French swimmers of the lead pack were joined by Timothy Shuttleworth of Great Britain at the 3500m mark. Olivier lead the race in the time of 39.13.2. Shuttleworth was positioned .80 behind Olivier. The second French swimmer Fontaine was just half a second outside of the British racer.

Open Water 5km Men / Photo credit by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

Fontaine was the race leader at the 4000m followed by his French teammate Olivier only 1.7 seconds behind. British swimmer Shuttleworth dropped back the two French race leaders, only 3.9 seconds outside of the French master Fontaine.

Olivier, drawing on the energy he conserved and his Olympic experience took control the race in the last 1000m and positioned himself at the head of the pack for the final sprint. Italy's Sanzullo delivered a powerful sprint to arrive .70 second later to claim his first world championship medal in this event, a silver. Earning a bronze medal in the 5km was Timothy Shuttleworth of Great Britain, arriving 10.7 seconds behind Olivier.

Hungary's Rasovszky finished in 7th place. France's Fontaine finished in 7th place. Kazan's world champion Chad Ho of South Africa finished in 11th place.


OLIVIER, FRA - 11:24.50


RASOVSZKY, HUN - 16:40.2
MARAIS, RSA  + .70
OLIVIER, FRA   + 7.4




OLIVIER, FRA - 39.13.2


FONTAINE, FRA  44.17.3


1.  OLIVIER, Marc-Antoine - FRA  54.31.40
2.  SANZULLO, Mario - ITALY  54.32.10
3.  SHUTTLEWORTH, Timothy - GBR  54:42.10

Mario SANZULLO (ITA) Silver medal / Photo credit by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia


Marc-Antoine Olivier (FRA): “My goal was to win the gold medal after finishing third in last year’s Olympics in Rio. The first 3000 metres weren’t perfect, but I changed tactics, and managed to finish first. We did not have a common strategy with my teammate Logan Fontaine, who is a great swimmer. I am sure he will achieve some great results in the future. We do not train together regularly, but it happens a couple of occasions during the year”.

Mario Sanzullo (ITA): “It was the first time that I competed here, and I liked the race and the venue as well. I tried to do my best, in the end I touched the wall in second place. In Italy, we have great open water swimmers, like my friend Simone Ruffini or Andrea Manzi. It was my first medal at a major international competition, so I am very happy now”.

Timothy Shuttleworth (GBR): “I was also for the first time here in Balatonfured, and I like the lake and the venue. It was a very fast race, I tried to go with the first pack, and I was very happy to finish third in the end. From now on I will prepare for the Commonwealth Games in the pool”.