Claudia Ruiz, FINA Correspondent in Mexico

B. Kamrau-Corestein

The famous open water swimmers Petar Stoychev from Bulgaria and Britta Kamrau-Corestein from Germany were the winners of the fourth stage of the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix 2009 series, which was held at the Sumidero Canyon in the Grijalva River (April 18), where Stoychev imposed a new record for the route of 15km event with 3h9m49s.A battle of the titans was played out in the male competition, marked by powerful duels between Stoychev, Diego Nogueira (ESP), Ivan Lopez (MEX) and Michael Dimitriev (ISR) along the route as each swimmer alternated in the leading position.

 

But with great physical condition and mental strength, the swimmer from Bulgaria produced a spectacular close to his race and everything else was defined before the group crossed the final target. Diego Nogueira (ESP) was second, and Ivan Lopez (MEX) finished in third.

For her part, Britta Kamrau-Corestein took honours in the women's branch with a time of 3h24m25s. The ladies also had a close duel for first place, but the team effort was made and Kamrau and Angela Maurer were able to make the 1-2, leaving the third spot to Daniela Inacio from Portugal.

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Petar Stoychev (BUL) on July 20, 2005 in Montreal (CAN)

At the end of the competition, during the awards ceremony, Peter Stoychev said: "I did not, at any time, feel under pressure - not to win - but as the trip progressed I made my best effort to deliver my final attack. It was a big job; like for the other swimmers. I had to make the final, deciding sprint much too early, as we all approached the end together,” adding that he preserved energy to secure his desired result, which fortunately was “favourable.”

The winner of the Sumidero Canyon 2009 explained that "the effort made in the skills of open water is quite exhausting; you must have a physical and spiritual strength to succeed."

The previous record of Grand Prix Sumidero Canyon belonged to Ivan Lopez (MEX) in 2008 when he won the gold medal in 3h13m52s.

Diego Nogueira mentioned to the press: "One of my main goals is to lower my marks to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, because I missed being in Beijing by only four tenths of a second; a situation which I do not want to repeat, so I am in full preparation to achieve my goal."

About the Grand Prix in Sumidero Canyon, he said: "The good weather and time allowed me to close with a strong second place result."

For Mexico, the Grand Prix was a selection event for the FINA World Swimming Championships. Swimmers Ivan Lopez, Manuel Chiu and Zaira Cardenas managed to secure Rome classification.

The output of this international fair is held at the impressive Cave of Silence geological formation within the Canyon, and the swimmers’ target was the Dam Manuel Moreno Torres in the town of Chicoasen, in Chiapas state.

 

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Britta Kamrau-Corestein (GER) on March 25, 2007 in Melbourne (AUS)

Among the participating nations were Syria, Slovenia, Italy, Argentina, Israel, Spain, Bulgaria, Portugal and Mexico.

The river, with many greenish-blue hues, contributes to the distinctive natural beauty of the Canyon. The swimmer’s route passes the "Christmas Tree" formation, where humidity from rain and water trickle down the rock face and have been causing moss and grasses to cling to the overhanging rocks for a millennia. The partial evaporation of the rainwater also leaves a tiny bit of calcium on the rock, and over hundreds of years, the deposited calcium, as well as the foliage, has built up to form terraces in the shape of a Christmas tree. It is considered an ecological reserve in Mexico and the world.