Gergely Csurka, FINA Media Committee Member

The opening day of the 2nd FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships witnessed some fabulous races at Balatonfured (HUN) with at least thousand spectators following the event from the lakeside. Russia’s Anton Evsikov won the 7.5km among the junior boys while China’s Siyu Yan clinched the title of the youth girls’ 5km.The event was opened by Zoltan Balog, Ministry of Human Resources (in charge for sport within the Hungarian Government) who highlighted the historical aspects of this event as the first aquatic gathering Hungary ever staged bearing the distinction of World Championships.Swimmers in action in Balaton (HUN) - Photo credit: Hungarian Swimming Association

It was a sunny day finally, which drew at least a thousand fans to the shores of Lake Balaton. However, after a longer rainy period the water temperature was measured 19 degrees and the unusual Eastern wind generated some waves so the participants of the first race faced some tough challenges. Still, most of the junior boys were up to the task, only three of them had to be rescued en route but all received the highest level of aid as the medical staff was present with five ambulance cars on site.

The boys' medallists - Photo credit: Hungarian Swimming Association

The competition itself was rather exciting as the leading pack stayed together for most of the time. The Russians were always in front but couldn’t escape until the middle of the final lap when Anton Evsikov switched gears and only Venezuela’s Diego Vera could keep up with him. The home-coming 400m was thrilling but the Russian prevailed, touching the panel 3sec ahead of Vera, who earned another silver medal after having finished second two years ago in the first edition among the youth boys. The pack came 20 seconds later with Russia’s Kirill Belyayev out-touching France’s David Aubry for the bronze by 0.7sec.

“It was my plan to go ahead from the beginning and I’m really happy to take the gold medal” Evsikov said. “It was a good race, the water was a bit cool but I managed to get use to it and could concentrate on my swimming.”

Diego Vera was happy with the silver. “Though we train in the Caribbean back home and the colder conditions were a bit unusual, it wasn’t a problem after all. I fought with the Russian (Evsikov) all the way, tried to beat him in the finish but he was too strong. I’m really happy to repeat my silver medal from 2012 over a distance 2.5km longer

“It was great to stand together with Anton (Evsikov) on the podium. I’m really happy with this medal, I didn’t expect it actually” bronze medallist Kirill Belyayev considered.

Appreciations went to the youth girls as all 33 participants finished the 5km – though the wind eased a bit in the early afternoon helping the young ladies in their effort. At the half-way mark France’s Charline Secrestat led but before the last 1250m lap China’s Siyu Yan stroked her way to the front and built a 5sec advantage. And she could maintain it until the end, ahead of Carlotta de Mattia – still, the Italian was the happiest on Earth as she rushed to her coach with an amazing speed soon after getting out of the lake. Secrestat tried to hang on but she touched the pad 0.38sec later than de Mattia and had to settle for the bronze medal.

“I was confident before the race, I didn’t expect to win but hoped for a good placement. I thank my coach for helping me to achieve this result” Siyu Yan said.

“I’m extremely glad to earn this medal, I’m really overjoyed” de Mattia smiled. “After this season’s races it was totally unexpected, it was a fantastic swim!"

Siyu Yan swimming for victory - Photo credit: Hungarian Swimming Association

Secrestat wasn’t disappointed either with the bronze: “It was a close race, I tried to do my best but the Chinese girl was really strong. I’m absolutely satisfied with earning a medal.”

The World Championships continue with the junior girls’ 7.5km race (10AM CET), followed by the youth boys’ 5km (12.30CET) on Saturday – you can enjoy a free live stream on FINA TV on both competitions.

Medallists, Day 1

Junior boys (age: 17-18yrs), 7.5km
1. Anton Evsikov (RUS), 1:27:08.32
2. Diego Vera (VEN), 1:27:11.21
3. Kirill Belyayev (RUS), 1:27:28.16

Youth girls (age: 14-16yrs), 5km
1. Siyu Yan (CHN), 1:00:40.81
2. Carlotta de Mattia (ITA), 1:00.45.33
3. Charline Secrestat (FRA), 1:00.45.71

The girls' podium - Photo credit: Hungarian Swimming Association