Aimee Berg, FINA Press Correspondent

On Saturday, a rising star from Hungary and a tireless Brazilian swimmer claimed the men’s and women’s 10km open water victories at the FINA/HOSA World Cup stop at Lac Megantic, Quebec.

In the men’s race, Kristof Rasovszky led the entire field from the peaceful starting line near a campsite in Piopolis to a finish area surrounded by carnival rides in Parc de l’OTJ in 1 hour, 58 minutes, 18.08 seconds.  

The women’s race came down to a three-way battle between the last three Lac Megantic champions. In the end, the 2014 champion Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil touched first in 2 hours, 6 minutes, 12.86 seconds, followed by the 2015 champion Rachele Bruni of Italy, and the 2016 champion Arianna Bridi of Italy in third.

Rachele Bruni (ITA), silver

After the men’s race, the 20-year-old Hungarian, Rasovszky, said the day didn’t exactly go as he’d expected. “The first 4K was really slow and a slow race isn’t good for me so I was trying to swim faster. After 6K, I tried to be in the lead for the finish. I know no one can catch me in the last kilometer if I lead, so my plan was to lead in the last kilometer.”

Federico Vanelli of Italy finished a body length behind Rasovszky for second place. Perhaps more importantly, Vanelli finished ahead of his teammate Simone Ruffini to keep his lead in the World Cup 10km standings.  But at the midpoint of the race, the two Italians were side-by-side, stroke-for-stroke. Ruffini ultimately finished fourth.

Afterwards, Vanelli said he was happy with second place because his mind wandered during the race. “I think about holidays. I was thinking about either my home in Rome or with my fiancée. It was a strange race. It was my first point-to-point.”  

Vanelli now has 72 points in the World Cup series, ahead of Ruffini’s 67, and Rasovszky and Allan do Carmo of Brazil are tied for third with 44 points.

Kristof Rasovszky (HUN), gold

Last year’s winner at Lac Megantic, Andreas Waschburger of Germany, held second place for most of the race, until the last 1.5km when the two Italians (Vanelli and Ruffini) passed him on the right, and Allan do Carmo of Brazil passed him on the left. At that point, Waschburger said, “there was a little fight. I knew we [all] swam a little too far to the left because you can’t see the [turn] buoy until the last 500 meters because there were so many boats.

Each swimmer had a support kayak that peeled off the course just before the final buoy, in addition to at least a dozen other race-related boats. Waschburger knew there was a faster line to the finish but, he said, “I didn’t have too much energy to swim alone” and finished sixth, behind do Carmo, Ruffini, and Soeren Meissner of Germany.

In the women’s race, Cunha was not only happy to earn 4,000 US Dollars and 20 points for her victory, but also to end a bit of a drought. She hadn’t won a 10km World Cup since 2015, in China.

Cunha’s coach, Fernando Possenti, explained, “She really executed the plan. We tried twice to get 10 to 15 meters ahead, but the pack caught her. And when the pack catches you, you have to stay, be patient, and wait for the finish to do the sprint. She tried. For me, as a coach, that’s the good part.”

After working together from 2013-2015, Cunha and Possenti were only reunited this year.

I came back in May – and the results came back, too, thank god,” Possenti said.  (At the 2017 World Championships in July, Cunha won medals in all three individual events – including the gold in 25km – and finished fifth, second, and first in the last three World Cup 10km races.)  

Even though the next World Cup 10km isn’t until October, Cunha won’t be taking any Roman holidays like Federico Vanelli. In two weeks, she’s racing 36km in Italy, followed by two national races in Brazil, two more World Cups, and a 15km Navy race because she works for the Brazilian Navy.

“No vacations for us,” Possenti said.

Maybe after the [2020] Olympics,” Cunha added with a laugh.

Bruni, Saturday’s runner-up, said she was just delighted to see the finish line after pushing the pace repeatedly. “The race stared slow,” Bruni said, “so at 4 kilometers, I tried to sprint, but all the group followed so I went slow, sprint, slow, sprint and, at the finish, I had zero energy.”

Bridi, who finished third, said, “I’m happy,” but she knew that victory was out of reach with 125 meters to go. “I tried to go faster but at the last buoy, but I was finished. Haha! I was finished but the race wasn’t.”

Bridi still has a commanding lead on the World Cup 10km standings. The 16 points she earned on Saturday gives her a total of 86 points compared to Bruni’s 69, and Cunha’s 64 with two World Cup 10km races remaining in the season.

Arianna Bridi (ITA), bronze

The next stop on the World Cup series is Chun’An, China, on October 15. The final is October 21 on Hong Kong.

Results: FINA/HOSA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup, Lac Mégantic (CAN)

1.    Kristof Rasovszky (HUN)  1:58:18.08
2.    Federico Vanelli (ITA) 1:58:21.06
3.    Allan do Carmo (BRA) 1:58:25.02
4.    Simone Ruffini (ITA) 1:58:25:27
5.    Soeren Meissner (GER) 1:58:26.41

1.    Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA)  2:06:12.86
2.    Rachele Bruni (ITA)  2:06:14.52
3.    Arianna Bridi (ITA)  2:06:14.87
4.    Finnia Wunram (GER)  2:06:16.68
5.    Viviane Jungblut (BRA)  2:06:22.67