Hungary’s Kristof Rasovszky completed his self-assigned mission to clinch a medal at the home leg of the FINA/CNSG Marathon Swim World Series. It turned out to be gold, a first-ever podium in Balatonfured for the local hero. Winner of the women’s race Ana Marcela Cunha routinely stepped to the top of the podium, she had already won this event in 2015 and in last year. Both champions cemented its top position in the overall.
Kristof Rasovszky won five titles in total in the previous two seasons in the World Series, medalled a couple of times, was junior world champion, achieved an unparalleled feat at the 2018 Europeans with three medals in as many individual events – but in Lake Balaton he could never make the podium.
Rasovszky, during his warm-up, alongside his home lake - Credit: Istvan Derencsenyi
It’s not just home soil for him because he is Hungarian – he is the boy next door as he lives in Veszprem, some 20km from the venue, swims for the Balaton Swimming Club and trains at the lake-side complex. Before this year’s leg he openly declared: claiming a medal is his top priority, he even skipped the previous leg in Setubal last week (he had bad memories from last year when he, together with others, got a serious infection during the race).
In fact, everything worked out for him this morning. As usual, he went out fast, kept his position in front, in the third he sat back a bit but still stayed among the leaders. Then he staged his monster finish in the last lap and not even the Olympic and world title-holder Dutch Ferry Weertman could keep up with him. Rasovszky’s winning margin was unusually large at this level, 6.5 seconds (at the Europeans Weertman edged him out by 0.04sec), Germany’s Soren Meissner came for a further 3.3sec adrift to get the bronze.
The are real friends: Weertman and Rasovszky in the finish
“Everything went according to my plans, even the other guys helped somewhat” Rasovszky said. “I swam ahead at the beginning to set the pace and found out the others tried to follow me which was good news since my race tactics were tailored for me and actually no one wanted to challenge this. So when I geared up for the finish no one could come with me.”
Rasovszky, parading with a moustache, insisted that he would keep this new look at least until the World Championships in Gwangju. “This brought me luck so I won’t touch it in the remaining weeks. No worries, it barely grows more than this.” Then he added that the last three weeks spent in an altitude training camp bore its fruits. “I arrived here in good shape and the work done recently paid off. I swam 100km per week there, so I felt the power today.”
Something new: champagne for the winners, Rasovszky just let Weertman enjoy his share on the podium...
Nicknamed The Balaton Shark, Rasovszky reinforced his top position in the overall, the only one in the men’s field with three podium finishes in the four leg held so far, after a silver in Doha and a bronze in Seychelles he added the missing gold to his 2019 collection.
Ferry Weertman tried hard but this time he couldn’t catch up his friend and rival. “I stuck too long into the pack, to come forward took a bit more energy than usual and once I managed to pass the others, Kristof had already been gone. I tried to have a big finish, I got a bit close to him but this time it was not enough. I’m still fine with this outcome, there is one month to go, we will work hard to be on top for Korea.”
Unlike the men’s race, women’s battles offered the usual thrills in the finish. No one could escape from the pack so half a dozen swimmers rushed towards the finish line. At the end, the top three stormed in within 1.8sec, Ana Marcela Cunha could hold on to claim the first place again, out-touching Italy’s Ariana Bridi by 0.4sec, while the bronze went to Leonie Beck from Germany.
Ana Marcela Cunha in the finish - Credit: Istvan Derencsenyi
This was Cunha’s third win in four legs this season and also her third triumph here in Balatonfured after 2015 and 2018 (and after her glorious three-medal haul at the 2017 World Championships here).
“This was all good once more, I’m happy” Cunha said with a smile. “I tried to set the pace but stay patient at the end. I’m more used to swim 25km but as we say with our coach, in the 10km, towards the finish you need to be more European. In South America, it’s in your blood to go with emotions in the finish, but in the 10km you need to be cool and professional and I just managed to do that.”
Bridi, the only one managed to beat Cunha this season (in Seychelles), was happy with her silver. “I tried to keep up with Ana Marcela and this was a good race, one month before the World Championships.”
Leonie Beck was also consent with her bronze. “Here we wanted to test everything, swimming in the pack, getting the pace, going to front, making the finish and this all worked well. To have a medal is great, but here really the practice was the most important before the World Championships.”
The medallists and all eight money-makers of the women's race (check out more pics in the gallery part below)
The World Series will resume in July in Canada, soon after the open water races conclude at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju.
Medallists, Leg 4
1. Kristof Rasovszky (HUN) 1:50:12.7
2. Ferry Weertman (NED) 1:50:19.2
3. Soren Meissner (GER) 1:50:22.5
1. Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA) 1:58:45.4
2. Arianna Bridi (ITA) 1:58:46.2
3. Leonie Beck (GER) 1:58:46.8