Florian Wellbrock (GER) and Arianna Bridi (ITA) were the winners of the eighth and final leg of the FINA/HOSA 10km Marathon Swim World Series, held in Abu Dhabi (UAE) on November 9, 2018. In a very close finish among men, Wellbrock touched in 1h53m00s9, while Bridi managed to get some advantage over the pack in the final metres to earn the gold in 2h00m21s8
It was the second win of the year for both swimmers, with the German athlete previously prevailing in Lake Balaton (Hungary) and the Italian ace dominating operations in Seychelles. The minor medals in Abu Dhabi went to Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA), silver in the men’s race in 1h53m01s4, and to Kristof Rasovszky, from Hungary, third in 1h53m01s7. In the women’s category, Italy was once more in evidence, with the second place of Rachele Bruni (2h00m25s7), while Ana Marcela Cunha, from Brazil, touched third in 2h00m26s2.
“The race started really slow and it remained like that until the 5km mark. Then, things got a bit faster, but this initial pace allowed me to save some energy for the final. I could then manage to get into the last metres of the race with additional strength”, confessed Wellbrock after his effort. Also a pool swimmer, he sincerely hopes that he can compete both in the 1500m free and 10km marathon swimming race at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. “I’ll try to qualify for both. Here, it was an easy race – the water was quite flat, so I could imagine swimming in a pool”, he added, smiling. “I’m happy, because being only my second race of the season, I won both!” Wellbrock concluded.
On the women’s side, Bridi, winner of the Series in 2017, was also thrilled with the outcome of the race: “My tactics was to stay as much as possible in the pack, and then push faster in the last km. It worked quite well and I even managed to arrive ‘comfortable’ to the finish. Open water races are today very tight, so I was happy to get some advantage in the final metres”. On her 2018 season, the Italian admitted: “I am not disappointed as I didn’t compete enough to accumulate points. I only did five races, but I won two – it’s good”, she said.
With these results, Cunha confirmed her overall lead of the World Series ranking, finishing the season with 112 points. The Brazilian star had been the best already in 2010, 2012 and 2014. With her silver medal in UAE, Bruni also gets the second position of the 2018 ranking, with 84 points. In third, the 2016 Olympic champion Sharon van Rouwendaal (NED), who finished only sixth in Abu Dhabi.
“I have done a very regular season, so this is a happy conclusion of it. I couldn’t be on the podium in all races, but this is of course a very positive outcome. This is a year without World Championships, so this is the main competition for us. Now, it’s time to take a short break and to prepare for 2019, where we will have the FINA World Championships in Korea. We will be in all individual events, plus the team, so we hope we can do well, and, who knows, get a fourth title in the 25km”, admitted Cunha. The Brazilian ace has accumulated nine medals at FINA World Championships, including three victories in 25km (2011, 2015 and 2017). “Then, the Olympic Games, however I like to think about the upcoming goals once at the time. But I am quite optimistic”. In the World Series, Cunha has won the races in Hungary and Lac St-Jean (CAN), and had an additional silver from Seychelles.
Among men, the overall winner was Dutch Ferry Weertman, who finished seventh in Abu Dhabi. Despite that, he had enough points to maintain his advantage, as his main challenger, Jack Burnell (GBR), was also not so much successful in UAE (12th). Weertman, 2016 Olympic champion in Rio, was the best in the initial race in Doha (QAT) and second in Lake Balaton.
“It’s the first time for me that I managed to compete the series and win. I had Olympic, World, and European titles – only the World Series was missing. Now, it’s done. Moreover, finishing the year with a race like this in Abu Dhabi is fantastic. The highlight in 2018 was my victory in Doha – it was my first series’ victory!” considered Weertman. “I very much liked the overall experience – travelling to so many places, meeting the same people all the time. We are really an open water family! Now, it’s train, train and train to make the cut for the Olympics in 2020!”
A total of 74 men and 46 women completed the 10km race in Abu Dhabi.