With a midday sun beating down, high winds and strong currents made the gruelling 10km swim a challenge of mental fortitude as well as a physical one. Adaptability – matched with the maxim of know thyself – played a leading role in the day’s two competitions.

Men’s Race: Italy and Hungary pace the field

Paltrinieri finished in 1:53:45 just ahead of countrymate Domenico Acerenza's 1:53:47. Hungary’s Kristof Rasovszky, last year’s World Series overall men’s champion, completed the podium in 1:53:52.

The Italian men put on the day's dominant team performance by placing five within the top six.

“I’m really happy to have won the gold medal. Today the conditions were really rough; it was really at the extreme for the open water,” Paltrinieri said. “There was current, there were waves. I could say it was the worst conditions, but actually, it’s fun because you never know what’s to come.”

Count Rasovszky among those who were stoked on the day's conditions.

"This is pure racing, it's way better than swimming in a pool, all alone in your own lane and make the pace by yourself," the 24-year-old from the Budapest neighbourhood of Veszprem said. "You have to race and react with what the others are doing. Of course, you have to catch up in the current, find your place in the waves and your place in the pack." 

Acerenza said he's "so happy" with his silver medal finish, but that he had ideas on winning -- and on the upcoming FINA World Championships

"This has been a difficult training period for me because in one month we'll be at the world championships. I train for this." 

Women’s Race: Confidence, cunning and Cunha lead to Brazilian victory

Strategy and racing to one’s strengths became everything in the women’s competition with a nine-swimmer leading group all tightly packed heading into and around the final buoy turn with a 150-metre final push to the finish line.

Cunha, the winningest marathon swimmer of all time, positioned herself just as she wanted to: from the front.

With the ocean current pushing from behind, Cunha’s competitors couldn’t catch her. The co-defending FINA Marathon Swim World Series overall series champion has herself in pole position for earning herself an eighth Best Female Open Water Swimmer award crown.

It was a tough race, a difficult and unforgiving race," Cunha said. “The one area I can control the most is turning buoys. I knew if I got to the last buoy in front, the current would be pushing in my favour.”

With a powerful turn of pace, the other competitors followed behind in a single-file formation. Game, set and match for Ana Marcela.

Dutch 2016 Olympic open water champion Sharon Van Rouwendaal finished in the silver medal position. Having swum at or near the front throughout the race, the savvy 28-year-old racer sounded upbeat about starting the international marathon swim season on the podium.

“This is a very good start. Normally I don’t make so many medals at the start of the world cups because I’m training so much,” Van Rouwendaal said. “I was leading most of the race, just trying to make it a strong race to make this also as a part of hard training for worlds. I was testing some stuff. I think it played out well.”

Jeannette Spiwoks of Germany followed just 1/10th of a second behind Van Rouwendaal in third. While Cunha opened up just a little open water, winning by 2.5 seconds, just 3/10ths of a second separated the second-to-sixth positions.

Official Change of the Women’s 10km Individual Results

Following an internal review of footage from the finish line not available at the conclusion of the race, FINA, together with the Technical Delegate and Chief Referee, has decided to overrule the results provided by the Finish Judge and Chief Referee for the Women’s 10km Individual event in Setubal (POR). The initial decision by the Chief Referee was based solely on the data received from the transponders, due to the very close finish and the choppy water conditions obstructing the bib numbers of the athletes.

In a nod to sportsmanship and fair play, FINA wishes to thank Leonie Beck for reaching out and clarifying her placing after reviewing the finish line footage. 

Pure Roots of Racing

Open water swimming offers the purest form of racing. From ocean racing to freshwater, from waves to currents to winds, athletes race against their competitors and conditions – and not the clock.

With a consistent 12-knot northeasterly wind meeting a rapidly ebbing midday Atlantic tide the FINA Marathon Swim World Series opener in Portugal punctuated the pureness of long-distance ocean racing.

Even before taking on the five-lap, two-kilometre course athletes and coaches alike frequently relied on a variety of adjectives to describe the tough, challenging and changing race conditions. The athletes – even those coming to the sport from more pool-based backgrounds – said Saturday’s competition was something they were looking forward to.    

Course and Currents

The composition of this circuit invited the leading athletes to have a 150m sprint at the very end of the race. As the leading competitors mentioned in their pre-race reconnaissance, tactics on the last turn were essential. With Sunday turning to the innovative Mixed Relay open water race format, look for more of the same tomorrow.

Temperatures and Tapas

With the pre-race water temperature coming in at 17.5 degrees Celsius, racing in a wetsuit was mandatory.  

The scene from the ocean promenade showed why Setubal is a preferred stop on the open water calendar. Music and commentators filling the airwaves and unobstructed views of the rectangular course passing just metres from shore made for both a racer and spectator-friendly environment.   

Watch it One More Time

How it all Shook Out

Sunday's Action

The second and final day of the World Series opener turns from individual accolades to team performance with the Mixed Team getting underway at 15:00 local time.