FINA Communication Department

This competition took place on Saturday, July 19; a sunny day on Lake Ohrid, where swimmers (17 men and 9 women representing 10 countries) had to complete a 32km course. The event was hosted by the Macedonian Swimming Federation and the water sports club of “Ohridski Branovi 2008”. As reported by FINA delegate Valerijus Belovas (LTU), the race commenced at noon.

This Grand Prix leg was characterised by a high-level of competition. After the start, a main group of 12 swimmers was formed, which was composed of nine men and three women. Leading was Brendan Capell (AUS). After 1h30min, the lead group was composed of eight men and still three women with Damian Blaum (ARG) now at the front. When 2h30min had passed, seven men and three women remained in the pace-setting group, but the leader had switched to Stéphane Gomez (FRA). It was this group of seven men that would stay in the fight for the podium until the end of the race. In the last 800m, Petar Stoychev (BUL), Gomez and Capell escaped to race for the win. At the finish, the strongest was Stoychev, who finished in 6:14:51.43. Capell took second two seconds behind, in 6:14:53.29, followed by Gomez in 6:14:53.50. In the women’s race, the dominant swimmers who those who swam within the leading group for the first 3h30min, which gave them an insurmountable lead over the rest of the field. These were Stefanie Biller (GER), Esther Nunez Morera (ESP) and Shelley Clark (AUS). Eventually, Clark would fall behind the main pack, and after about five hours, so too did Morera. It was Biller then, who managed to hang-on to the top spot and take the win in 6:15:58.67. Morera got silver in 6:23:37.74, and, 12 minutes later, Clark finished in third in 6:35:21.70.

Up to 2,000 citizens came-out to watch the races, as well as several local media. The winners received portions of US$25,000 in prize money. The next race to be swum in the Grand Prix series takes place on July 26 in Canada (Quebec) on Lac St. Jean. For full results, please visit the Grand Prix webpage on www.fina.org.