LAUSANNE, Switzerland, February 7. ON February 5, 47 competitors from 15 countries, many belonging to the open water's global elite, entered the third stage of the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix, the 12km "La Patagones Viedma", the southernmost open water swimming race in the world. The swimmers had to complete 5 laps of a 2,4km course in the Negro River, which separates the cities of Viedma and Carmen de Patagones, Argentina.
The race was largely a Russian-American affair, with 5km and 10km world vice-champion Evgeny Drattsev (RUS) taking out the men's field in 2:33.07, despite being challenged by teammate Sergey Bolshakov (2:33.10) and reigning 25km world champion Alex Meyer (USA, 2:33.14), the silver and bronze medal winners, respectively.
Among women, things were not as close, with 5km world champion Eva Fabian (USA) comfortably winning in 2:53.44. The 18-year-old re-affirms her place among the world's best, offering her country the second medal of the day. Marathon specialist Poliana Okimoto from Brazil captured silver in 2:54.58 while France's Ophelie Aspord obtained her first podium appearance in a FINA competition, timing 2:55.00. This top-three finish is a nice boost for the 20-year-old newcomer. This time and despite being favourite and competing at home, no Argentinean swimmer made the podium.
Full FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix 2011 calendar:
Race 1: January 23, 2011 in Rosario (ARG, 15km)
Race 2: January 30, 2011 in Santa Fe-Coronda (ARG, 57km)
Race 3: February 5, 2011 in Viedma (ARG, 12km)
NEXT RACE: February 13, 2011 in Hernandarias-Parana (ARG, 88km)
Race 5: April 23, 2011 in Sumidero Canyon (MEX, 15km)
Race 6: June 19, 2011 in Capri-Napoli (ITA, 36km)
Race 7: July 30, 2011 in Lac St. Jean (CAN, 32km)
Race 8: August 6, 2011 in Lake Memphremagog (CAN, 34km)
Race 9: August 7, 2011 in Sabac (SRB, 19km)
Race 10: August 14, 2011 in Ohrid Lake (MKD, 30km)
Race 11: TBC (UAE)
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