FINA Open Water World Cup Finale in Paradise

By Sid Cassidy

CANCUN, Mexico, October 11. IF there ever was an ideal setting for an open water swimming event, Cancun, Mexico may very well be that place. Isla Mujeres is the tropical paradise picture you'd expect on a postcard. Workers are dismantling the start/finish area in turquoise colored water that grows darker just beyond that point where the sea grass starts to grow. The Hotel Oasis Viva Beach is appropriately named and mere steps out the lobby door is where the Mexican Swimming Federation and hundreds of local volunteers staged the final event in FINA's 2008 World Cup Series on this 11th day of October.

An All-Star cast took to the seas at 11 a.m. local time and as could be expected the elite swimmers, considered by many to be the best endurance athletes in the world, did not disappoint. Also in attendance were many of the nearly 200 local and regional competitors who tackled their own aquatic adventure earlier in the morning over the same 2.5 kilometer course. What all the fans witnessed was a clinic in FINA marathon racing that saw a couple of our Olympic medal winners demonstrate how well deserved those Beijing medals were.

The men's race pace was serious from the get-go thanks to a pair of Aussies focused on success. Veteran Brendan Capell led early and his country mate Trent Grimsey, fresh off a big win at the RCP Tiburon Mile, were relentless through the first 7000 meters. A large pack hung around through that mark and with 3000 meters to go any of 20 men could realistically be considered for a podium appearance. It was at that time that the Aussie duo and Mexican Olympian Luis Escobar made an error in course navigation that cost them dearly. Acting on what they unfortunately assumed was accurate information, they intended to bypass the start gate on their last loop. An official boat intercepted them in time to retrace their mistake, but the damage was done. About that time Olympic bronze medalist Thomas Lurz from Germany took charge and never let up that control all the way to the finish in a time of 1:52.23.31 a second ahead of Mexico's own Ivan Lopez, who took the silver two seconds ahead of Russia's Daniil Serebrennikov.

The women's race proved to be a bit more of a cat-and-mouse game between Olympic gold medalist Larisa Ilchenko and a host of FINA's finest marathon swimmers. To be noted is that Ilchenko definitely took her turn in the driver's seat and led at various points during the first five kilometers. Also sharing duties were Italy's Alice Franco and Germany's Britta Kamrau. The pace quickened as would be expected by the fourth loop and coming off the last turn with 300 meters to go Kamrau was holding off Ilchenko and her German teammate Angela Maurer. Mexico's Imelda Martinez and Brazil's Ana Marcela Cunha were still both in the mix as well. The Europeans proved the cream of the crop down the stretch as yet once again, Ilchenko cranked up her classic power sprint to grab the gold less than a second ahead of Maurer and two seconds before Kamrau's bronze.

Results – Women
1. Larisa Ilchenko RUS 2:02:04.42
2. Angela Maurer GER 2:02:05.35
3. Britta Kamrau GER 2:02:06.47
4. Ana Marcela Cunha BRA 2:02:08.76
5. Imelda Martinez MEX 2:02:12.06
6. Alice Franco ITA 2:02:16.13
7. Esther Nunez ESP 2:02:29.63
8. Natalya Pankina RUS 2:04:20.67
9. Alejandra Gonzalez MEX 2:04:21.18
10. Shelley Clark AUS 2:06:45.77
11. Lily Anzueto MEX 2:08:38.93
12. Odette Saldivar MEX 2:09:09.50
13. Melsie Munoz GUA 2:19:01.59

Results – Men
1. Thomas Lurz GER 1:52.23.31
2. Ivan Lopez MEX 1:52:24.65
3. Daniil Serebrennikov RUS 1:52:27.08
4. Valerio Cleri ITA 1:52:31.05
5. Yuri Kudinov RUS 1:52:32.43
6. Daniel Delgadillo MEX 1:52:33.84
7. Mazen Aziz EGY 1:52:35.02
8. Allan Carmo BRA 1:52:35.37
9. Damian Blaum ARG 1:52:37.65
10. Brendan Capell AUS 1:52:39.10
11. Trent Grimsey AUS 1:54:44.24
12. Rodrigo Elorza MEX 1:55:34.13
13. Pablo Villalvazo MEX 1:58:49.85
14. Adel Ragab EGY 1:58:50.20
15. Manuel Chiu MEX 2:00:15.58
16. Juan Prem GUA 2:08:30.83
17. Cecilio Chup GUA 2:11:52.15
DQ Luis Escobar MEX

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