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SHANGHAI, China, July 19. THE men's 10K open water event proved to be exciting at the FINA World Championships held in Shanghai. Greece's Spyros Gianniotis snatched the victory in 1:54:24.7 for his first world title.
Gianniotis has typically been known as a much stronger 5K swimmer with a bronze in 2007 and a silver in 2009 in the shorter distance, but this afternoon he became the first man from Greece to medal in a 10K world championship.
Veteran Thomas Lurz of Germany took a close second with a 1:54:27.2 for his 14th open water world medal. Lurz has won three 10K titles, and six 5K titles for nine of his medals. He's also earned three silvers and two bronzes.
Russia's Sergey Bolshakov rounded out the podium with a bronze-winning time of 1:54:31.8, while compatriot Vladimir Dyatchin finished ninth to give Russia a pair of Olympic qualifiers with a 1:54:38.7. The medal is Bolshakov's first in a world championship open water event, while Dyatchin is an open water stalwart who has won three 10K world titles and medaled six other times.
The top 10 all earned spots in the 2012 London Olympics with USA's Alex Meyer, Australia's Ky Hurst, Spain's Francisco Jose Hervas Jodar, Belgium's Brian Ryckeman, France's Julien Sauvage and Germany's Andreas Waschburger completing the top 10. Defending 10K world titlist Valerio Cleri of Italy was on the outside looking in with an 11th-place finish. Notably, Sean Ryan of the U.S. took 25th overall.
With the world championships serving as the FINA A cut for open water, the rest of qualifying is tantamount to a FINA B cut time in the pool. Therefore, Germany and Russia will be the only countries to have multiple entrants in the men's open water event at the 2012 London Olympics. Yesterday, in the women's 10K, no country was able to land a pair of swimmers in the top 10.
The next step in qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics will take place at the 2012 Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier to take place in Setubal, Portugal. Swimmers will not only be vying for the next 15 spots into the Olympics, but will also be trying to beat out their teammates along the way as countries can only land one qualifier throughout the rest of the selection process.