POTSDAM, Germany, July 25. HOLLAND'S Edith van Dijk led from start to finish to win the first gold medal of the European Swimming Championships in the women's 25 kilometer open water race today.
Van Dijk opened up a five-minute lead at the 10K mark in the chilly waters of a lake outside the city of Potsdam, about 20 miles from Berlin, where the pool competition will be held.
Van Dijk, who took the silver medal at the last European championships two years ago in Helsinki, was never challenged, finishing in five hours, 27 minutes and 34 seconds. The next five swimmers engaged in a dog fight for the remaining medals, as only 16 seconds separated second and sixth place at the end. Russians Olessia Shalyguina and Natalia Pankina, who came in second and third, were more than seven minutes behind the winner, finishing in 5:34:47 and 5:34:51, respectively.
The Czech Republic's Yvette Hlavacova, who was a solid second almost the entire race, took a wrong turn with 2K to go. After realizing her error, she stroked furiously to put herself back into contention, but wound up fifth, 11 seconds out of second place and 7 behind the bronze medalist. Afterwards, Hlavacova broke down in tears.
Van Dijk said the absence of 2000 European champion Peggy Buchse of Germany, who beat her in Helsinki, but is now retired, had made life easier.
"It would have been a different race with Peggy," she said. "She could have stayed with me for the whole race and she's one of few swimmers fast enough to catch me."
Women's 25K Open Water
1. Edith van Dijk (NED) 5:27:34
2. Olessia Schalyguina (RUS) 5:34:47
3. Natalia Pankina (RUS) 5:34:51
4. Cindy Persoons (BEL) 5:34:54
5. Yvette Hlavacova (CZE) 5:34:58
6. Laura La Piana (ITA) 5:35:03
7. Angela Maurer (GER) 5:35:49
8. Esther Nunez (ESP) 5:36.40
9. Britta Kamrau (GER) 5:37:31
10. Ivanka Moralieva (BUL) 5:43.40
(Solo preliminary standings after technical routine)
1. Virginie Dedieu (FRA) 98.400
2. Anastasia Davydova (RUS) 97.300
3. Gemma Mengual (ESP) 95.400
4. Christina Thalassinidou(GRE) 93.600
5. Daria Shemyakina (UKR) 93.400
6. Lorena Zaffalon (ITA) 92.300
7. Anastasia Gloushkov (ISR) 89.600
8. Blanca van der Velden (NED) 89.400
9. Belinda Schmid (SUI) 89.200
10. Khrystsina Nadzezhdzina(BLR) 85.800
(Duet preliminary standings after technical routine)
1. Anastasia Davydova/Anastassia Ermakova (RUS) 97.900
2. Gemma Mengual/Paolo Tirados (ESP) 95.900
3. Virginie Dedieu/Myriam Glez (FRA) 95.800
4. Anastasiya Pavelyeva/Daria Shemyakina(UKR) 93.400
5. Monica Cirulli/Lorena Zaffalon (ITA) 93.100
6. Eleftheria Ftouli/Christ. Thalassinidou(GRE) 92.700
7. Magdalena Brunner/Belinda Schmid (SUI) 91.500
8. Blanca v. d. Velden/Sonja v. d. Velden (NED) 89.200
9. Sona Bernardova/Iva Bursova (CZE) 87.700
10. Viktor. Yarmolinskaya/Geffen Kleinstern(ISR)85.900