SANTA FE, Argentina, February 5. PETAR Stoychev of Bulgaria and Natalya Pankina of Russia helped FINA kick off the 2008 Open Water Swimming Grand Prix with victories at the Rio Coronda Marathon event held in Santa Fe, Argentina.
Stoychev won the 57K swim in a time of 8:20:09 with France's Stephane Gomez slapping the wall just behind in 8:20:13. Talk about a close race after eight hours of swimming. Hometown swimmer Damian Blaum claimed third in 8:20:19.
Pankina had an easier time of it with a winning effort of 8:22:03, finishing ahead of the comeback kid, Edith Van Dijk of the Netherlands, who touched in 8:29:28. Italy's Laura La Piana clinched third place in 8:33:33.
1. Petar Stoychev, Bulgaria–8:20:09
2. Stephane Gomez, France–8:20:13
3. Damian Blaum, Argentina–8:20:19
4. Rodolfo Valenti, Italy–8:20:55
5. Natalya Pankina, Russia–8:22:03
6. Gabriel Villagoys, Argentina–8:22:13
7. Andrea Volpini, Italy–8:22:50
8. Rafael Perez, Argentina–8:25:03
9. Edith Van Dijk, Netherlands–8:29:28
10. Laura La Piana, Italy–8:33:33
11. Esther Nunez, Spain–8:41:09
12. Camila Frediani, Italy–8:42:34
13. Thiomir Ivanchev, Bulgaria–8:43:04
14. Alessandra Romitti, Italy–8:56:13
15. Laura Volpi, Italy–9:01:47
16. Bianka Allard, Canada–9:17:12
17. Noelia Petti, Argentina–9:38:14
18. Manuel Cordonier, Argentina–10:18:37