POTSDAM, Germany, July 26. RUSSIA'S Yuri Kudinov, the defending world champion, won the men's 25K open water swim at the European Championships today. Like Holland's Edith Van Dyke, who won the women's race yesterday, Kudinov led the entire way.
Conditions were less than ideal again, and Lake Templin, south of Berlin, was unusually chilly, but nothing would deter the Russian who finished n five hours 9 minutes and 47 seconds.
Kudinov finished more than eight minutes ahead of France's Gilles Rondy in second place in 5:18.06. Spain's David Meca, back from a drug suspension, was second most of the way but fell to third late in the race, finishing in 5:18.25. Only 13 of the 19 starters finished the race.
"The water was very cold," said Kudinov of the lake, which was measured at 19 degrees Celsius (66 F).
"I'm very happy to win and happy it is over," he added. "I have never swum in a race where the water was that cold. That was more of a challenge to me than the other swimmers."
Kudinov began shivering shortly after climbing out of the lake and was still shaking beneath a layer of coats and blankets about an hour later.
"I was hoping to get out in front of the pack at the start," he added after drinking several cups of hot tea. "I was hoping to finish in the top three. The race went very well."
The 29-year-old Russian swam the first of five laps in 59:25, opening up a two-minute lead over a pack of 15 challengers grouped closely together.
The gap widened to four minutes after 10 kilometers, seven minutes after 15 and eight minutes after 20.
With no one near him, Kudinov said he tried to stay focused during his solitary laps around the lake and keep his mind off the cold water.
Meca seemingly had the silver medal in the bag,, holding a two-minute lead over a pack of five swimmers at the 20K mark. He was still almost 100 meters in front of the pack, when he hit the wall about 1,000 meters from the finished and struggled just to complete the race.
Seeing Meca falter, Rondy seized the opportunity and breezed past the Spaniaard. Meca tried to respond, but he had too little, too late.
"I didn't think I'd be able to catch Meca," said Rondy after the race. "He had some problems near the end of the race and I got faster at the right time. It was a great way to end the race."
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Men's 25-Kilometer Open Water Swim
1. Yuri Kudinov (RUS) (Russia) 5:09:47
2. Gilles Rondy (FRA) 5:18:02
3. David Meca (ESP) 5:18:27
4. Simone Menoni (ITA) 5:19:06
5. Stephane Gomez (FRA) 5:20:22
6. Christian Hansmann (GER) 5:21:10
7. Anton Sanatchev (RUS) 5:24:40
8. Rotislav Vitek (CZE) 5:29:00
9. Nace Majcen (SVK) 5:34:07
10. James Leitch (GBR) 5:34:43