Ana Marcela Cunha, Axel Reymond Claim 25K Open Water World Championship Titles

18th World Championships 2019, 16.07.2019, 10km Men, Jordan Wilimovsky (USA) #73, Victor Colonese (BRA) #49, Hau-Li Fan (CAN) #4, Evgenii Drattcev (RUS) #46. Esteban Salgado Enderica (ECU) #13, Matej Kozubek (CZE) #20, Elliot Sodemann (SWE) #61, Photo: JoKleindl
Photo Courtesy: JoKleindl

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The open water competition from the 2019 FINA World Championships concluded on Friday with the 25K. France’s Axel Reymond won the men’s race for his second straight World title in the event and Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha won the women’s race for her third straight title in the event. The race was plagued with monsoon-like rains and seven of the swimmers did not finish the race.

Men’s 25K

Reymond won in a photo finish over Russia’s Kirill Belyaev. Reymond won the nearly 5-hour-long swim at 4:51:06.2 and finished just 0.3 seconds over Belyaev. The bronze medal went to Italy’s Alessio Occhipinti who was three seconds back in third place.

Occhipinti was leading throughout the final straightaway before Reymond ran him down on the outside. Belyaev was sitting behind Occhipinti and eventually passed him on the final lap to claim silver. Occhipinti secured a podium finish in this event for the third successive World Championships.

Italy’s Simone Ruffini placed in fourth and was five seconds back from third place. Ruffini was the 2015 World Champion in this event.

Belyaev collected Russia’s 18th medal in this event at the world championships, at least 10 more than any other country (Italy next on 8).

Australia’s Kai Edwards finished in fifth while Russia’s Evgeny Drattsev, Spain’s Alberto Martinez and Germany’s Andreas Waschburger placed in the top eight. USA’s David Heron and Brennan Gravley placed 14th and 15th respectively.

Reymond is now the second man to repeat in this event at the World Championships as he joins three-time World Champion Yuri Kudinov as the only other repeat winner.

Notably, France’s Marc-Antoine Olivier and Hungary’s 5K champ Kristof Rasovsky dropped out of the race and did not finish.

Women’s 25K

Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha won the women’s 25K on Friday in Yeosu, South Korea. It is the fourth World title in the 25K for Cunha and the second for her this week. She won the 5K earlier in the week and is just the third swimmer to win both the 5K and 25K in the same Worlds. Cunha joined Italy’s Viola Valli and Russia’s Aleksey Akatyev in that exclusive club. Cunha became the first swimmer to win this event at three straight World Championships. Only Germany’s Thomas Lurz can join Cunha in the category of four-time winner in the same Open Water event at World Championships. Lurz won the 5K on four occasions from 2005-2011.

Cunha won the race at 5:08:03.0.

Germany’s Finnia Wunram (5:08:11.6) won the silver medal as Cunha pulled away on the final lap. Wunram and France’s Lara Grangeon (5:08:21.2) were in a tight race on the final lap before Cunha ran away to win the gold. France’s Lisa Pou (5:08:28.4) was also among the lead pack but fell off the pace towards the end and finished in fourth.

Wunram claimed Germany’s 16th medal in this event at the world championships, at least six more than any other country (Netherlands next 10). Grangeon won France’s second world championship medal in this event, after Celia Barrot took bronze in 2010.

USA’s Erica Sullivan lost touch with the lead pack and finished fifth at 5:11:23.2. Katy Campbell was the other American and she finished in ninth (5:11:59.6).

Notably, Olympic Champion Sharon Van Rouwendaal did not finish the race.