Cunha & Guidi Win 5K Races In Hot Waters Of Controversy At Beach Games

Ana Marcela Cunha poses with her gold medal. Photo Courtesy: ANOC World Beach Games

Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha and Italy’s Marcello Guidi won the 5K open water races at the inaugural Association of National Olympic Committees World Beach Games in Qatar. The races started before 6 a.m. in Katara Beach as Guidi won the men’s race at 55:21 ahead of Russia’s Denis Adeev (55:26) and Germany’s Soren Meissner (55:28).

Cunha, winner of the 5K and 25K at this year’s World Championships, won the women’s race at 59:51. The 27-year-old Brazilian finished ahead of China’s Hou Yawen (59:52).

The World Beach Games were met with controversy over the warm temperatures of the racing conditions with the water temps rising to 31 degrees Celsius (87.8 degree Fahrenheit).

Many swimmers had pulled out of the race because of the warm water, including Americans Ashley Twichell and Haley Anderson, as well as the Canadian team.

“It was a really hard race because the water was very hot,” Guidi told reporters at the event.

“The temperature was a great problem because I train in water at 22 or 23 degrees and this water was very hot.”

Cunha also weighed in on the racing conditions. She said:

“Everybody knows it was very hot. I have tried to swim a little bit more comfortable, less strokes. In the closing stages I pushed as hard as I could.”

31 degrees Celsius is the maximum water temperature in which an open water race over 5K can be held. It has not, however, always been observed, even at events where senior FINA officials have been in positions of authority. American and Japanese teams have both withdrawn from international competitions as a result of unacceptably hot waters but races have gone ahead with official approval despite the clear dangers and the new rule book.

Two inquiry reports, one commissioned by FINA, the other by USA Swimming, concluded that there were glaring safety deficiencies on the fateful day Fran Crippen died and noted that FINA had fallen short on oversight at its showcase event.

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