Florian Wellbrock Among Strong Field As Marathon Swim Series Gets Under Way In Doha

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
Open water at the 2019 World Championships - Photo Courtesy: JoKleindl

The FINA Marathon Swim World Series gets under way on Saturday in Doha, Qatar, with world champions Florian Wellbrock, Ana Marcela Cunha and Kristof Rasovszky among a strong line-up.

Olympic champions Ferry Weertman and Sharon van Rouwendaal also feature with a total of 137 swimmers from 34 nations competing at Katara Beach, where they will complete five 2km loops.


Florian Wellbrock: Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Wellbrock made history at last year’s World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, when he became the first man to win the 10k and 1500 free at the same edition.

Defending champion Gregorio Paltrinieri was relegated to third in the pool and the pair will meet again in Doha just five months before Tokyo 2020 for which both have qualified in the pool and open water.

Wellbrock is seeking to retain his Doha title but he pointed to the cooler water as possibly playing a role in this year’s race.

At a press conference, he said:

“I won the last race here and I am very happy to be back. In 2019, we had water temperature of around 20 degrees and this time we have 16 or 17 degrees, so it could be harder to defend the title.

“Doha is a special venue for me because we can see buildings around the venue; we don’t have something like that in Germany.”

Haley Anderson2

Haley Anderson: Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott


Haley Anderson booked her ticket for Tokyo with silver in the 10k in Gwangju where she also headed to the third step of the podium with her USA team-mates following the mixed 5k event.

Anderson, who won silver at the 2012 Olympics in London, said:

We have a tough field in the women’s race but I am very excited to start the Olympic year in Qatar.

“The venue is different from last year but it looks really nice out there.”

Doha represents racing preparation for British pair Jack Burnell and Alice Dearing ahead of the Olympic qualifier in Fukuoka, Japan, in May.

Burnell, who was disqualified at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, has recently returned from an altitude training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona and he is looking to make a positive start to the year after his training in early 2019 was hampered by a knee injury.

Jack Burnell finish

Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

He told British Swimming:

“I’m going into this race thinking I want to get a podium place and I want to push back on to the results that I left off at the back end of last year.

“It was quite a tough World Championships for me. A few things didn’t go right after a bad start to the year.

“So yeah, it’d be nice to get back to winning ways – and it’d be a massive confidence boost to go to Doha and do well, especially at the start of the year when that race will be stacked.

“Everyone in the world will be there, the same people that will be at the Olympics will be there.

“It’s good to test yourself, especially this early on in the season.”

The Loughborough-based swimmer is refusing to even consider Tokyo with Fukuoka and a ticket to Japan foremost in his mind.

“That’s my number one focus this year, to lay down the best marker I can there and cement myself on the team.

“From my point of view and my mentality and mindset, I don’t want to look past Fukuoka. I just want to really focus on that and make sure we get the job done there, rather than planning ahead. Then we will deal with what comes after that.”

For Dearing, the race comes days after she gave a wide-ranging interview to the BBC about being the sole black swimmer on Team GB, the racist abuse she experienced and her desire to inspire others into the water.