World Open Water Championships: Italy’s Martina Grimaldi Wins 10K During Contentious First Day, Swimsuit Availability at Issue

Updated with Fabian/Okimoto disqualification explanation.

ROBERVAL, Canada, July 17. ITALY's Martina Grimaldi won the first world title on offer at the World Open Water Championships held in Roberval, Canada. Grimaldi topped the women's 10K race in what has turned out to be a contentious and testy day from the competitors, officials and weather.

Grimaldi finished the race with the win in 2:05:45.20, while teammate Giorgia Consiglio took second in 2:05:57.40. Australia's Melissa Gorman completed the top three in 2:05:57.90, but was disqualified along with Aurelie Muller for unsportsmanlike conduct. That meant that Fang Yanqiao of China took third overall in 2:05:59.10.

Swimmers battled a brief rain shower in the first 2.5K, while Canadian Zsofia Balazs wound up being pulled from the event after hyperventilating when she was kicked by another swimmer in the first loop. Great Britain's Keri-Anne Payne, USA's Eva Fabian and Grimaldi were in the lead pack at the 2.5K split.

At the halfway mark, Payne remained in the lead pack with Fabian while Russia's Ekaterina Seliverstova had also moved up into contention. By this time, however, six swimmers had already drawn yellow cards due to physical contact.

Gorman put herself into the lead pack at the 7.5K mark as the leader. Fabian, Payne and Grimaldi were also among that pack. Heading into the final stretch, 33 swimmers were still in it with five who had withdrawn. Open water stud Larisa Ilchenko of Russia, who is always a favorite to win every race she enters, withdrew from the race due to hypothermia.

Grimaldi had enough in her tank to win the final sprint in the last 500 meters. A video review of results was necessary to sort out the rest of the finishers. The review took quite awhile as a thunderstorm in the area forced officials to retreat. Official results took hours to sort out at the completion of the race.

Additionally, Fabian and Brazil's Poliana Okimoto were disqualified after a collision that wound up causing the two to miss a proper turn around the final buoy. The collision took out two of Grimaldi's top competitors at the moment, and Grimaldi definitely took advantage with a quick surge.

Meanwhile, the specter of the techsuit era reared its head again this week as the timing of FINA swimsuit approvals has been called into question yet again. On June 1, 2010, the new ruling allowing full-body suits back into just open water swimming went into place. Two days later, 10 new open water-only suits were approved. That gave plenty of notice to each federation to acquire these new suits.

FINA, however, elected to add another 12 suits in the past 10 days. On July 7, eight new open water-only suits were placed on the approved list while four more open water-only suits were actually added to the list just two days (July 15) prior to the open of today's first swim. Not all federations have had equal access to these new suits, reminding people of the sham of an approval process that led to techsuits being banned altogether from the sport.

While Grimaldi has been reported to have worn a long-approved suit, teammate Consiglio is reported to have worn one of the suits just approved two days ago.

While many people still argue, for and against, whether techsuits should have been banned to begin with, the one thing all sides have agreed on during the past two years is that FINA absolutely mishandled the approval process by not allowing enough time for all suits to be available to all parties. The latest issue demonstrates that the lesson was likely not learned.

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