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Jul 17 19

OWS, Day 4: Cunha gets first gold in the 5km

by ZwemZa

Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha captured her first world championship gold medal in the 5km, finally shaking herself free from the bronzing effect of the past decade. The Brazilian won in a time of 57:56.0, beating Aurelie Muller of France by exactly one second in a field of 54 swimmers in the 23.1-degree water of the Yeosu EXPO Ocean Park Open Water Swimming venue. Two years ago these professional swimmers, both regarded as among the best open water swimmers in the world, shared the same podium in Budapest. Muller was silver while the Brazilian finished just about a second behind in their last world championship battle.

In a photo finish for third place, the Omega timing equipment and the human eye declared that Hannah Moore of the USA and Germany’s Leonie Beck were tied for bronze. The bronze medallists finished two seconds off Cunha’s winning time, earning their first world championship medal for both.

Cunha, known as a long haul open water specialist was pleased with her first victory today in open water’s shortest event. Her world championships trophy case was expanded to include a fourth gold medal to go with the two silver and four bronze World Championship medals. Cunha has been dominant in the longest event on the world championship schedule. Prior to today’s newly minted gold medal, Cunha’s three pieces of gold were from victories in the 25km races in 2011 Shanghai, 2015 Kazan and 2017 Budapest.

Photo by gettyimages

In the 5km event, Cunha’s previous tally includes only bronze medals, one from Roberval in 2010, another earned in 2013 Barcelona and the most recent two years ago in Budapest 2017.  Also at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest, Cunha claimed a bronze medal in the 10km event, and became the three-time world champion with her victory in the 25km. Cunha raced in and medalled in every one of the three individual open water events held in the waters of Lake Balaton, the 5km, the 10km, and the 25km. Although she and her teammates didn’t medal, Cunha was one of the four Brazilians that raced in the Mixed 5km Team.

Cunha qualified for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, after placing tenth at the FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships in Seville, Spain which was an Olympic Qualification event. She was the youngest swimmer to participate in the inaugural women’s Olympic Marathon 10km open water marathon, racing in a field of twenty-four other competitors, including her Brazilian teammate Poliana Okimoto. Cunha’s impressive swim was 9.1 seconds behind the finish of the first ever Olympic Marathon 10km champion, and she finished two places ahead of Okimoto.

In the lead-up to her country’s home Olympic Games, Cunha was considered to be one of the favourites in the Olympic Marathon’s 10km. She finished in 10th and attributed her disappointing performance to a lack of feeding along the course.

Muller’s open water career is lengthy and accomplished, and the 29-year-old hinted that she might soon be retiring after failing to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games, finishing outside of the top 10 in the 10km race contested on Sunday. More than ten years ago she qualified for the 2008 Summer Olympics after placing ninth in the FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships in Seville, Spain.  She finished 21st in the Beijing Olympic Marathon 10km, more than two minutes behind the Olympic Champion, Larisa Ilchenko of Russia.

At the 2011 FINA World Championships held in Shanghai, China, Muller out-touched Ashley Twichell of the USA to claim a silver medal in the 5km by a single tenth. She sought to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics in the 800m freestyle but fell short of the qualifying time. In the 2015 Kazan World Championships she won the 10km and earned her qualification to the 2016 Olympic Games. In Rio, she touched in second place but was disqualified for obstructing another swimmer at the finish. Twenty-seven years old at the 2017 Budapest World Championships she repeated her 10km title and with her French teammates, she earned a second gold medal in the Mixed Team Event.

Hannah Moore (USA) – Photo by gettyimages

The bronze medallists who stood together today are both on the rise. Germany’s Beck earned two silver medals at the 2018 European Championships in Glasgow, in the 5km and also in the Team Event. She placed 25th in the 800m freestyle event at the 2016 Olympics. The 22-year-old improved on her 24th place finish in the 2017 edition held on Lake Balaton.

The 22-year-old American swimmer won two events at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, the 200m backstroke and the 400m freestyle. She placed second in the 5km event at the USA Swimming Open Water Nationals. Moore owns a bronze medal from the 2017 World University Games in the 800m freestyle. She placed ninth at the 2018 French Nationals to earn a spot on the US team competing at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships, and she was the third fastest American in the 10km event last summer in last summer’s Pac Pacs held in Tokyo.


Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA), gold:

“In the 10km, I finished and I really wasn’t happy with that result. Today my strategy was to swim a bit more relaxed in the first half. I was behind the girls until the third lap when I started to move up. In the final lap, I just got myself to where I needed to be. In the 10km with so much pressure for Olympic Qualification the girls had a little more ‘fight’ in that race. I’m glad that today’s race was more swimming and less fighting. Anyone can swim well in a 5km if they have done the training. It was not my best race but I’m happy with a medal. I want to tell you that I feel so badly for Aurelie (Muller) because she did not qualify for the Olympics in the 10km. I lost an Olympic qualification in 2011 and I believe I know how she feels. She is one of the best athletes here.”

Aurelie Muller (FRA), silver:

“I’m feeling happy but it’s not easy after the 10km. It was not easy, after I missed Olympic qualification. I swam today because my friend Lara (Grangeon) was in today’s race and I wanted to be supportive. It’s hard to talk about this because today I swam a great race, I’m second and I’m thinking why I’m not going to swim in the Olympics. In the 5km, I made my run a little more hidden than on the 10km. And a bit happy for this race. It’s hard to come back like this, honestly I didn’t know if I could do it. I tried everything, I’m proud of myself. I figured maybe this would be my last race and I’d like to end up on something good, something positive. If it was my last race I did it well.”

Leonie Beck (GER), bronze:

“I have been training very hard over the past two years and I am pleased with my race and my first world championship medal. We have been working on a lot of speed training so that I could have a powerful finish. Our German team is sharing the energy of our recent victories. We had two girls qualified for Tokyo in the 10km and yesterday the boys finished first and third, and also qualified for next summer’s Olympics.”

Hannah Moore (USA), bronze:

“This has by far exceeded my expectations. I really wanted to try and be top ten at my first world championships. This is my first international 5km so I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew it would be really rough, just based on watching the other races. The girls went out really fast, so I tried to stay calm and be a little braver than I wanted to be, and it worked out in the end. I really thought I was further back until the very last stretch when I started to see less and less people in front. I thought ‘Oh my gosh, I think I’m towards the front! There’s a shot!’ I just used my legs more than I really wanted to – it really hurt – but it paid off in the end. It was so fun! The open water team is amazing, and the staff is incredible, and the atmosphere and everyone really support each other. I’m really lucky to be here and honoured to share a bronze medal today. Watching Haley (Anderson) win a silver medal in the 10km and to see that she and Ashley (Twichell) both achieve the Olympic qualification in the 10km really fired me up and it’s so inspiring. I just got into this sport last year and I’m kind of learning from them and watching them. It makes me want to continue on in the future and improve from here, so I have a lot to learn. My focus for the next year will be in the pool events and I will be trying to qualify for the US Olympic team.”

Greg Eggert, FINA Media Committee Honorary Secretary

Jul 17 19

South African men’s water polo side produce stellar performance

by ZwemZa

The South African men’s Water Polo team celebrated a well deserved draw, following their second match of the 18th FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, today.

After the team presented some strong opposition in many areas of the pool, the final score against New Zealand was 8-8.

Etienne le Roux, Captain of the SA men’s Water Polo team had this to say after the match: “We are very happy and disappointed at the same time but a draw at the World Champs is actually amazing for us.

“We were up the whole game and slowed down towards the end but we are happy with a draw” concluded Le Roux.

Le Roux also scored one of the goals, with the rest coming from Timothy Rezelman (two), Jason Evezard (two), Nicholas Rodda (two) and Dylan Cronje (one).

New Zealand got their goals through Matthew Small (two), Matthew Lewis (one), Ryan Pike (one), Nicholas Stankovich (one), Anton Sunde (one), Sean Bryant (one) and Matthew Bryant (one).

In the women’s 5km Open Water race, Michelle Weber finished 32nd with a time of 59:54.6, ahead of team-mate Robyn Kinghorn, who ended in 42nd place in 1:01:50.0.

Weber and Kinghorn, as well as Chad Ho and Danie Marais will feature in their final Open Water event of the competition tomorrow, the Mixed 5km Relay.

Laura Strugnell, Faith Adonis, Courtney Musson, Nadine Vaarland, Emma Manners-Wood, Nina Smith, Tayla-Jade van Huyssteen and Sarah Williams finished the Artistic Swimming’s Team Free Preliminaries in 26th place with 67.1333 points.

Tomorrow’s programme will also see Strugnell, Manners-Wood, Adonis, Musson, Shannon Whyte, Vaarland, Sabrina Otto, Chloe Dundas-Starr, Smith, Giulia Torino, Van Huyssteen and Williams in the Artistic Swimming’s Free Combination Preliminaries.

Supplied by Swimming South Africa

Jul 17 19

As Olympics near, swimmers look to make their mark at worlds

by ZwemZa

(USA Swimming)

The slogan for this month’s world aquatics championships in South Korea is “Dive into Peace” but geopolitics will be the last thing on swimmers minds as they plunge into the Gwangju pool looking to lay down a marker ahead of the 2020 Olympics.

A total of 42 swimming gold medals will be up for grabs at the biennial championships, a platform which catapulted future Olympic great Michael Phelps onto the global stage as a 15-year-old in 2001.

While Phelps has long since hung up his goggles, American swimming looks no less dominant with freestyle queen Katie Ledecky and sprint powerhouse Caeleb Dressel spearheading the U.S. roster for the July 21-28 meet.

Ledecky, who is looking to add to her haul of 14 gold medals, is the world record holder in the 400, 800 and 1,500 and will compete in all three events, plus the 200.

How the five-times Olympic champion handles that punishing schedule will be a good indicator of her chances of sweeping all four at next year’s Tokyo Games, which has added the 1,500 to the programme.

Even if the 22-year-old struggles to peak in all four it is highly unlikely she will drop the 1,500 since she holds nine of the 10 fastest times ever swam in the event.

If she is to be beaten in Gwangju, however, the 200 is where it might happen.

Australian Ariarne Titmus has emerged as a real threat with the fastest time of the year (1:54.30) with compatriot Emma McKeon close to that mark at last month’s Australian trials.

Swede Sarah Sjostrom and Italian Federica Pellegrini have also swam faster than Ledecky in the 200 this year.

Sjostrom has won her preferred event, the 100 butterfly, at four previous world championships and victory next week would make her the first female swimmer to win the same event five times.

Hungarian Katinka Hosszu could also collect her fifth win in the 400 individual medley on the final day of the championships.


For 2020 Olympics hosts Japan, gold medals may be in short supply.

Rikako Ikee, who became the first swimmer to win six gold medals at an Asian Games last August, will be absent as the 19-year-old battles leukaemia, while Rio Olympics 400 individual medley gold medallist Kosuke Hagino is taking time off to get in the right physical and mental shape for 2020.

A decade after Phelps won seven gold medals at the 2007 championships, Dressel repeated that record feat in Budapest and the American heads into the worlds in solid form for the 50 and 100 freestyle and butterfly.

The Florida native will not have it all his own way, though, with Australia’s Kyle Chalmers leading the way in the 100 free this year while Brazil’s Nicholas Santos has been setting the times to beat in the 50 fly.

Santos was originally left off Brazil’s roster as his event is not on the Olympic programme but organisers FINA issued the 39-year-old with a special invitation to compete in Korea.

South Korean swim fans will be denied the chance to see their own superstar with an undercooked Park Tae-hwan not competing at the championships, though his freestyle arch-rival Sun Yang will be there looking to add to his nine world titles.

But while the Chinese powerhouse guns for a fourth successive world title in the 400 the 27-year-old will be racing under a cloud as the Court of Arbitration for Sport considers a case against him.

Should it not go his way, Sun’s days in the pool might be numbered.

International sporting events staged on the peninsula typically come with some form of inter-Korean baggage but with the North giving Gwangju the cold shoulder there is little in the way of diplomatic distractions at the meet.

Local ticket sales have been strong, despite the absence of Park and the attention North Korean athletes usually draw in the South, with organisers saying earlier this month they had reached almost 90 percent of their target.

Action at the Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center begins on July 21, while other disciplines such as diving, water polo and artistic swimming kicked off earlier this week at venues around the city.


Jul 17 19

Tough new standards have Aussies fine-tuned for worlds

by ZwemZa

Australia’s swim coach Jacco Verhaeren has set brutally difficult qualifying standards to make Australia’s team for the world swimming championships.

Coach Jacco Verhaeren has set brutally difficult qualifying standards to make Australia’s team for this month’s world swimming championships team after a poor showing two years ago.

Australia, a traditional powerhouse, had a disappointing campaign last time in Budapest, slumping to eighth on the medals table.

Their haul of just one gold, five silver and four bronze in the pool left them badly trailing the table-topping Americans, who scooped 18 golds.

Verhaeren’s new selection policy means the Aussie team that competes in Gwangju is smaller than usual, but looks very strong.

He has moved the Australian trials much closer to the championships – emulating the all-conquering Americans – while setting qualifying times far harder than required by swimming’s governing body FINA.


It means the team is down to 27 swimmers compared to the upwards of 40-strong squads who have featured previously.

Verhaeren said that while it was leaner it was also meaner with all swimmers clocking times that should put them in medal contention.

“There have been some fantastic individual performances,” said the Dutchman.

“We now have to convert and capitalise on these performances in South Korea.”

The Dolphins will be a serious threat in a host of events, headlined by Olympic 100 metres freestyle champion Kyle Chalmers and former world record holder Cate Campbell.Cate Campbell has set the fastest time in the world this year for the 100m freestyle and will be one 

Mitch Larkin boasts a world-leading time in the 200m individual medley and will also line up in his favoured backstroke across 100m and 200m – for which he was world champion in 2015.

There are also high hopes for a handful of Australia’s younger generation, led by teen sensation Ariarne Titmus, who recently set a new Commonwealth best of 3:59.35 in the 400m freestyle and will also compete over 200m and 800m.


While Mack Horton failed to make the grade in either the 200m, 400m or 800m, he was added to the squad as a discretionary pick, meaning he will almost certainly renew his bitter rivalry with China’s Sun Yang.

Horton is the only man to topple Sun over 400m in major competition over the past eight years, winning the Rio Olympic gold after publicly calling the controversial Chinese giant a “drug cheat” in the lead-up to the race.

“He’s an Olympic champion, it’s not panic stations, he could turn it around in weeks,” Verhaeren said of Horton’s inclusion.

Chalmers qualified for Korea in 47.35sec – almost half a second quicker than the 2016 Rio final – to put himself in prime position for gold and perhaps even threaten Brazilian Cesar Cielo’s 10-year-old world record of 46.91sec.

“I definitely think I need to be out faster to be competitive,” he said of the 50-metre split. “A lot of guys are out in 23 (seconds) which I haven’t done yet – it’s something I’m working on.”

Campbell is also in fine form, clocking the fastest 100m time this year of 52.12 – quicker than the 52.27 swum by American Simone Manuel to win the world title in 2017.

The two-time Olympic champion is desperate to make amends after famously flopping in the Rio final as the red-hot favourite, but acknowledged everything must click perfectly.

“It is the trickiest race,” said Campbell. “That is why it’s the blue riband event. Your margin for error is so small.”

The swimming competition in Gwangju begins on Jul 21.


Jul 17 19

Day 2 Women’s water polo: Hungary heads off Canada World Championships 2019

by ZwemZa


It is the second day of the FINA World Championship women’s water polo tournament at the Nambu University Grounds in Gwangju.

Group B started the action and a crowd of more than 2000 turned out to watch the history-making Korean women take on Russia. More history came when Daseul Kyung scored Korea’s first goal at this level — after nearly 50 minutes of action over two matches — which sent the Korean media into a frenzy. Hungarian captain Rita Keszthelyi scored seven goals as her team beat a resurgent Canada 15-14. A three-goal burst inspired by Joelle Bekhazi brought Canada back into the match and within a whisper of a draw.

Group C is fast heading the way of Spain, the 2013 world champion, downing Kazakhstan 18-6. Spanish head coach praised his opponents for their structure, which caused problems in the first quarter. Greece took a first win after a surprise 10-goal loss to Spain on Sunday, defeating Cuba 20-4 with Alkisti Avramidou netting six.

Group D produced two exciting and close encounters with Australia heading off China 14-12 in a high-class match-up and then Italy winning by the same margin over a gritty Japan 9-7.

Group A completed the night’s programme with the world champion and European champions level at halftime before United States of America repeatedly had to repel Netherlands before scoring the last two goals for 12-9. New Zealand will finish third in the group at worst after defeating South Africa 17-4.

Progress points:

Group A: USA 4, Netherlands 2, New Zealand 2, South Africa 0.

Group B: Hungary 4, Russia 4, Canada 0, Korea 0.

Group C: Spain 4, Greece 2, Kazakhstan 2, Cuba 0.

Group D: Italy 4, Australia 2, China 2, Japan 0.

Tuesday Schedule:

Match 9, 08:30, Group A, KOREA 1 RUSSIA 30

Match 10, 9.50, Group A, CANADA 14 HUNGARY 15

Match 11, 11:10, Group B, SPAIN 18 KAZAKHSTAN 6

Match 12, 12:30, Group B, CUBA 4 GREECE 20

Match 13, 16:30, Group C, AUSTRALIA 14 CHINA 12

Match 14 17:50, Group C, JAPAN 7 ITALY 9


Match 16, 20:30, Group D, SOUTH AFRICA 4 NEW ZEALAND 17

Russell McKinnon, FINA Media Committee

Jul 16 19

OWS, Day 3: Germany earns gold and bronze in men’s 10km

by ZwemZa

Florian Wellbrock of Germany won the men’s10km in Yeosu, Korea by getting his hand on the touchpad a scant .2 of a second ahead of silver medallist Marc-Antoine Olivier of France. Wellbrook and Olivier were locked in a two-man race for the gold medal in the final 200m sprint to the finish line. In close pursuit was a tight pack of the world’s fastest swimmers, including Wellbrock’s German teammate Rob Muffels. Muffel’s, a veteran open water swimmer since his early teens, used his experience to successfully emerge from that tight group to earn the bronze medal.

Germany’s Wellbrook was the race and pace leader for much of the nearly two-hour event. The few times that he was not leading he was in the top three, dropping back to 6th position, only briefly, to strategically conserve his energy for the final sprint. Olivier slipped back into 12th place and for the same reason, but he was nearly always racing in the top 10. Muffels was more conservative in his tactics, swimming in 24th place at the second split and in 20th place at the midpoint of the race. From that point on, the German was in pursuit of his teammate and was keenly focused on a world championship medal. It was the first time that Germany qualified two men and two women for the same Olympic campaign.

Photo by gettyimages

With automatic Olympic qualification for the top 10 finishers, it was arguably the fastest race in the last four years, perhaps faster than the Olympic Games in Rio. A total of 74 men entered the 23.9 degree water. One athlete finished but outside the time limits set to record an official time. A total of seven yellow cards, warnings, were given to the men for swimming too closely to each other or engaging physical contact, but no red cards were issued.

The 21-year-old Wellbrock and his 24-year-old teammate Muffels saw the German flags raised as they occupied two of the three spots on the FINA World Championship podium and both men have qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Wellbrock won the 1500m title at the 2018 European Games and also earned two silver medals, one in the 800m freestyle and a second silver medal in the Team Open Water event. Muffels earned a bronze medal in the 10km event in last year’s European Games held in Glasgow.

Photo by gettyimages

Olivier of France was the bronze medallist in the Marathon 10m event at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He owns two gold medals from the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest – he won the 5km and also was a member of the four person French squad that won the Team Event on Lake Balaton. Olivier and his French teammate David Aubry are one of three nations to send two men to the next Olympics. The 22-year-old Aubry finished in 10th place, 9.2 seconds behind the German world champion, and in doing so he earned the final position to qualify for Tokyo from this event. All ten of the Olympic qualifiers finished within 10 seconds of the winner.

Italian swimmers Gregorio Paltrinieri and Mario Sanzullo both qualified by virtue of their 6th and 9th place finish. Paltrinieri may not have been swimming at his best today, but he will surely compete in both the pool and open water events in Tokyo next summer. Paltrinieri is the defending Olympic champion in the 1500m freestyle and won the same event at the 2015 and 2017 FINA World Championships held in Kazan and Budapest. Sanzullo holds a silver medal from the 2017 5km finishing less than a second behind Olivier two years ago. He was a member of Italy’s quartet that earned a bronze medal in the Team Event in 2017 at Lake Balaton.

Kristof Rasovszky of Hungary finished 4th, just two seconds off the podium behind the bronze medallist. Rasovszky was the winner of the men’s 5km and the only swimmer to qualify for the Olympics that also swam in the 5km event.

Photo by gettyimages

The defending Olympic Champion Ferry Weertman of The Netherlands finished six seconds behind the German world champion in today’s race. Weertman’s seventh place finish qualified him for the next Olympic Games. Ous Mellouli, the 35-year-old Olympic champion from Tunisia finished in 38th place, two minutes and twenty five seconds behind the winner. Mellouli won the gold medal in the Marathon 10km at the 2012 London Olympics and finished in 12th place in the 2016 Rio Olympic Marathon 10km on Copacabana Beach. Mellouli took a three-year break from daily training but now has his sights set on the next Olympics. Great Britain’s Jack Burnell finished outside the top-12, in 12th place. Burnell’s disappointment today followed his disqualification from the 2016 Rio Olympic Marathon.


Florian Wellbrock (GER), gold:

“There was no strategy or ‘key’ to today’s race for me. I love competing in open water swimming and I tried to be the best today. I train with Rob (Muffels) and we have the same coach. I don’t think anyone likes to train alone. I believe that working together with Rob and also training at altitude helped both of us in today’s results. I admit that it’s a big and also a hard step to be on the podium next year in Tokyo, but with hard work it may be possible. I expect to race in the pool events in Tokyo the week before the Marathon 10km. I know that I am too slow for the 400m freestyle, but I will also race in the 800m and the 1500m pool events next summer.”

Marc-Antoine Olivier (FRA), silver:

“I am really happy with today’s results although I am a little disgusted because I get blocked at the finish. It was really a very difficult race. It has been swimming all along, we have rarely had races like this. There is the Italian who put a very hard rhythm from the beginning. I tried to put my tactics in place but it was really very difficult. The qualifying year for the Olympics, people fight for a spot. It is only part postponed for next year, today there was some good competition, but it is not yet finished. I am happy that David Aubry from France also qualified as I train with him. The last two days it was very hot and I thought a little bit about the conditions and a lot about the many strong swimmers in today’s race. I guess it was an advantage to know the German swimmers who I have raced in many European events and also last year at the European Games. I want to win a gold medal at the Olympics but today was not about revenge. If you want to beat Ferry (Weertman, the defending Olympic Champion), you will have to work very hard. Ferry is a world champion and Olympic gold medallist and everyone knows he is an outstanding athlete with a great finish. Today we had a tactic to keep the speed of the race very high and perhaps that surprised Ferry, but he is going to Tokyo just like us.”

Rob Muffels (GER), bronze:

“I am totally relieved with the results, there was a lot of pressure, but it’s off me now. Four years ago I missed the qualification for the Rio Olympic Games. I have been working for eight years as a professional swimmer, always with the goal of Olympic qualification. Florian and I worked together and today’s result is a world champion and bronze medallist for Germany, it’s amazing and it’s great for open water swimming in our country. We have a great team atmosphere in Germany and we know that the French do as well. Both countries have two big teams and a lot of great coaching and professional staff support. There are many similarities between our groups, with lots of high speed endurance and fast swimming training. We also have a rich history of open water swimming. Florian and I have learned a lot from Thomas Lurz and also from Angela Maurer, two legendary open water swimmers and multiple times world champions. In the end, it’s about experience and hard work.”

Oussama “Ous” Mellouli (TUN)

“I was just feeling my bearings today after three years of being out of this race. It was definitely tough and it has definitely changed a lot. It was a great learning experience for me today. Hopefully we can build on it.”

Ferry Weertman (NED)  

“It was a very tough race,  everyone was going for the Olympic qualification and you really noticed that. Of course finishing in the top 10 ten was the goal, but as the reigning world champion in the 10km I was really going for the medals as well. In the last two rounds it was really hard to get to the front, I was looking for the best lines but swimming with some really good guys. I didn’t have enough energy in the last straight to finish well. Just trying to pass people was really really tough. I have mixed feelings about today. I am really happy with the qualifying for the Olympics, but missing out on the medals is tough.”

Alain Vidot, SEY  – 14 years old, youngest competitor

“I just wanted to finish and to see if I could swim a good time. I am just 14 years old. It’s not every day a boy my age from Seychelles gets to come to the World Championships. When I am swimming I am thinking about my family who supported me and also my coach who encourages me to try open water swimming.I am happy because I finished the race in my first world championship although I did not get a personal best, it’s not what I wanted. A week before, I had an injury in my knee and I thought it may have affected my ability to race.I wanted to challenge myself and to swim the 10km.I am going to keep training for the 5km and maybe I will do another 10km. I won’t race the 25K, not now, but I am still young. This is my first time swimming in Korea and the sea is actually cold and I am not used to it. My family came to Korea to watch me swim.”

10K Men’s Podium & 2020 Olympic Qualifiers

4. Kristof Rasovszky, HUNGARY — +3.0
5. Jordan Wilimovsky, USA  —  +5.1
6. Gregorio Paltrinieri, ITALY — +5.1
7. Ferry Weertman, NED — +6.0
8. Alberto Martinez, SPAIN  —  +6.3
9. Mario Sanzullo, ITALY  — +8.8
10. David Aubry, FRANCE — +9.2

Greg Eggert, FINA Media Committee Honorary Secretary

Jul 16 19

Artistic Swimming, Day 5: Gold number four for Russia

by ZwemZa

Russia, the heavy favourite for the Technical Team event, has won the gold medal in this event for 10 consecutive World Championships, starting at the 1998 FINA World Championships in Perth, Australia.

Tonight, at the 18th FINA World Championships taking place in the Yeomju Gymnasium in Gwangju, Korea, Russia continued its dominance and proved once again that they are the best.

The Russian swimmers performed a Technical Team routine that came close to perfection, scoring 96.9426 points. The routine, portraying a traditional Russian dance, was fast paced, exciting, and fun to watch. Filled with expressive hand and leg movements, as well as daring but cleanly executed acrobatics, the Russian Team gave the audience the feeling as if they were witnessing an actual Russian dance. With this routine, Russia earned their fourth gold medal at the 2019 Gwangju World Championships.

In the 2015 Kazan and 2017 Budapest World Championships, the second and third spots on the podium were occupied by China and Japan. Today in Gwangju, the teams in the running for the silver and bronze medals, included China, Ukraine and Japan. Would there be a repeat of the 2015 and 2017 results, or would Ukraine continue its strong showing at these 2019 World Championships? Only once before were the Ukrainian Artistic swimmers able to reach the podium, at the 2013 Barcelona World Championships when they won a bronze medal in the Technical Team event.

In their Technical Team routine, the Chinese athletes are chasing dreams with returning superstars Sun Wenyan and Huang Xuechen. The significance of the routine for the Chinese swimmers is to show the Artistic Swimming world their bravery and confidence while they are in pursuit of their dream of success. The acrobatics in the routine were exceptional and worth the risk, as the score they received was an impressive 95.1543 to win the silver medal.

After winning their first ever World Championship gold medal yesterday in the Highlight event, Ukraine’s routine themed “Advance with Power” seemed appropriate. The Ukrainian athletes performing their difficult routine showed that human abilities have no limits. The choreography used the music very smartly for the required technical elements, and even though their acrobatics were risky, the Ukrainians were in control the entire swim. The score received was 93.4514, enough to edge out Japan for the bronze medal.

The Japanese team received 92.7207 points for their routine Spanky Bindflutter, a story about a fictional bird that shoots fireballs and is taking off for a flight through the red sky on its way to victory. Their suits beautifully decorated like the feathers of the bird and the red sky. The routine filled with several acrobatic throws that resembled birds flying nicely executed for the extra touch.


Team technical

Maria Shurochkina (RUS), gold:

“I don’t think it was an ideal version of our routine. But our head coach Tatiana Pokrovskaya was smiling. This is the main criteria of success for us. It means she was pleased and we did well.”

Marina Goliadkina (RUS), gold:

“We have prepared this program for a year. The music is dynamic, the tempo is crazy.”

Alla Shishkina (RUS), gold: On her motivation to come back to competition after taking a break:

“I love this sport. I missed this atmosphere, this team spirit, our tight-knit team. I have already competed at two World Cup stages and at European Cup where we’ve got an Olympic license. So this is not actually my comeback. But I’m really exited to be here.”

Xuechen Huang (CHN), silver:

“We are satisfied with our performance today. We improved the execution and the scores in comparison with the last time we took part in competitions. That was our main goal. And we are very happy to achieve it.”

Marta Fiedina (UKR), bronze:

“I like to compete in group routine. When you are ready and perform without mistakes, when you work as a real team you feel that energy and tension under the water.”

On her intense schedule:

“I have 12 performances at this World championships. But I try not to think about mу tough schedule. It’s not a right thing to feel pity for yourself. Of course you have to be prepared physically and mentally. We had so many training and rehearsals that I’m confident.”

Maryna Aleksiiva (UKR), bronze:

“We didn’t manage to take a medal in team technical routine two years ago in Budapest. We were anxious about increasing our level. We worked hard and moved forward.”

“Our program is very complicated. We spend a lot of time under the water doing elements. You know, we just come on the surface, take a breath and continue our underwater part.”

Maureen Croes, FINA Media Committee Member & Anna Kozina, FINA Media Committee Chairwoman

Jul 16 19

Beach girls love new style of water polo

by ZwemZa

Beach water polo entered its fourth day and for one Spanish player, she thinks the future is bright for the new discipline.

“We have good weather and it would be cool to have water polo on beaches back home,” said Alejandra Aznar.
“It’s really physical and demands a lot of swimming. It’s really tiring and physically very tough. It’s different.

“You have to think and you have to act really fast. You can’t stop after a goal, so this makes it faster, something we are not used to.”

And on playing in a pool here in Gwangju instead of the beach? “I like the pool better because there are no waves and fishes!”

United States of America player Honnie Van der Weghe said beach water polo was “an amazing idea”. In fact, she also said it was “super cool”.

“I like the style and the space and you play one on one. It’s just not having to think too much or where to put the ball.

“It’s tough and quick. There is a room for two styles of play with different players for each,” she said.

It was the fourth day of the FINA World Championship beach water polo tournament at the Nambu University Grounds and USA had just beaten Spain 13-7 after leading 6-3 at halftime.

Spanish player Dalmases scored the final three goals in a staggering 30 seconds, but even that Amazonian effort was not enough to peg back teh superior play of USA.

Jamie Neushul was the match’s top scorer with six goals, four coming in the second half.

The second match of the day is being played between Australia and China played the second match and showed just how exciting this brand of the sport can be. It ended in a 14-14 scoreline, but with four minutes left it was locked at 10-10.

China broke the deadlock at 3:18, netted twice more by 2:36 and looked set for victory.

In just over a minute, Australia was back on level terms. Deep into the final minute the Australian goalkeeper swam across halfway to score with one second on the clock. Unfortunately for her, the Chinese goalkeeper plucked the ball from goal and sent it downfield into the Aussie goal for the 14-14 equaliser on full time.

The finals are on Thursday with USA playing Spain for gold and Australia clashing with China for bronze. After today’s effort between Australia and China a rematch is mouth-watering.

Russell McKinnon, FINA Media Committee

Jul 16 19

Kiwi’s inflict pain on SA women’s water polo side, again

by ZwemZa

ROME – JULY 23: Lee-Anne Keet (L) of South Africa and Emily Csikos of Canada battle for the ball in the Womens Water Polo South Africa and Canada match during the 13th FINA World Championships at Stadio della Pallanuoto on July 23, 2009 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

New Zealand was too strong for the South African women’s Water Polo national side when they won 17-4 during the 18th FINA World Championships fixture today.

Amica Hallendorff (two), Yanah Gerber (one) and Christine Abrahamse (one) were on point for the Mzansi ladies, who will be playing their final Group A game against the USA on Thursday.

New Zealand’s goals came from Bernadette Doyle (four), Morgan McDowall (four), Emmerson Houghton (three), Emily Nicholson (two), Katie McKenty (one), Grace Tobin (one), Kaitlin Howarth (one) and Kate Enoka (one).

Chad Ho of South Africa reacts after competing in the men’s 5km open water race at the Aquatics World Championships in Kazan, Russia, July 25, 2015. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

In the highly competitive 10km Open Water race, Chad Ho concluded in 23rd place, clocking 1:49.37.9 ahead of team-mate Danie Marais, who ended 30th in 1:50:14.2.

Following the event, Ho said: “The race was pretty tough, one of the fastest I have ever done and I didn’t expect them to go at 4.5km into the lap, we usually go at about 7km but the pace picked up really quickly.

“It just shows how everyone has evolved and I need to see where I can adjust my training and put it into practice.

“I will now be focusing on the 2020 Olympic Trials and go there and do my best and hopefully qualify for Tokyo. I will take it one step at a time, finish this year and get some more racing experience in and look ahead to the future.” concluded Ho.

Earlier on in the day, Laura Strugnell and Emma Manners-Wood finished the Artistic Swimming’s Duet Free Preliminaries in 40th place with 67.3333 points, while Wednesday’s programme will see Strugnell, Faith Adonis, Courtney Musson, Nadine Vaarland and Shannon Whyte compete in the Artistic Swimming Team Free Preliminaries.

Supplied by Swimming South Africa

Jul 16 19

Diving, Day 5: Mixed team title goes to China for the first time

by ZwemZa

China continues its golden hunting at the Gwangju FINA World Championships as Lin Shan/Yang Jian claimed the mixed team event at the fifth day of the competition. It was the first time Chinese divers wrote their names on the record book since the mixed team event was introduced in the Worlds in Kazan 2015.

British star Tom Daley/Rebecca Gallantree and French pair Laura Marino/Matthieu Rosset were the winners of the event in two previous editions. The best result for China until today was a bronze medal in 2015 by Chen Ruolin/Xie Siyi.

A total of 16 pairs competed in the mixed team event in Gwangju as one male and one female diver each take three attempts. Among six dives, three have to come from the 3m springboard, and the other three must be done on the 10m platform.

Iuliia Timoshinina (RUS) – Photo by gettyimages

Lin, three-time Youth Olympic champion, and Yang, men’s 10m platform bronze medallist in Budapest two years ago, never met strong challenges by leading all the way for the title in 416.65 points.

Yang showed his trade-mark highest difficult dive, a 109B (Forward 4 1/2 somersault pike, with 4.1 DD) and earned a day-high 90.20 to contribute to the victory.

Russian pair Iuliia Timoshinina/Sergey Nazin concluded in the second position in 390.05, followed by Andrew Capobianco/Katrina Young of the United States (357.60). Leong Mun Yee/Chew Yiwei of Malaysia were 9.8 points behind for the fourth place.

Bronze medallists from USA – Photo by gettyimages

Competing in her 10th World Championships, former 10m platform world champion Paola Espinosa and her partner Ivan Garcia of Mexico had to content with the 10th place. South Korean diver Kim Yeong-nam withdrew from the event due to triceps injury.


Yang Jian (CHN), gold:

“I only knew I would compete in this event one week ago. We did not have time to train together. The most important thing was to show our best in the competition.”

Lin Shan (CHN), gold:

“I was scared of competition when I was younger, but I am not anymore. I tried to adjust my breath and told myself to relax. It was my first world title and also first for China in this event, I was proud of that.”

Katrina Young (USA), bronze:

“It was the second medal after 10m synchro, all in bronze. I was happy about that. I competed in the event for the first time and the coolest part of it was that I could watch my partner’s dive and cheered up for him as louder as possible. It was fun!”

Andrew Capobianco (USA), bronze:

“I am a springboard person. I was excited to compete together with Katrina and to encourage each other. It was a different feeling compared with other events. I felt more relaxed and enjoyed a lot the competition.”

Zhou Xin, FINA Media Committee Member

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