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Aurelie Muller claims 10km title in convincing manner

by ZwemZa on July 16th, 2017
Aurélie Muller (Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia)

Aurélie Muller (Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia)

France’s Aurelie Muller produced a late surge to secure back-to-back world titles in the women’s 10km at the 17th FINA World Swimming Championships at Balatonfüred on Lake Balaton in Hungary on Sunday morning.

The only other athlete to have achieved back-to-back wins in this event was Russian ace Larissa Ilchenko who won three in a row in 2006, 2007, 2008. Ilchenko also claimed the inaugural 10km Marathon Swimming title at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

Aurélie Muller once again won the 10km world title in open water, almost a year after her disillusionment with Rio. (Reuters)

Aurélie Muller once again won the 10km world title in open water, almost a year after her disillusionment with Rio. (Reuters)

Muller headed the chasing pack to to secure an emphatic victory while a photo finish determined the minor placings. The French stalwart successfully defended her title from Kazan in 2015 when she posted a 2:00.13.70 to claim victory by a commanding 3.50 seconds over a trio of swimmers who were all credited with a 2:00.17.20 who’s places were determined by a photo review.

“I haven’t planned that I will be  at the first place through. I started very well and after that I decided that I will do it to the end. I may not look tired and I even do not feel tired at all, because as a winner you can not feel anything like that. I am happy for the result and I am satisfied that I finished almost in 2 hour.” commented a satisfied Muller after the race

Silver went to the promising Samantha Arevalo from Ecuador while Italian  Arianna Bridi secured the Bronze along with the indomitable Brazilian Ana Marcela Cunha completing the podium.

Surprise Silver medalist Samantha Arevalo from Ecuador was overjoyed with her effort “I am really happy. Thanks to God for the result. I have never thought about being at the second place at my second senior World Championship. I have worked for this success really hard.”

The evergreen Brazilian Ana Marcela Cunha was frank in her comments, “I was not nervous about the uncertainity of my position. I am really satisfied and happy because after the Olympics I struggled with a serious injury, thats why my preparation for this event was really hard. The race was very strong, I tried to do my best. I have been here before, 3 years ago and I like to swim in The Lake Balaton. The organisation and the atmosphere were fantastic. I enjoyed racing.”

After compatriot Marc-Antoine Olivier’s victory on Saturday in the 5 km, Muller brought to France their second world title in two days, in a race she controlled from start to finish.

Muller’s victory was the perfect response at a major Championships following her disqualification at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where she was denied a silver medal.

Rachele Bruni, Bridi’s Italian teammate, was fifth in 2:00.21.40, ahead of Haley Anderson of the USA, who’s 2:00.25.90 saw her finish in 6th place. German prospect  Finnia Wunram and Hungarian hopeful Anna Olasz finished seventh and eighth in 2:00.26.10 and 2:00.28.40, respectively.

Australian Chelsea Gubecka finished in 9th position in 2:00:30.0 while the second US athlete and the 2017 USA National Champion, Ashley Twichell, rounded off the top ten with a 2:00.41.30.

The Olympic champion and Muller’s training partner, Sharon Van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands finished 16th in 2:01.55.5. Both ladies are under the watchful eye of stalwart coach Philippe Lucas in Narbonne, France. Lucas who is also coaches 5km champion Marc-Antoine Olivier is currently responsible for continuing one of the richest legacy of open water champions.

Full Results Woman’s 10km

Algerian Souad Nefissa Cherouati was the first African home in 39th position, well off the pace, when she posted a some 8 minutes 24 seconds behind the victorious Frenchwoman.

South African hopeful Robyn Kinghorn claimed 43rd place with a time of 2:11:25.80, while her compatriot Sasha-Lee Nordengen-Corris had to settle for 50th place in a time of 2:14:43.40.

Encouraging for Kinghorn, who turns 18 next month is that she’s still a relative greenhorn in the world of 10km swimming.

‘This was only my fourth 10km but I’m starting to enjoy it more and more,’ said Kinghorn of her championships so far.

‘My 10km was good, It was a very strong field of swimmers who have many years of experience and for me being my first World Champs it was slightly daunting but I very much enjoyed the swim, the conditions were okay, at times slightly too choppy but that’s what open water is about.

‘I gave it my best and am excited for what the future holds for me.

‘So far it’s been such a wonderful experience for me. The host country has been amazing, so well organised and professional.’

She next swims the 5km on Wednesday. ‘I’m looking forward to my 5km. I think I would have to say my 5km is probably better than 10km at the moment.’

Egypt’s Reem Mohamed Hussein Elsa Kassem posted a 2:11:57.40 to claim 47th place while her compatriot Abdelmoneim Akl Khaled recorded a DNF after withdrawing after just over 8km.

There were two athletes that recorded an OTL (outside time limit) for failing to complete the race within 30 minutes of the winner.

There were 59 finishers in a race that saw 62 athletes take to the water.

Woman’s 10km Race Commentary

The second day of FINA’s Open Water “Carnival” at Lake Balaton was underway when 62 female swimmers entered the 22 degree water. Exactly the same number of male swimmers raced in yesterday’s 5km in warmer water but they swam in cooler air temps. The stiff winds faced by the men yesterday had dissipated but had served to cool the 77km freshwater lake by more than a degree. A warm sunny Sunday was the “welcome mat” for the 62 women challenging for a world championship title in the women’s 10km race.

Chelse Gubecka of Australia took out the pace in the first 1000m at 12:49.6 and was closely followed by Alena Benesova of the Czech Republic just 2.2 seconds back. Japan’s Yukimi Moriyama went with the lead pack only 3.8 seconds behind the Australian leader. By the 1500m mark, Muller had taken control, passing the 1500m point at 18:31.1. She was closely followed by Germany’s Finnia Wunram only 2.7 seconds behind and Paula Ruiz of Spain who was 6.9 seconds behind the French pacesetter.

Muller’s strategy of conserving energy was obvious when she turned over to swim backstroke allowing Great Britain’s Danielle Huskisson to take command of the race. The British swimmer passed the 3500m mark at 43:04.6 followed by Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil just 4.1 seconds back and the arrival of Olympic champion Van Rouwendaal who was just 5.1 seconds behind the athlete from France.

Muller would lead the next 5km and she would find the Dutch Olympic champion in close proximity within  a meter or less. Both swimmers looked extremely strong in the water and neither allowed the other to relax. Muller passed the midpoint of the race at 1:01.19.9. The second 2.5km lap was a minute faster that the first quarter of the race. The Olympic champion was 3.1 seconds behind the leader, presumably to conserve her energy, but unfortunately too far behind to enjoy the benefit of drafting off her French rival.

Approaching the 7.5km point Italy’s Ariana Bridi took a very slight lead over Muller, just .10 of a second. Van Rouwendaal positioned herself 2.6 second behind. While Bridi and Muller would begin to swim in each other’s space, Van Rouwendaal seemingly was in search of clear water and to avoid the congestion of swimming next to the Italian and the French swimmer.

None of the leaders stopped at the feeding station for a drink, each concluding that those extra 10 metres of swimming into and out of the feeding pontoon was not worth the refreshment and energy to be gained by a drink. The final 2.5km would surely be even faster than the third 2.5 lap.

With 1.2km to the finish the pack of ten swimmers were pushing each other and increasing the pace. Hungary’s Anna Olasz and the two American swimmers, Haley Anderson and Ashley Twichell made their moves hoping to be in a position to overcome the leaders that each think might be ready to relinquish the lead. They were among many others who have the same expectations, those who have been conserving their energy by drafting off others, or staying back hoping not to waste their energy in the final sprint.

Muller, hoping to extract her revenge and bouncing back from her Olympic disqualification was again first at the 9000m mark at 14:59.2. Looking very strong, she was determined to break away from the pack that had shrunk to only 6 others in position and likely challenge for the finish. Italy’s Bridi, only .6 of second behind the French leader has also calculated when to launch her own breakaway, but her plan is known only to the swimmer and her coach. Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha was just close enough to avoid the action between the leaders but smart and experienced to find her way to the touch-pad and the podium.

Muller was just too strong for her challengers in the final sprint. When others were sprinting using all they had, Muller simply had more than the others! Frances’s newly crowned World Champion easily won the sprint touching at 2:00.13.7, a comfortable 3.5 seconds ahead of Ecuador’s Samantha Arevalo who earned her first world championship medal. The scoreboard registered Italian teammates Bridi and Rachele Bruni in a photo finish, but one of the Italians would learn of the good news of her place on the podium and the other would receive the bad news.

The oldest competitor in the race will turn 42 years old later this year, Angela Maurer took up open water swimming before everyone else in today’s event was born. Maurer finished 14th, just behind the second tie in the race, a three-way finish for 11th. Maurer is Germany’s most medalled open water swimmer with a total of 12 FINA World Championship medals: two gold, four silver and six bronze. Maurer won the 25km in 2009 at the Rome World Championships and in the 2015 Kazan edition she earned a bronze medal.

Raquel Duran at 14 years old was the youngest competitor in the race. The swimmer from Costa Rica was born in 2002 after the turn of the century but was one of three swimmers who did not finish the race.

Only two yellow cards were issued in the race, one to each of China’s swimmers.

Race Spits

STANDINGS at 1000m

GUBECKA, AUS  —  12:49.6

STANDINGS at 1500m

MULLER, FRA — 18:31.1
RUIZ, ESP +6.9

STANDINGS at 2500m

MULLER, FRA — 31:11.6
RUIZ, ESP +4.3

STANDINGS at 3500m

HUSKISSON, GBR — 43:04.6

STANDINGS at 4000m

MULLER, FRA — 48:47.8

STANDINGS at 5000m

MULLER, FRA — 1:01:19.9

STANDINGS at 6000m

MULLER, FRA — 1:13:12.4

STANDINGS at 6500m

MULLER, FRA — 1:18:50.3

STANDINGS at 7500m

BRIDI, ITA 1:31:38.1

STANDINGS at 8500m

MULLER, FRA 1:43:22.6

STANDINGS at 9000m

MULLER, FRA 1:48:59.2


1.  MULLER, FRA 2:00:13.7
2.  AREVALO, ECU +3.5 2:00:17.2
3.  BRIDI, ITA  +7.7 2:00:17.2
3.  CUNHA, BRA 2:00:17.2
5.  BRUNI, ITA 2:00:21.4
6. WUNRAM, GER 2:00:25.9

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