FINA World Championships

Italy's Ruffini and Brazil's Cunha win final two gold medals in 25km event

Kazan 2015 - OW

Simone Ruffini of Italy and Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil each claimed one of the final two open water gold medals today in the 25km events. Ruffini's time of 4:53.10.7 was 4.4 seconds faster than Alex Meyer of the USA who he passed in the final 500m of the race. Cunha, the Brazilian multi-medallist covered the distance in 5:13.47.3 and was 26.1 seconds faster than Hungary's Anna Olasz. 

Ruffini's big accomplishment in the water was nothing compared to his clever marriage proposal which played out on the medals podium and likely on international television. The open water champion and Rio bound Olympic qualifier asked his girlfriend and Italian teammate Aurora Ponsele "Will You Marry Me?" in a note that he unveiled during the 25km men's medals ceremony. His future wife signalled back with two fingers shaped in a heart to the delight of Italian wedding planners. Ponsele finished 22nd in the women's 10km earlier this week, unfortunately outside of the top 10 swimmers who qualified for the 2016 Olympics next summer in Brazil.

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Powerful Germany wins 5km team event

Kazan 2015 - OW

A powerful German squad took the gold medal in the Open Water Mixed 5km Team event on the picturesque and placid Kazanka River today finishing in a time of 55:14.4, a little more than 16 seconds ahead of two rival teams that would share the silver medal. The team of Christian Reichert, Rob Muffels and Isabelle Harle captured the 24th gold medal for Germany. Reichert (55:10.9) and Harle (55:14.4) were members of the gold medalling winning team from the 2013 Barcelona World Championships that included the recently retired Thomas Lurz, the most decorated open water swimmer in history.

In the Mixed 5km Team Event each squad leaves 30 seconds apart and their final time is determined when the third swimmer hits the touchpad. Many different strategies are at work between the teammates. In some instances one of the male swimmers serves as the "engine" allowing the female swimmer to draft off the pace setter. The men switch their positions allowing for a fresh swimmer to serve as the "engine". In other cases one of the male swimmers will take the lead and also be in change of the pace and navigation.

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Muller gives France first Open Water gold

Kazan 2015 - OW

Aurelie Muller of France became the first female open water swimmer to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games winning the 10km event at the Kazan 2015 FINA World Championships in 1:58.04.3. Muller claims the first gold medal for France in open water swimming. France had previously won three silver medals and three bronze medals in open water events including Muller's silver medal in 2011 at the Shanghai Worlds. She finished 2.4 seconds ahead of her training partner Sharon Van Rouwendaal of The Netherlands under brilliant weather conditions and a pleasant air temperature of 26 degrees at the start of the race.

Muller had a run of bad luck having missed qualification for the 2012 London Olympics. The French swimmer was disqualified at the finish line from the 10km in Roberval in 2010. She recalls a poor 1500m freestyle result because her goggles filled with water, failing to qualify for the 2011 Shanghai World Championships. In the 23 degree placid water of the Kazanka River her luck changed for the better. Pacing herself with an easy 30.33.9 first lap she stayed relaxed in the pack of swimmers, passing the 2.5km mark tied for 19th position. In her second of four laps she found herself leading her 54 challengers from 34 countries. 

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Jordan Wilimovsky (USA) wins men's 10km and is the first swimmer qualified for Rio 2016

Kazan 2015 - OW

USA's Jordan Wilimovsky won the men's 10km to become the first swimmer to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at the Kazanka River venue beating 69 other competitors to the finish line. The 21 year old swimmer from Santa Monica, California finished 12.1 seconds ahead of Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands. The top ten swimmers qualified for the next Olympic Games including Greece's Spyridon Gianniotis who will be going to his fifth Games. 

At the final red buoy, Wilimovsky was firmly in the lead but he appeared to take a line towards the turn buoys as if he was taking another lap, rather than aiming for the straighter line to the finish. After leading his challengers slightly off course, the American quickly realised his mistake and immediately got back on track.
 


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Chad Ho (RSA) wins first gold for South Africa in the 5km

Kazan 2015 - OW

Chad Ho made sure that it was his hand that hit the touchpad first. Ho won the South Africa's first gold medal in open water swimming in today's 5km race, narrowly defeating Rob Mutffels of Germany. Muffells was 3.6 seconds behind the leaders at the halfway point in the race and was one of the leaders for the better part of the second half of race. The German swimmer admitted the line he took was a bit wide and found himself chasing the South African and Italy's Matteo Furlan in the final sprint to the finish. Ho had found a nearly perfect path to the finish line but the cameras positioned on the 27 metre tower above (for next week’s High Diving event) gave a spectacular view of the dogfight in the final 10 metres of the race. Ho, a bronze medallist in the 2009 FINA World Championships was being run down by the German swimmer. Muffells passed Furlan and began to reel in the South African swimmer.


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Haley Anderson (USA, 5km) is the first world champion in Kazan

Kazan 2015 - OW

USA's Haley Anderson sprinted to victory in the women's 5km to capture the first gold medal of the 16th FINA World Championships. Anderson, the silver medallist in the 10km Olympic Marathon at the 2012 Olympic Games in London was always in the lead pack of the race. At the halfway mark Anderson was in fifth position, 3.6 seconds behind Sharon Van Rouwendaal of Netherlands. The Dutch swimmer bravely led for nearly the entire race before Anderson sprinted to the head of the pack in the final 300 metres. Anderson and teammate Ashley Twitchell (USA) swam in the lead pack and always within striking distance. It's a popular strategy for a swimmer to let others lead the race, putting a heavy burden on the leader while conserving energy for the final sprint. Anderson is the third woman to win multiple gold medals in this event. Twitchell finished in 6th place.

Anderson won the 5km event in 2013 at the Barcelona World Championships. She and Australia's Melissa Gorman were the only previous world champions in the event today. The 30 year old Australian won the 5km in 2009 and finished in 7th place in Kazan. London's Olympic Marathon champion Eva Ristov was in the lead pack during the early stages of today's race but faded to 12th place finishing 27.7 seconds behind the American champion.

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