SWIMMING: Wellbrock and Cunha win Marathon World Series opener in Doha

Brazil's distance swimming superstar Ana Marcela Cunha (Photo: Satiro Sodre)

A windy day and two large fields of swimmers made the water choppy for the first FINA Marathon World Series 10 km event in Doha (QAT), won by Germany’s Florian Wellbrock and Brazilian star Ana Marcela Cunha.

Wellbrock had to deal with a field of 82 swimmers in the men’s event, contested in four 2.5 km laps. He and Hungary’s Kristof Rasovszky strung out the field with an early push and were joined by Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri and Brit Jack Burnell at the front for much of the second and third laps.

The pack chased down the leaders and a wild sprint ensued on the final leg, with Wellbrock touching first, just 1.2 seconds ahead of Rasovszky. American Jordan Wilimovsky bided his time and swam past a bunch of swimmers on the outside of the main pack to grab third.

Said Wilimovsky, “It was fun, the water was good and a fun race, the finish was good to move up the pack and I knew the guys would be really quick, so I had to push hard.”

Cunha, one of the most decorated distance swimmers of all time and a three-time World Champion at 25 km, had to deal with some strong wind and hold off a late charge from Kareena Lee (AUS) and Rachele Bruni (ITA) to claim the win.

Cunha said afterwards that the condition did not faze her at all. “I was very happy with the windy conditions, I spent a lot of time near the front, as last year I spend a lot of the race at the back. But this year I decided to go to the front more often and push the pace. In the finish line I imagined [Germany’s seven-time World Champion] Thomas Lurz and how he would swam the finish straights in similar conditions.” Summaries:

FINA Marathon World Series no. 1
Doha (QAT) ~ 16 February 2019
(Full results here)

Men’s 10 km: 1. Florian Wellbrock (GER), 1:52:21.60; 2. Kristof Rasovszky (HUN), 1:52:22.80; 3. Jordan Wilimovsky (USA), 1:52:24.40; 4. Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA), 1:52:26.10; 5. Kai Graeme Edwards (AUS), 1:52.27.30.

Women’s 10 km: 1. Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA), 2:03:51.50; 2. Kareena Lee (AUS), 2:03:52.00; 3. Rachele Bruni (ITA), 2:03:53.00; 4. Haley Anderson (USA), 2:03:55.40; 5. Leonie Beck (GER), 2:03:55.80. Also in the top 25: 9. Hannah Moore (USA), 2:03:00.30; 10. Ashley Twichell (USA), 2:04:01.60.