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Alice Dearing and Hector Pardoe secure marathon swim spots for Tokyo Games

Over the weekend (of June 19/20), the Portuguese city of Setubal once again hosted the qualifying event for the Olympic open water marathon swim, as it did in 2012 and 2016. Up for grabs were 30 slots in this summer’s delayed Olympic games: 15 each for men and women.

Olympic qualification wasn’t easy. Not only did a swimmer need to finish near the front, they also had to be the fastest from their country. Consequently, in the men’s race, Britain’s Tobias Robinson, who finished third, has not qualified for the Games as he was beaten by Hector Pardoe, who took the gold. Similarly, in the women’s race, neither Maria de Valdes of Spain, who finished 6th, nor Mafalda Rosa of Portugal, who finished 10th, have qualified as they were both beaten by their compatriots.

Overall, it was a good weekend for Team GB. As well as medals for Pardoe and Robinson, Alice Dearing finished 4th in the women’s race to earn her ticket to Tokyo, becoming the first black woman to represent Great Britain at an Olympic swimming event.

Both events were swum with wetsuits in choppy conditions. In the men’s race, Pardoe rounded the final buoy in first place in a breakaway group of four swimmers and dug deep to hang on to win in a sprint finish, 5.5 seconds ahead of both Athanasios Kynigakis of Greece and Robinson, who could only be separated by a photo finish.

The women’s race also splintered in the final lap with Anna Olasz of Hungary leading a group of five swimmers, which included Dearing. Olasz held her lead to win by 2 seconds ahead of Paul Ruiz Bravo of Spain and Kate Sanderson of Canada. Dearing finished moments later in fourth place.

Swimmers qualifying for the Olympic marathon swim

Women

1. Anna OLASZ (HUN)

2. Paula RUIZ BRAVO (ESP)

3. Kate SANDERSON (CAN)

4. Alice DEARING (GBR)

5. Angelica ANDRE (POR)

6. Cecilia BIAGIOLI (ARG)

7. Anastasiia KIRPICHIKOVA (RUS)

8. Samantha AREVALO (ECU)

9. Spela PERSE (SLO)

10. Yumi KIDA (JPN)

11. Michelle WEBER (RSA)

Continental qualification

Paola PEREZ (VEN) – America

Krystyna PANCHISHKO – Europe

Li-Shan Chantal LIEW (SGP) – Asia

Souad Nefissa CHEROUATI (ALG) – Africa

Men

Hector PARDOE (GBR)

Athanasios KYNIGAKIS (GRE)

Tobias ROBINSON (GBR)

Matan RODITI (ISR)

Kai Graeme EDWARDS (AUS)

Taishun MINAMIDE (JPN)

Tiago CAMPOS (POR)

Kirill ABROSIMOV (RUS)

David FARINANGO (ECU)

Oussama MELLOULI (TUN)

Michael McGLYNN (RSA)

Daniel DELGADILLO (MEX)

Continental qualification

Matej KOZUBEK (CZE) – EUROPE

Hau-Li FAN (CAN) – AMERICA

Phillip SEIDLER (NAM) – AFRICA

William Yan THORLEY (HKG) – ASIA