Italian swimmer Arianna Bridi and German Florian Wellbrock finished on top in their respective events in the final race of this year’s Marathon Swim World Series on 9 November in Abu Dhabi. With neither a World Championships nor an Olympics in 2018, the World Series became the main focus for many of the world’s elite open water swimmers. There were eight races in the series, which ran from March through to November.
Both the women’s and men’s races were close, especially the men’s race where the top four were separated by less than a second. Wellbrock finished in 1:53:00.90, with Gregorio Paltrinieri (Italy) 0.4s behind in silver and Kristof Rasovszky another 0.3s back. In fact, 31 out of the 74 finishers completed the swim within 50 seconds of Wellbrock.
In the women’s race, Bridi was able to open up a gap of nearly 4 seconds over her compatriot Rachele Bruni in the final stages while Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil) completed the podium half a second behind Bruni.
Speaking after the swim, Wellbrock said: “The race started really slow and it remained like that until the 5km mark. Then, things got a bit faster, but this initial pace allowed me to save some energy for the final. I could then manage to get into the last metres of the race with additional strength.”
Wellbrock, like Paltrinieri, is also a pool swimmer and hopes to compete in both the 1500m free and 10km marathon swimming race at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. He noted that the flat calm conditions compared favourably to swimming in a pool.
On her race, Bridi said: “My tactics were to stay as much as possible in the pack, and then push faster in the last kilometre. It worked quite well and I even managed to arrive ‘comfortable’ at the finish. Open water races are today very tight, so I was happy to get some advantage in the final metres.”
It was the second win in the series for both Wellbrock and Bridi but neither have done enough in other races to feature near the top of the series table for the year. In the women’s series Ana Marcela Cunha remains comfortably on top while Bruni, who had the same number of points as Sharon van Rouwendaal (Holland) before this race, secured second place. Van Rouwendaal, who finished sixth in Abu Dhabi, claims third overall for the year.
The Abu Dhabi results made no difference to the top of the men’s series table with Ferry Weertman (Holland) easily retaining first place despite only a seventh place finish on 9 November. Jack Burnell (GBR) stays in second place overall after finishing 12th in Abu Dhabi and Simone Ruffini (Italy) is third.