Florian Wellbrock and Adrianna Bridi emerged winners of the men and women FINA 10km Marathon Swim at the Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club (ADSYC) on Friday.
Wellbrock touched the pad first for a time of 1hr:53mn:00.90se and was followed home by Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri and Kristof Rasovszky of Hungary.
“The race started really slow and it remained like that until the 5km mark,” said Wellbrock.
“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, also a pool swimmer, said he sincerely hopes that he can compete both in the 1500m free and 10km marathon swimming race at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“I’ll try to qualify for both,” added the German. “Here, it was an easy race – the water was quite flat, so I could imagine swimming in a pool. I’m happy, because being only my second race of the season, I won both!”
Bridi, the 2017 women’s world champion, led a one-two finish for Italy. She clocked 2:00:21.80 to finish ahead of Rachele Bruni, the 2016 Olympic silver medallist.
Brazilian Ana Marcela Cunha, who arrived having already secured the 2018 world title in the eight-race series, joined them on the podium after taking third spot.
Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands wore the men’s world crown after finishing seventh and ahead of his closest challenger Briton Jack Burnell in 12th.
“It’s the first time for me that I managed to compete the series and win,” said Weertman.
“I had Olympic, World, and European titles – only the World Series was missing. Now, it’s done. Moreover, finishing the year with a race like this in Abu Dhabi is fantastic.”
Aref Al Awani, secretary general of Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), Sultan Al Samahi, President of the UAE Swimming Federation, and Cornel Marcalescu, FINA’s Executive Director, gave away the medals and trophies to the winners.
Ahmed Al Qubaisi, ADSC’s Director of Marketing and Communication, said they were not looking ahead for Saturday’s FINA High Diving World Cup and the next staging of the 10km Marathon Swim.
“It has been an absolutely gorgeous morning with the elite swimmers competing for a world title on one side and hundreds of amateur swimmers basking on the water in a Community race organised by the ADSC on the other side,” said Al Qubaisi.
Abdullah Al Wahaibi, general secretary of the swimming federation, added: “We witnessed a world class event and the crowning of the world champions of the race series. The experience for all those who were at the venue was exciting and overwhelming.”