Courtesy of Lexie Kelly at the 2016 Rie e Rainha do Mar (King and Queen of the Sea), Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

This week’s Rie e Rainha do Mar (King and Queen of the Sea) race on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro kicked off with its traditional grid race.

The grid race is a short, in-and-out sprint race around a buoy in order to set the starting positions at the King and Queen of the Sea where Olympians and world champions will clash over a tight 3 km course.

The competing teams include the following pairs:

Brazil 1 – Poliana Okimoto and Allan Do Carmo
Brazil 2 – Betina Lorscheitter and Luis Rogerio Arapiraca
USA – Chip Peterson and Haley Anderson
Netherlands – Ferry Weertman and Esmee Vermeulen
Italy – Dario Verani and Rachele Bruni
Argentina – Guillermo Bertola and Julia Aria
Peru – Piero Canduelas and Maria Alejandra Barmont
Japan – Yumi Kida and Yasunari Hirai [shown below]

Besides the made-for-television duo-relay 3 km elite competition and Grid Race, the King and Queen of the Sea event includes Sprint 1 km, Classic 2.5 km, Challenge 5 km, Super Challenge 10 km, Beach Biathlon 1 km swim + 2.5 km run, Beach Run 2.5 km, Beach Run 5 km, SUP 2.5 km, 5 km, 10 km, Kids Beach Run & Swim.

The Netherland’s Weertman, Italy’s Rachele Bruni, and Brazil’s Poliana Okimoto highlight the event as the returning Olympic medalists from this Summer Olympic Games. Italy ended up winning the grid race and, as a result, will have the #1 pole position at the 3 km King and Queen of the Sea start.

Before the grid race, the athletes conducted a musical demo with Rio de Janeiro’s biggest charity to benefit the favelas. The locals make their musical instruments out of garbage and the elite swimmers from around the world played them on the beach at the start before the grid race.

In particular, Weertman has enjoyed an outstanding summer that resulted in his selection as Swimming World Magazine’s Open Water Swimmer of the Year and his nomination for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year:

1. Roger Finch (South Africa)
2. Seti Afoa (Samoa)
3. Tomi Stefanovski (Macedonia)
4. Edoardo Stochino (Italy)
5. Ferry Weertman (Netherlands)
6. Nejib Belhedi (Tunisia)
7. Ger Kennedy (Ireland)
8. Alex Kostich (USA)
9. Masayuki Moriya (Japan)
10. Colin Hill (Great Britain)
11. Ingemar Patiño Macarine (Philippines)
12. Lewis Pugh (Great Britain)
13. Christof Wandratsch (Germany)

To vote for the WOWSA Awards, visit here. Online voting continues until December 31st 2016.

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