Photo courtesy of Giorgio Scala of Deepbluemedia, Lake Balaton, Hungary.

The women’s 5 km race in Lake Balaton at the 2017 FINA World Swimming Championships resulted in all kinds of unexpected surprises:

1. That an American won was not surprising given the fact that Haley Anderson has stood on top of the podium for the last two world championships, but it was Ashley Twichell winning, not two-time defending champion Haley Anderson who finished fifth.

2. Ana Marcela Cunha came back to win her second medal of these championships – despite having to recover from spleen surgery after the 2016 Rio Olympics.

3. 2016 Olympic champion Sharon van Rouwendaal finished out of the money for the second time at these championships, even though she finished only 0.1 seconds from a bronze in the 5 km.

4. Two Australians finished in the top ten in a great show for Kiah Melverton and Kareena Lee from Down Under.

5. An emerging South African, Michelle Weber, finished a respectable 7th.

Twichell came back strongly after a disappointing 10th pace finish in the 10 km race [see here]. ““I didn’t feel awesome during the 10 km, so I took the two days in between to really try to recover and get my mind back straight. I felt in the morning that I was in a good shape, and I chose a good tactic, I took the lead in the right time. I knew there was a big fight in the water behind me, but I managed to avoid that. I expect a very exciting race tomorrow in the relay event [see here].”

She was able to steer clear of the physical scrum behind her at a key point in the race. Greg Eggert of FINA described the scenario, “Twichell took a commanding lead in the final sprint of the women’s 5 km event…Muller of France finished 3.5 seconds behind.”

In the beginning, it was the Twichell and Anderson who surged into the early lead over the 58 swimmers with Leonie Beck of Germany who swam with the two Americans. But Muller then quickly responded and built up a lead by the 1500m and led 11 swimmers by the halfway point. Muller had a 2500m split of 30:38.9 ahead of Twichell, her training partner van Rouwendaal, and Anderson.

Van Rouwendaal moved into the lead by the 3500m mark as the pace continued to build until Twichell took off with 1 km to go. She would eventually cover the final 1000m in 10 minutes 47 seconds in the choppy lake.

Muller felt the effects of her gold medal performance on Sunday and similarly to Twichell is looking forward to the 5 km team pursuit. “The 10 km was of course very tough, so I was a little tired after that, but I had time for recovery, and I had a good race again. I did not realise that Sharon (van Rouwendaal) was complaining about me, all I tried to do was concentrating on my finish, and swimming as fast as I could. The French team is very strong, so I expect a good result in the relay as well, but it won’t be easy, since there are many other strong teams, too.”

Cunha showed her competitive spirit once again after being awarded the bronze in a photo finish. “I am very happy to finish on the podium again, beating the reigning Olympic champion (Sharon van Rouwendaal, who finished fourth after the photo finish) is really great. I will compete in the relay event and in the 25 km as well, and I hope to achieve some more good results. The relay event is fun for everyone, although it will be a very tough race. I changed the color of my hair for fun, and I plan to change to another colour for the 25 km, but it will be a surprise.”

Women’s 5 km Results:

1 Ashley Twichell (USA) 59:07.00

2 Aurélie Muller (France) 59:10.50
3 Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil) 59:11.40
4 Sharon van Rouwendaal (Netherlands) 59:11.50
5 Haley Anderson (USA) 59:26.20
6 Giulia Gabbrielleschi (Italy) 59:26.40
7 Michelle Weber (South Africa) 59:27.50
7 Kiah Melverton (Australia) 59:27.50
9 Kalliopi Araouzou (Greece) 59:28.00
10 Kareena Lee (Australia) 59:28.90
11 Finnia Wunram (Germany) 59:32.10
12 Martina Rita Caramignoli (Italy) 1:00:48.30
13 Paula Ruiz (Spain) 1:00:49.10
14 Valeriia Ermakova (Russia) 1:00:51.90
15 Samantha Arévalo Salinas (Ecuador) 1:00:52.90
16 Minami Niikura (Japan) 1:00:55.00
17 Shan Lei (China) 1:00:57.10
18 Spela Perse (Slovenia) 1:01:12.30
19 Angelica Maria (Portugal) 1:01:13.30
20 Betina Lorscheitter (Brazil) 1:01:14.10
21 Yukimi Moriyama (Japan) 1:01:14.50
22 Alena Benesova (Czech Republic) 1:01:14.70
23 Krystyna Panchishko (Ukraine) 1:01:24.40
24 Leonie Beck (Germany) 1:01:26.40
25 Vania Neves (Portugal) 1:01:27.70
26 Lenka Sterbova (Czech Republic) 1:01:27.90
27 Janka Juhasz (Hungary) 1:01:52.50
28 Melinda Novoszath (Hungary) 1:01:57.30
29 Breanne Emma Joan Siwicki (Canada) 1:01:59.80
30 Xeniya Romanchuk (Kazakhstan) 1:02:00.30
31 Maria Jose Mata Cocco (Mexico) 1:02:02.50
32 Souad Nefissa Cherouati (Algeria) 1:02:02.50
33 Justyna Dorota Burska (Poland) 1:02:02.80
34 Fang Qu (China) 1:02:03.10
35 Mariia Novikova (Russia) 1:02:04.90
36 Eden Girloanta (Israel) 1:02:06.10
37 Martha Ruth Aguilar Ortega (Mexico)1:02:06.20
38 Charlotte Webby (New Zealand) 1:02:07.60
39 Maria Alejandra Bramont-Arias (Peru) 1:02:08.20
40 Mayte Puca (Argentina) 1:03:41.00
41 Robyn Kinghorn (South Africa) 1:03:41.50
42 Chaya Simone Zabludoff (Israel) 1:03:44.30
43 Maryna Kyryk (Ukraine) 1:03:51.30
44 Jelena Jecanski (Serbia) 1:04:31.30
45 Mahina Nicole Valdivia Dannenberg (Chile) 1:06:11.50
46 Sandy Atef (Egypt) 1:06:11.80
47 Ruthseli Guadalupe Aponte Teran (Venezuela) 1:06:55.90
48 Hoi Man Lok (Hong Kong) 1:07:05.20
49 Fatima Flores (El Salvador) 1:07:09.40
50 Heba Elkhouly (Egypt) 1:07:39.20
51 Patricia Guerrero (Ecuador) 1:08:13.20
52 Tsz Yin Nip (Hong Kong) 1:09:02.50
53 Karolina Balazikova (Slovakia) 1:09:25.00
54 Nina Rakhimova (Kazakhstan) 1:09:28.70
55 Merle Liivand (Estonia) 1:11:25.80
56 Raquel Duran (Costa Rica) 1:11:34.80
57 Cindy Toscano (Guatemala) 1:11:55.70
OTL Anna Jaeger (Azerbaijan)
DNS Danielle Huskisson (Great Britain)
DNS Alice Dearing (Great Britain)

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