No one in the sport of open water swimming arguably has had as many ups and downs as Aurélie Muller.
The two-time 10 km world champion has also experienced a disappointing 21st placing and a disqualification on the last stroke at the 2008 and 2016 Olympics.
But when it comes to the FINA World Swimming Championships, Muller comes through. With a tattoo “chase your dreams” imprinted on her right foot [shown on left], the 27-year-old has been golden.
Similarly, Samantha Arévalo Salinas is dreaming big in the open water swimming world. The Ecuadorean previously trained at 2,400 meters (7,874 feet) altitude in Cuenca, high up in the Andes Mountain, far away from her competitors. But she moved to Rome to train under coach Fabrizio Antonelli who also coaches Arianna Bridi and Rachele Bruni.
But Arévalo proved herself at the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the 2016 Rio Olympics when she came down to sea level, placing 9th overall. The 23-year-old is fast enough, savvy enough, confident enough and dedicated enough to compete with the world’s best – and proved it in Lake Balaton. In Rio, she finished within 36 seconds of an Olympic medal, but Arévalo was only 3 seconds behind gold in Hungary – a remarkable progression since she left home at 17 to focus on open water swimming.
Arévalo discussed her silver-medal performance, “I am really happy. Thanks to God for the result. I have never thought about being at the second place at my second senior World Championship. I have worked for this success really hard.”
Immediately behind Muller and Arévalo followed Bridi of Italy and Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil who touched at exactly the same time for a tie for the bronze medal.
Muller and 2016 Olympic champion Sharon van Rouwendaal – as well as yesterday’s men 5 km champion – train together under the famed taskmaster Philippe Lucas. The training teammates were leading for more than half of the race.
While van Rouwendaal surprisingly couldn’t maintain the fast pace over the last 2 km, Muller did not want to leave anything to chance, especially with silver medalist Bruni also in the hunt. [Their Olympic clash on the last few meters is described and shown here.]
Muller recalled the race, “I started very well and after that I decided that I will do it to the end. I may not look tired and I even do not feel tired at all, because as a winner you can not feel anything like that. I am happy for the result and I am satisfied that I finished almost in 2 hours.”
Cunha enjoyed a bit of redemption in Hungary after her disappointing 10th finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics where she missed her feedings. After enduring the removal of her spleen after Rio, Cunha was intent on making a gutsy comeback and earned her 8th career world championship medal as a result. “I am really satisfied and happy because after the Olympics I struggled with a serious injury. That’s why my preparation for this event was really hard. The race was very strong, I tried to do my best. I have been here before, 3 years ago. I like to swim in Lake Balaton. The organisation and the atmosphere were fantastic.”
Bridi was also happy. “I am delighted with my results, but I feel too tired after the race to realize my success. I trained usually with Rachele Bruni,and I learnt a lot from her about the open water swimming and I could swim in the same pack through the race.”
Muller negative-split the race, going out in 1:01.19.9 and finishing in 2:00:13.70.
Greg Eggert, a FINA Media Committee member, described the last part of the race. “With 1.2 km to the finish the pack of ten swimmers were pushing each other and escalating their speed. Hungary’s Anna Olasz and the two American swimmers, Haley Anderson and Ashley Twichell made their moves hoping to be in a position to overcome the leaders that each think might be ready to relinquish the lead.”
But by the 9 km point, the lead pack was down to six swimmers.
Other side notes of the race included:
* 42-year-old mother Angela Maurer finished 14th, respectfully ahead of most of the field. She entered the race with 12 FINA World Championship medals over her career: 2 gold, 4 silver and 6 bronze.
* At 14 years old, Costa Rica’s Raquel Duran was the youngest competitor in the race.
* Danielle Huskisson swam well and was in the lead pack for most of the race as she placed 11th, a possible future British successor to Keri-Anne Payne.
* Viviane Jungblut swam well as the second Brazilian swimmer, finishing 12th as Olympic bronze medalist and long-time Brazilian representative Poliana Okimoto sat out this event.
* 32-year-old mother, Cecilia Biagioli of Argentina, finished well in 21st.
Yukimi Moriyama finished ahead of two-time Olympic teammate Yumi Kida, the first time that Kida was not the top Japanese swimmer.
* Russia is still looking for a medal-winning successor to Larisa Ilchenko as their top swimmer Anastasiia Krapivina finished 15th.
Women’s 10 km Results
1. Aurélie Muller (France) 2:00:13.70
2. Samantha Arévalo Salinas (Ecuador) 2:00:17.00
3. Arianna Bridi (Italy) 2:00:17.20
3. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil) 2:00:17.20
5. Rachele Bruni (Italy) 2:00:21.40
6. Haley Anderson (USA) 2:00:25.90
7. Finnia Wunram (Germany) 2:00:26.10
8. Anna Olasz (Hungary) 2:00:28.40
9. Chelsea Gubecka (Australia) 2:00:30.00
10. Ashley Twichell (USA) 2:00:41.30
11. Danielle Huskisson (Great Britain) 2:01:06.10
12. Siyu Yan (China) 2:01:06.10
12. Viviane Jungblut (Brazil) 2:01:06.10
14. Angela Maurer (Germany) 2:01:53.30
15. Anastasiia Krapivina (Russia) 2:01:55.20
16. Sharon van Rouwendaal (Netherlands) 2:01:55.50
17. Xin Xin (China) 2:01:59.80
18.Paula Ruiz (Spain) 2:02:07.00
19. Kareena Lee (Australia) 2:02:08.10
20. Yukimi Moriyama (Japan) 2:02:13.30
21. Cecilia Biagioli (Argentina) 2:02:23.60
22. Oceane Maryse Jeannie Cassignol (France) 2:03:01.00
23. Yumi Kida (Japan) 2:03:06.60
24. Spela Perse (Slovenia) 2:04:12.70
25. Alice Dearing (Great Britain) 2:04:24.40
26. Kalliopi Araouzou (Greece) 2:04:25.70
27. Onon Katalin Somenek (Hungary) 2:04:41.20
28. Stephanie Horner (Canada) 2:04:48.10
29.Nataly Caldas Calle (Ecuador) 2:04:50.10
30. Maria de Valdes Alvarez (Spain) 2:04:54.40
31. Justyna Dorota Burska (Poland) 2:07:13.60
32. Jade Dusablon (Canada) 2:07:16.80
33. Daria Kulik (Russia) 2:07:18.00
34. Julia Lucila Arino (Argentina) 2:07:20.00
35. Angelica Maria (Portugal) 2:07:20.40
36. Alena Benesova (Czech Republic) 2:07:58.50
37. Lenka Sterbova (Czech Republic) 2:08:32.90
38. Martha Ruth Aguilar Ortega (Mexico) 2:08:35.20
39. Souad Nefissa Cherouati (Algeria) 2:08:38.10
40. Charlotte Webby (New Zealand) 2:08:41.40
41. Vania Neves (Portugal) 2:09:39.00
42. Maria Alejandra Bramont-Arias (Peru) 2:09:39.60
43. Robyn Kinghorn (South Africa) 2:11:25.80
44. Xeniya Romanchuk (Kazakhstan) 2:11:34.40
45. Doris Beros (Croatia) 2:11:54.40
46. Mahina Nicole Valdivia Dannenberg (Chile) 2:11:55.10
47. Reem Mohamed Hussein Elsayed Kaseem (Egypt) 2:11:57.40
48. Krystyna Panchishko (Ukraine) 2:12:12.50
49. Ruthseli Guadalupe Aponte Teran (Venezuela) 2:14:39.50
50. Sasha-Lee Nordengen-Corris (South Africa) 2:14:43.40
51. Jelena Jecanski (Serbia) 2:16:10.60
52. Maryna Kyryk (Ukraine) 2:17:02.20
53. Martha Sandoval (Mexico) 2:17:48.20
54. Fatima Flores (El Salvador) 2:18:47.90
55. Hoi Man Lok (Hong Kong) 2:19:19.30
56. Karolina Balazikova (Slovakia) 2:26:37.80
57. Tsz Yin Nip (Hong Kong) 2:26:49.90
58. Nikitha Setru Venugopal (India) 2:28:14.60
59. Cindy Toscano (Guatemala) 2:28:21.80
OTL Merle Liivand (Estonia)
OTL Raquel Duran (Costa Rica)
DNF Dana Khaled Abdelmoneim Akl (Egypt)
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