Courtesy of FINA.

Simone Ruffini of Italy won his second consecutive FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup title, but the path to victory was not an easy one.

His teammate Federico Vanelli set the tone of the FINA World Cup season when he dominated the first race of the season in Argentina.

But then Ruffini gradually closed on his heels the entire season and finally edged ahead of his rival on the second-to-last race of the season in Qiandao Lake, 77 points to 76. The season title came down to the last race, mano-a-mano.

In the first stage in Patagones-Viedma, Argentina on February 4th, Vanelli won going away in 1:57:02.42 while Ruffini finished second in 1:57:32, a whopping 29.88 seconds behind his rival. On the point scoreboard, Ruffini had 18 points to Vanelli’s 20 points.

In the second stage in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 11th, Vanelli finished seventh in 1:46:00 while Ruffini finished 10th in 1:46:02, only 1.9 seconds behind his rival. Ruffini had 21 points to Vanelli’s 28 points.

In the third stage in Setúbal Bay, Portugal on June 24th, Ruffini finished fifth in 1:30:00 while Vanelli finished sixth in 1:30:01.72, only 1.4 seconds behind his rival. Ruffini had 33 points to Vanelli’s 38 points.

In the fourth stage in lac St. Jean, Canada on July 27th, Ruffini won in 1:56:11.10 while Vanelli finished second in 1:56:13, only 2.6 seconds behind his rival. Ruffini had 53 points to Vanelli’s 56 points.

In the fifth stage in lac Mégantic, Canada on August 12th, Vanelli finished second in 1:58:21.06 while Ruffini finished fourth in 1:58:25, only 4 seconds behind his rival. Ruffini had 67 points to Vanelli’s 74 points.

In the sixth stage in Qiandao Lake, China on October 15th, Ruffini finished sixth in 1:31:57 while Vanelli finished 26th 1:32:04, only 7 seconds behind his rival. Ruffini squeezed by Vanelli, 77 points to 76 points.

At the season-ending seventh stage in Hong Kong, Ruffini finished seventh in 1:53:21.70 to solidify his second career FINA World Cup title while Vanelli finished 16th in 1:53:27.80, only 6.1 seconds behind his rival. Ruffini finished the season with 85 points to Vanelli’s 78 points to capture his second career FINA World Cup title.

His teammate, Arianna Bridi, also won the women’s title for an Italian sweep in 2017 (see the women’s rankings here).

FINA/HOSA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup rankings for the world’s fastest male open water swimmers are as follows:

2017 Rankings:
1. Simone Ruffini (Italy) 85 points
2. Federico Vanelli (Italy) 78
2. Allan do Carmo (Brazil) 78
4. Kristof Rasovszky (Hungary) 68
5. Rob Muffels (Germany) 58
5. Ferry Weertman (Netherlands) 58
7. Christian Reichert (Germany) 40
8. David Aubry (France) 32
8. Soren Meissner (Germany) 32
10. Fernando Ponte (Brazil) 30
10. Andreas Waschburger (Germany) 30
12. Marcel Schouten (Netherlands) 25

The following rankings will be confirmed soon:

13. Guillermo Bertola (Argentina) 22
14. Jack Burnell (Great Britain) 20
14. Yasunari Hirai (Japan) 20
16. Hau-Li Fan (Canada) 16
16. Andrea Manzi (Italy) 16
18. Diogo Villarinho (Brazil) 14
18. Logan Fontaine (France) 14
18. Marc-Antoine Olivier (France) 14
21. Vitaly Khudyakov (Kazakhstan) 12
22. Simon Huitenga (Australia) 11
23. Richard Weinberger (Canada) 10
23. Kirill Abrosimov (Russia) 10
25. Tobias Robinson (Great Britain) 8
25. Yuval Safra (Israel) 8
27. Pepijn Smits (Netherlands) 7
28. Jeremias Munoz (Argentina) 6
28. Caleb Hughes (Great Britain) 6
28. Matteo Furlan (Italy) 6
28. Yosuke Aoki (Japan) 6
28. Taiki Nonaka (Japan) 6
28. Evgenij Pop Acev (Macedonia) 6
34. Nicolas Masse Savard (Canada) 5
35. Joaquin Moreno Munoz (Argentina) 4
35. Lachlan Colquhoun (Australia) 4
35. Christian Deegan (Australia) 4
35. Oliver Signorini (Australia) 4
35. Ventsislav Arydarski (Bulgaria) 4
35. Edouard Belanger (Canada) 4
35. Ivan Enderica Ochoa (Ecuador) 4
35. Santiago Enderica Salgado (Ecuador) 4
35. David Farinango (Ecuador) 4
35. Benjamin Brantu (France) 4
35. Babtiste Colmant (France) 4
35. Alexander Studzinski (Germany) 4
35. Tsz Ho Tsang (Hong Kong) 4
35. Tsz Fung Tse (Hong Kong) 4
35. Chung Kiu Yau (Hong Kong) 4
35. Yohsuke Miyamoto (Japan) 4
35. Krzysztof Pielowski (Poland) 4
35. Rafael Gil (Portugal) 4
35. Nicolaos Manoussakis (South Africa) 4
54. Yan Corbel (France) 3
55. Pedro Pinotes (Angola) 2
55. Ivo Cassini (Argentina) 2
55. Jack Brazier (Australia) 2
55. Kai Edwards (Australia) 2
55. Solomon Wright (Australia) 2
55. David Brandl (Austria) 2
55. Davy Billiau (Belgium) 2
55. Zedhir Torrez (Bolivia) 2
55. Antoine Chatelain-Laflamme (Canada) 2
55. Katelnikof Alexander Dawson (Canada) 2
55. Xavier Desharnais (Canada) 2
55. Fan Hau Li (Canada) 2
55. Benjamin Lortie (Canada) 2
55. Francisco Eric Salinas (Canada) 2
55. An Jiabao (China) 2
55. Han Lidu (China) 2
55. Liu Lupeng (China) 2
55. Wenghao Wang (China) 2
55. Jingwei Weng (China) 2
55. Zibin Zhang (China) 2
55. Qui Ziao (China) 2
55. Zhang Ziyang (China) 2
55. Matej Kozubek (Czech Republic) 2
55. Miguel Armijos Castillo (Ecuador) 2
55. David Castro (Ecuador) 2
55. Gaspar Andrade (Spain) 2
55. Pol Gil (Spain) 2
55. Alberto Martinez Murcia (Spain) 2
55. Raul Santiago (Spain) 2
55. Clement Batte (France) 2
55. Anis Cheniti (France) 2
55. Hugo Chopineau (France) 2
55. Jean-Baptiste Clusman (France) 2
55. Aubin Coccordano (France) 2
55. Naim Mokhfi (France) 2
55. Axel Reymond (France) 2
55. Hugo Saillard (France) 2
55. Marcus Herwig (Germany) 2
55. Eric Reuss (Germany) 2
55. Ruwen Straub (Germany) 2
55. Tsz Hin Chan (Hong Kong) 2
55. Singa Chau (Hong Kong) 2
55. Chun Hin Hui (Hong Kong) 2
55. Ka Lung Kwan (Hong Kong) 2
55. Chak Fung Lam (Hong Kong) 2
55. Lok Yin Lam (Hong Kong) 2
55. Ho Yat Winson Lee (Hong Kong) 2
55. Ching Leung Sunny Poon (Hong Kong) 2
55. Sau Ching Wong (Hong Kong) 2
55. Mark Papp (Hungary) 2
55. Daniel Szekelyi (Hungary) 2
55. Christopher Bryan (Ireland) 2
55. Shay Toledano (Israel) 2
55. Alessio Matarazzo (Italy) 2
55. Taishin Minamide (Japan) 2
55. Kenessary Kenenbayev (Kazakhstan) 2
55. Kevin Yeap Soon Choy (Malaysia) 2
55. Jan Urbaniak (Poland) 2
55. Jose Carvalho (Portugal) 2
55. Alexandre Coutinho (Portugal) 2
55. Aleksandr Astapov (Russia) 2
55. Kirill Belyaev (Russia) 2
55. Sergey Bolshakov (Russia) 2
55. Roman Kozhevnikov (Russia) 2
55. Elliot Sodemann (Sweden) 2
55. Maximiliano Paccot Piriz (Uruguay) 2

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