Courtesy of Colin Hill of FINA and Giorgio Scala of Deepbluemedia at Beau Vallon Beach on Mahé, Seychelles.

Back in October 2016, Ana Marcela Cunha tweeted, “It all worked out [removal of her spleen]. I’m fine now and only recover to return to training.”

It is clear now that the Brazilian Olympian is back in action and looking forward to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

She raced at today’s FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series race on Beau Vallon Beach in Mahé, Seychelles. The race was extremely exciting where the winner was unknown to literally the last stroke and 11 of the top women finished within 7.5 seconds of the winner.

Italy’s Arianna Bridi just barely reached up and hit the finish pad a few moments before Cunha to win the first FINA professional race off the coast of Eastern Africa.

The event went off well, especially considering heavy winds wreaked havoc on the course in the days leading up to the race, accentuating the open water maxim of Expect The Unexpected.

Arguably even more entertaining than the close pack finish was the 13th place swim by Germany’s veteran Angela Maurer. The nearly 43=year-old was only 12.2 seconds behind Bridi.

FINA representative Colin Hill reported from Mahé, “After the water start, it was [German swimmers] that took to the front of the pack with Bridi deciding to tuck in at the back and stay out of trouble for the first few laps. But it wasn’t until half way around lap two (of six laps) that Cunha took to the front that the pack was put under any sort of pressure.

This wasn’t to last as on the third lap the pace slowed and Cunha went onto her back to have a good look at the pack to see who was with her.

Everything remained pretty stable until the forth lap when Bridi really stretched out the pack, so unlike a ‘V’ formation like geese flying south, the swimmers formed a long line, a sure sign of the pace picking up.

Often in elite open water races, the swimmers will miss out the final feed in favor of keeping in with the lead swimmers, but with a warm 26°C most of the front pack elected to take on some fluids before the final lap.

The last lap saw three Italian swimmers side-by-side but Bruni called out, obviously feeling like her space was being invaded. Bridi went to move into clear water and the two swimmers became entangled losing several spaces in the pack. The referees gave out a yellow warning flag for the incident.

The finish of the women’s race was close with four swimmers in contention and it came down to a photo finish with Bridi managing to get herself back to the front to secure first, with Ana Marcela true to her work and making improvements at this event in second and Italy’s Martina De Memme gaining an impressive third for the Italian team.”

After the race, Bridi said, “It’s my dream to be here in the Seychelles, although the water was very warm for me it was a good race, I felt very tired at the end.”

Giovanna Rousseau, Chief Executive of the National Sports Council, was appreciative of the opportunity to host the event. “For Seychelles, the FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series race is the biggest competition ever hosted and we feel very proud.”

FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series Seychelles 10 km Results
1. Arianna Bridi (Italy) 1:58:32.30

2. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil) 1:58:32.60

3. Martina de Memme (Italy) 1:58:33.40
4. Leonie Beck (Germany) 1:58:35.50

5. Rachele Bruni (Italy) 1:58:35.60
6. Sharon van Rouwendaal (Netherlands) 1:58:36.50

7. Viviane Jungblut (Brazil) 1:58:37.00

8. Xin Xin (China) 1:58:37.60

9. Giulia Gabrielleschi (Italy) 1:58:38.00

10. Alice Dearing (Great Britain) 1:58:38.90

11. Svenja Zihsler (Germany) 1:58:39.80
12. Yumi Kida (Japan) 1:58:42.60

13. Angela Maurer (Germany) 1:58:44.50
14. Esmee Vermeulen (Netherlands) 1:58:47.10
15. Finnia Wunram (Germany) 1:58:48.80
16. Anna Olasz (Hungary) 1:58:59.00
17. Yukimi Moriyama (Japan) 1:59:04.70
18. Danielle Huskisson (Great Britain) 1:59:24.70
19. Stephanie Horner (Canada) 2:00:02.70
20. Samantha Arévalo Salinas (Ecuador) 2:00:23.50
21. Lea Boy (Germany) 2:00:26.80
22. Caroline Laure Jouisse (France) 2:00:44.80
23. Caiping Yang (China) 2:02:22.90
24. Michelle Weber (South Africa) 2:02:30.80
25. Muran Tian (China) 2:02:30.80
26. Sarah Bosslet (Germany) 2:02:34.80

Men’s results are posted here.

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