The German team of Christian Reichert and Rob Muffels and Isabelle Härle finished 16 seconds ahead of Team Brazil and Team Netherlands who incredibly swam the 5 km team pursuit loop course in the exact same time.
While Muffels and Reichert was focused on pace and navigation, 2016 Olympian Härle was driving hard from behind and drafting as well as she possibly could.
Härle finished seventh in the women’s 10 km to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Marathon in Rio de Janeiro. Teammate Muffells covered the 5km in 55:12.1 seconds; he was actually 5.5 seconds faster that his individual 5km swum on Sunday where he earned a silver medal. Germany’s Reichert finished 18th in the men’s 10km and will continue to seek his path to the Olympics in next year’s Olympic qualifier.
Muffels described the team pursuit, “The race was really fast and Isabelle was pushing behind me. The USA was right next to us and it took a lot of speed to get away from them. Our hard work paid off in the end.”
Reichert was part of the 2013 gold medal team and his confidence showed. “We won the event in 2013 and we were confident that we would have a very good race today. We were without Thomas Lurz today, but Rob is a strong swimmer and we knew that Isabelle can be very fast.”
Härle downplayed her essential role. “The only job I had to do was to follow the men. But after the first lap, it was so hard. I thought to myself that I had to stop but I was afraid the guys would kill me if I did. It was good in the end. Rob was swimming with me and did what I did. Rob’s my man. Christian was leading us, but if I got tired he would let me rest.”
2016 Olympian Sharon Van Rouwendaal described the Dutch team strategy. “We weren’t that fast in the first 500m and we found that we really can’t go that fast in the first 1.5 km. We are a team that builds up our speed. It’s hard for us to go out fast, but we will do it the next time so that we can win this race.” Her teammate and fellow 2016 Olympian Ferry Weertman agree. “It was a very hard fought race with navigation issues, but I think we did pretty well. It’s always hard to know what place to swim for the girl (Sharon), but we have pretty strong girls. I think we were a bit too slow at the start, but we had a great second lap. We need to work on getting out faster and finding a good pace.”
On the Brazilian side, Diogo Villarinho explained the event. “The race was so tough and fast. It’s amazing that we tied in the final. Two days ago, I lost my chance to swim at the Olympics so this race and medal is perfect. Ana swam to the maximum today. Alan provided the strategy and direction”. Ana Marcela Cunha described the event from her perspective, “Allan is [our] only swimmer from the team in Barcelona that swam to a bronze medal two years ago. In the first half of today’s race, Allan pushed the pace all of the time. Diogo took his turn in the middle before Allan led us again at the finish. In 2013 Barcelona, our team was much farther behind the German team. We really tried to stay with the Germans and in fact tied with the Dutch so we applied a successful strategy.”
Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association