Courtesy of FINA, Gwangju, South Korea.
At the inaugural Olympic 10 km Marathon Swim at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 15-year-old Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil was the youngest swimmer. Her competitiveness helped her finish fifth and launch a decade-long dominance in the sport of professional marathon swimming, winning races from 5 km to 25 km in all kinds of venues and conditions.
But today in Gwangju, South Korea, the Brazilian was the most accomplished veteran in the field with 10 world championship medals over her illustrious career. She was fully expected to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the 10 km marathon swim. The pressure was on.
And she did not disappoint. Although she did not medal as expected in Gwangju, the 27-year-old pro made very sure that she finished in the top 10 to qualify for the Olympics. And now she has an entire year to prepare for a podium finish in Tokyo.
Women’s Olympic 10 km Qualification Race Results:
Creator of the WOWSA Awards, World Open Water Swimming Association, the Daily News of Open Water Swimming, Oceans Seven, Open Water Summit, Openwaterpedia, KAATSU Global and KAATSU Research Institute. Inductee in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, recipient of the Poseidon Award and Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and a member of the Ice Swimming Hall of Fame, and former FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee member, Technical Delegate with the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games, and 9-time USA Swimming coaching staff.