Florian Wellbrock Grabs 10K World Title, Muffels Makes It 2 Medals For Germans; Wilimovsky 5th

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Photo Courtesy: Vanessa Lucas- Seychelles Tourism Board

Ten women and ten men have officially been granted the opportunity to race in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in the 10K open water swim. Florian Wellbrock was the first man awarded the honor by winning the 2019 World Championship race in 1:47.55.90.

Germany had a strong showing with their first- and third-place finishes from Wellbrock and Rob Muffels. This was Wellbrock’s first major international medal, and this will be his second Olympic Games. He competed in the 1500 meter freestyle in 2016, where he placed 32nd. Muffels greatly improved upon his twenty-fifth place finish in the 10K in 2017’s World Championships. This is also his first major international medal.

Splitting the Germans was open water veteran Marc-Antoine Olivier of France. The Frenchman was third in both 2016 and 2017 in this distance. France earned the coveted double top-ten finish as well with effort from David Aubry in the tenth position.

After claiming gold earlier this week in the 5K, Hungary’s Kristof Rasovzky took fourth – one spot higher than his finish in 2017. USA’s Jordan Wilimovsky took fifth after winning gold in 2015 and silver in 2017. He was able to qualify for his second Olympic team after he was fifth in Rio in the 10K.

Olympic and World 1500 freestyle champion Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy took sixth, while his teammate Mario Sanzullo was ninth. Paltrinieri was an early leader in the race, but faded in the back half.

Rounding out the top ten, who all qualify for Tokyo 2020 were reigning Olympic and World Champion Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands and Alberto Martinez of Spain:

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Wellbrock, Paltrinieri and Wilimovsky are now all headed to pool action starting this Sunday. Paltrinieri, the Olympic and World champion, is favourite once more for the 1500m crown, while Wellbrock is a threat to his throne. The German clocked 14:40.69 at the Swedish Open last year to take down the German 60-lap record that had lasted at 14:50.36 to Jorg Hoffmann since 1991, when Hoffmann kept at bay an Australian newcomer, Kieren Perkins, at bay for the world title in Perth.

WELLBROCK Florian GER Gold Medal 1500m Freestyle Men Finals Glasgow 05/08/18 Swimming Tollcross International Swimming Centre LEN European Aquatics Championships 2018 European Championships 2018 Photo Andrea Masini/ Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

European 1500 victoiru in 2018 – Florian Wellbrock – Photo Courtesy: eepbluemedia/Giorgio Scala

Wellbrock shaved the mark back to 14:36.15 for the European crown. The test now if how he fares from open water to pool in just over a week.

Thoughts of the 1500 were far away straight after gold was in the treasury for Wellbrock, who said:

“I’ve always thought of becoming a world champion each night before falling asleep. Now, I’ve done it – and it has yet to sink in.”

In the mixed zone, he added:

“There was no strategy or ‘key’ to today’s race for me. I love competing in open water swimming and I tried to be the best today. I train with Rob (Muffels) and we have the same coach. I don’t think anyone likes to train alone. I believe that working together with Rob and also training at altitude helped both of us in today’s results. I admit that it’s a big and also a hard step to be on the podium next year in Tokyo, but with hard work it may be possible. I expect to race in the pool events in Tokyo the week before the Marathon 10km. I know that I am too slow for the 400m freestyle, but I will also race in the 800m and the 1500m pool events next summer.”

His victory meant much to Germany: it was the nation’s first world title since 2015 – and meant that it already has two in the Tokyo race.

“The goal was the Olympics, now we have gold and bronze, that’s an absolute dream,” said bronze-medal winner Muffels, who added: “Florian and I worked together and today’s result is a world champion and bronze medallist for Germany, it’s amazing and it’s great for open water swimming in our country. We have a great team atmosphere in Germany and we know that the French do as well. Both countries have two big teams and a lot of great coaching and professional staff support. There are many similarities between our groups, with lots of high speed endurance and fast swimming training. We also have a rich history of open water swimming. Florian and I have learned a lot from Thomas Lurz and also from Angela Maurer, two legendary open water swimmers and multiple times world champions. In the end, it’s about experience and hard work.”

Frenchman Marc-Antoine Olivier was unhappy and “a little disgusted because I get blocked at the finish. It was really a very difficult race. It has been swimming all along, we have rarely had races like this. There is the Italian who put a very hard rhythm from the beginning. I tried to put my tactics in place but it was really very difficult.”

On a brighter note he added: “I am happy that David Aubry from France also qualified as I train with him. The last two days it was very hot and I thought a little bit about the conditions and a lot about the many strong swimmers in today’s race. I guess it was an advantage to know the German swimmers who I have raced in many European events and also last year at the European Games.

“I want to win a gold medal at the Olympics but today was not about revenge. If you want to beat Ferry (Weertman, the defending Olympic Champion), you will have to work very hard. Ferry is a world champion and Olympic gold medallist and everyone knows he is an outstanding athlete with a great finish. Today we had a tactic to keep the speed of the race very high and perhaps that surprised Ferry, but he is going to Tokyo just like us.”

Wilimovsky had also had his sights on Tokyo selection:

“Obviously it’s huge. It’s cool to make it a year out because now you know everything you’re doing is for Tokyo 2020. I mean obviously I would like to make it in the 1,500-meter and 800m free as well and I plan on swimming that at Trials. [My strategy] It’s going to be to come back to swimming in August after a week break and train for the Olympics officially.”

On training for the 800 and 1500m, he said: “This (10k) is the big race for us this season, it’s cool to get that out of the way and now it’s no pressure, we get to go over to the pool and have fun racing with the pool team. Yeah, I have to get back in the pool and make sure I’m ready to swim some pool races, so that means double practices from here on out until the pool swimming starts. Definitely not done yet, but excited to get the first step out of the way.”

Full results are available here. Further open water and World Championship news is also available. The remaining open water races for these World Championships include the Women’s 5K, Men’s 25K and Women’s 25K.

2 comments

  1. Chris Boensel

    Very exciting race at the end. Though the French might get penalized for his crossover move that hindered the German swimmer. Turned out that it did not matter. Wellbrock looked incredibly smooth throughout the race. His stroke rate was mind boggling.