2019 World Championships: Germany’s Wellbrock Wins Photo Finish Men’s 10K


After the women had their shot at qualifying for the open water event in Tokyo 2020, the men had their turn in the 10 km race. It was a tight battle between Germany’s Florian Wellbrock and France’s Marc-Antoine Olivier during the finishing moments of the race.

In a photo finish, it was Wellbrock who held off Olivier by two-tenths of a second to win the race with a 1:47:56. Olivier, who was the Olympic and 2017 Worlds bronze medalist, improved to a silver medal behind Wellbrock.

This is Florian Wellbrock‘s first individual international open water medal, adding to his two medals in the pool (800 bronze/1500 gold) at the 2018 European Championships. At that same meet, Wellbrock swam the 25km, but did not finish the race. Wellbrock did receive a silver medal in the 5k team event.

Germany’s Rob Muffels earned himself a bronze medal in the race and will join countryman Wellbrock in Tokyo. Improving from his 5th place finish in 2017 was Hungarian Kristof Rasovszky, who bumped himself up to 4th place.

2017’s silver medalist American Jordan Wilimovsky finished in 5th place this time around, yet earned himself an Olympic berth almost a year before the US Olympic Trials in the pool in June 2020. Wilimovsky defeated Italian front-runner Gregorio Paltrinieri, who wound up in 6th place.

Defending world and Olympic champion Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands faded to 7th place, yet still has an opportunity to defend his Olympic title. Spain’s Alberto Martinez found himself in the top 8 as well.

Notching a second qualifier for their home nations are Mario Sanzullo of Italy and David Aubry of France, who rounded out the Olympic-qualifying top 10 men.

Note that swimmers who have qualified at this meet have blocked out their countrymen from qualifying for the Olympics. These countries cannot add a second Olympic qualifier that will be held in 2020 in Fukuoka, Japan. In Fukuoka, 15 spots will be awarded Olympic berths in Tokyo.


Qualified Country Time/Time Behind
1 Florian Wellbrock Germany 1:47:56
2 Marc-Antoine Olivier France 0.20
3 Rob Muffels Germany 1.50
4 Kristof Rasovszky Hungary 3.60
5 Jordan Wilimovsky USA 5.10
6 Gregorio Paltrinieri Italy 5.10
7 Ferry Weertman Netherlands 6.00
8 Alberto Martinez Spain 6.30
9 Mario Sanzullo Italy 8.80
10 David Aubry France 9.20

Countries that have completed qualifying for the Olympics in the men’s 10km:

Germany Florian Wellbrock/Rob Muffels
France Marc-Antoine Olivier/David Aubry
Italy Gregorio Paltrinieri/Mario Sanzullo
Countries that have 1 qualifier (and can have no more)
Hungary Kristof Rasovszky
USA Jordan Wilimovsky
Netherlands Ferry Weertman
Spain Alberto Martinez

Updated Open Water Medal Count:

Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
Germany 1 0 1 2
France 0 2 0 2
China 1 0 0 1
Hungary 1 0 0 1
USA 0 1 0 1
Italy 0 0 1 1
Canada 0 0 1 1

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Paltrineri led most of the way but faded towards the end. He should gain more experience swimming open water and then he would be the man to beat in Tokyo.
Kudos to Wellbrock for a great tactic and a well deserved win.


Paltrineri appeared to take a feed on every lap including last which is rare for 6 lap races. He dropped quite a bit with that feed as no one else did.


At US ow nationals (6 weeks ago?) Paltrineri crushed Wilimovsky by over 1.5 mins (or something like that). Maybe Paltrineri was overconfident and thought he could run away with it, but this was a completely different, much stronger field, and Wilimovsky ended up beating him in the end. Also, I’m not sure that Paltrineri fed after the fifth lap. He actually got passed right after the field completed the fourth lap. In any case, i watched the race on TV and it was super entertaining.


Why would he be the man to beat, when Wellbrock is 3 years younger + has more experience in open water swiming and has basically the same speed at 800/1500 free and more speed at the 400 free? I guess i’ll take it anyways, since there were more than enough people who acted as if Rasovszky was the favorite before this race and we all know how it turned out …


Wellbrock was too chicken to race the 5k. A 1st and a 4th is a lot better than just a first.


Too chicken? Lol I really don’t know where you got this from but I’m sure Florian is a happy chicken considering he just won a gold medal and secured his Olympic berth one year out, and the pool competition hasn’t even started yet. The mile is what counts the most for him.


Are you serious? He has a chance for 3 golds in olympic events, why would he feel the need to race in a 4th non-olympic event, especially because that would decrease his chances in the other events? In addition to that if anything he would have been more dominant in the 5k, because this event is closer to the 1500 free than the 10k, so his speed would have been even more of an advantage. His main goal was to get the olympic ticket in the 10k, there was nothing to be won for him in the 5k. It would have been stupid to sacrifice his gold medal chances in 3 olympic events for a gold medal chance in a… Read more »


Yeah I am teasing you. You seem to hold him in very high regard. I think others can challenge but looking at the comment on the race they will need to form their own group to combat the tactics.


If the Open water was after the pool events, I think we would see more pool distance swimmers in more of the open water events (not ‘just’ the 10k).


After the women’s 10k race in the evening the two Germans and Raso based on friendship arranged to work together, swim as fast as they can from the begining in order to don’t race against your home nation swimmer and avoid to get out of the first 10 places. We could see that a world champion falled out there, nearly an olympic champion and some good swimmers, too. The most important is that they succeed in booking their tickets to Tokyo and yesterday the strongest won the race. So it was a good plan.
This information is from Rasovszky.


Good to hear. I already knew that Wellbrock and Rasovszky were friends. Wellbrock said before the world championships that they are often fooling around at the beginning of 10k’s, for example by diving under each other (don’t know if this is the correct expression) or by making whale noises. Also interesting to know that Wellbrock and Muffels planned to work together. Muffels said that he tried to pull on Olivier’s leg shortly before the finish, so that Wellbrock could get away from him. Also apparently Olivier pushed Wellbrock down shortly before the finish line and german swimming thought about protesting to get Olivier disqualified (which would have meant gold and silver for Germany), but then they didn’t do it, because… Read more »


Yes, good to know it. Another yes, Olivier tried everything, that was little more than normal open water swimming especially in the front that could be seen from anywhere. In that case Raso would have been 3rd 😉 and I should have been curious to see Lucas’s reaction, too.


Otherwise just before the finish somebody swam on Raso’s legs, too. The last some hundreds was a fight, I watched the race.


Muffels got a yellow card towards the end. I think that if he tried to interrupt Olivier at the finish then he would have gotten disqualified but usually the referees let them do whatever they want at the finish line without punishing them.


The age doesn’t mean anything. Lurz and Spyridon dominated open water when they were much older than both. Wellbrock swam a great race and is doing well in both open water and the pool but I still think that Paltrinieri just needs to gain the experience. I’m looking forward for the 1500 race between them, Romanchuk and others.

bear drinks beer

He’s a huge danger in the 1500.


You are acting as if he was some kind of dark horse before this … i think basically everyone expects him to win a medal and normally this should be a 3-way battle between him, Paltrinieri and Romanchuk. Currently i would give the edge to Paltrinieri, although Romanchuk has the advantage of being fully rested.

bear drinks beer

Sorry for my poor English expression but I didn’t mean he’s an underdog in it. I just want to say his winning chance looks even bigger right now.


US Distance Swimming is a joke. No medal contenders. Suspect coaching staff.


wilimovsky was the 2015 world champion and 2017 silver medalist at 10k. he also won pan pacs last year


Open Water Swimming is very dependent on lots and lots of real stress races unless you just have extremely fast 1500 speed and even then have to have decent meets to learn your capabilities with drafting, feeding and the like. You can’t just coach it or practice it in the pool. Unfortunately the America’s do not have the same number of high caliber 10k races for US or other North/South American swimmers to get experience, especially from an early age, versus Europe with easy travel to frequent major meets. Very expensive to get to international meets with a coach from the US unless you are already elite. How may club teams in US even have a coach to go on… Read more »


*whispers* the NCAA should have an OW water season like track/xc in order to be competitive


US open water swimming is basically a disaster with zero depth compared to pool events. There are no races to speak of other than Nationals, and no developmental program. Other than Jordan, the top 10 were all European racers who race early and often. Blame coaches, they generally don’t support it. Blame the NCAA system where all monies (scholarships and coaches) go towards sprinters (with that scoring system I would too), and blame USA Swimming with lack of attention to OW. In their minds it’s just 2 events (true) so why bother.

Hoosier Eli

Wow. Really? At FINA’s Jr World Championship competition last year in Eilat, Israel, the USA Jr Open Water Team “won” the medal count and had two individual winners and the two relays earned silver medals. Team USA has depth, it’s just young depth. Three of the nine member USA Team in South Korea are under 20 years old. Yes the NCAA system focuses on sprinting, and USA Swimming does very little to promote Open Water competition, but to call US open water swimming a disaster is just wrong. A disaster would have been the US not qualifying anyone for Tokyo in Open Water. Did that happen? NO. Team USA qualified two women and one man for Tokyo Open Water. Hardly… Read more »


The us should reconsider its selection process for open water worlds. Jordan is consistent top of the pack in international races, however the second swimmer has a shotty history. US nationals is not an indicator of how an athlete will perform at the more competitive international races. How many of these other countries use their nationals as a selection for this meet? US nationals this year did not have many international swimmers and that lack of competition clearly showed here.


Didn’t Wilimovsky win medals at basically every important competition in the the last 3 or 4 years except for this one? Some additional thoughts: – Maybe the relative “weakness” of american open water swimming (on the men’s side) has something to do with the relative “weakness” of american long-distance freestyle swimming (on the men’s side)? – I would say that for every non-american person it is kind of good to see that the US doesn’t dominate every swimming event, considering that they already dominate most pool events. This increases the diversity and that can only be good for the sport itself. I think some years ago many non-american fans kind of hoped that the US would become less dominant after… Read more »

Human Ambition

Don’t forget Haley


this comment is weak. it’s been a very fruitful weekend for US open water and the attitude there is spectacular…try to learn when to celebrate a victory even when it’s not a gold medal..have some patriotism even when we’re not at the very top but instead clearly on the up and up

About Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro has had a huge passion for swimming since his first dive in the pool, instantly becoming drawn to the sport. He was a breaststroker and IMer when competing, but still uses the sport as his go-to cardio. SwimSwam has become an outlet for him to continue showing his …

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