The 2021 FINA Marathon Swim World Series will begin this weekend in Doha, Qatar with 99 athletes from 27 countries. This will be the first FINA World Series stop since last year’s Doha event, which was held in February shortly before the early-March rollout of global quarantines began to hit.
“One year ago, also in this beautiful scenario, our last open water event was held,” said FINA president Julio Maglione. “It was just before the worldwide lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, our planet lived an unprecedented situation in time of peace and our athletes have strongly suffered with this situation.
“Since the beginning of this year, with global vaccination plans being implemented in most of the countries, we see some light in the end of the tunnel.
“Our competitions resumed in January, respecting strict sanitary and health protocols. This will be the case also in Doha.
“I am sure that our marathon swimmers have been waiting for this day with joy and enthusiasm. We are coming back to a sort of “normal life” and everyone is excited to compete again!”
With a general dearth of elite open water racing opportunities available, the field for this year’s race is loaded with Olympic medalists and Tokyo Olympic contenders.
Among the elites joining them are Olympic bronze medallist Marc-Antoine Olivier (FRA), 2019 FINA World Championships gold medallist (5km) Kristof Rasovszky (HUN), Olympic and World champion Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA), Brazil’s veteran Allan Do Carmo. Logan Fontaine and Axel Reymond (FRA), Jack Burnell (GBR), Matteo Furlan and Simone Ruffini (ITA), Evgenij Pop Acev (MKD) and Marcel Schouten (NED).
The women’s field is not quite as deep, but does include 5-time World Champion Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA), Rio 2016 silver medallist Rachele Bruni (ITA) and European champion Arianna Bridi (ITA), open water rising star Leonie Beck (GER), Samantha Arevalo (ECU), Aurelie Muller (FRA) and Anna Olasz (HUN).
The defending women’s Olympic champion, Sharon van Rouwendaal, will not be in attendance.
The races will be held on March 13, with the women starting at 9:00 AM and the men starting at 11:30 AM.
Unseaonably-warm weather, reaching a high of 96 degrees Fahrenheit (35 Celsius) on Friday, will give way to cooler temperatures on Saturday, where the highs will only be 79 degrees Fahrenheit (26C).
The swimming will take place in Doha Bay, specifically at the Doha Corniche.
Both events will see athletes kept in “controlled and protected zones throughout the event,” which will resemble what have become known as “bubbles” for sporting events. All participants will have to test negative for COVID-19 48 hours in advance of their travel date. Participants will be tested again upon arrival at the Doha airport.
With the return of racing comes the return of prize money for the event. Both points and money will be awarded for finishers at the event, with points going toward the larger season-long prizes.
Each meet of the series will award $30,000, which is the same amount available last season. There will be 9 meets in this year’s schedule, down from the 11 planned last year.
The season-ending prize money this year will be $350,000, which is also the same as last year in spite of the shorter season.
Event Money (One for male, One for Female):
- 800 points
- 700 points
- 600 points
- 550 points
- 500 points
- 450 points
- 400 points
- 350 points
- 300 points
- 250 points
Overall Prize Money (Each for Male and Female)
To be eligible, an athlete must have participated in at least 50% of the events in the year, including the final event.