Ana Marcela Cunha Wins First International Open Water Race Since Shoulder Surgery in 2022

by Riley Overend 2

June 03rd, 2024 News, Open Water


Reigning Olympic champion Ana Marcela Cunha won her first international open water race since undergoing should surgery in late 2022, beating Brazilian teammate Viviane Jungblut (2:02:02.00) and 2023 world champion Leonie Beck (2:02:02.20) in the 10-kilometer at last week’s World Cup stop in Golfo Aranci, Italy.

The victory is a great sign for the 32-year-old Cunha ahead of next month’s Paris Olympics, where she’s aiming to become the first swimmer to repeat as Olympic champion in the 10km contest taking place (hopefully) in the Seine River. Since her triumph in Tokyo a few years ago, she has placed 3rd in the event at the 2022 World Championships, 5th at 2023 Worlds, and tied for 4th at this year’s Worlds in February.

Defending world champion Sharon Van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands built a commanding lead on the final lap, but Cunha and Beck began to rally with around 700 meters remaining. It was an all-out sprint to the finish line, with just three tenths of a second separating Jungblut, Beck, and Van Rouwendaal (2:02:02.30) in the battle for 2nd place.

Rising Indiana senior Mariah Denigan placed 10th (2:02:07.10) behind France’s Caroline Jouisse (2:02:04.70), Hungary’s Bettina Fabian (2:02:04.80), Japan’s Airi Ebina (2:02:04.90), Italy’s Ginevra Taddeucci (2:02:05.00), and Portugal’s Angelica Andre (2:02:05.40). Denigan, a 21-year-old American, qualified for the Paris Olympics with a 6th-place finish at February’s World Championships.

Beck now leads the rankings after two World Cup stops after winning the first leg in Soma Bay back in March.

On the men’s side, France secured a 1-2 finish behind strong performances by Marc-Antoine Olivier (1:50:03.00) and Logan Fontaine (1:50:04.40). Less than half a second separated Fontaine and the Hungarian duo of Kristof Rasovszky (1:50:04.50) and David Betlehem (1:50:04.80).

Olivier bounced back with a win in Golfo Aranci after missing the podium with a 4th-place effort at the first World Cup stop in March in Soma Bay, Egypt. The 27-year-old leads the overall World Cup rankings through two stops ahead of Betlehem, who placed 5th in Soma Bay.

The next Open Water World Cup stop isn’t until after the Paris Olympics, from Oct. 12-13 in Setubal, Portugal.

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1 month ago

Cool chart!

1 month ago

The second half of the race for Fontaine was nuts, look at how far back in the pack he was sitting at the halfway mark and where he finished overall. The French duo at home will be hard to beat, both in with a genuine chance to win it.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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