2018 FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series
The newly-rebranded FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series, formerly known as the FINA Open Water Grand Prix, kicked off this weekend in Cordoba Santa Fe, Argentina with a pair of home-nation champions. Cecilia Biagioli won the women’s race in 7h33m47s70, while her countrymate Guillermo Bertola won the men’s race in 7h32m18s09.
The 57-km (35.4 miles) race took competitors from approximately the town of Santa Fe to the town of Coronda, primarily down the Coronda river.
Biagioli is a 4-time Argentinian Olympian who started her career mostly as a middle-distance and distance freestyler in the pool, but of late has shifted more toward the open water (though she didn’t qualify to race the 10k in Rio). She’s still relatively new to these ultra-distance races though – she didn’t participate in the series last year. She beat out the defending Santa Fe and series champion Barbara Pozzobon, who took 2nd about 9 minutes behind Biagioli. The changes to the series haven’t so far netted an increase in participation. There was 1 fewer participant (11) in the women’s race than last year, and 2 fewer finishers. What’s more, last year there were 10 international participants in Argentina, while this year there were only 5 (3 Italians and 2 Russians).
On the other hand, the times were much faster – all 10 finishers this year completed the race in a faster time than last year’s winner.
In the men’s event, Bertola is another new face – in spite of tying for last year’s overall series win, he didn’t actually participate in the 1-out-of-4 stops that took place in his home country. He won the race by about 2 minutes over Italy’s Edoardo Stochino in a 15-swimmer, 12-finisher race. The man with whom he tied in last year’s series, Evgenij Popacev of Macedonia, was 4th (2:18 back), while last year’s Santa Fe Coronda winner Balaudo Aquiles was just 5th – approximately 15 minutes back of the winner.
US$ 10,000 in prize money was available at the race, with winners of each race taking $1,500, down to $50 for the 8th-place finishers.
The next stop of the series (and only other announced stop for 2018) will be in Lac St. Jean, Canada on July 28th.