The men’s 25k open water swim was one riddled with controversy, specifically surrounding the water temperature. FINA twice moved this race earlier in the day, resulting in a 6 AM start time, but after the water temperature creeped up all week, it was already 30.4 degrees before the start of the race.
This initial temperature was enough to scare of 6 competitors, including 2010 25k champ Alex Meyer, the lone American entry, and 5k champ Thomas Lurz of Germany. As the race wore on, another 10 competitors would earn “DNF” reults, or “Did Not Finish,” including 2009 World Champ Valerio Cleri of Italy.
Ultimately, Bulgaria’s Petar Stoychev took the gold medal, but unfortunately his success will be overshadowed in this race.
As the OmegaTiming live results ticked down the number of swimmers remaining on the course, there was a small sigh of relief as each competitor crossed the finish line many minutes after the leader. China’s Lidu Han crossed 21 minutes back. Then Argentina’s Gabriel Villagoiz came across 26 minutes back. Jingwei Weng of China finished as the 19th and final finisher, with the men’s course officially being cleared with one last “Did Not Finish” from Croatia’s Josip Soldo, nearly 40 minutes after the medalists crossed the finish. A disaster was averted in this case, but that’s certainly a die that I wouldn’t want to see rolled too often.
But Mr. Stoychev deserves his credit too, for regardless of the controversy, he is still the World Champion. The 34-year old is a veteran of open water swimming, and has won a total of four World Championship medals: all bronze. Now, Bulgaria’s most decorated aquatic star has earned his country’s first-ever World Championship in a FINA discipline in a time of 5:10:39.8. Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, this is still a very quick pace in the 25k. Stoychev announced before the race that this would be his last race, and that he was retiring, and even the World Championship couldn’t change his mind.
The silver medalist was Vladimir Dyatchin of Russia at roughly 36 seconds back, which makes this the first open water race of the meet that hasn’t resulted in an exciting finish. Dyatchin was the 2007 World Open Water Swimmer of the Year. In 2009, he took bronze in this race in Rome.
This year, the bronze medalist was Hungary Csaba Gercsak, who swims collegiately at Southern Illinois University (after beginning his career at Florida). He’s the brother of current gator Balazs Gercsak and Ohio State freshman Tamas Gercsak.
Full Results will be posted when they’re available in PDF form.