Chaos in Lake Lupa as Europe Sweeps Opening Open Water Mixed Relay Medals

2022 FINA World Aquatics Championships – Open Water Swimming

The first open water race of the 2022 World Championships was chaos at FINA’s new preferred open water venue.

The former home of open water in Budapest at Baloton has been eschewed for the more convenient Lake Lupa – an artificial body of water made out of an old quarry.

The 4×1500 meter mixed relay, a 6k in total, is a new event at the World Championships, and so far, it has made a big impression.

Germany’s Florian Wellbrock broke away from the pack late in the final leg of the race to give his team the inaugural gold medal in the event. The German team included Lea BoyOliver KlemetLeonie Beck, and Wellbrock on the anchor. Wellbrock came straight out of the pool, where he won a silver medal in the 800 free and a bronze medal in the 1500 free last week.

The Germans won by about 2.5 seconds ahead of a literal photo finish for 2nd place. Hungary and Italy recorded matching winning times of 1:04:43.0. After review, it was decided that Hungarian anchor Kristof Rasovsky touched the pad just before Italian anchor Gregorio Paltrinieri to take the gold.

The Hungarian relay was made up of Reka RohacsAnna OlaszDavid Bethlehem, and Rasovzsky. Italy’s relay included Ginerva TaddeucciGiulia GabbrielleschiDomenico Acerenza, and Paltrinieri on the anchor.

Almost every country finished their relay with a man (though there were a few exceptions, including South Africa), but there doesn’t seem to be settled strategy here yet like there is in the pool. Germany swam F-M-F-M, Hungary swam F-F-M-M, and Italy swam F-F-M-M.

Where that gets interesting is that there is a much more substantial ebb-and-flow to the race, which means there aren’t always well-defined packs, and there can be confusion.

To that end, four relay teams were disqualified post-race for going off course: South Africa, Korea, Spain, and Greece.

A group of first-leg swimmers from South Africa, Korea, and Greece took a bad angle and missed the third buoy on the course. Spain’s leadoff Maria De Valdes followed that group, rather than the other group, missing the buoy.

On the day before the competition started, a storm blew through Budapest, which cut-short teams’ final race course preparations. Spanish open water head coach Sergi Garcia said that “it is not an excuse, but what happened yesterday did not play in our favor.”

France placed 2nd in the event, followed by Brazil, Australia, the United States, and China rounding out the top 8.

Medals Table

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  Germany 1 0 0 1
2  Hungary 0 1 0 1
3  Italy 0 0 1 1
Totals (3 nations) 1 1 1 3

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11 months ago

why not 2 silvers?

Reply to  NB1
11 months ago

Because it wasn’t a dead heat. Photo finish pretty clear imo.

Gen D
11 months ago

Paltrinieri and Wellbrock were literally on the 1500 podium like yesterday lol.

Reply to  Gen D
11 months ago

So impressed when swimmers hold a taper through a long meet, do well, then blow it up in a lake right after. After a championship meet I have a hard enough time standing in line at In-N-Out to order multiple cheese burgers.

11 months ago

How many different versions of an open water team event has there been? I feel like there’s a new style every champs 😅

gone swimmin’
11 months ago

was bella sims always on the relay lineup for usa?

Sherry Smit
Reply to  gone swimmin’
11 months ago

Beast. Goes from swimming a 200 sprint to an open water race, just wow.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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