FINA Removes 25k Open Water Race From 2023 World Champs Program

by Ben Dornan 31

September 22nd, 2022 International, News

FINA has announced that the 25k open water race will not be contested at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka. The 25k was introduced in 1991 at the World Championships and was actually the only open water event contested in that year. That was the case in 1994 as well until the 5k was added to the program in 1998, followed by the 25k in 2001.

As reported by Alex Pussieldi, the statement from FINA didn’t mention the fate of the 25k race in any meets apart from the 2023 World Championships. The statement explained that lower entry numbers in the 25k at the last two World Championships (2019 and 2022) and operating costs are among the reasons for this decision.

The number of entrants in the women’s race dropped from 21 to 20 from 2017 to 2019 and then to 15 in 2022. On the men’s side, it went from 28 in 2017 to 24 in 2019 and then increased to 25 in 2022. The 25k traditionally has fewer entrants than the other open water events. In 2022, the number of entries in the 25k was roughly a third of the number of entrants in the women’s 5k and 10k events and roughly half for the men’s 5k and 10k events.

# of Entrants in Open Water Events at World Championships (2005 – 2022)

 Women’s 25k  Women’s 10k Women’s 5k Men’s 25k Men’s 10k Men’s 5k
2005 19 23 27 30 31 32
2007 13 42 28 20 53 39
2009 17 45 42 21 48 41
2011 21 56 42 29 67 53
2013 22 51 45 35 65 54
2015 21 55 38 32 70 49
2017 21 62 58 28 65 62
2019 20 64 54 24 74 61
2022 15 61 55 25 62 61

Includes entrants who did not finish (DNF), entrants who were disqualified (DSQ), and entrants who were over the time limit (OTL), but not entrants who did not start (DNS).

This decision will bring an end to Ana Marcela Cunha‘s reign as the 25k champion, which has lasted for 4 straight championships. She won gold in 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2022, and also won in 2011, making her a 5-time winner in this event. Cunha placed 5th in this event in 2013, the same year that she won 10k silver and 5k bronze.

All-time World Championships Medalist – Men’s 25k 

Year Gold Silver Bronze
1991 Perth Chad Hundeby – United States Sergio Chariandini – Italy David O’Brien – Australia
1994 Rome Greg Streppel – Canada David Bates – Australia Aleksey Akatyev – Russia
1998 Perth Aleksey Akatyev – Russia David Meca – Spain Gabriel Chaillou – Argentina
2001 Fukuoka Yuri Kudinov – Russia Stéphane Gomez – France Stéphane Lecat – France
2003 Barcelona Yuri Kudinov – Russia David Meca – Spain Petar Stoychev – Bulgaria
2005 Montreal David Meca – Spain Brendan Capell – Australia Petar Stoychev – Bulgaria
2007 Melbourne Yuri Kudinov – Russia Marco Formentini – Italy Mohamed Zanaty – Egypt
2009 Rome Valerio Cleri – Italy Trent Grimsey – Australia Vladimir Dyatchin – Russia
2011 Shanghai Petar Stoychev – Bulgaria Vladimir Dyatchin – Russia Csaba Gercsák – Hungary
2013 Barcelona Thomas Lurz – Germany Brian Ryckeman – Belgium Evgeny Drattsev – Russia
2015 Kazan Simone Ruffini – Italy Alex Meyer – United States Matteo Furlan – Italy
2017 Budapest Axel Reymond – France Matteo Furlan – Italy Evgeny Drattsev – Russia
2019 Gwangju Axel Reymond – France Kirill Belyaev – Russia Alessio Occhipinti – Italy
2022 Budapest Dario Verani – Italy Axel Reymond – France Péter Gálicz – Hungary

All-time World Championships Medalist – Women’s 25k 

Event Gold Silver Bronze
1991 Perth Shelley Taylor-Smith – Australia Martha Jahn – United States Karen Burton – United States
1994 Rome Melissa Cunningham – Australia Rita Kovács – Hungary Shelley Taylor-Smith – Australia
1998 Perth Tobie Smith – United States Peggy Büchse – Germany Edith van Dijk – Netherlands
2001 Fukuoka Viola Valli – Italy Edith van Dijk – Netherlands Angela Maurer – Germany
2003 Barcelona Edith van Dijk – Netherlands Britta Kamrau – Germany Angela Maurer – Germany
2005 Montreal Edith van Dijk – Netherlands Britta Kamrau – Germany Laura la Piana – Italy
2007 Melbourne Britta Kamrau – Germany Kalyn Keller – United States Ksenia Popova – Russia
2009 Rome Angela Maurer – Germany Anna Uvarova – Russia Federica Vitale – Italy
2011 Shanghai Ana Marcela Cunha Brazil Angela Maurer
 – Germany
Alice Franco – Italy
2013 Barcelona Martina Grimaldi – Italy Angela Maurer – Germany Eva Fabian – United States
2015 Kazan Ana Marcela Cunha Brazil Anna Olasz – Hungary Angela Maurer – Germany
2017 Budapest Ana Marcela Cunha Brazil Sharon van Rouwendaal – Netherlands Arianna Bridi – Italy
2019 Gwangju Ana Marcela Cunha Brazil Finnia Wunram – Germany Lara Grangeon – France
2022 Budapest Ana Marcela Cunha Brazil Lea Boy – Germany Sharon van Rouwendaal – Netherlands

All-time World Championships Medal Table – 25k

Gold Silver Bronze
Italy 5 3 6
Brazil 5 1
Russia 4 3 5
Germany 3 7 3
USA 2 3 2
Australia 2 3 1
Netherlands 2 2 2
France 2 2 2
Spain 1 2
Bulgaria 1 2
Canada 1
Belgium 1
Argentina 1
Egypt 1
Hungary 2 2

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Sherry Smit
9 days ago

When is the OW meet in October? USA is selecting the JR team and NAT team off of a “10K race at an unknown location in October”. Any word?

Swimmer1
Reply to  Sherry Smit
9 days ago

The Vegas venue was cancelled

Larisa
9 days ago

You get stupid decision like this when a bunch of corrupt old men sit in a room together and tell each other how amazing they are without listening to sports community

Meathead
9 days ago

I’d much rather see a 25 free than 25k

LucasG
9 days ago

Keep the 25k, but make it elimination. One swimmer every km goes ciao ciao

Admin
Reply to  LucasG
9 days ago

I would watch the s*** out of that event. It would be akin to cycling criterium racing. Little bursts of energy throughout the race.

Meathead
Reply to  LucasG
9 days ago

Would be great TV

Mr Piano
Reply to  LucasG
9 days ago

Michael Andrew’s time

SHRKB8
Reply to  Mr Piano
9 days ago

“MA’s time”…..for the first 50m maybe….ciao ciao after that 😉

justanopinion
9 days ago

This event simply isn’t supported well by our own sport. If every time we turn on the TV to hear swimming announcers around the world call the 1500 “the marathon” of swimming. No! The 1500 is NOT the marathon of swimming. The 25K is that race – and it’s not even decently covered or supported by our own sport at any level (local up to FINA).
Hard to argue there’s no audience for events like this, when Ironman regularly gets prime TV time for 10 hour+ races. Marathons get covered. Adventure Eco-Races are back and get a whole Amazon show for those (week long race!).
With the massive uptick in outdoor recreation interest, and things like Ultra-Marathons gaining… Read more »

Erica.Sully
9 days ago

Damn…. 4 years too late. I had to go to the ER when I got home from my 25k in 2019. Going on a 14 hr flight 10 hours after a race will do that to you.

Meathead
Reply to  Erica.Sully
9 days ago

🤢

Sad ow swimmer
9 days ago

I’m coming at this from an open water swimmers perspective, the 25k allowed many people who would have not previously had the chance to represent their country to experience worlds and that fact that that is being taken away just makes me sad. I get it didn’t pull in a lot of swimmers or views but the chance to compete is invaluable for those racing

MavAction
Reply to  Sad ow swimmer
9 days ago

More swimming socialism at its finest! As a sport, we all continue to insist that *someone else* fund our good times, without being willing to do any of the things to make those good times financially sustainable.

Mr Piano
Reply to  MavAction
9 days ago

Socialism is when swimming

Seth
9 days ago

Myself being an ultramarathoner, maybe Fina could implement a 50k (30 miles). Even as an exhibition event.
Swims like the English and Catalina channel are becoming massively more popular, why not offer an “extreme” distance event?

oxyswim
Reply to  Seth
9 days ago

They’re cutting this because it’s expensive to put on and they have low entry totals and your solution is to double the distance?