It was the experience and speed of the German team that was too much for the rest of the world in today’s 5K open water swimming team event. Thomas Lurz, Christian Reichert and Isabelle Haerle worked in concert to pull of the win in a time of 52:54.9. Greece was second in 54:03.3 and Brazil took the bronze in 54:03.5. Team USA was 6th with a time of 54:44.7.
In this relatively new event in the open water schedule, a team of three swimmers (of which at least one must be of each gender), and swum in a time-trial format. That is to say, athletes are sent off from the starting line at 60 second intervals, and left to use each other as a pace and draft rather than the pack around them. The final time for each team is based on when the third member crosses the finish line.
The lack of a whole lot of battling for position sees times typically come in much faster than the individual women’s races, though a bit slower than men’s races as they stay back to allow the women to draft.
For Lurz, of the champion German team, that was his 6th gold medal, and 12th overall medal, at the FINA World Aquatics Championships in open water, to go with two Olympic medals and 5 more titles from the “World Open Water Championships.” He, Reichert, and Haerle are all true veterans, taking on huge swaths of the FINA Open Water circuit.
The Greeks in 2nd were led by Spyridon Gianniotis, who won the men’s 10 kilometer races, and was joined by Antonios Fokaidis. This was pure domination by the Germans, though, as they took victory by more than a minute.
The battle for that silver was much tigher, as Brazil took third just two-tenths of a second slower with Allan do Carmo, Samuel de Bona, and Poliana Okimoto. The Brazilians’ advantage is that they seemed to have the best open water woman in this field, Okimoto, on their team,w hich allowed their two men to push things a little more.
Australia was 4th, Italy was 5th, and the United States placed 6th with the group of Andrew Gemmell, Sean Ryan, and Haley Anderson.
The top-finishing team to use two women was Hungary, with the team of Mark Papp, Eva Risztov, and Anna Olasz completing the race in 56:09.4. The challenge of having two women instead of two men is that the men can better share lead-duties, allowing their female teammate to spend more time drafting.