Germany’s Wellbrock, Beck Sweep 10Ks as Cunha Returns From Injury at 1st World Cup Stop

Open Water Swimming World Cup 2023 – Meet 1

The first stop of the 2023 Open Water World featured a photo finish in the men’s 10km, a comeback victory in the women’s 10km, and the return of reigning Olympic champion Ana Marcela Cunha after three months out of the water recovering from shoulder surgery.

Germany’s Florian Wellbrock, the 25-year-old Olympic and world champion in the 10km, held off France’s Marc-Antoine Olivier by just a tenth of a second across from the nearly two-hour-long race.

Men’s 10km, Top 3:

  1. Florian Wellbrock (GER) – 1:52:53.2
  2. Marc-Antoine Olivier (FRA) – 1:52:53.3
  3. Logan Fontaine (FRA) – 1:52.55.0

Olivier sat back in 11th place at the 4,000-meter mark before making his move during the second half of the race.

“At the end, it was a lot of hard work,” Wellbrock said. “And in the end, hard work always pays off. I had a good sprint at the end with Marc-Antoine. He knows how to swim open water; he’s a clever guy. We had a really good race.”

Wellbrock continued his hot streak following a lifetime best in the 1500 free (14:34.89) at last month’s Berlin Open that marked a new German record and made him the fourth-fastest ever in the event.

Two new awards debuted at Monday’s World Cup stop in Somabay, Egypt. Third-place finisher Logan Fontaine of France earned the honor of sprint leader for leading after one lap and placing second after three laps. Fellow Frenchman Sacha Velly, 18, was the junior winner of the men’s 10km with a 10th-place finish in 1:54:08.4, just barely edging out 18-year-old German Linus Schwedler (1:54:08.9), who placed 11th.

On the women’s side, 25-year-old Leonie Beck made it a German sweep of the 10km events thanks to an incredible comeback.

Beck sat back in 18th place at the 2,000-meter mark and 12th place at the 4,000-meter mark. She broke into the top 10 at the 6,000-meter mark and ultimately surpassed the past two Olympic champions, Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha and Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands, en route to the unlikely victory.

“I was feeling Sharon’s hands on my feet the entire time,” Beck said. “I was trying to manage the speed and trying to stay in the front position. I could manage this well and then in the last 50m you’ve got to try everything that you can and go all out.”

Women’s 10km, Top 3:

  1. Leonie Beck (GER) – 2:04:04.6
  2. Sharon van Rouwendaal (NED) – 2:04:07.2
  3. Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA) – 2:04:11.0

It wasn’t the typical level of dominance we’re used to seeing from Cunha, but the winner of the last five 25km races at the World Championships thought the performance was promising as it was her first competition in six months. The 31-year-old had to fend off two-time world champion Aurelie Muller (2:04:12.1) and 26-year-old countrywoman Viviane Jungblut (2:04:12.6) for the final spot on the podium, edging the pair by just about a second.

“Of course, I really like competing in the World Cups, but the main focus is on the upcoming World Championships,” Cunha said. “It’s good to be on the podium, but it’s also good to continue focusing on what our main goals are, and that is on Fukuoka.”

“It’s been six months since my last competition, with a surgery in the middle,” she added. “I was 3 months without being in the water. Of course, I always come into a competition trying to win, to do my best. But to be on the podium here gives me a lot of confidence to continue pursuing and continue doing the things I need to do to accomplish what I want in Fukuoka.”

The three medalists at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka will automatically qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics next summer.

Van Rouwendaal won the sprint crown and Kazakhstan’s Diana Taszhanova took the junior title with a 13-place finish in 2:10:42.50.

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1 year ago

Correction. Typo up top.
He went 14:34 in the 1500.Not 15:34

1 year ago

No aussie in sight

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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