Van Rouwendaal Gives Dutch Their 1st Swimming Medal With Gold In 10 KM


  • August 15th-16th, 2016
  • 9AM Local Time (8AM U.S. East Coast Time)
  • 10Km Race
  • Fort Copacabana Beach
  • Results

After a disappointing showing in the pool that resulted in zero medals, Sharon Van Rouwendaal gave the Netherlands something to cheer about in the women’s 10 KM Marathon Swimming event, definitively claiming gold in a time of 1:56:32.1.

Van Rouwendaal actually began as a backstroker, winning bronze at the 2011 World Championships in the 200 back. She made the 2012 Olympics in both backstroke events too, but failed to final due to a nagging shoulder injury.

After failing to miss the 2013 World team due to the injury, Van Rouwendaal opted to compete in the 10 KM event at the 2014 European Championships in Berlin, upsetting defending Olympic champ Eva Risztov for the gold medal.

She competed in both the open water and pool events in Berlin, and continued to do so in Kazan at last year’s World Championships, claiming silver in the 400 free, the 10 KM and the team open water event.

At the 2016 European Open Water Championships this year Van Rouwendaal won bronze in the 5 KM event, and looked to be on her way to gold in dominant fashion in the 10 KM before a wrong turn late kept her off the podium in 4th.

She competed in the 400 free last week in Rio, placing 19th, but pulled out of the 800m heats to focus on this event. The focus paid off, as Van Rouwendaal swam a tactically perfect race ultimately winning by 17 seconds.

Van Rouwendaal pulled into the lead on the third of four laps, and took off from there to take the gold.

Rachele Bruni of Italy, Poliana Okimoto of Brazil, and Xin Xin of China appeared to have pulled away from the rest of the field battling for silver, but a valiant effort by France’s Aurelie Muller brought her back into the pack late in the race after initially getting dropped.

Xin dropped off, then Okimoto dropped off, and the Italian and French women battled towards the line. It was hard to tell from the angle what exactly happened, but there was definitely a heated battle going on between the two of them, described as a ‘tussle’ by the commentators.

Muller battled her way to touch just ahead of Bruni for silver, while Okimoto touched 4th and Xin a distant 5th after tying up late in the race.

Not long after the race concluded, it was announced that Muller had been disqualified for impeding Bruni, losing the silver medal. Bruni was bumped up to silver, and Okimoto claimed Brazil’s first swimming medal with bronze. Coming into the finish it looked like Muller climbed over the top of Bruni, which was likely what caused the DQ.

All three earn their first ever Olympic medals, as 2012 gold medalist Eva Risztov of Hungary finished back in 13th after leading early, and 2012 silver medalist Haley Anderson of the United States finished 5th. Anderson had a strong finish, but starting off the early part of the race in the back of the pack ultimately hurt her chances to challenge for a medal.

Okimoto was the only medalist to even compete in this event in 2012, and was unable to finish.

2008 silver medalist Keri-Anne Payne of Great Britain finished back in 7th.

Top 10 Finishers

4 23 NED
4 26 ITA
BRUNI Rachele
4 4 BRA
4 4 15 CHN 1:57:14.4
5 15 9 USA
6 8 21 GER
HAERLE Isabelle
7 6 7 GBR
PAYNE Keri-Anne
8 7 8 RUS
KRAPIVINA Anastasiia
9 12 17 ECU
AREVALO Samantha
10 1 24 BRA
CUNHA Ana Marcela


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7 years ago

Does anyone know what happened to the Dutch in the pool side of the meet? Since 2000 they have been a lock in the medals

Kirk Nelson
7 years ago

Interesting that Van Rouwendaal turned to open water swimming after her shoulder injury. It seems like the training volume required to swim a good OW 10K would be murder on the shoulders.

I’m always amazed at how fast these elite swimmers can complete a 10K. If you do the math they’re holding close to 1:10 per 100 meters for nearly two hours. Draft or no draft that’s movin’!

Lennart van Haaften
Reply to  Kirk Nelson
7 years ago

It’s very fast, but after Paltrinieri’s 1:01.13 per 100 m 5km in the L/C pool (no draft) nothing shocks me anymore.

7 years ago

Haven’t seen the race but let me guess, she was dq’ed so host nation would get on podium?

Stay Human
Reply to  European
7 years ago

I haven’t seen your real name or country, but let me guess, you’re butt hurt because you’re European and Okimoto and the host nation are not?

Hugs to you– you’ll be fine and so will Muller. And I’m glad to see that they’re enforcing the rules in OW swimming.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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