Two big stories have already emerged on the opening day of the 2014 European Aquatics Championships in Berlin, Germany.
The championship began Wednesday with the premier women’s open water event, the 10km race in the Regattastrecke Grunau, with two big stories. One of those big stories was a matter of a surprising finish at the top of the leader board, and the other surrounded and athlete who didn’t finish at all.
The Upset Victory In the Women’s 10Km
Dutch swimmer Sharon Van Rouwendaal is a three-time European Championship medalist in the pool and at the 2011 World Championships won the bronze medal in the 200 backstroke. In her open water major premier on Wednesday, though, Van Rouwendaal won her first ever European title, and it came in the open water. She swam the four-lap course in 1:56:06.9 to beat the defending Olympic Champion, and open water swimming legend, Eva Risztov from Hungary by just over a second.
The signs were present that the 20-year old van Rouwendaal was shifting her focus away from the backstrokes, as she hasn’t swum the 200 meter distance at all in 2014, and has only a handful of mediocre results in the 100.
In the meantime, she put up lifetime bests in the 400, 800, and 1500 freestyles, and similarly looked very good in the short course versions of those races in December at the European Short Course Championships. There was little, if any, indication that she would be heading into the lake, however, to contend for those medals.
Van Rouwendaal rarely lead the race, wisely content to mirror the veteran Risztov’s strategy and hang behind the leader through the first 7.5 kilometers. Italian Aurora Ponsele’ took the task of pushing the pace throughout.
In this particular course, the strategy of patience paid off. With Berlin not being a common stop even on the very active European open water circuit, few of the competitors had much familiarity with this course. Even the home field advantage played little part – the impressive German open water team had nobody finish higher than 13th – Angela Maurer, who was four minutes behind the lead pack.
Full women’s 10km results here.
There were two swimmers who didn’t finish the women’s 10 kilometer course, both of whom were Polish, and one of whom had to be rescued from the lake. Natalie Charlos completed three laps and was in the lead pack headed into the 4th.
However, according to the Associated Press, spectators and officials noticed that Charlos had ceased moving in the water, and a lifeguard was dispatched to pull her ashore unconscious. The swimmer, who lives and trains in Germany, was “recovering well” after overexerting herself, according to team doctor Alexander Beck.
Men’s 5KM Race Finishes in the Fogg
In the second race, swum later in the day at 1:30, British swimmer Daniel Fogg won the men’s 5km race in what in his words became a “time trial” by the finish. He sat with the pack at the halfway mark behind German star Thomas Lurz, but in the second lap pulled well clear of the field to win by 20 seconds, with a time of 53:41.4.
Fogg at 26 years old is probably on the back-side of his pool career, evidenced by a disappointing result in the 1500 at the Commonwealth Games, but the 5th-place finisher in the 10k from the 2012 Olympics is just entering his prime as an open water swimmer.
Rob Muffels from Germany was 2nd in 54:01.8, and his country mate Lurz was 3rd in 54:02.6.
Both Pal Joensen and Marc-Antoine Olivier were disqualified. Joensen is another pool star making his major open water debut.
Full men’s 5km results here.