World Aquatics Moves Final Open Water World Cup Stop from Israel to Portugal

World Aquatics has moved the final leg of the 2023 Open Water Swimming World Cup series from Eilat, Israel to Funchal, Portugal amid the ongoing fighting in Israel. Funchal is located on the south coast of the island of Madeira, located about 600 miles off the coast of Morocco.

The average high air temperature in Funchal in December is 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 C), which is a little cooler than Eilat at that time of year. Water temperatures in Funchal that time of year are usually around 67 degrees Fahrenheit (20 C).

The move comes after several national federations, including the US, that planned to use the event to choose their teams for the World Championships began discussions for alternate qualifying. Other countries, including Australia, are scheduled to use the event for qualifying as well.

The competition will feature the Men’s and Women’s Individual 10km events on Saturday, December 2, followed by the Mixed 3x1500m Relay on Sunday, December 3.

Funchal and Portugal are experienced hosts of open water races, including another pivot in 2021 when Setubal, Portugal took over as the 2021 Olympic qualifying host.

While the ongoing war in Israel and Gaza has no definite end, it seems as though airlines, at least, are planning for the long haul. American Airlines, for example, has suspended all flights to and from Tel Aviv through December 4.

About Eilat

One local swim official in Israel observed that it is still early, and that Eilat is “one of the quietest places in Israel, even now.” Eilat is located on the Gulf of Aqaba at the far southern tip of Israel, roughly 175 miles from the Gaza border region that has seen the heaviest fighting so far.

Still, Eilat has been the target of several missile launches in the past, largely from ISIS and Al-Qaeda linked groups in the Sinai peninsula in Egypt. While most of these rockets were intercepted, in 2010, three rockets fell on the city of Eilat, though no injuries or damage was reported from any of them.

While this is the most intense fighting in the region in 50 years since at least a 1973 war that saw at least 10,000 deaths, recent battles in the area have lasted only a few days to a few weeks.

There have been no reported missiles or ground fighting in the area of Eilat over the last week.

The US government has reported that 11 Americans have died in Israel and Gaza so far, with more believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas. The US embassy in Israel is currently at a level 2 alert, recommending that US citizens “exercise increased caution,” but have not yet escalated to level 3 warnings to reconsider travel or level 4 warnings to not travel. Travel to Israel has become more difficult though. While the country’s main Ben Gurion International Airport remains open, many flights have been canceled or suspended, and all US carriers have temporarily suspended flights to Israel.

World Aquatics did not make a broader statement on the ongoing war, referring to the war as “recent occurrences in Israel.” World Aquatics president Husain Al-Musallam is a native of Kuwait, where the government has no diplomatic relations with Israel and has blamed the Israelis for the war and sided with Palestine in the decades-long conflict. Al-Musallam is not a government official and the statements of the Kuwaiti government do not seem to have impacted World Aquatics’ stance on Israel in the past, awarding the country several high-profile events, including the recent World Junior Swimming Championships.

In addition to serving as a selection meet for the World Championships, series-long awards and prize money are on the line. From World Aquatics:

As the culminating event of the 2023 season, World Aquatics will bestow the season leader awards in Funchal. These accolades encompass the overall men’s and women’s Open Water Swimming World Cup winners, as well as the newly introduced annual awards for the 2023 season: the World Cup Sprint Champion and the World Cup Junior Champion in both men’s and women’s categories.

In the women’s overall rankings, Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands holds the lead with 1750 points, closely trailed by Germany’s Leonie Beck with 1740 points. Caroline Laure Jouisse of France currently claims the third position in the women’s overall rankings with 1300 points.

Van Rouwendaal also sits in the top spot in the women’s sprint rankings with 209 points, followed by Germany’s Ginevra Taddeucci with 122 points, and France’s Aurelie Muller with 105 points.

In the contest for the overall junior women’s title, Spain’s Angela Martinez Guillen, Hungary’s Bettina Fabian, and Kazakhstan’s Diana Taszhanova are all deadlocked with 800 points.

In the men’s overall rankings, Hungary’s Kristof Rasovszky leads the pack with 1900 points, followed closely by Italy’s Marcello Guidi in second place with 1750 points, and Italy’s Mario Sanzullo with 1150 points.

Rasovszky also commands the men’s sprint rankings with 218 points, trailed by Guidi with 131 points and Hungary’s David Betlehem with 117 points.

In the race for the overall junior men’s title, Germany’s Linus Schwedler leads with 1400 points, followed by Hungary’s Honor Kovacs-Seres in second place with 1300 points. The Brazilian duo of Bernardo Gavioli and Matheus Melecchi share the third spot, each with 900 points.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

Read More »