By Sharon Robb
Budapest, Hungary, July 16, 2017—Despite choppy waters in Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe, Olympic bronze medalist Marc-Antoine Olivier of France won the men’s five kilometer open water swimming race to take center stage at the 17th FINA World Championships.
Olivier won in 54:31.40, just .7 seconds ahead of Italy’s Mario Sanzullo (54:32.10).
It was a European sweep with Great Britain’s Timothy Shuttleworth taking the bronze medal, (54:42.10), 10.7 seconds behind the winning time.
“My goal was to win the gold medal after finishing third in last year’s Olympics in Rio,” Olivier said. “The first 3,000 meters weren’t perfect, but I changed tactics and managed to finish first.”
It was the first world championship medal for all three swimmers.
Top American finisher was David Heron placing tenth in 54:48.20, 16.80 minutes out of first. U.S. teammate Andrew Gemmell, among early leaders, faded to 17th in 54:59.30, 27.90 minutes out of first.
A field of 62 swimmers competed in the first of seven open water events. The women’s 5K is July 19th.
In the women’s 10K event, Frenchwoman and defending champion Aurelie Muller won the gold medal in 2:00:13.70, 3.30 ahead of Ecuador’s Samantha Arevalo in 2:00:17.00.
There was a tie for the bronze medal in 2:00:17.20 between Italy’s Arianna Bridi and Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha, who has trained and competed in South Florida in past years.
Top American finisher was Haley Anderson placing sixth in 2:00:25.90, 12.20 out of first. Teammate Ashley Twichell was tenth in 2:00.41.30, 27.60 off first.
FLORIDA GOLD COAST NEWS
St. Andrew’s Swimming aquatics director and head coach Sid Cassidy was honored by FINA for his contribution in open water swimming. Cassidy received the Gold Pin from FINA for his work in international open water swimming.
Four-time champion U.S. women’s team opened worlds with a 24-2 rout of South Africa. Jamie Neushul scored a game-high six goals. Italy defeated Canada, 10-4, China beat Brazil, 11-4, and Spain topped New Zealand, 10-2.
Four University of Miami divers are competing at the FINA World Championships.
Redshirt sophomore David Dinsmore, alum and 2016 Olympic silver medalist Sam Dorman and senior Briadam Herrera are representing the U.S. Junior diver Marcela Maric is competing for her native Croatia.
Longtime USA Diving and UM coach Randy Ableman is coaching the divers.
On Saturday, Olympic silver medalists Michael Hixon and Dorman placed sixth in the 3-meter synchro event with 409.05 points. In prelims, they qualified third with 410.10. On Sunday, Hixon finished fifth in the 1-meter springboard finals with 439.15. China’s Peng Jianfeng won gold with 448.40. Aussie Maddison Keeney won the women’s 1-meter title and Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilia Zakharov won the men’s 3-meter synchro title.
Former local diver Kassidy Cook, a 2016 Olympian, was scheduled to compete in 3-meter synchro but withdrew from worlds because of a shoulder injury.
Chinese teenagers Ren Qian and Lian Junjie won the gold medal in the mixed 10-meter platform. The pair of 16-year-olds won with 352.98 in the first final of the worlds. Ren is the 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the women’s 10-meter platform event.
China also won the women’s 10-meter platform synchro with Ren and Si Yajie with 352.56 points.
Russia’s Svetlana Kolesnichenko, 23, won the first gold medal of the World Championships synchronized swimming competition. She finished the solo competition with 95.2035 points performing to the theme Solveig song. She made history by winning Russia’s 50th medal in the sport’s history at worlds.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com