The Italian duo of Simone Ruffini and Rachele Bruni claimed the gold medals at FINA/HOSA Marathon Swimming World Cup in Hong Kong today.

With today’s wins, both swimmers have also claimed the title of 2016 World Cup Champion.

Bruni’s title complements an Olympic Silver medal claimed in Rio and caps a dominant World Cup season where she finished first in three of the seven events.

Ruffini enjoyed a strong start and an equally strong finish to the MSWC season, and overcame series leader, Germany’s Andreas Waschburger, to claim the title.

Leading the standings going into today’s event, Waschburger needed a top-four finish to claim gold. He placed sixth.

In the moderate conditions in the 27-degree (C) waters of the South China Sea off Hong Kong Island, Ruffini’s 2:10:15.8 swim was a combination of strategy and power.

“I swam well. I found in the second lap I was feeling good in the water. So in the last 1km I swam very easy and quite fast,” he said. “With my coach I had worked out [a strategy] to go very easy for the first 9km and the last to push my body very hard and go over the top.”

In a typically dynamic finish to today’s event, Ruffini overcame a competitive leading pack of top distance swimmers. The minor placings changed frequently in the closing stages of the race and just 0.3 second separated the field from second to fifth at the final touch.

Charles “Chip” Peterson (USA) led the men’s race heading into the last lap. He took silver with a time of 2:10:29.1.

“My strategy was to maintain energy for a while and then find a place to push it,” he said.

“I took the lead going into the last lap which may have been a little too early on the push, but I still had the energy to move up from fifth or sixth to second, so that was pleasing.”

The women’s race saw a tighter finish for the podium places, with second-placed Arianna Bridi (ITA) 2:17:28.2 touching out Poliana Okimoto (BRA).

Okimoto was pleased with the course. A repeat visitor to Hong Kong, she will have an abbreviated recovery ahead of the 1.5-km Hong Kong Cross-Harbour Race. “I’m very happy with my year. I’ve won an Olympic medal and claimed third place today,” she said.

For two Italian teammates, Bruni and Bridi, the one-two double was a great achievement. “We work together everyday during the week. But today we worked for ourselves,” said Bridi. “I’m very happy today with my result. I’m not the strongest swimmer in the field so this is a good start for the season”

Bruni was justifiably proud of her swim and just as with her male counterpart, is looking forward to a break from training ahead of preparation for next season.

10km MSWC Hong Kong Medallists in Hong Kong

Simone RUFFINI (ITA) 2:10:15.8
Charles PETERSON (USA) 2:10:29.1
Rob MUFFELS (GER) 2:10:29.3

Rachele BRUNI (ITA) 2:17:12.7
Arianna BRIDI (ITA) 2:17:28.2
Poliana OKIMOTO (BRA) 2:17:28.2