Germany’s Golden Start to Open Water Continues Into Day Two with Wellbrock Win

Germany’s Florian Wellbrock, the reigning Olympic Marathon 10km champion was the quickest of the 63 men that entered in the Men’s 5km open water race.  Wellbrock covered the 5km distance in 52.48.8 and added a fourth medal from the 19th FINA World Championships to his trophy case. 

Less than 24 hours after Wellbrock anchored his nation’s Mixed 4x1500m Team Relay to gold at Lupa Baech, the 24-year-old Germany again stood alone atop the medals podium for his first individual gold medal of the Budapest 2022 edition of the FINA World Championships. 

The Bremen native’s campaign has also included a silver in the 800m and a bronze in the 1500m pool events so far at this championship.  With the two gold medals at Lupa Beach, Germany has now recorded 15 world championship golds in its history and swelled the total number of medals to 42 in open water swimming events.

The determination of Italian challenger Gregorio Paltinieri was admirable as he matched the German ace through the race until the final push for the home on the third-of-three 1.67km race laps. 

Paltrinieri, a multi-time Olympic and FINA World Champion, put himself in position for another title as the German and Italian put open water between themselves and the rest of the field before finishing 3.9 seconds after Wellbrock’s arrival.

With Paltrinieri’s performance these past two days, Italy has won a medal in 14 of the 15 FINA World Championships that had open water races. Perhaps surprisingly, the lone exception came the 2009 FINA World Championships that were hosted in Rome – Paltrinieri’s hometown.  

Another familiar face, Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk, completed the medals podium. After pushing a hard opening pace that left the field swimming in a mostly strung-out, single-file position not long after the start, Romanchuk finished the race 25 seconds behind his new German training partner but free of the other medal hopefuls.

Friendly Rivals Lend a Helping Hand

Wellbrock invited Romanchuk to join his training group in March shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Romanchuk finished third in the 800m freestyle in the pool in Budapest and third in the 800m at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.  Romanchuk earned the first world championship medal in Ukraine’s history.

Host Nation Show Strong With Two Top-10s  

Hungary enjoyed two top 10 finishes, with David Betlehem finishing seventh ( +1:33.2) and yesterday’s silver-medal winning anchor Kristof Rasovszky finishing ninth (+1:39.5).

52 athletes completed the 5km race.  Nine athletes were Over the Limit (OTL) and 2 swimmers exited the course.

Hot Hungarian Summer Days are Here

Taken two hours before the race, the official water temperature was 26.7, slightly cooler than the day before.  A mild breeze allowed the national flags to briefly unfurl at the start of the race; the air temperature was 24 degrees Celsius at the start of the race and rose to nearly 30 at the time of the finish.


Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil takes her second consecutive 5km world title

The traditions for Ana Marcel Cunha at the FINA World Championships open water events go something like this: add vibrant colours to her hair, win the race, and then do pull-ups on the Omega touchpad suspended above the finish line.

The tradition continues: For the opening individual event of the 19th FINA World Championships – the Women’s 5km – the Brazilians mix of endurance and pure finishing power proved once again to be the winning combination, stopping the clock at 57:52.9 ahead of rest of the 50-racer field. 

Cunha started her international campaign at the 2010 FINA World Championships by earning a bronze medal in Roberval, Canada. Coming in as the defending open water 5km champion,  

Cunha has now earned 13 FINA World Championships medals in open water events, 7 of them gold. 

Aurelie Muller of France finished in second place, less than one second behind Cunha.  The French swimmer swam in the inaugural Olympic Marathon 10km at the 2008 Beijing Olympics finishing in 21st place. 

Evidence of their longevity and commitment to open water swimming, both Cunha and Muller competed in the inaugural Olympic Marathon 10km at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.  Cunha finished in fifth and Muller in twenty-first. 

Claiming her first individual FINA World Championships medal,  bronze was Giulia Gabbriellschi of Italy. This, along with yesterday’s bronze in the Mixed 4x1500m Team Relay brings Gabbriellschi’s career world title total to three medals.

How The Race Unfolded

Leading the sprint in the first 400m was Moesha Johnson (AUS) who passed the mark in 5:45.3 followed closely by Sharon Van Rouwendaal (NED).  Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA) was in 9th position about 4 seconds behind the Australian leader.  Little had changed by the 800m mark, Johnson’s intermediate time was 9:47.3.  The Australian was trailed by 6 swimmers who were within 10 seconds of her after the first 1500m.

Just before halfway, Van Rouwendaal (NED) moved to the front but Australia’s Johnson wasn’t leaving the lead pack. Brazil’s Cunha was three seconds behind the Dutch distance taliswoman.  France’s ever-experienced Muller shot to the head of the pack just before 3.2km. Swimming in her shadow was Cunha,  just a few tenths off the pace.  Australia’s Johnson dropped back into fourth between the Italian duo of Ginevra Taddeucci and just behind Giulia Gabbrielleschi.

With 900m to go, Taddeucci took over the controls and moved two seconds ahead of Cunha.  Lurking just behind the Brazilian was Muller and Maria De Valdes of Spain. 

Cunha’s strategy was to move into the lead before the final orange buoy and hold onto the advantage through to the finish.

The pack of seven elite swimmers broke into two groups;  Cunha was closely followed by Muller and Gabbrielleschi in the breakaway group of three.  The Brazilian’s strategy worked again, as the three eventual medallists all entered the final sprint lane in the same position of their finish.

How the Hungarians Fared

Hungary was paced by Reka Rohacs in finished 15th, followed by Vivien Balogh in 24th.

The Women’s Field

A total of 51 athletes completed the Women's 5km. Three swimmers were Over the Limit (OTL). The water temperature taken two hours before the race was 26.7, slightly cooler than the day before.  A mild breeze allowed the national flags to briefly unfurl at the start of the race; the air temperature was 30 at the start of the race.