Germany’s Leonie Beck showed off her stellar open water racing skills in Golfo Aranci, going from 58th place at the end of lap 1 of 6 to first by the end of lap five to hold the lead all the way to 10,000 meters as she won her second straight World Series race with a 1:56:17.4. Beck won ahead of Italy’s Ginevra Taddeucci (1:56:18.6) and Giulia Gabbrielleschi (1:56:20.5), who paced the lead pack on the front half.

Image Source: Andrea Masini/

France’s Aurelie Muller, who was one of the pre-race favourites, had set the pace on the front half as the 32-year-old led the Italians in their home waters. The pace was quick early on due to the water temperature being around 17 degrees Celsius as the finishing time was eight minutes quicker than it was in Somabay two weeks ago.

Rain fell on the swimmers and the coaches with air temperatures only a few degrees warmer than the water. Most notably, Olympic champion Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil scratched out of the race due to the unfavourable conditions as she Brazilian continues her comeback from off-season surgery, leaving the race without perhaps the greatest open water swimmer of all time.

However, the quick pace got the best of the leaders as the pace progressed. There was little separation amongst the leaders through the first four laps, with Muller leading the race at the fourth checkpoint ahead of France’s Caroline Jouisse and Taddeucci with a group of about 30 swimmers in a pack that spanned about 13 seconds.

On lap five, the Germans Beck and Lea Boy, who laid back on the first three laps, made their moves on laps four and five to get into the front pack. Beck breached the front pack an hour and 20 minutes into the race and took the lead at an hour and 32 minutes, and all of a sudden it was her race to lose. The lead pack started to dissipate from 30 swimmers to about 20 on the final checkpoint heading into the sixth lap of six.

Image Source: Andrea Masini/

Beck stayed steady on her stroke on the final lap holding Taddeucci in her sights as the Italian was hoping to win in her home nation. Taddeucci was at Beck’s feet on the final lap, with Jouisse and Gabbrielleschi in tow. Muller started to fall back on the final lap as the early pace caught up to her, while Germany’s Boy emerged very late in the race as a contender, breaching the top four about an hour and 50 minutes in.

As Beck controlled the race on the final lap, she got a very late last-second push from the likes of Taddeucci, who tried to create her own path on the outside to the finish line, but it was not enough as Beck won by 1.2 seconds after nearly two hours of racing. Taddeucci was second while Gabbrielleschi was third in a photo finish over Boy (1:56:20.6).

Image Source: Andrea Masini/

Jouisse was fifth after falling off the pace on lap six, finishing at 1:56:26.5, while American Mariah Denigan (1:56:31.2) was sixth and Muller (1:56:32.0) was seventh.

The reigning women's 10km World Aquatics champion Sharon van Rouwendaal was eighth at 1:56:32.7 after leading the race through the first and third laps, taking the sprint points as she leads the standings over Muller through the first two races.

Image Source: Happy athlete with a happy coach. Leonie with Fabrizio post race. (Andrea Masini/

The junior champion was American Katie Grimes, who was 17th overall at 1:57:18.6, swimming in her first World Cup in 2023.

The water temperatures were reported to be 17 degrees Celsius during the race as the frigid conditions caused the men to all be wearing wet suits in the waters of Golfo Aranci. The overcast weather matched the water temperature, and the cold conditions caused 12 women to exit the race early, while pre-race favourite Ana Marcela Cunha scratched the race and did not start.

Coming Up Next | Sunday is for the Relay, Setubal Awaits

The 2023 Open Water World Series will continue tomorrow, May 21, with the Mixed 4x1500m Relay starting at 9:00 a.m. local time.

The next stop of the Open Water Swimming World Cup will head to the familiar waters of Setubal, Portugal, with races taking place May 27-28.