The last two World Aquatics Champions are separated by ten points with one final stop of the World Aquatics Open Water Swimming World Cup this weekend in Funchal, Portugal.
After three stops of the World Aquatics Open Water Swimming World Cup completed back in the spring, the last two World champions in the women’s 10K - Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands and Leonie Beck of Germany, are separated by just ten points.
Beck took two wins to start off the summer season in Egypt and Italy, before falling to 17th on stop three in Setubal, Portugal as that race was won by France’s Caroline Jouisse.
Van Rouwendaal has yet to win a race this season, finishing second in Setubal and in Egypt, and was eighth in Italy, yet has a chance to take the overall crown. Van Rouwendaal’s consistency in racing has her leading the tallyboard with 1750 points to Beck’s 1740.
The race on Saturday morning should come down to those two as Beck won the World title back in July to cap off her strong summer as well as solidify her golden ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics. Van Rouwendaal, the 2022 World champ and 2016 Olympic champ, was fourth at the World Championships in a thrilling photo finish.
Beck and Van Rouwendaal have had their battles, as they won gold and silver in the 5K at the World Championships as well, and they will close out this calendar year with one more 10K before their focus shifts to the Olympic year and the World Championships in Doha in February.
If anyone can take either of these titans down, look to either Australia’s Chelsea Gubecka or USA’s Katie Grimes, who shared the podium with Beck at the World Championships to secure qualification for Paris. This will be Gubecka’s first and last race on the tour as Grimes only competed once on the tour back in Italy.
France’s Caroline Jouisse and Italy’s Ginevra Taddeucci, who sit third and fourth in the overall standings behind Beck and van Rouwendaal, could also factor into the top three in the race this weekend.
On the men’s side, World and Olympic champion Florian Wellbrock is the headlining act as he will do battle with the overall leader Kristof Rasovszky out of Hungary. Rasovszky won the Italian stop of the World Cup tour, and leads the overall standings with 1900 ahead of Italy’s Marcello Guidi with 1750.
Realistically, it should come down to Rasovszky and Guidi for the overall crown, but Wellbrock will be the heavy favorite this weekend despite only competing in the first stop in Egypt. It seems every time Wellbrock races a 10K, he comes out on top thanks to his ability to combine his endurance and speed. Wellbrock will be joined by teammate Oliver Klemet who won bronze at the World Championships behind Wellbrock.
Rasovszky was the silver medalist in Fukuoka this year as he punched his ticket to the Olympics in Paris and will definitely have a shot to take down Wellbrock if he is on form.
The race this weekend will also feature the Italian duo of Domenico Acerenza and Gregorio Paltrinieri, who were in the lead pack at the World Championships but finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Those two however went on to lead the Italian team to gold in the mixed relay four days later.
The men’s race will be the first to start at 9 a.m. local time with the women’s race to follow at 12:30 p.m. and can be viewed on the World Aquatics YouTube channel.