The beginning of the men’s 10km race saw a steady pace, with David Betlehem from Hungary leading the pack in Somabay, Egypt. At the end of the first lap, Marc-Antoine Olivier of France took the lead, before Betlehem regained top spot.

Image Source: Islam Amr Laithy/Somabay

The second lap copied the first, with the difference that Domenico Acerenza of Italy was first at the timing point, Bethlehem second. The field was all together, with a difference of only 10 seconds between the first and the 19th.

Race conditions were choppy with wind affecting the course, the water temperature was reported to be 21 degrees Celsius and the air temperature was 19 degrees Celsius.  Commenting on the conditions, Acerenza said: “The water was very choppy and the wind was very hard, but we are open water swimmers, we know how to handle this condition very well.”

Betlehem still had enough in the tank to control the race. At the start of the fourth lap the young Junior World Champion from Hungary took full control, sprinting down the long straight and breaking up the field. By the end of lap four, a gap had opened up and the first eight swimmers were separated from the field, at the timing point Jules Wallart on the eight place was the last one who was less than 10 seconds behind the leader. 

Image Source: Islam Amr Laithy/Somabay

Betlehem started the last lap in front, but Team Italy was dominating the leading pack – seven out of 11 swimmers were Italian. The last 200m was a straight sprint to the finish in a wind sheltered harbor, with smaller waves on the last 100m. Five in a line, Betlehem, the competitors from Italy, and Marc-Antoine Olivier. After that Acerenza was 2-3 seconds ahead of the others with 100m to go, and in the last 50 meters he had a body and a half advantage over Gergorio Paltrinieri and Dario Verani to take the win.

Right after Acerenza came out from the water he went to his coach, Fabrizio Antonelli, who was very satisfied with his athletes’ performance. The winner of men’s 10km said: “Every race is important.”  He added about the competition that: “David Betlehem was the leader of the pack during this race. He is young but he is so strong, good swimmer, who does his job very well, I’m sure he will be stronger and stronger by the time (the Olympic Games Paris 2024).”

Gregorio Paltrinieri, back on the podium, said : 

“It’s a beautiful location, this is my first time here, I’m glad to be here, especially after a race like this. I’m extremely happy that I’m back on the podium, because last year I could not manage to get a medal during the World Cup series.”
By Gregorio Paltrinieri

Commenting on the race, Paltrinieri said: “I tried something new; I didn't want to push from the beginning. I stayed behind everyone, just chilling, trying to save some energy as long as possible. In the last two laps I started to close the gap and on the last lap I got in front of the lead group. The finish was a bit difficult, we were stuck, I couldn't move much, but it was okay!”

Verani shared that he loves the kind of conditions in Somabay, but it was a very tough race: “I enjoyed this 10km, the first part of the race was very hard the waves were bigger then, but the water was very clean, I loved to swim in it." 

"It’s very beautiful that I’m on the podium after a long time, and it’s amazing that I can share the podium with these guys. We are like a family, we train together, we stay together, it’s a great celebration for us.”
By Dario Verani

New awards were introduced last year, with the winner of the sprint race and the best junior swimmer being honored again this year. Athletes earn sprint points for passing through specific, pre-determined points within the individual 10km events, during this event they saved points after the first, third and fourth laps. After each World Cup, the current highest cumulative sprint point-scoring athlete will carry this distinction into the following stop.

Betlehem scored the most sprint points with 80 after he was second after one lap and sitting in the first position for three more laps. As he says: “It was on my mind, I tried to be in the front to earn as many points as I can.”

The World Cup Junior Leader will be awarded to the overall best-ranked young male and female athlete (aged 19 and under, as of 31 December 2023) in the 10km events. The current overall leader of the junior ranking will carry the title to the following stop.

18-year-old Piotr Wozniak from Poland was the junior winner of the race, finishing 14th overall at 1:56:38.3.