FINA Communication Department

Fresh out of the ultimate training session before the big day in Doha, Qatar, where the inaugural leg of the 2018 FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series is being hosted on Saturday March 17, one can observe the complicity and friendship going on at the open water venue.

The small open water community is growing and the participation numbers to the Series increase each year.

The season’s opener will see a total of 115 athletes (43 women and 72 men) take the plunge on Saturday.

Despite adversity that is necessary in a race, we can feel that the open water community is solidary and united. The athletes, the coaches and the team accompanying people all know each other and share in a relaxed atmosphere at the Doha’s iconic Corniche.

In one corner of the beautifully set-up tent which serves as call room and press conference room, Brazil’s World champion Ana Marcela Cunha and last year overall Series winner Arianna Bridi and Rachele Bruni of Italy are stretching together and chatting about the conditions.

Arianna Bridi, supervised by her friend and very experienced marathon swimmer Bruni who makes sure she understands the questions in English, admits with a smile on her face that “the Italian team is growing up but we are aiming for a medal of course. We are a young team but we have very high expectations and we hope for the best.”

“The air temperature here in Doha is very hot but the most important is the water temperature because we spend more time inside the water than outside. It is my first time here but the conditions are fantastic, the setting is perfect.”

Veteran Ana Marcela Cunha, who is returning on the international stage, says:

“I wished and desired more than anything to compete again at international level. Doha being the first meet, I am going to use it to analyse my performance and my opponents too.”

“The organisation of the race is one of the best and it brings tranquillity for the athletes, the water and its temperature are good, and the course is easy to understand besides the beauty of the place.”, she adds looking behind her shoulder at the stunning view of downtown Doha.

"I had a very good pre-season in Johannesburg to prepare myself for the circuit, and I wanted to do all the races, but one of them in Canada will coincide with Pan-Pacific Games, which is a competition that I really want to take part in.”

“But overall, my favourite race is Setubal in Portugal!"

Reflecting on last year’s amazing results and her victory in the 25km race in Balatonfured, Cunha said:

"The World Championships last year generally gives me good memories, but the 25km race is certainly the best one.”

The OPEN WATER CHALLLENGE which is open to three age groups: boys and girls 11-14 (400m), 15-17 (800m) and boys and girls aged 18 and over (1200m), will take place this afternoon, March 16, while the elite competition will kick-off tomorrow morning at 8:30am with the women’s departure and 13:30pm for the men.

Follow all the actions of the elite races on FINAtv.