Greg Eggert, FINA Media Committee member

Aurelie Muller of France won her second consecutive 10km world title today finishing in 2:00.13.7 after battling Olympic champion Sharon van Rouwendaal for more than half of the race. Their re-match today, a reprise of the Rio Olympic Marathon was significant due to Muller's disqualification at the Copacabana Beach finish last August.  

France continued to enjoy another triumph in the waters of Lake Balaton claiming their second gold medal of the open water events after Marc-Antoine Olivier captured first place in Saturday's 5km race. Muller and Olivier are both coached by Philippe Lucas who is currently responsible for continuing one of the richest legacy of open water champions.

The twenty-seven-year-old Muller achieved her redemption today, following her removal from the final results and the podium due to her interference of Italy's Rachele Bruni at the finish in Rio. In today's race, Van Rouwendaal who was second to Muller in Kazan 2015, faded in the final 2000m and would finish in 16h place. Following Muller's disqualification in Rio, Bruni was awarded the silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games, but today she would be one place off the world championship medals podium.

Muller won the 10km event in Kazan 2015 and lays claim to a bronze medal in the 5km event from Shanghai. She was the 2016 European Open Water Champion in the 10km.

Ecuador's Samantha Arevalo enjoyed a brilliant breakaway from a pack of accomplished swimmers and also a remarkable finish only 3.5 seconds behind the French world champion. Arevalo, 23 years old now left her home at age 17 to train for open water swimming. In December, she moved to Rome to train under a new coach. Her two older brothers are both triathletes and encouraged her to try swimming.  

Arianna Bridi of Italy and Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil were both awarded the bronze medal in the most thrilling part of today's event. Cunha, Bridi and her Italian teammate Rachele Bruni together sprinted to the touchpad each confident they would arrive first. Bruni would finish outside of the medals despite her teammates arrival on the medals podium. Cunha finished third in the 10km race in Kazan 2015. Last August she raced in her home country's 2016 Olympic Games finishing in 10th place due to continued fatigue. Shortly after the Olympic Games she underwent surgery for the removal of her spleen. Cunha received her 8th international medal.

Consider another coaching coincidence and success in today's race. Arevalo, the silver medallist from Ecuador arrived last December in Rome to train under Fabrizio Antonelli, who is also the coach of the Italian bronze medallist Bridi and of the 5th place finished Bruni.  

The second day of FINA's Open Water "Carnivale" at Lake Balaton was underway when 62 female swimmers entered the 22 degree water. Exactly the same number of male swimmers raced in yesterday's 5km in warmer water but they swam in cooler air temps. The stiff winds faced by the men yesterday are now history but they served to cool the 77km freshwater lake by more than a degree. A warm sunny Sunday was the "welcome mat" for the 62 women challenging for a world championship title in the women's 10km race. 

Chelse Gubecka of Australia took out the pace in the first 1000m at 12:49.6 and was closely followed by Alena Benesova of the Czech Republic just 2.2 seconds back. Japan's Yukimi Moriyama went with the lead pack only 3.8 seconds behind the Australian leader. By the 1500m mark, Muller had taken control, passing the 1500m point at 18:31.1. She was closely followed by Germany's Finnia Wunram only 2.7 seconds behind and Paula Ruiz of Spain who was 6.9 seconds behind the French pacesetter.

Muller's strategy of conserving energy was obvious when she turned over to swim backstroke allowing Great Britain's Danielle Huskisson to take command of the race. The British swimmer passed the 3500m mark at 43:04.6 followed by Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil just 4.1 seconds back and the arrival of Olympic champion Van Rouwendaal who was just 5.1 seconds behind the athlete from France.

Muller would lead the next 5km and she would find the Dutch Olympic champion within in just a metre or less. Both swimmers looked extremely strong in the water and neither allowed the other to relax. Muller passed the midpoint of the race at 1:01.19.9. The second 2.5km lap was a minute faster that the first quarter of the race. The Olympic champion was 3.1 seconds behind the leader, presumably to conserve her energy, but unfortunately too far behind to enjoy the benefit of drafting off her French rival.

Muller (FRA)

Approaching the 7.5km point Italy's Arianna Bridi took a very slight lead over Muller, just .10 of a second. Van Rouwendaal positioned herself 2.6 second behind. While Bridi and Muller would begin to swim in each other’s space, Van Rouwendaal seemingly was in search of clear water and to avoid the congestion of swimming next to the Italian and the French swimmer.  

None of the leaders stopped at the feeding station for a drink, each concluding that those extra 10 metres of swimming into and out of the feeding pontoon was not worth the refreshment and energy to be gained by a drink. The final 2.5km would surely be even faster than the third 2.5 lap.

With 1.2km to the finish the pack of ten swimmers were pushing each other and escalating their speed. Hungary's Anna Olasz and the two American swimmers, Haley Anderson and Ashley Twichell made their moves hoping to be in a position to overcome the leaders that each think might be ready torelinquish the lead. They were among many others who have the same expectations, those who have been conserving their energy by drafting off others, or staying back hoping not to waste their energy in the final sprint.  

Muller, hoping to extract her revenge and bouncing back from her Olympic disqualification was again first at the 9000m mark at 14:59.2. Looking very strong, she is determined to break away from the pack that has shrunk to only 6 others in position and likely challenge for the finish. Italy's Bridi, only .6 of second behind the French leader has also calculated when to launch her own breakaway, but her plan is known only to the swimmer and her coach. Brazil's Ana Marcela Cunha was just close enough to avoid the action between the leaders but smart and experienced to find her way to the touchpad and the podium.

Muller was just too strong for her challengers in the final sprint. When others were sprinting using all they had, Muller simply had more than the others! Frances's newly crowned World Champion easily won the sprint touching at 2:00.13.7, a comfortable 3.5 seconds ahead of Ecuador's Samantha Arevalo who earned her first world championship medal. The scoreboard registered Italian teammates Bridi and Rachele Bruni in a photo finish, but one of the Italians would learn of the good news of her place on the podium and the other would receive the bad news.

The oldest competitor in the race will turn 42 years old later this year, Angela Maurer took up open water swimming before everyone else in today's event was born. Maurer finished 14th, just behind the second tie in the race, a three-way finish for 11th. Maurer is Germany's most medalled open water swimmer with a total of 12 FINA World Championship medals: two gold, four silver and six bronze. Maurer won the 25km in 2009 at the Rome World Championships and in the 2015 Kazan edition she earned a bronze medal. 

Raquel Duran at 14 years old was the youngest competitor in the race. The swimmer from Costa Rica was born in 2002 after the turn of the century but was one of three swimmers who did not finish the race.

Only two yellow cards were issued in the race, one to each of China's swimmers.

Women 10km podium

STANDINGS at 1000m

GUBECKA, AUS  --  12:49.6

STANDINGS at 1500m

MULLER, FRA -- 18:31.1
RUIZ, ESP +6.9

STANDINGS at 2500m

MULLER, FRA -- 31:11.6
RUIZ, ESP +4.3

STANDINGS at 3500m

HUSKISSON, GBR -- 43:04.6

STANDINGS at 4000m

MULLER, FRA -- 48:47.8

STANDINGS at 5000m

MULLER, FRA -- 1:01:19.9

STANDINGS at 6000m

MULLER, FRA -- 1:13:12.4

STANDINGS at 6500m

MULLER, FRA -- 1:18:50.3

STANDINGS at 7500m

BRIDI, ITA 1:31:38.1

STANDINGS at 8500m

MULLER, FRA 1:43:22.6

STANDINGS at 9000m

MULLER, FRA 1:48:59.2
CUNHA, BRA +2.6 


1.  MULLER, FRA 2:00:13.7
2.  AREVALO, ECU +3.5 2:00:17.2
3.  BRIDI, ITA  +7.7 2:00:17.2
3.  CUNHA, BRA 2:00:17.2
5.  BRUNI, ITA 2:00:21.4
6. WUNRAM, GER 2:00:25.9


Women’s 10km final

Aurelie Muller (FRA), gold: “I did not feel any pressure because of my victory two years ago. I was relaxed, I just wanted to concentrate on my swim, and I am very happy to finish first. It was a very difficult race. I have a good relationship with my training partner Sharon van Rouwendaal, and it is never a problem that we have a common coach”.

Samantha Arevalo (ECU), silver: “I have been working very hard during my preparation, but I was very surprised to finish in second place. God helped me to claim this silver medal! It was my second World Championships, and the first time in Hungary, I like the venue very much. My brothers, who were triathlon athletes, helped me a lot to achieve this result, many thanks for them!”

Arianna Bridi (ITA), bronze: “Actually, I did not realise that I finished third, I thought I had missed the medal. In the end, I tried my best, and was pleased with the bronze medal. 10km is my favourite event, so I am still a little disappointed since my goal was to win the race, but I feel I may achieve a good result in 25km as well”.

Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA), bronze: “I have taken part in many World Championships, and it was my eighth medal in total, so I am very happy! I had a difficult period earlier, but I changed coach two months ago, and this a great result after that. In open water swimming a tight finish like that is a common thing, it can happen, and I had been a little unlucky in similar situations before”.