In 2003, one of the most amazing and competitive open water races finished near the imposing statue of Christopher Columbus in the city of Barcelona, Spain.
During the men's 25K race at 2003 World Swimming Championships, Yuri Kudinov of Russia finished in 5 hours 2 minutes 20.0 seconds just touching out David Meca of Spain in 5 hours 2 minutes 20.4 seconds and Petar Stoychev of Bulgaria in 5 hours 2 minutes 20.6 seconds. The three men swam stroke-for-stroke for nearly 5 hours and the judges took several minutes to make the official decision of the final placing. The event was festive, the atmosphere was electric and the competition was exciting.
Like the Barcelona World Championships, there was many other open water swims in Spain that are festive, electric and exciting.
In mid-August, the fourth leg of the LEN European Open Water Swimming Cup was held in Navia, Spain.
The LEN race was held concurrently with the 51st edition of the Il Descenso a Nado de la Ria de Navia. The Navia race is held in the northern part of Spain in the Navia River close to the Atlantic Ocean. The salt water estuary is always calm with a water temperature generally between 18-20ºC (64-68ºF).
The Navia event holds a 1.1K, 1.7K, 3K and 5K races, in addition to the Long Distance Swimming Asturias Cup, a professional 5K race (800 euros for first). It is a competitive race with many open water swimming stars participating in the past, including Olympic 10K swimmers Yurema Requena, Jose Hervas, and bronze medalist Cassandra Patten. David Meca, a multiple world champion, dominated the race for years in the 1990's.
First photo of Yuri Kudinov, David Meca and Petar Stoychev finishing at the 25K 2003 World Swimming Championships taken by Dr. Jim Miller. The other photos are from the the Il Descenso a Nado de la Ria de Navia website.