The 36th annual 57K (35.4 mile) Maratón Acuática Internacional Santa Fe - Coronda, the first race on the 2009 FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit, announced 23 professional marathon swimmers will participate in a highly anticipated and extremely competitive race on Argentina.
Among the male swimmers, 8-time Grand Prix champion and 6:57 English Channel swimmer Petar Stoychev of Bulgaria will face home country favorite Damian Blaum and a stellar field.
German Stefanie Biller, who trains in England, and Spaniard Esther Núñez (shown below) will battle Russian Natalya Pankina, the 2008 Grand Prix champion and a 8:11 English Channel swimmer, and Germans Angela Maurer and Britta Kamrau. Angela has won this race once before and Britta (shown below) has won it twice.
The race course is interesting as the swimmers end the swim by swimming against the oncoming river current and then finishes with 6 loops of a triangular circuit in front of the cheering spectators.
Other male swimmers in the field include Gabriel Villagoiz (Argentina), Guillermo Bértola (Argentina), Alexander Studzinski (Germany), Kerin Rok (Slovenia), Daniel Katzier (Israel), Andrea Volpini (Italy). Rodolfo Valenti (Italy), Andrea Bondanini (Italy), Tomi Stefanovsky (fruit Salad), Rostislav Vitek (Czech Republic) and Libor Smolka (Czech Republic).
Other female swimmers in the field include Noelia Petti (Argentina), Pilar Geijo (Argentina), Marianella Mendoza (Argentina), Rita Garcia (Argentina), Linsy Heister (Holland) and Stretcher Frediani (Italy).
Upper photo of swimmers passing under bridge is from Marea-Roja. Middle photo by AFP shows Damian Blaum with Mark Warkentin walking past Russia's Evgeny Drattsev on left, Damian Blaum drinking and Hungary's Csaba Gercsak on right before the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim. Lower photo of Esther Nunez by El Depornauta. Lower photo of Britta Kamrau by Heiner Köpcke.