Surrounded by the sheer cliff walls in Sumidero Canyon in southern Mexico, Petar Stoychev and Britta Kamrau came through yet again with nail-biting victories. When it comes to marathon swims, these two new inductees in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame live up to their well-deserving reputations.
Petar, Bulgaria's flag-bearer at the 2008 Olympics, set a new course record of 3:09.49.58 just barely edging out Diego Nogueira of Spain in 3:09.51.64 and defending champion Ivan Lopez of 3:09.53.12. Michael Dmitriev of Israel was fourth in 3:10.21.51.
All four swimmers had taken turns leading the pack at one point, but it was the experience and strength of Petar that won the day. "I did not, at any time, feel under pressure. But as the [race] progressed, I made my best effort to be able to deliver my final attack. The effort made in the skills of open water is quite exhausting, you must have a physical and spiritual strength to succeed."
The women's race also came down to a stroke-for-stroke finish between German rivals Britta Kamrau and Angela Maurer. By less than half a second, Britta out-touched Angela in a time of 3:24.25.71 to 3:24.26.29. Right on their hips, Daniela Inacio of Portugal and Esther Núñez of Spain finished in 3:24.32.15 and 3:24.32.52, respectively.
For Mexico, the race also served as its national team selection meet for the FINA World Swimming Championships in Rome. Ivan, Manuel Chiu and Zaira Cardenas secured their country's positions for Rome.
Swimmers from 11 different nations raced on the Grijalva River with many of them also heading to Rome to renew their open water rivalries. The top 10 results are below:
1. Peter Stoychev (Bulgaria) 3:09.49
2. Diego Nogueira (Spain) 3:09.51
3. Iván López (Mexico) 3:09.53
4. Michael Dimitrev (Israel) 3:10.21
5. Saleh Mohammad (Syria) 3:10.27
6. Damián Blaum (Argentina) 3:10.58
7. Gabriel Villagoys (Argentina) 3:10.59
8. Arseniy Larentyev (Portugal) 3:11.01
9. Manuel Chiu (Mexico) 3:11.02
10. Rodolfo Valenti (Italy) 3:11.02
1. Britta Kamrau (Germany) 3:24.25
2. Angela Maurer (Germany) 3:24.26
3. Daniela Inacio (Portugal) 3:24.32
4. Esther Nunez (Spain) 3:24.32
5. Zaira Cardenas (Mexico) 3:25.12
6. Pilar Geijo (Argentina) 3:26.25
7. Kozamernik Nina (Slovakia) 3:27.00
8. Cindy Toscano (Guatamala) 3:29.00
9. Lily Anzueto (Mexico) 3:32.46
10. Mariananela Mendoza (Argentina) 3:37.59
Photo by Agency Mexsports shows the escort boats in Sumidero Canyon. More photos will be posted soon.