By Jim Rusnak//Director of Media Properties | Friday, July 19, 2019
YEOSU, South Korea – The open water portion of the 18th FINA World Championships came to a close today with the men’s and women’s 25k race. Erica Sullivan had the top showing of the four American swimmers, finishing fifth 5 hours, 11 minutes and 23.2 seconds. Teammate Katy Campbell finished ninth in 5:55.59.6.
It was the World Championship debut for both swimmers.
“Never in a million years would I have thought this would happen,” Sullivan said. “There was a moment when I was fighting as hard as I could to stay with the pack. I just had to remind myself that I had the flag on my cap and that if anyone else was in this situation, they wouldn’t give up, so I had to do the same thing and keep on fighting.
“It hurt really, really bad, but I’m pretty happy with it, given I had no idea what to expect. If I ever have the opportunity to do it again, I feel a lot more prepared. I think I know what to do.”
Winning the women’s race was Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil in 5:08:03.0, followed by Finnia Wunram of Germany in 5:08:11.6 and Lara Grangeon of France in 5:08:21.2.
“The conditions were pretty rough today with the rain and the chop,” Campbell said. The race was pretty good. The last 1,000[meters] I really tried to catch up to the Italian and to Hungarian girls in front of me, then I just tried to kick. It was a hard race. I mean 25k is always hard, but there were fun parts of it. I had my support team on either side, so I was happy with that.”
On the men’s side, David Heron was the Americans’ top swimmer, finishing 14th in 4:55:11.8. Teammate Brennan Gravley was 15th in 4:57:17.5.
“I thought it was a lot faster than the first one I did [at the 2015 World Championships],” Heron said. “We started racing on the second lap. Eventually we slowed down a bit. The last five or six kilometers got choppy, so that made it a lot harder, because that’s when people start to feel a little bit tired. Overall, I thought it went by quicker, slightly easier than my first one, but the last 5k was pretty difficult.”
Taking first in the men’s race was Axel Reymond of France in 4:51:06.2. Kirill Belyaev of Russia was second in 4:51:06.5, and Alessio Occhipinti of Italy was third in 4:51:09.5.
“I think when the conditions changed with 7.5k to go, it affected my race,” Gravley said. “I felt really good at the 17.5, but when it starts to get really choppy and wavy like it did, it really took a toll on me and I kind of fell back. I’m really happy with it. It was a lot of fun. I just needed to stay mentally strong and focus. You can’t control things like that. You can’t really let them affect you – just need to keep pushing on, whether you’re at the front, back or whatever.”