ABU DHABI // Petar Stoychev and Camilla Frediani were officially crowned the Fina long distance champions for men and women in the capital yesterday, but the day's honours went to the German Thomas Lurz and the Russian Anna Uvarova. Lurz claimed the men's race from Sergiy Fesenko of Azerbaijan and the Russian Vladimir Dyatchin. Uvarova got the better of the German Angela Maurer and Linsey Heister of Holland in the women's final race of the Fina World Series, the 15km Open Water Grand Prix, at the Breakwater.
The Bulgarian Stoychev, who had retained the title even before he took the dip into the warm waters of Abu Dhabi, finished in the middle of the pack but the diminutive 22-year-old Italian Frediani had to work hard to finish ninth and get the better of her closest rival Pilar Geijo of Argentine for her first world title. Stoychev said: "I tried to push hard and finish the final race with a win, but it became hard for me because it was very, very hot out there. It was a good strong race and turned into a sprint from the last 600 metres."
Frediani was ecstatic with her maiden world title, adding: "It turned into a tough race and I am glad I managed to secure enough points for the championship. I was only seven points in front and it was a pressure race for me." The men's race drew a field of 16 and the women's event had a field of 19. And both races provided exciting finishes with the leading group making a dash to the finish. The Australian Trent Grimsey, 21, set the pace until running out of steam in the final kilometre. He said: "I was taking part in the 15km race series for the first time and lacked the fitness to finish the race strongly."
Lurz, 29, said the tight finish was because of the tactics used swimming in calm and warm waters. He said: "I concentrate in the Olympic distances of 5km and 10km races, and this was my first over 15km for the year. I liked the conditions and like everyone else bided my time to finish strongly at the end." The Fina Open Water Swimming Grand Prix is one of the two long-distance swimming competition series launched in 2007.
The 2009 series began in February in Argentina and ended yesterday in Abu Dhabi. The other is the 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup, which concluded last week with races in Dubai and Sharjah. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org