Ana Marcela Cunha Outlasts The Marathoners

Interview of Ana Marcela Cunha in Kazan at the FINA World Championships.

Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha averaged a 1:15 pace per 100 meters in winning the 25 km FINA World Championships this year, a comfortable 26 seconds over silver medalist Anna Olasz of Hungary.

Cunha explained her strategy, “After five hours, I am hungry and I need to eat something. I am very happy with this race. Four years ago, I won in Shanghai and I’m pleased to win again in Kazan. Two years ago I followed the same strategy in Barcelona, but I know that I am more prepared today. In Shanghai, I did not qualify for the London Olympics and I felt sad. I knew that I had another race in just a few days.

Since the men and women competed simultaneously on the same course, there was a time in the latter stages of the race where men and women were swimming together. “It was a very tough race today. When the boys passed, we tried to keep up with them. In the next lap, it was only me and Anna Olasz still leading,” described Cunha about the interactions with the men.

Olasz had a busy week in Kazan. “I’m pretty happy as this was only my second 25 km race. I can’t say that I am experienced at open water swimming. It was a really hard race especially when the boys came and we tried to keep up with them. My coach told me where the boys were. I tried to be in front so that I would go with them and I managed to swim with the guys for a while.

The last lap was very long. I promised myself that I would finish strong and I’m really happy with a medal here

As inexperienced as Olasz is, 40-year-old bronze medalist Angela Maurer is as experienced as they come. “I’m so happy for this result because it was a really hard race today, especially when the boys passed us. At the 20 km mark, I knew the pace was too fast and I was given wrong information on how many swimmers were ahead of me. On the last lap, I swam as fast as I could and I was not thinking I would get a medal believing there were a few swimmers ahead of me. I will enjoy this medal very much because it might be my last world championships. I was happy to swim with Ana Marcela and also with Anna.

I admit this race was hard for me and this is really the only race for me now. Many years ago, when I was young I swam the 88 km race in Argentina and in other longer distance races. I have done many long races and I got a lot of experience in these races. I am happy that I can still swim at this high level with athletes that are so much younger than me. I can’t swim every day with the same intensity that these younger athletes. I also can’t endure hard training every day. When I swim a 25 km, my motivation is always to swim in for a medal. Now I am 40 years old and I enjoy it. I believe I can be very proud of my career.”

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