Kristóf Rasovszky Win First Gold Of World Championships In 5K
Courtesy of Greg Eggert, FINA Media Committee Honorary Secretary, Yeosu Expo Ocean Park, Gwangju, South Korea.
22-year-old Kristóf Rasovszky of Hungary was the FINA World Championships 5 km pre-race favorite. And for very good reasons. Today in Yeosu Expo Ocean Park, Gwangju, South Korea, he comfortably proven the pundits correct.
Rasovszky swam to a relatively surprising easy 10-second victory over 60 other men in the opening race, especially given the fact that his race schedule is so jammed with thousands of meters of tough racing. It was his first career gold medal at the FINA World Championships. 20-year-old Logan Fontaine of France (silver) who led at the halfway split and 26-year-old Eric Hedlin of Canada (bronze) led the large chase pack in the venue that had a slight drizzling rain.
Rasovszky has been on a roll since he represented Hungary at the 2016 Rio Olympics. In 2018, he won the 5 km and the 25 km races in the 2018 LEN European Championships. In 2017, he won 4 FINA/CNSG Marathon Swim World Series races. His next goal is qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics 10 km race on Tuesday, July 16th.
He said, “It was a huge race, great speed, no tactical swims, just go. I toyed with the idea to stay a bit behind before I geared up, but there was a tremendous fight at the turns so I saw it was better to stay in front and not be part of that tussle. I launched my finish a bit earlier than expected, but it all worked well. Now this is a great feeling; this gold eases the pressure before the 10 km so I think I can show my real potential there.”
Fontaine repeated his silver medal performance from the 5 km race at the 2018 LEN European Championships finishing behind Rasovszky again. “I’m extremely happy, as soon as I was with the Canadian in the finish lane, I knew I could touch in front. I saved my energy as I knew the finish would be fast. The Hungarian was stronger and I could not do better than second place. I worked all year very hard. The hardest this year was to come back after the disappointment on the 10 km.”
Hedlin lost the photo finish with Fontaine. “The course was beautiful, with very few waves, it was very straightforward, three laps. I felt good. The beginning was all about getting into a rhythm and conserving energy for the final sprint at the end. I felt like I had a back end, with much more [energy] than I had in the past. I felt that I was able to lift my legs even during the final sprint. Unfortunately, Logan out-touched me at the finish. I am really happy with the result and very happy to be back on the podium.
Hedlin had won a silver medal in the 5 km race in 2013. “I’m so happy, it’s been six years but I’m back. It was quite a zoo out there. There was a lot of elbows and everything but I went out there and my goal was to be toward the front where the density was lower so I could worry about fighting less and also have a great view of where everyone was going. Once I got up there I was just all about trying to relax and stay calm.I felt like I was able to conserve my energy quite well. Going around the final buoy I was maybe like sixth or seventh, but that’s when people started hurting and that’s where the previous couple laps really helped me out, my relaxation.The Hungarian took off but I was able to lift and it was me and Logan duking it out for second and it was back and forth. He really lifted at the end, he got me quite handily, even though it was a close finish. I just made sure I got my hand up there as quick as I could.”
It was Canada’s Head Coach Mark Perry’s first medal in his third world championships at the helm for Canada. “What an excellent performance. I think we knew going in that Eric had experience and he had the form to be on the podium. Both him and Raben took the bull by the horns, they both went to the front and were both in the Top 10 for the majority of the race. Eric knew what he was doing the whole race. He matched the speed of everyone, he just got pushed off a little at the end there, which is part of the sport, but managed to get us on the podium and we’re all delighted with that. We know we’ve prepared well and it’s looking good for the rest of the week now.”
American newcomers Michael Brinegar finished 12th while teammate Brennan Gravley was 14th. “I just didn’t swim the turns well enough,” Brinegar said. “At the end of each lap I would start to get into a good position, and I wouldn’t continue swimming as hard as I was, or as hard as the rest of the pack was, and I’d lose my position. I had to really work the beginning of each lap, and it just made it that much harder.It’s a really good learning experience. I know now I can do better for the next open water swim I have. It was just a really rough race, and it’s pretty good finishing in the top 20, so I’m pretty happy with that.”
Gravley said, “I think if I had positioned myself a little better from the start, I would have been able to (place) higher, because from what I heard from the coaches, me and Michael moved up a lot on the last lap. But for my first worlds I’ll definitely take it. It’s been a really cool experience being able to train with such high-level athletes at the training camp, and then to come here and compete with the world’s best – I never take it for granted. It means a lot just to be here, just to participate.One of the turns was really tough, and you kind of had this bottle-neck effect as you went around some of the turns. Besides that, it was really good. Everyone was pretty calm – they guys I was next to weren’t violent at all, just some of those turns got pretty intense.”
Southern California native, born 1962, is the creator of the WOWSA Awards, Oceans Seven, Openwaterpedia, Daily News of Open Water Swimming and founder of WOWSA. Inductee in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (Honor Swimmer, Class of 2001) and Ice Swimming Hall of Fame (Honor Contributor - Media, Class of 2019), recipient of the International Swimming Hall of Fame's Poseidon Award (2016), International Swimming Hall of Fame's Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award (2010).