Cunha wins third straight 25km open water race at world titles

GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — Ana Marcela Cunha keeps setting the bar higher in open-water swimming at the world championships.

The 27-year-old Brazilian won an unprecedented third consecutive 25-kilometre race yesterday and her second gold medal of the Gwangju titles after winning the five-kilometre race on Wednesday.

It was also her fifth gold medal and 11th overall at the world championships since 2011.

Cunha finished in five hours, eight minutes, 03.00 seconds, 8.60 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Finnia Wunram of Germany. Lara Grangeon of France claimed the bronze, 18.20 seconds behind Cunha.

In the men’s race, Axel Reymond duelled with Russian Kirill Belyaev over the final metres before the Frenchman lunged ahead for a three-tenth of a second victory.

Ana Marcela Cunha competes in the women’s 25km open water swim at the World Swimming Championships in Yeosu, South Korea. – AP

Reymond finished the men’s race in a time of 4:51.6.20 while Belyaev clocked 4:51.06.50. Alessio Occhipinti of Italy earned the bronze medal, 3.30 seconds behind Reymond.

Another Italian, Simon Ruffini, was fourth, 8.70 seconds behind. Australian Kai Edwards took fifth, 11 seconds behind Reymond.

The top Americans in the men’s race were David Heron in 14th place, four minutes, 05.60 seconds behind the winner, and Brennan Gravley, who finished right behind Heron in 15th, 6:11.30 behind.

American Erica Sullivan was fifth in the women’s race, three minutes, 20.20 seconds behind Cunha, while teammate Katy Campbell finished in ninth place, 3:56.60 behind the winner.

Only two of the 24 starters failed the complete the men’s race, while five of 21 women did not finish their race.

The 25-kilometre races ended the seven-event open water programme at the worlds. Only two open-water events will be held at the Tokyo Olympics next year — the men’s and women’s 10-kilometre races — and the top 10 finishes here qualified for those events.