Paris Olympics: What to know and who to watch during the marathon swimming competition

A roadmap to follow for the marathon swimming competition during the Paris Olympics:

Athletes to Watch

—Florian Wellbrock, Germany: He is the defending Olympic champion who qualified for Paris with a wire-to-wire victory in the marathon swimming event at the 2023 world championships. At Tokyo in 2021, Wellbrock narrowly missed out on his goal of winning golds in the open water and in the pool when he had to settle for bronze in the 1,500 meters. He’s aiming for a double in Paris, where the open water events will be staged within view of the Eiffel Tower.

—Kristof Rasovszky, Hungary: He won the men’s open water title at the world championships in Doha, Qatar, in February after finishing with the silver medal behind Wellbrock at the Tokyo Olympics and at the 2023 worlds in Fukuoka, Japan.

—Sharon van Rouwendaal, Netherlands: The 30-year-old Dutch swimmer won Olympic gold at Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and was the silver medalist in the open water event in Tokyo. She surged to the finish at the worlds in February to win, beating Maria de Valdes of Spain and Angelica Andre of Portugal in the 10-kilometer race. It was her second world title in three years in the event. She also won the 5K race.

Storylines to Follow

Will the water quality be suitable for swimming in the River Seine? An open water swimming race last August was canceled over water concerns after heavy rain. But French authorities are more confident about the Olympic program. And to make athletes feel more comfortable about it, French President Emmanuel Macron said he would take a dip to prove the water quality is healthy. The marathon swimmers won’t be the first Olympic athletes competing at the venue. The triathlons, which start with a 1.5-kilometer swim in the river, will be held July 30 and 31, and a mixed triathlon relay is scheduled for Aug. 5. Cleaning up the Seine has been an important legacy target of these Olympics.

—Can Wellbrock win gold in the Olympic pool and on the River Seine? With his spot in the open water already secure, he was able to focus on the 1,500 at the most recent world championships and took silver. The men’s final for the 1,500, the longest race in the Olympic pool, is scheduled for Aug. 4, giving him four days to recover and prepare for the men’s marathon swimming event.

Key Dates

Open water events are Aug. 8-9 in the River Seine. Both the women’s (Aug. 8) and the men’s (Aug. 9) races are contested over 10 kilometers. The competition loop will start and finish at Pont Alexandre III in a course that showcases some of the city’s famous landmarks.

Reigning Champions

—Women: Ana Marcela Cunha, Brazil.

—Men: Florian Wellbrock, Germany.


AP Summer Olympics:

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up