Rest Day

DAY 1 - October 29, 2000

Today 164 competitors representing 34 nations assembled adjacent to the clear blue
waters of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii for the
1st FINA World Open Water Swimming Championship.  A fitting location for such a prestigious event; open water swimming has long been a tradition here, even before the great Duke Kahanamoku built his reputation in these very waters.
More that 500 people attended the Opening Ceremonies of the championships at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel.  Event Chairman Dr. Sam Freas welcomed athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and the media to the nations 11th largest city.  USA Swimming President Dale Neuburger thanked the organizing committee and their sponsors for their efforts to make this inaugural event a  memorable experience for the athletes -- "there is no better venue for this great event than Waikiki Beach, and there is no better time than now to show the world that open water swimming is growing and deserves to be a part of the Olympic program."
Athletes carrying the flags of each of the participating nation were showcased.  John Flanagan, USA national team member who now lives and trains in Honolulu took the oath on behalf of all coaches and athletes.  Just as the  sun was finally setting for the day the outdoor stage was quickly filled with  the music and dancing of a traditional Hawaiian evening.  From the songs of  the South pacific to the energy of the hula dancers, the evening was a  celebration of the culture of our hosts.  Nearly a dozen of the athletes were asked to participate in the entertainment while camera crews from the NBC local affiliate and the Outdoor Life Network captured their activities.
Six different cameras will film the events from different vantage points  including a helicopter that will fly overhead.
Earlier in the day the race director held a briefing for coaches and federation officials.  During the meeting it was announced that over 400 local staff volunteers, 150 motor craft, 40 safety personnel and 30 interpreters are being called upon to support this undertaking.  For most of  these athletes it was their first international competition and they spent  their afternoon in a boat or in the surf.  The 5K competition will be held
on October 31st, the 10K on November 2nd and  the 25K event to be concluded
on  November 4th

FINA Press Commission

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DAY 2 - Press Release - Honolulu, Hawaii, October 30, 2000

During his welcoming remarks to the athletes and coaches participating in the FINA World Open Water World Championships on Waikiki Beach, FINA Bureau Member Nory KRUCHTEN (LUX) announced that the international federations major objective is to include the open water marathon in the program for the Olympic Games.

KRUCHTEN also serves as the liaison for the FINA Technical Open Water  Swimming Committee.  During their meetings held earlier today, Chairman Alan CLARKSON (GBR) issued the following clarification about the awards protocol for this championship: Medals shall be awarded to the first, second and third place competitor in the 5K, 10K and 25K events.

Team awards (overall) for the 5K, 10K and 25K events shall be determined by adding the times of the fastest three swimmers from one federation.  A  team is defined as two male and two female swimmers per event who are from  the same federation.

Overall team awards, one for male and one for female, shall be based on the total cumulative point score over all races according to the following point distribution:  1st to 12th places:  18 points, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

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DAY 3 - October 31, 2000 

      FINA crowned its first two individual champions today at the Open Water Swimming World Championships in Honolulu, Hawaii (USA), with Peggy BUSCHE of Germany and Evgeuni BEZROOTCHENKO (RUS) capturing the the 5-kilometer

The blue waters of the Pacific, just off the famous Waikiki Beach, offered a great challenge for 24 women and 34 men competing in this event. 

Athletes, coaches, officials and spectators converged on Honolulu for the first FINA
World Open Water Swimming Championships.  

Like women's marathon running in the early 1980s, open water swimming is not yet an Olympic event, but these inaugural championships in Hawaii might just well be the catalyst to launch open water swimming back into the Olympic program.

A television helicopter hovered overhead and the giant waves of the Pacific broke just beyond the channel markers as 24 women lined up for the start of the first ever FINA 5K event to be held in the USA.  There were almost as many support craft in the flotilla as there were competitors.  What started as a single pack of athletes advancing between waves, soon spread out to several smaller groups of leaders and followers.  The strategies of some of  the competitors soon became apparent, with some sprinting to the lead, some conserving their energy and others pushing and shoving in a competitive way.

The several hundred person crowd on the shoreline and the Hilton Hawaiian Village pier jockeyed for their own best positions in an effort to see the finish.  From 200 meters out the leaders were engaged in all out sprint to the familiar Colorado Timing touchpads that had been suspended above the water.  Who could imagine that after competing over a distance of 3.1 miles, that the finish would be as close as they were.  Athletes raced to hit the touchpads as they swam underneath them and into the clutches of Olympic gold medalist John Naber who greeted them with a microphone and the chance to tell their story to the television cameras.

BUSCHE (GER) outlasted the others and captured her first world championship title.

"In Germany I am a famous person and there is some pressure on me but I am glad that I could swim to their expectations" said BUSCHE immediately after the race.  "I was surprised that I won.  "I am used to lake swimming," she continued.  "The ocean is very different  with the waves and the current which were quite strong.  I am thankful for
the support of my friends and my family. USA's Kalyn KELLER finished second and immediately sent notice to her brother, Klete, that he would have to share some of the limelight.  "He has his medal and now I have mine, but I still have many races to go before I can catch up with him."  Her older brother won the bronze medal in the 400
Free during the Sydney Olympic Games.  Twenty-eight year old Viola VALLI (ITA),
who finished third, trains with Club Snan Milano.
The men's 5K was not without controversy as the results of the finish were held up for over one hour while officials reviewed the videotapes in response to a protest filed by the Italian team.  Of the 34 male swimmers entered, one  athlete was disqualified, another did not compete and the other 32 churned  the waters for 60 minutes of excitement.  BEZROOTCHENKO of Russia won with a  time of 59.18, but it was the two athletes competing for the silver medal  that made things interesting for the spectators and caused the officials to huddle over the videotapes of the finish.  The Italian team protested that David MECA (SPA) pushed Luca BALDINI (ITA) underwater as the two fought for the finish.  The Italian team's argument was that BALDINI who was leading at the time had the right of way, but the officials were unable to confirm an offense committed by MECA and declared him the silver medalist.  MECA  indicated that his performance was "my best 5K ever, only the finish was difficult.  The course was beautiful and I saw a sea turtle swimming below me, but fortunately I was swimming faster."  BALDINI indicated that he was "happy with his race but very sad for what happened to him at the finish  line."

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DAY 4 - November 1, 2000

By Mike Tymm, Honolulu Advertiser


There was no lack of emotion in the finishing area of the FINA World Open Water Swimming 5 kilometer championship in Waikiki yesterday at noon.While Spanish and Italian team officials argued, appearing ready to come to blows,  a Russian swimmer celebrated.

In a hotly contested and disputed finish, Evgeuni Bezroutchenko, a 23-year-old Russian, surged past David Meca, 26 of Spain and Luca Baldini, 26 of Italy, finishing the 3.1 mile ocean swim in 59 minutes, 18 seconds.

Meca survived a protest by the Italians for second place, finishing in 59:19. Baldini was awarded the bronze medal.  The Italians had claimed that Meca interfered with their swimmer as the two battled intensely for the finishwhile sharing the lead. With 33 men from 21 countries competing, the race got underway at 11am next  to the pier behind the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel.  The women's race, with 24 competitors from 16 countries was held earlier and won by Peggy Buchse, a  28 year old German physical education student, in 1:02.36, just four seconds ahead of Kalyn Keller, a 15 year ld American.  Viola Valli, 28, of Italy, was third, another second back.

      Thirty-four countries are participating in the first world swimming championships to be held in the United States.    Each country is allowed two male and two female swimmers.  John Flanagan was Hawaii's sole entry, having
qualified for the 5K race with a third place finish in the national  championships at Indianapolis in August.  He finished eighth yesterday.

 The 10 K championship will be held tomorrow morning and the 25 K championship on Saturday.  No Hawaii swimmer qualified for those races.

About 30 meters from the finish of the men's race, Meca and Baldini were matching strokes in the lead as Bezroutchenko closed rapidly.  About 10 meters from the finish, there was contact between Meca and Baldini.  That
 might have slowed them enough to allow Bezroutchenko, swimming a few yards to  their right, to sneak by and touch the computerized finishing pad first.

"It appeared that the swimmer on the inside (Meca) was being crowded toward the pier" said Hiroshi Yamauchi, a finish line official.  "He had no place to  go."

Meca felt that Baldini cost him the victory.  "We fought over the last 50 meters and he was pushing me to the left side" he said.  "I lost the gold for sure because of that.  You have to be a little bit aggressive, but I don't  think this sport is about that.  I am happy, though because this is my worst event and I still have the 10K and 25K to race."  Italy's Baldini was not available for comment.

Some of the swimmers claimed the race was very physical throughout, but Bezroutchenko did not seem aware of it.  "It was hard to get a good position,  though" he said through an interpreter.  "it was an aggressive race, but you have to expect that in a field like this," said Flanagan, who had hoped to medal.  "I think I waited too long. I was back with the second pack during the first half of the race.  I started moving up on the way back, but the current carried us faster than I had  anticipated."

Valli set the pace for most of the women's race, but Busche took command with  about 50 meters remaining and help off a strong finish by Keller, who estimated that she passed seven swimmers in the fina l200 meters.

Even though Keller was closing on Buchse, she did not feel she waited too long to make her move.  "I did what I had to do," said the Phoenix, Arizona  resident who missed making the Olympic team at 800 meters by one place.

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DAY 5 - November 2, 2000


Edith VAN DYK (NED) led the 10K event from start to finish in today's FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii and defeated Melissa PASQUALI (ITA) by almost one minute.  Peggy BUSCHE (GER) earned the bronze medal when her teammate Angela MAURER (GER) was
disqualified for swimming on the wrong side of one of the channel markers.

VAN DYK was only trying to stretch her large lead during the race.  "It was my strategy to go out fast," she said.  "I just went for it."  Dark clouds threatened to shorten or cancel the event and the conditions were even more
challenging for the athletes.  "It was a very tough race under these conditions, the second leg was very windy and the waves were rough," said the 27-year old from Wognun, Netherlands. 

Edith Van Dyk (NED)


VAN DYK was so far ahead that PASQUALI never saw her and until she finished the race,and she no idea that anyone was ahead of her.  "This race was very good for me, I am very tired now as it was a hard swim," Pasquali said.  "It was a surpise to see Edith already there at the time of my finish," said the 28-year old from Florence, Italy.

Melissa Pasquali (ITA)


Bronze medalist Peggy BUSCHE (GER) reported that she saw the pack of lead swimmers go off course.  "I am sure that there were several swimmers in that pack that should have been disqualified," she said.  Only later did she learn
that her teammate MAURER was one of three swimmers disqualified.  "I swam my way, I was careful," said Busche, who won the 5K on Tuesday. "When I saw the others go off course, I took my time and swam a better way."  

Peggy Buchse (GER) 

Germany won the gold in the three-person 10K team competition, just ahead of Russia and the United States, with a mere 36 seconds separating the top three teams.


      David MECA (ESP) continued his good fortune and the Italian team continued its misfortune at today's 10-kilometer race of the FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships in Honolulu, Hawaii (USA).  Italian frustration
continued at the World Long Distance Swimming Championships on Waikiki Beach in  Hawaii today when Samuelle PAMPANA (ITA) was disqualified after finishing second behing MECA.  PAMPANA's disqualification meant Petar STOYCHEV (BUL) was elevated to the silver medal and Tuesday's 5km champion, Evgueni BEZROUTCHENKO (RUS), won the bronze medal.
Samuelle PAMPANA (ITA) was disqualified by judges for swimming on the wrong side of a turn marker in the final few hundred meters of the men's race.  Earlier in the World Championships, the Italians were unsuccessful in their
protest over MECA's (ESP) silver medal performance in the 5K.

MECA (ESP) was crowned the champion in today's 10K race.  Most spectators agreed that MECA's swam the smartest race of the field and swam the straightest line in a 13-man sprint to the finish.  At water's edge, MECA
proclaimed the result "was perfect, just perfect."  "I felt strong at the beginning and my sprint was also very good," he said.  "There was a point when I said to myself 'these people are very fast' and they went ahead of me so quickly that I was afraid that I would not be on the podium."

David Meca (ESP)

      MECA was 15th at the midpoint of the race and moved up to 10th place at the 7.5K marker.  He reeled in his competitors one by one. The driver of the lead boat knew that MECA was picking up the pace because the boat had to change gears to stay with the leader.  Those competitors that stayed with MECA for the final sprint found themselves being pushed towards the Hilton Hawaiaan Village pier and farther away from the finish line.  The irony is that it was MECA that was almost driven into the pier in Monday's 5K race by Italian swimmer Luca BALDINI.  In that race MECA allegedly swam over and then under BALDINI to touch just ahead of him but the officials refused to disqualify MECA.  In today's 10K it was MECA who raised his head at the 200 meter mark to take sight of the touchpad and he sprinted to a first place in a time of 1:57.10.50.
PAMPANA, 24, who is in the Italian army, lead the race from the 3/4 mark until the late in the ninth kilometer.  Prior to learning of his disqualification he said that "it was another good day for the Italians because he was happy he could finish with a silver medal".  He didn't realize how costly his mistake would be.  PAMPANA did not swim around the prescribed channel marker and a nearby boat full of official's was there to observe the infraction. 

Advancing to the silver medal is Petar STOYCHEV (BUL) who swam the last 1500 meters in the back of the lead pack.  "I felt very strong in the last 500 meters and I did not expect that.  It was a very hard race for me, the
current was often pushing me back."

Peter Stoychev (BUL)


The bronze medal was won by Evgueni BEZROUTCHENKO (RUS) who was also the winner of the 5K event earlier in the week and was swimming his first ever 10K event.  He is coached by Alexi AKATIEV (RUS) who is competing in the 25K event on Saturday;  AKATIEV won both the 5K and 25K in the 1998 World Championships in Perth, Australia.

Evgueni Bezroutchenko (RUS)

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DAY 7 - November 4, 2000


Russian marathon swimmers Iouri KOUDINOV (RUS) and Alexi AKATIEV (RUS) teamed up to capture first and third in the 25K FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships. The very versatile David MECA (ESP) continued his impressive work by capturing the silver medal in Saturday's championship held off the shores of Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii.

The duo's outstanding performance propelled the Russian nation to first place in the men's overall team standings -- a tally that included points won in the 5K and 10K events held earlier this week.  KOUDINOV indicated that the race was "most difficult for me because of the waves, but I was able to move forward after the fourth lap of the course."  His teammate AKATIEV, and MEDINA trailed only slightly behind him during the final lap of the race. 

"It was the most difficult race of my life said AKATIEV, the 5K & 25K world champion in the 1998 FINA World Championships in Perth, Australia.  "I tried to shorten the distance between me and my teammate but the waves kept pushing me back.  I was not prepared for these conditions."

AKATIEV is also the coach of Russian swimmer Evgueni BEZROUTCHENKO (RUS), found that his own race was perhaps his most difficult challenge of the week.  "In the last kilometer we changed places many times, the final sprint was difficult for me."

David MECA the only swimmer from his country scored 50 points to single-handedly earn the second place team title.  MECA admitted "I was planning to catch him, I got very, very close to him.  The Russians are great swimmers, but I had already swam three races and I was tired."   MECA also earned a gold in the 10K, and a silver in the 5K event.  Today was a great day, it was hot, it was nice and it was quite flat.  At the halfway mark I was in 15th place but I always swim this way, trying to be progressively faster as the race advanced. 

Twenty-four swimmers completed the race and the winner finished in under five hours, 4:55.51.12.  Race officials were extremely pleased with the result and quickly calculated that the winners time was an average of 1:12 per 100 meters.  Finishing fifty minutes later in 22nd place was the single competitor from the host of the 2004 Olympic Games, Georgios TSIANOS (GRE) explained that this was his first swimming marathon, "I was training in preparation for the English Channel crossing, but I hope that I will have the opportunity to compete in the Olympic swimming marathon when this becomes an event in the Olympic Games.


      DAY 7 - November 4, 2000

Edith VAN DYK (NED) captured her second gold medal of the week at the
FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships with a decisive victory in the 25K event.  The Europeans continued their domination of this week's events in Honolulu by also winning the silver and bronze medals, Viola VALLI (ITA) and Angela MAURER (GER). 

For more than four hours a pack of ten swimmers were within four body lengths of each other, often swimming in single file.  The three Europeans were together for almost every minute of the five and one half hour race.  VAN DYK said "the swim to Diamond Head was the most difficult part of the race taking into account the wind, current and the waves."  Asked about her strategy VAN DYK said "I tried to get away from the others a couple of times but I could not succeed, I was unable to get a gap between me and the others, but I was pleased to finish first at the end today."

Viola VALLI arrived to a cheering crowd of well wishers on the shores of Waikiki Beach.  Her fan club included many teammates, friends and family who crowded around her when she sat down on the beach to rest after second medal of the week, having earned bronze in the 5K.  Painted on her leg was her name and her well-wishers told onlookers that Viola means flower in Italian.  "We made it a success for each of us today because we made it together."  Angela MAURER (GER) recovered with a bronze medal performance in the 25K. She finished third in the 10K event but was disqualified for missing a channel marker. 

Sid CASSIDY (USA) assistant referee and member of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee said about the weeks events, "The races got better as it went on.  Without any question this was the greatest marathon field ever assembled."  CASSIDY added, "It was thrilling to see this level of performance from these outstanding athletes, it is a great step for our sport."

Following the conclusion of the women's 25K event, the fastest times of three competitors from each nation were combined to determine the overall team champion for the 25K event.  The Russian team won that team award followed by Italy, and France.


      DAY 7 - November 4, 2000

Overall team awards, one for male and one for female, shall be based on the total cumulative point score over all races (5K, 10K, 25K) according to the following point distribution:  1st to 12th places:  18 points, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. 

The men's overall team standings were as follows:  First place:  Russia, Second place:  Spain,  Third place:  Italy

The women's overall team standings were as follows:  First place:  Italy, Second place:  German,  Third place:  Netherlands

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