SANTOS, Brazil – Philippe Dubreuil of Sherbrooke, Que., battled a painful back injury to finish 27th Saturday in the men’s 10 kilometre race at the season opening World Cup open water swimming competition.

Dubreuil was racing in considerable pain after injuring his back 10 days ago. It affected his preparation for the race and threatened his participation in the event.

‘’I think I pulled a muscle,’’ he said. ‘’I decided to leave for Brazil anyway on Monday and monitored my injury closely hoping I’d be ready for the race.’’

He said the result didn’t justify the work he’s put into his preparations for the crucial 2008 season. Open water swimming will be on the Olympic program for the first time at the Beijing Games.

‘’I was able to finish the race but the result didn’t reflect the amount of preparation I’ve done in the last six months. Still despite all the work, it’s that preparation in the last week leading up to the event that is the most important. My back injury messed all that up.’’

Dubreuil said he was in the first half of the race then started to run out of gas. ‘’From 16 kilometres on, I struggled,’’ he said. ‘’That’s where the leaders started to get away on me. There were some good and bad aspects to my race today. I’m not totally satisfied with the result. I was looking for a top-15 finish.’’

Valerio Cleri of Italy won the gold medal in two hours and 03 minutes and 42 seconds. Evgeni Drattsev of Russia was second and Allan do Carmo of Brazil was third.

The 5km and 10km 2007 World Champion, Larissa Ilchenko, imposed her finish in front of the American Kirsten Groome and the famous German duet, Angela Maurer (3rd) and Britta Kamrau Corestein (4th). For her comeback, the Dutch Edith van Dijk placed only 11th. Twelve swimmers crossed the line in the same minute. Canada’s Karley Stutzel (2:10:23.58) and Caitlin Nolan (2:10:58.16) finished 24th and 25th respectively.

Full results:

(with files from Sportcom)