Canadas Jarrod Ballem cracks top-10 at world open water championships

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SEVILLE, Spain- Jarrod Ballem of Calgary withstood some heavy hitting in the late stages of Tuesday’s men’s five kilometre race to finish 10th at the FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships held on the Guadalquivir River.

Thomas Lurz of Germany, upset in Sunday’s 10 kilometre, took the gold in 54 minutes and 57.3 seconds. Vladimir Dyatchin of Russia was second in 54:58.8 and Maarten Van Der Weijden of the Netherlands third in 54:59.8.

Ballem nearly equalled his career best ninth place finish from 2004 taking 10th spot in 55:11.4. Philippe Dubreuil of Sherbrooke, Que., was 19th in 55:32.1.

“Today was great,” said Ballem. “I was aggressive and kept myself in good position for the entire race.”

With only 500 metres to go, Ballem was tied for third and only five metres behind the leaders. “I tried to get up to the lead,” he said. “But Maarten just pounded on me and another guy sandwiched me and I took a beating. But I still finished well. I just didn’t have it in the last 150 to hang on with those guys.

“This was a stronger field than in 2004 and this was definitely a much better swim.”

On Sunday, Ballem didn’t qualify for the Olympic Games finishing 30th in the 10-kilometre event. He’ll get a second chance on June 1 at a test event in Beijing. Open water swimming makes its Olympic debut this summer with the 10 kilometre events for men and women.

“After the 10 kilometre, the confidence was a little shot,” said Ballem. “But I woke up this morning knowing this was my last race at a world championships and I wanted to go out on a good note. It definitely gives me confidence that if I get myself up with the leaders I have a chance.”

In the women’s five kilometre, Larisa Ilchenko of Russia earned her second gold clocking one hour and 04.6 seconds. Her compatriot Ekaterina Seliverstova was second in 1:00:07.8 and Chloe Sutton of the U.S., third in 1:00:09.9.

Karley Stutzel of Victoria was 20th and Zsofi Balazs of Toronto 27th.

“Karley swam very strong,” said Stutzel’s coach Ron Jacks. “She has a very strong chance of qualifying for the Games at the test event.”

Competition ends Thursday with the men’s and women’s 25 kilometre races

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