Toronto’s Balazs breaks into top 20 in open water battle


Source: Swimming Canada

BARCELONA – Toronto’s Zsofi Balazs achieved herbest-ever FINA World Championships result in a tightly packedwomen’s 10-kilometre open water marathon in BarcelonaTuesday.

Balazs finished 19th in a time of 1:58:28.5, which was 9.3seconds off the pace of Brazilian Paliana Okimoto Cintra. It was a1-2 finish for Brazil, as Ana Marcela Cunha came in 0.3 secondslater.

Angela Alexandra Maurer of Germany was one second behindOkimoto Cintra to round out the top 3.

The largest gap between swimmers from 1 through 19 was just 1.1seconds. Balazs made up a half-second on the leader on the finallap but dropped four positions in the close pack.

“That was probably one of the hardest 10k’sI’ve done,” said Balazs, who turned 23 earlier thismonth. “It’s one of the ones that I’m most proudof also. Everyone stayed together the entire time. It was justfight, fight, fight, none of the girls would give up and the packnever spread out.”

She said she looked to teammate Richard Weinberger asinspiration for the race. Weinberger battled back into medalcontention in Monday’s men’s 10-km despite losing timeto repeat a turn after missing a buoy.

“Seeing Richard yesterday, he just never gave up. I wentinto the race just saying that if he could do it, then I better notgive up,” Balazs said.

Nadine Williams of Sherwood Park, Alta., moved up one spot onthe final lap to come 35th in the 53-swimmer field at 2:01:50.4.For both swimmers it was an improvement on their 2011 worldchampionships results in Shanghai, when Balazs was 40th andWilliams 44th.

“Both Zsofi and Nadine acquitted themselves exceptionallywell in the world championships field. I think for Zsofi to breakinto the top 20 was a really solid performance. She was incontention all the way through the race and over the next fouryears she’s going to build on the improvement thatshe’s made here, ready to step it forwards,” saidSwimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson.

“The same as Nadine, she broke into the top 40. I thinkthey’ll both take things away from this to put into practiceinto other competitive swims that they have.”

Balazs, who came 18th out of 25 swimmers at the 2012 Olympics inLondon, said she was hoping for an even better result.

“I was kind of hoping to be a little further up butit’s still my best placing at worlds so I guess I’lltake it,” she said.

“She wasn’t far off first at all so I thinkshe’s got to be pretty happy with that swim,” addedopen water coach Ron Jacks.

Next on the open water schedule is the 5-km team event Thursday.Canada will select two men and one woman to compete in the race,with gold going to the first country to get all three of itsswimmers across the finish line.

Meanwhile, Canada’s pool team is scheduled to travel toBarcelona Wednesday from its staging camp in Torremolinos, Spain.The pool competition runs from Sunday through Aug. 4.

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