Claudia Ruiz, FINA Press Correspondent in Mexico

Famous open water swimmers Peter Stoychev (BUL) and Britta Kamrau-Corestein (GER) were winners of the fourth race of the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix 2009 series. This event was held at Mexico’s beautiful Sumidero Canyon in the Grijalva River on April 18, where Stoychev imposed a new record for the 15km route with a time of 3h9m49s. The men’s competition was a true battle of the titans, marked by vigorous duels between Stoychev, Diego Nogueira (ESP), Ivan Lopez (MEX) and Michael Dimitriev (ISR), as each swimmer alternated in the lead position.

During the final sprint for victory however, Stoychev imposed his physical power and mental strength to touch first. Diego Nogueira (ESP) was second, and Ivan Lopez (MEX) finished third.


Kamrau-Corestein took honours in the women's field with a time of 3h24m25s, but not without a struggle against her compatriot and long-time rival Angela Maurer. Throughout the race most of the female competitors swam in a close pack, but in the final stages the two famous Germans broke away for the win. The pair swam very hard - shoulder-to-shoulder - for about 150m until Britta touched first. Third place was reserved for Daniela Inacio (POR), first medal for Portugal at this level.



The race in Sumidero

At the end of the competition Stoychev said: "I did not, at any time, feel under pressure - not to win - but as the trip progressed I made my best effort to deliver my final attack. It was a big job; as it was for the other swimmers. I had to make the final, deciding sprint much too early, as we all approached the end together.” The Sumidero Canyon 2009 winner explained that "the effort made in the skills of open water is quite exhausting; you must have a physical and spiritual strength to succeed."

The previous record of Grand Prix Sumidero Canyon belonged to Ivan Lopez (MEX) from 2008 when he won the gold medal in 3h13m52s.

A pleased Diego Nogueira said the following after the race: "One of my main goals is to lower my marks to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, because I missed being in Beijing by only four tenths of a second; a situation which I do not want to repeat, so I am in full preparation to achieve my goal."

The starting point of this international competition is the impressive “Cave of Silence” geological formation within the Canyon, and the swimmers’ destination point was the Dam Manuel Moreno Torres in the town of Chicoasen, in Chiapas state.

Among the participating nations were Syria, Slovenia, Italy, Argentina, Israel, Spain, Bulgaria, Portugal, Mexico, Guatemala and Germany. A good crowd of supporters turned out to cheer the swimmers and the race received national television, radio and press coverage.

The river, with many greenish-blue hues, contributes to the distinctive natural beauty of the Canyon, which is considered an ecological reserve in Mexico and the world. The swimmer’s pass the "Christmas Tree" geological formation along their route, where humidity from rain and water trickling down the rock face have caused mosses and grasses to cling to the overhanging rocks for a millennia. The partial evaporation of the rainwater leaves a tiny bit of calcium on the rock and over hundreds of years, the deposited calcium, in combination with the accumulating foliage, has formed natural “terraces” in the shape of a Christmas tree.