The stakes were high and there was no room for failure, considering Seychelles is the first African country to host this elite 10km open swimming competition
It was difficult to predict the outcome of the day, after the Indian Ocean archipelago was hit by bad weather at the start of the weekend, which resulted in the cancellation of a mass event planned for Saturday, with the aim of engaging the population.
In spite of some passing showers, the skies eventually cleared up on Sunday allowing the elite 10km races to take place. The women were the first to hit the waters at 8am, followed by the men’s race at around 11am.
A total of 52 registered swimmers — 26 men and 26 women — from Italy, Germany, Brazil, China, Netherlands, Japan, Hungary, France, Canada, UK, South Africa, Ecuador, Seychelles, Kazakhstan, and Qatar, took part in the competition .
After some intense swimming, the national anthem of Italy echoed twice, while the Italian flag was raised late Sunday afternoon, as two Italians swimmers, Arianna Bridi and Simone Ruffini came out as the winners of the women’s and men’s race, respectively.
In spite of finding the water a little bit warm, Bridi finished the 10km race in 1 hour, 58 minutes, 32 seconds, and fellow countryman, Ruffini took 1 hour, 49 minutes and 41 seconds to complete the challenge.
As per FINA’s rule, once the winner passes the finishing line, the others have 30 minutes to complete the race. The only Seychellois swimmers taking part in the elite competition, brothers, Bertrand and Damien Payet, did the country proud when they achieved this feat. Damien, aged 14, was ranked 23rd and Bertrand, aged 16, was ranked 24th at the end of the race.
The organisers including the Seychelles Swimming Association, National Sports Council, FINA, and the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) have all expressed satisfaction with the outcome of this high profile sporting event.
STB was a key partner that not only contributed SCR2 million towards the event, but was also very much involved with the marketing side and in attracting international press, including South Africa’s SuperSport channel and others from China, South Korea and Reunion Island to provide coverage.
The STB Chief Executive, Sherin Francis said: “We are extremely happy with the outcome of the event. We are looking forward to see all the images because we know that this will be very good publicity that will help boost the Seychelles profile. The presence of international media and the subsequent publicity on the international scene, will surely attract more participants for the coming years that the country will be hosting the event, and later on, to come back with their families to visit the islands.”
The second series of the FINA/Hosa Marathon Swim World Series ended with an appreciation evening held at the Savoy Resort and Spa at Beau Vallon, where the international delegates were also given a taste of the Seychellois culture.
Speaking at the event, both the Chairperson of the Seychelles Swimming Association, David Vidot, and FINA delegate, Sid Cassidy, said they were impressed and satisfied with the way the event turned out, describing it as a great success.
The 2018 FINA Marathon Swim World Series will now move to Portugal, Hungary, Canada, China, Taiwan, before ending in the United Arab Emirates in November.
It is to ne noted that Seychelles will be hosting one of nine series of the FINA/Hosa Marathon Swim World Series for three more years.