Aussie is swimming marathon champ

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 October, 2012, 2:36am

Rhys Mainstone of Australia scored a consolation prize yesterday by clinching the men's championship in the Fina Panasonic Marathon Swimming World Cup event in Repulse Bay.

Mainstone, 22, from Perth missed out on the Olympics this summer, but partly made up for that disappointment with the biggest win of his career in the five-lap, 10-kilometre race.

Finishing in one hour, 57 minutes and 36.2 seconds, he beat Thomas Lurz of Germany, the London Games silver medallist, to second place. Spyridon Gianniotis of Greece, fourth in London and the world champion in Shanghai last year, finished third.

"This is amazing, as this is the first time I've beaten these guys," said the champion. "I am very happy with how I swam today.

"I missed the Olympic Games but watched it on television. I studied hard how they swim and tried to implement that in my race plan. I just stuck to what I know best, knew what I can do in training, and I was lucky enough to come over to win today."

Mainstone said the conditions in Hong Kong were ideal for him. "I am from Perth and we are in a similar time zone. Today's weather and conditions are perfect and exactly just like Australia. It was like racing in my backyard."

Hong Kong's best finisher in the US$20,000 race was Darwin Lee Yeung, 22nd out of 34.

Mainstone now looks forward to this weekend's race in Shantou, which completes the eight-stage World Cup series of the year.

In the women's race, Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil got her first victory after six appearances in Hong Kong, beating Cara Baker of New Zealand and Angela Maurer of Germany to a joint second place.

"My mother told me to dye my hair red, which would bring me good luck, and it worked wonders," said the Brazilian, who is the current leader in the World Cup series rankings. "I'll probably do it again in future."