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The start of something extraordinary

Radford Solid in Blistering Open Water Race at World Championships

Rotorua swimmer Kane Radford produced his strongest performance to finish 20th in a blistering men’s 10km open water swim at the FINA World Swimming Championships in Barcelona today.

The New Zealander dropped off the top group in the final 800m dash to clock 1:49.43, which was 28 seconds behind winner Spyridon Gianniotis (Greece) who took out his second 10km world title ahead of Sunday’s 5km silver medallist Thomas Peter Lurz (GER) and Olympic gold medallist Oussama Mellouli (TUN).

Swimming New Zealand Open Water manager Philip Rush said that Radford had impressed in what he believes was arguably the strongest men’s 10km open water field ever assembled and the most impressive race.

“It was the best racing I have ever seen. It was hard and very fast from the gun,” Rush said.

“Kane was really targeting a top-16 finish and was very close to that. This field was stronger than at the Olympics last year and he definitely has improved significantly from last year when he could not go with the pace.”

Radford was in the leading group through 5kms, and was sitting safely in the pack as they went through the 7.5km mark in a slick 1:23.27, sitting alongside Gianniotis and Lurz just behind Mellouli.

The leaders turned up the pace over the final 2.5km loop in the Barcelona Marina, going nearly two minutes faster than in any of the three previous laps.

“Kane fought hard to hang in there, and it was only really in the final 400m that he ran out of legs. He has worked very hard in the lead-up and this is a much improved performance and his best effort at the worlds. Tactically he was very good.

“It is still a case of work in progress for him and with three years to the Rio Olympics there are definite signs that he continue to step up.”

Compatriot Phillip Ryan from Auckland’s Waterhole club finished 45th in the 65-strong field in 1:51.11.

Tomorrow Cara Baker and Emma Robinson compete in the women’s 10km open water swim, with the pool competition beginning on Monday (NZ time).

Results, Men 10km Open Water Swim: Spyridon Gianniotis (GRE) 1:49.11, 1; Thomas Peter Lurz (GER) 1:49.14, 2; Oussama Mellouli (TUN) 1:49.19, 3. Also: Kane Radford (NZL) 1:49.43, 20; Phillip Ryan (NZL) 1:51.11, 45.