7 Aug 2018

Dutch Olympic Champion Ferry Weertman wary of rivals in bid for third 10km European title

Dutchman Weertman may be favourite for Glasgow 2018 glory but he is aware of the challenges that lie in his way.

Dutch Olympic, World and European 10km Champion Ferry Weertman will be the man to beat in the Open Water Swimming competition, which starts at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park on Wednesday.

Weertman (NED) is aiming for a third successive 10km European title, after adding the 2017 World Championship to his gold medal tally that also includes his victory at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

"I did like the underdog status," Weertman said. "But this is the way it is and I don't mind. As long as I'm at my best I don't mind being the guy to beat."

The 10km (marathon swimming) distance is regarded as the blue riband of open water swimming as it is the only event which has Olympic status. The other events at Glasgow 2018 are the men's and women's 5km and 25km and the team mixed relay, with seven gold medals available.

Weertman cites Great Britain's Jack Burnell and 5km World Champion Marc-Antoine Olivier (FRA) as 10km danger men - they finished second and third behind him in the 2016 European Championships. He is also wary of Kristof Rasovszky (HUN).

"Kristov is still young and learning but he has won a lot of world cups (World Series). He is finding his way but improving. It's going to be a good race."

The women's 10km is likely to be just as fascinating, with another Dutch Olympic champion, Sharon Van Rouwendaal, up against European Champion Rachele Bruni (ITA) and her countrywoman Arianna Bridi (ITA), who finished third in 2016.

"The Italian girls are really good and there are some Germans who seem very fast at world cups but, with open water, sometimes you don't know," Van Rouwendaal said.

Italy finished top of the medal table in 2016 but France are expected to challenge.

"We have a young team but we think we can be the best team," Olivier (FRA) said. 

There have been two rule changes since the last European Championships. The mixed team relay is now four swimmers (two men, two women)  instead of three, while wetsuits are compulsory if the water temperature is between 16-18 degrees Celsius.

The Open Water Swimming schedule runs from 8-12 August, split by a training day.