Wild swimming as European open water races end in chaos – Yahoo! Sports

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The 25km open water races at the European Swimming Championships were abandoned in confusion almost two thirds of the way through as the weather deteriorated on Saturday, with organisers deciding they could not declare a winner.

The men’s and women’s races in the sea at Ostia were originally scheduled for Thursday, but called off because of strong winds and big waves.

They were rescheduled for Saturday when thunderstorms were forecast for Friday.

The 5km races were completed on Saturday morning with Sharon Van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands winning the women’s race and Italians Gregorio Paltrinieri and Domenico Acerenza the men’s gold and silver.

The weather had started to worsen by the time the longer races started and the swell then grew worse.

After more than three and a half hours of swimming, with the men having swum 15km and Paltrinieri and Acerenza again one and two, the races were halted.

Italians Barbara Pozzobon and Veronica Santoni had been at the front of the women’s race.

“Due to a case of emergency because of the weather conditions, both chief referees and the safety delegate decided to stop the races immediately for the safety of the Athletes and Officials on the course,” said European Aquatics (LEN) in a statement.

But the judges on land had trouble communicating with those at sea on water scooters in the “extreme conditions”.

This led to confusion over when the race was actually stopped and in telling swimmers.

After a delay of several hours, organisers ruled they could not be sure exactly when racing had stopped and therefore could not determine a final order.

“Since the Chief Referees did not have a view of the final rankings for both races, the LEN Technical Open Water Committee decided to cancel the classification for both races,” said the statement.

It went on to apologise “to all athletes participating in this race, who devoted themselves to hard work to be ready for this event.”

Often when a race is abandoned, the swimmers head straight for the finish to determine the winner, and some contestants did that on Saturday.

“We saw that the race was stopped but we did not have any information,” Julien Issoulie, the French swimming team technical director told AFP.

French swimmer Aurelie Muller, a double 10km world champion and the bronze medallist in the 5km in the morning, tweeted her disapproval.

“Another great promotion of our sport,” she wrote.

The two 10km races and the 5km relays are scheduled for Sunday.

They “are planned to be held according to the schedule,” said the LEN statement. “However, in case of adverse weather conditions, the races can be postponed or cancelled.”

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