Belgrade 2024: World-class field to take to the open water at Ada Ciganlija

Published On: June 11, 2024

Credit to: European Aquatics

Olympic, World and European medallists are among a world-class field of open water swimmers at the European Aquatics Championships Belgrade 2024.

The open water will take place from 12-15 June at Ada Ciganlija, a popular recreational area situated on an island in the Sava River, near the Serbian capital.

The 5k, 10k and 25k races will be contested by both men and women, showcasing the strength of European open water swimming, a little over six weeks before Paris 2024 gets underway.

Credit to: European Aquatics

The women’s 10k gets the action started on Wednesday 12 June with a field of 25 swimmers taking to the water.

Among them will be Leonie Beck, who won the 5/10k double at the 2023 World Championships and is the defending European champion following her Roma 2022 success.

The German will be joined by Doha 2024 silver medallist Maria de Valdes Alvarez of Spain, Italian World medallists Giulia Gabbrielleschi, Ginevra Taddeuci and Barbora Pozzobon, as well as Hungarian pair Bettina Fábián – overall winner of the European Aquatics Open Water Cup 2023 – and World and European medallist Anna Olasz.

Beck welcomed the timing of Belgrade 2024 as the final preparation before the Olympics.

“It’s a little bit hot, didn’t expect that but all in all, it’s really nice to be here, to have a European Championship race as the last one before the Olympics,” she said.

“We have a lot of races this season, plenty to choose from, and the timing of this Europeans is good, to have a last big event in less than two months before the 10K in Paris.

Fábián also stressed the importance of having such a high-quality event ahead of Paris 2024. “This is an important last step before the Olympics,” she said.

“Of course, the race in Paris is in our focus and we haven’t tapered particularly for these Europeans, I’ve had a couple of lighter practices over the last two days after the heavy loads in the training camp.

“Still, I’m very much looking forward to swimming here and I’m really excited to see what I can achieve here.”

Credit to: European Aquatics

Kristof Rasovszky and Gregorio Paltrinieri, who won silver and bronze respectively at the Tokyo Olympics, are among a 30-strong men’s field.

Rasovszky won the title at the 2024 World Championships where he also anchored the Hungarian quartet to bronze in the Team event.

The Hungarian told European Aquatics: “Great course, the water is a bit warm but it’s open water, you have to compete in any environment.

“Practices went really well, I clocked great 800m splits recently: the last time I had similar times was before Fukuoka where I had a really good meet, so I’m excited to see how I’ll fare here.

“This should be a good final test before the Olympics.”

Paltrinieri has five European open water titles across Budapest 2020 and Roma 2022 and two golds among seven World open water medals.

He’ll be joined by Italian team-mates Domenico Acerenza, a three-time European champion, and Dario Verani, the 2022 World 25k champion.

Paltrinieri said: “I’ve had only pool competitions in recent weeks so I need a good open water race before heading to Paris. I will do only the 10K, and I hope it’s going to be a good performance.

“Training went well, I had good feelings but of course the Olympics is the most important.”

Credit to: European Aquatics

With Rio 2016 bronze medallist Marc-Antoine Olivier, who won 5k and 10k silver in Doha, and bronze medallist Hector Pardoe also competing, it means the entire 2024 Worlds podium will take to the water on 12 June.

The Frenchman looked to the championships’ significance ahead of a home Games in Paris, saying: “This is a test for me, the last race before the Olympics, a really important one.

“My last two 10km went really well and I wish to keep the level here at the Europeans. Will do the 5K, 10K and the relay, I might try some new tactics, so I can have a good impression where we are now.”

The men get the 5k underway the following day with Rasovszky and Olivier returning for the shorter race among a field of 25 men.

Awaiting will be Marcello Guidi, who finished second in the overall standings at the European Aquatics Open Water Cup 2023, and Rasovszky’s team-mate David Betlehem.

Beck will also go in the 5km, the German one of an 18-strong field that also includes Rachele Bruni, winner of three European golds in the shortest race, and Oceane Cassignol of France who was fifth in Doha.

The 25k races will take place on Friday 14 June where eight men will contest the title.

Mario Sanzullo, Dario Verani and Matteo Furlan ensured an Italian clean sweep of the podium at Roma 2022 and return in Belgrade.

Also competing will be Axel Reymond, the double World champion and three-time European gold medallist, 12 years after claiming his first continental medal with bronze at Piombino 2012.

Six women will take to the water including Italian pair Pozzobon and Veronica Santoni, silver and bronze medallists respectively at Roma 2022.

Credit to: European Aquatics

The Team event will bring the open water programme to a close on Saturday 15 June.

Italy have won six of the seven times it has been contested since being introduced at Dubrovnik 2008.

Bruni, Taddeucci, Paltrinieri and Acerenza comprised the winning team at the 2022 European Championships with all four swimmers competing in Belgrade.