Ireland’s Chris Bryan came agonisingly close to Olympic qualification today at the FINA Open Water 10K Marathon in Setubal, Portugal. The Ennis swimmer finished in 15th position overall in 1:46:30.7 behind Hungarian Csaba Gercsak who also touched in 1:46:30.7. However, the Hungarian was placed ahead of Bryan in 14th place by a photo finish and was allocated the final European spot for the Olympic Games based on this ranking.
The top nine finishers in the race were given automatic qualification to the London Games, one place was then allocated to Great Britain as the host Nation. The final five spots were allocated to one per continent which were Asia (10th) , South America (11th) , Europe (14th), Australasia (27th) and Africa (36th). Ten swimmers had already qualified for the Games at the World Championships in 2011.
Bryan put in a valiant effort throughout the race and moved from 29th position at the start of the last lap and into the top 15 of 61 swimmers. The race was won by Italy’s Valerio Cleri in 1:45:36.8
Ireland’s Chris Bryan will compete this Sunday (10th June) in Setubal, Portugal at the FINA Olympic Marathon Swimming Qualifier with high hopes of earning Ireland’s first ever spot in the 10km Open Water race at the Olympics.
Bryan from Ennis, Co. Clare, swim’s at Swim Ireland’s Limerick High Performance Centre under Coach Ronald Claes and will be aiming to be within the Top 9 crossing the finish line to secure his place for London 2012 and become the first Irish competitor to compete in the Open Water Marathon at the Olympic Games since its introduction in Beijing in 2008.
Bryan is accompanied in Portugal by his brother Damien who acts as Team Manager and Swim Ireland Performance Director Peter Banks. “Chris has progressed really well in last two years in Open Water Swimming. This is a great opportunity for him and I believe he will do a great job. Ireland has never had an Open water swimmer at this level, so this is a new era in Irish swimming” commented Banks.
Bryan, who was originally a distance pool swimmer has made a smooth transition from the pool to Open Water over the last two years where he has had some very impressive finishes and has made great progress to date, most recently finishing 3rd at the LEN European Open Water 10K Cup in Turkey in May, he was also the first ever Irish swimmer to compete at an Open Water World Championship in 2011.
Already, ten swimmers have qualified for the Olympic Open Water Marathon based on results at the World Championships in 2011. There are 15 more places up for grabs on Sunday. A Top 9 finish on Sunday will guarantee Olympic qualification for Bryan.