World champion Gregorio Paltrinieri headlines a star-studded line-up for the opening event of the 2023 season which also features fellow Italians – and joint LEN Open Water Cup women’s overall champions from 2022 – Giulia Gabbrielleschi and Ginevra Taddeucci.
Olympic medallists Kristof Rasovsky (Hungary) and Marc-Antoine Olivier (France) will also take to the water in Eilat, Israel, on 18 March in the men’s 10km event.
The race will see swimmers complete six laps of the 1666 m lap course, at the Religious Beach, Eilat (Ha’Datiyim Beach), which is located on the Red Sea, known for its crystal clear waters.
European champion 10km champion Domenico Acerenza of Italy is another leading contender on the men’s side, which also features countryman and ultra-distance specialist Dario Verani, who claimed the World and European 25km titles in 2022.
Paltrinieri claimed the men’s title after winning the opening three races in 2022 and will be looking for another strong start to the season when the 10km race begins in the early hours of Saturday morning in Eilat.
“The LEN Open Water Cup is really important for experience and the more you race the more you learn about yourself and what you’re capable of,” Paltrinieri tells LEN.
“It’s another chance to compete and travel to beautiful places so I’m looking forward to it.”
In addition to the joint defending champions, the women’s line-up will feature regular major medal-winners Aurélie Muller (France) and Leonie Beck (Germany), as well as Angelica André of Portugal, who claimed 10km bronze at the Roma 2022 Europeans.
Host-nation hopes will be led by Matan Roditi who was fourth at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The opening race of the 2023 LEN Open Water Cup series will also see Hungarian starlets Fabian Bettina and David Betlehem begin their campaigns.
The duo claimed their respective women’s and men’s World junior open water titles in 2022.
In addition to European athletes, Australia will contribute 13 swimmers to the men’s and women’s 10km events as they continue their build up to the 2023 World Championships in Japan, which offer the first opportunity for athletes to claim places at Paris 2024.
A prize fund of 10,000 Euro is on offer in Eilat, which is divided between the best three ranked European female and male swimmers – 1st €2500, 2nd €1500, 3rd €1000.