Aimee Berg, FINA Press Correspondent in North America

(Lac St-Jean, CANADA) – After a one-month break in the schedule to allow swimmers to compete at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, the FINA Marathon Swim World Series continues this Sunday at Lac St-Jean, Canada, the fifth stop of the nine-city tour.

To get to this small town in south-central Quebec, five athletes in the field will be flying straight from Korea, a daunting 10,500 km (6,500 mile) trip, 13 time zones away.  

Two of those men will be major podium threats: 22-year-old Kristof Rasovszky of Hungary and Fernando Ponte of Brazil. But last year’s winner, Marcel Schouten, is ready to take them on. The Dutchman arrived in Quebec on Monday and hasn’t raced since June 29 so he is acclimated, fresh, and feels no pressure to defend.

“Every race is a new race," Schouten said. "You have to stay easy and relaxed. I have to do my own thing and see where we finish."

Meanwhile, Rasovszky will be seeking his second victory of the 2019 FINA World Series after winning the previous stop in Balatonfured, Hungary. But the Hungarian star had a busy week. In Gwangju, he contested all four events. Last Saturday, he won the 5km. On Tuesday, he placed fourth in the 10km. On Thursday, he helped Hungary place 8th in the mixed 5km relay, and on Friday, he started the 25km but withdrew, reportedly due to stomach issues.

Ponte, the Brazilian who turned 27 on Thursday, finished second to Schouten last year in Lac St-Jean. He only contested one event at worlds, the 5km a full week ago.

In the women’s race, keep an eye on two other athletes who are coming straight from Korea:

Rachele Bruni of Italy, 28, took bronze in the 10km at the world championships last Sunday. She is also the 2016 Rio Olympic silver medalist at the 10km distance.

Anna Olasz of Hungary, like her compatriot Rasovszky, also swam all four events in Korea. Her best individual finish was sixth in the 25km on Friday. Olasz, 25, is also a Rio Olympian who swam for Arizona State University in the US.

Meanwhile, Canadian fans will have plenty to cheer because 16 of the 33 athletes competing on Sunday will hail from the host nation.  

Sunday’s weather is expected to be partly cloudy with a high of 22 degrees Celsius (71 Fahrenheit). The latest water temperature was above 20 degrees so organizers were not expecting wetsuits to be permitted.

The men’s race will begin at 13:05 local time, followed by the women’s start at 13:15.

Top finishers usually complete the six-lap course in approximately two hours.