High diving performances during announcement of the FINA Marathon Swimming and High Diving World Cup Competitions. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Rachele Bruni of Italy, Open Water World Cup Champion, is keen to defend her title in the second leg the FINA/HOSA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup to be held here at the waters of Cornish on Friday.

Bruni comes into the meet at the back of a resounding win in the first leg at Patagones-Viedma, Argentina.

The Italian champion, who was present at the press briefing to announce the event on Wednesday, revealed that she was in the best of shape and was looking to build on the victory she recorded in Argentina. “I won in Argentina two weeks back and it was a good race but it is little different from here because of the flow as it was in a river,” said Bruni, who had brushed the challenge from Brazilian Poliana Okimoto by a mere three seconds to get her hands on the title in Argentina.

Bruni, who has also qualified for the Rio Olympics, went on to reveal that all her preparations were keeping the Games in mind.

“It is my first Olympics and I want to make it count. It is a dream to get into Olympics and I’m confident of winning at Rio in my first attempt … why not?,” said Bruni, adding that, she had been training hard. “Last year was a good year as I won the World Cup and it was a great experience. This year is the Olympic Games so I want to build myself perfectly for that race. I will try to do my best in all the competitions as the level of Olympics will be very high,” revealed the 25-year-old, who felt that the competition in Abu Dhabi will be testing given the strong field.

“This event will be a little harder because of the competitors. Almost all Olympics competitors — nine of the ten are here and it is good because it will test you. Tough competition is what I’m looking at as of now,” said Bruni, who apart from her win in Viedma and Abu Dhabi had also won in Setubal, Portugal and Lac Megantic, Canada last year to claim the overall title.

Frenchman Axel Reymond, has missed out on the Olympic berth, but he too is keen to make amends as he has age by his side.

“It was hugely disappointing to miss out on the Games in Rio, but I’m just 22 and 2020 is my target now. It would be good to defend the title I won here last time round,” said Reymond, who was fifth in Argentina.

Reymond, however, is well aware that he has his task cut out to hold on to his crown, but was banking on his previous experience to get the desired result.

“It is going to be a good race and there are a lot of good swimmers here so the competition will be of high quality. I’m aware of the course here and that would give an edge. Hopefully, I can make that count,” revealed Reymond.

The FINA High Diving World Cup will also be held simultaneously this year and it will include two separate events: a men’s competition in five rounds and a women’s competition in two rounds. The men will perform dives from a 27m platform and the women from a 20m platform. Also an Open Water Swim is designed to give swimmers of all ages and abilities a chance to experience the sport of open water swimming. The swim distances range from a Junior Splash of 300 metres, team relays and one mile (1600m) swim around an elite course.