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Barcelona, Spain • Spyridon Gianniotis of Greece defended his title in the grueling 10-kilometer open water event at the swimming world championships Monday, surging ahead on the final lap to avoid a sprint with Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli.
Gianniotis finished in 1 hour, 49 minutes, 11.8 seconds in the waters of Barcelona's harbor. Five-time world champion Thomas Lurz of Germany was second, 2.7 seconds behind, and Mellouli was third, 7.4 back.
Mellouli won Saturday's 5K race with an impressive sprint finish, and the Tunisian was at or near the lead for much of this event. But Gianniotis pulled ahead on the final lap.
"I wasn't feeling so good, but I picked it up and got in the first places the last lap, and I said to myself, 'That's it, go in front and whatever happens, happens,'" Gianniotis said. "I'm quite good on sprinting but not like Oussama. ... I knew that if it goes to the end, even if he's more tired than me, he's got more speed than me."
Gianniotis skipped the 5K, in which Lurz took bronze, and appeared fresher than his rivals.
While the race began at noon under a searing sun with an air temperature of 86 degrees, water conditions were ideal at 77. Swimmers completed four laps over the 2.5-kilometer L-shaped course in Barcelona's harbor, as fans watched from the shore.