Thomas Lurz chugged to another gold medal in open water, the sea no match for a 33-year-old man and his powerful strokes, the Rio Olympics still very much in the realm of possibility.
Si Yajie hurled herself off the 10m-tall tower, a waif of a teenager twisting and spinning against the magnificent backdrop of Barcelona, just the latest prodigy in China’s diving empire.
It was a day for old and young at the world swimming championships.
Lurz led Germany to victory in the 5km team competition on Thursday, more than a minute ahead of the next team to finish. He remains a formidable force, with the next Olympics just three years away.
“I haven’t thought of Rio that much,” Lurz said. “I have to take care what I’m going to do after swimming. We will see what’s going to happen these next few years, but I still feel good. As it stands now, I see no reason to stop. This is a great accomplishment.”
Si is just getting started.
In her first major international competition, the 14-year-old edged two-time Olympic gold medalist and defending world champion Chen Ruolin on the 10m platform at Montjuic Municipal Pool.
The facility was the site of diving at the 1992 Olympics. Si looked as though she is on her way to going for gold at the 2016 Games, bouncing back from a slight wobble on her fourth dive to beat her countrywoman — one of the sport’s biggest stars.
In the synchronized swimming Russia made it five-for-five as Svetlana Romashina and Svetlana Kolesnichenko easily won the duet, adding to their victory in the duet technical. Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen of China earned the silver, while Spain’s Ona Carbonell and Margalida Crespi Jaume settled for bronze.
Romashina has now won four golds in Barcelona and 14 in her world championship career. Russia are heavily favored to take the final two synchro events and duplicate their sweep at the Shanghai worlds in 2011.
Lurz knows there will come a time when he has to get on with life after swimming. Yet the way things are going, he sees no need to trade his swimsuit for a business suit.
The German team, which also included Christian Reichert and Isabelle Harle, completed two laps around the Barcelona harbor course in 52 minutes, 54.9 seconds. They went out fourth in the staggered start, four minutes behind Russia in the leadoff spot, but passed the Russians as well as New Zealand and Italy to touch ahead of everybody, giving Lurz his sixth career gold at worlds.
Lurz won his third medal of these championships and first gold. If he needs any additional motivation for Rio, he has yet to win an Olympic gold.
“It’s great to win a race I’ve never won before,” Lurz said. “Now this is something I have done in my career. I’m very proud of it.”
Ruolin has not given up on competing in her third Olympics, though the 21-year-old is already at an age when China begins to phase out its top female divers in favor of younger competitors.
“There’s always someone who wins and someone who loses,” Chen said. “You can’t always be right at the top all the time. When you fail, it’s how you face your failures. It’s very important to keep moving forward and look toward longer goals.”
Si and Chen were tied for first place after their second and third dives, but Chen struggled on her fourth attempt and that was all the edge the youngster needed. She pulled slightly ahead, nailed her final dive and finished with 392.15 points. Her teammate totaled 388.70, while Iuliia Prokopchuk of Ukraine took bronze with 358.40.