Florian Wellbrock didn’t want to say anything about his completely unsuccessful start to the World Cup. Frustrated and cold, the open water Olympic champion crossed the interview area in Doha and didn’t know why, as defending champion, he had only swum to 29th place over the ten kilometers.

“He’s exhausted. He can’t even explain it and is of course desperate,” said national coach Bernd Berkhahn. “He’s lying in the back and is cold.”

Wellbrock actually wanted to gain further confidence in his own strength with a view to the Olympics in Paris this summer. Now it has to be rebuilt itself.

Things got off to a good start for the German model swimmer with a cool water temperature of 19.9 degrees and strong winds. In front of his parents, who were cheering in the stands, Wellbrock was in the lead at the start of the race and established himself in a leading group. “The first two laps there was no effort, everything was easy,” said Berkhahn. “But after the fourth round he noticed that he was getting cramps. The temperature was already limiting him.”

Leonie Beck also missed a medal

Why that was the case was also a mystery to his coach. “We actually trained on the low temperature,” Berkhahn said. “He didn’t have too many problems there.” Wellbrock’s teammate Oliver Klemet, who won bronze at the last World Championships, was also shaking after the competition. He did not experience a slump like Wellbrock, who finished 1:37.8 minutes behind winner Kristóf Rasovszky from Hungary – even if his eleventh place was also below his own standards.

The day before, Leonie Beck had already clearly missed out on the medals – just like Wellbrock, she started as defending champion, got into the race well and had no strength left at the end. She, Klemet and Wellbrock had already secured Olympic qualification. After the first two of five open water World Cup races, it is now clear: the ambitious German swimmers still have a lot of work to do with a view to the races in the Seine.

Wellbrock still has two distances in mind

The water there will probably be a little colder, but probably not cold enough to allow warming neoprene. To prepare his athletes for this, Berkhahn wants them to train in cool temperatures in the flow channel and prescribe ice baths, among other things.

Before we enter the final phase of preparation for the Olympics, Wellbrock still has a tight program for the World Cup. On Wednesday he is also the reigning champion over five kilometers. Next week he wants to attack the 800 and 1500 meter freestyle in the pool. “He has to eat sensibly now. That’s important,” said Berkhahn. The 52-year-old, who knows Wellbrock very well, added: “It will be a mammoth task to solve everything now. But we are doing the best.”