Florian Wellbrock initially seems rather sober and considered to outsiders. Perhaps this is due to the reluctance often attributed to the North Germans – Wellbrock was born in Bremen. Maybe just because Wellbrock is particularly good at focusing and analyzing.
After his victory over five kilometers at the swimming world championships in Budapest on Monday in the open water of Lake Lupa, the 24-year-old Olympic champion knew immediately why he had won the race: “I really had a great day today, again wonderful Weather, exactly the conditions I want for the open water,” said Wellbrock and spoke of an “almost perfect” competition.
He’s already challenged again on Wednesday, then the ten kilometers are up, the route on which he celebrated his greatest success so far in a year in Tokyo at the Summer Games. “As the defending champion and Olympic champion, you should be among the favorites,” said Wellbrock in his typical way.
Euphoria seems to be alien to him, after the success over five kilometers he was seen on the podium with the other two medal winners Gregorio Paltrineri and Mychajlo Romantschuk taking a selfie. While the competitors, who are equally friends, grinned broadly, Wellbrock’s pride and joy could be seen above all in their eyes.
In this regard, Wellbrock obviously agrees with his coach Bernd Berkhahn, who leads a successful training group in Magdeburg. “The euphoria comes afterwards,” said Berkhahn after his protégé’s title and pointed out that there would be another race.
Irrespective of this, the record of Berkhahn’s team is already impressive. With the exception of one, all German individual medals at the World Championships in Budapest went to his swimmers. Lukas Märtens, who won silver in the 400-meter freestyle last week, and Wellbrock with gold, silver and bronze in the open water and pool. Wellbrock also led the open water relay to the title on Sunday.
Before the race on Wednesday Wellbrock had to recover as much as possible. Because the external conditions will be challenging again with temperatures of around 40 degrees in the air and in the high 20s for the water. “Swim a lot, drink a lot, eat a lot, do a lot of physio, and then that’s fine for the ten kilometers,” said Wellbrock himself.
The fact that Wellbrock put up with the hardships of the World Cup so well may have even surprised him a bit. After all, he has already crawled several races over 800 and 1500 meters in the pool and was in the water three times within 40 hours from Saturday to Tuesday. In addition, his wisdom teeth were pulled during preparation for the World Cup.
“Then I’m excited to see the guys, who are really only here for the open water. Theoretically, they should have a little more energy,” he said, but promised: “I’ll definitely put everything back into it.” And that’s been a lot in these title fights so far, even if, according to his trainer, there’s still potential for improvement would give: “If he had swum the 1500 meters in the pool so courageously and so relaxed, things could have gone differently there,” said Berkhahn and was not entirely satisfied with third place there.
Perhaps that is also one of his swimmers’ secrets of success: they always want to get the best out of them. In this respect, Florian Wellbrock still has room for improvement. After all, he knows his own limit best.