Greek athletes winning swimming competitions: one thing that hasn’t changed recently. Spyros Gianniotis, winner of last year’s Swimming World Championships 10-kilometer race, successfully defended his title on July 22 in Barcelona, Spain, claiming another gold medal for Greece.

Gianniotis clocked in at 1 hour, 49 minutes, 11.8 seconds. Second place went to Thomas Lurz of Germany, who finished 2.7 seconds behind. Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia finished third, 7.4 seconds back.

“I wasn’t feeling so good but I picked it up and got in the first places [for] the last lap and I said to myself, ‘That’s it, go in front and whatever happens, happens,’” Gianniotis told “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, so I tried to stay in front.”

Weather conditions in Barcelona’s harbor were ideal for the race, with the air temperature hovering around 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) while the water held at a comfortable 25 C (77 F). The event consisted of four laps over the 2.5-kilometer L-shaped course.

Gianniotis described the grueling final length of the race, saying “I pushed a bit in the last 300 meters to make a bit of a [gap], in case [Oussama] came really hard. The last 50 meters, I’ve never felt so bad in my life. I was nearly fainting. … My hands were [shaking].”

Gianniotis has been swimming in world competitions for 12 years. This was the fourth medal he has won in the worlds. Gianniotis finished fourth competing at the London Olympics in 2012.

Gianniotis dedicated the win to Greece and his fellow countrymen who are going through a lot of national turmoil back home.

“I wanted to do this at the Olympics and that’s why I was upset,” he said. “This is for my country, my coach and then people who love and support me.”