Richard Weinberger placed fifth in the 10-km open-water marathon swim at FINA World Championships in Barcelona.

Richard Weinberger placed fifth in the 10-km open-water marathon swim at FINA World Championships in Barcelona.

South Surrey’s Weinberger fifth in 10K swim

A missed turn is all that kept Richard Weinberger off the podium at FINA World Championships last week in Barcelona.

A missed turn at a buoy is all that kept South Surrey Olympian Richard Weinberger off the podium at FINA World Swim Championships last week in Barcelona.

Weinberger, a 23-year-old open-water marathon swimmer who won bronze at the 2012 Summer Olympics, placed fifth in the men’s 10-km swim last week, just 0.7 seconds behind bronze-medal winner Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia.

Midway through the grueling race, Weinberger, who was among the lead swimmers at the time, missed a buoy and had to double back to repeat the turn.

After the race, Weinberger called it “a fatal mistake.”

“I’m one of the strongest guys out there and I know I could have come first. It’s just so disappointing that I made such an amateur mistake and I didn’t notice the turning buoy pass on my right,” Weinberger said in a release.

“I know I’m better than that.”

Weinberger, who now lives and trains in Victoria, did make a valiant comeback, but came up just shy of third place after battling for bronze with two other swimmers – Mellouli and France’s Damien Cattin-Vidal.

“We’re disappointed he made a mistake around a buoy and had to make that up. That obviously cost him a little bit more energy than he wanted to put in. He still fought really hard,” said Weinberger’s coach, Ron Jacks. “It shows a lot of character. It shows that he doesn’t give up.”

Later in the week, Weinberger also competed in the toughest race in open-water racing – a 25-km marathon.

In that race, which was won by Germany’s Thomas Lurz, Weinberger – who had never before competed at that distance – finished 26th.