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Sunday, January 10, 2010
The Ilchenko - A Powerful Move In The Open Water
Even sports announcers have been associated with memorable verbal descriptions of sports events (e.g., the Miracle on Ice, he could…go…all…the…way! and back-back-back-back)
Perhaps open water swimming announcers should be describing the closing kick of 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 world champion and the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medalist Larisa Ilchenko of Russia as “The Ilchenko”?
Larisa’s trademark move is a classic to watch and extremely difficult to compete against. She expertly drafts off of the lead swimmers for a majority of the race, aggressively protecting her #2 or #3 position in the pack, which is difficult to consistently do throughout a 2-hour 10K race. Then, around the last turn buoy, she gets ready to make her signature move. With the finish approaching, sometimes with less than 100 meters to go, Larisa picks up her kicking speed and literally swims around her competition, often on the opposite side to which her opponents breathe, to win the race.
Much easily said than done, Larisa puts in tremendous hours and work to be able to pull off The Ilchenko. Recently, she told former world champion Shelley Taylor-Smith that she has not taken a day off in 2008. "I only had 7 days out of the water in 2007. I am looking forward to some time off I hope."
The dominance of Larisa has stymied her competition ever since she first won the 5K world championships in 2004 in Dubai. Year in and year out, at every major race, everyone knows Larisa's blazing finish will come...they just can't seem to do anything about it. Fast pace, slow pace, ocean, lake, Larisa comes through at the end with “The Ilchenko”.
At the Singapore leg of the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup, Shelley asked Larisa's competitors how they plan to dethrone her.
Fourth-place Olympic 10K Marathon Swim finisher Angela Maurer of Germany told Taylor-Smith, "The difference between Larisa and the rest [of us] is not that she is faster, but that she swims smarter than the rest of the competitors."
Brazilian open water swimming coach Igor de Souza said of his swimmer, "…we will now go back and prepare…on becoming a 'smart racer'. She must learn to race. Speed is important, yes. But thinking like a 10K marathon swimmer is what wins. I believe that is what it is going to take to beat Larisa."
Easier said than done.
To equate "The Ilchenko" with a land-based move, sports fans are reminded of the incredible 10K run at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics of Billy Mills which is considered one of the greatest individual efforts in Olympic history. Just as Mills barreled down the runway in the 10,000-meter run in Tokyo to the surprise of everyone, Larisa flies down the straightaway in her 5K and 10K swims...to the surprise of none.
Photos by Pei Qingsheng at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Copyright © 2008 by World Open Water Swimming Association
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Open Water Swimming Magazine
Open Water Swimming MagazineThe Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.
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The Other Shore
The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.
2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac
An Almanac for Open Water SwimmingAn almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.
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The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.