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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Olympic Glory In The Serpentine

A little more than 13 months before the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim and the 25 Olympic 10K finalists now have a good idea of what to expect.

The details of the long-awaited course in the Serpentine are now posted online here.

On August 13th this year, the London 10km Marathon Swimming International will act as the London 2012 Olympic 10K Marathon Swimming test event. It will be an opportunity for the world’s best swimmers to compete on the Olympic 10K course and battle for medals over six laps of the Serpentine. The test event will also give the organizers, coaches and media an idea of what to expect in 2012.

The first 30 ranked male and female swimmers from the 2011 FINA World Championships 2011 in Shanghai this July will be invited to compete in London event.

In one of the world's most celebrated urban parks, the 60 athletes will swim six loops around the tight 1.66K course. Hyde Park is one of the Royal Parks of London, famous for its Speakers' Corner. The Serpentine (also known as the Serpentine River) is a 28-acre recreational lake within the park that was created in 1730. From a spectator's perspective, the athletes will be easy to watch.

The course (shown here) will demand that the world's fastest marathon swimmers provide their aerobic endurance, navigational skills, physicality, speed and strategic tactics. With two longer stretches, the athletes will have to simply swim extremely fast 12 times. However, those long stretches where the pack will undoubtedly lengthen out will be alternated by two short legs. During these short legs, the athletes will have to make four directional changes within 350 meters or so. If an athlete is boxed out or has poor position around these turns, then any advantages gained on the longer legs will disappear.

What makes the course additionally interesting is that the feeding station is positioned right before these tight turns and athletes will undoubtedly have to feed fast in order to maintain their positioning in the pack.

The athletes will be swimming in the clockwise direction and their split times will be taken every lap as they pass through an intermediate timing gate near the start and finish structure. While the VIP seating is near the start and finish, spectators will be allowed - and encouraged - to stand around the course and take in the majesty of the world's best open water swimming showcasing their skills and level of fitness only meters from the shoreline.

And the finish should be one for the ages. As the athletes make three consecutive right shoulder turns only minutes before they slam hard to the finish line, their perspective will change on the last directional tangent which is oriented to the left. So it is right...right...right...left and then a quick 100-meter dash for Olympic glory.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source

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