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Saturday, June 16, 2012
To Domestique or Not To Domestique In The Open Water
While Hayes will serve as a domestique by leading the way for his teammates with strong swimming and biking legs, it is difficult to imagine the same thing happening in the Olympic marathon swim.
Years ago at the 2008 World Open Water Swimming Championships, it was publicly reported that the two leading Australian men – Ky Hurst and Grant Hackett – would work together, pulling and pushing each other to strong finishes. The strategy of teamwork and the dual tactics of drafting and positioning never seemed to be implemented. This joint strategy is extremely difficult to execute while the primary focus on each competitor was on qualifying for the 2008 Olympics. So being a domestique was practically not in the cards.
The fundamental problem of implementing a strategy that utilizes an open water swimming domestique is that the larger fields and random draw do not allow easy collusion between swimmers among the international fields and large packs of marathon swimmers. It is highly unlikely that teammates are placed next to one another at the start due to the random draw. Once the race starts, there is simply too much jostling and positioning vis-à-vis the other competitors in close proximity. Whitewater thrashing, close contact and aggressiveness among the swimmers are the practical in-race barriers that prevent teammates from easily finding one other. Even with swim caps of the same color and the same 3-letter country code, it is usually too difficult for the friendly teammates to see and pull alongside their fellow countryman.
If the open water swimmers cannot find each other or position themselves next to one another, they can neither protect nor help one another.
Of course, serving as an open water domestique can be done, but there are also additional barriers to implementation.
At the international level, athletes are competing for medals, series points, money, sponsorship, media attention and pride. This is a profoundly self-oriented motivation. These five goals are difficult to suppress for the world-class athlete. They train, they sacrifice, and therefore each of them wants to win and reach their potential.
Additionally, every race is different. One bad buoy turn, one yellow card, one wrong navigational decision, and the favored swimmer loses to the underdog...and can drop or lose their domestique. The unexpected can happen in the blink of an eye. World-class open water swimmers know this, and possess a mindset of victory from the get-go.
So it is hard to imagine the concept of domestiques at the highest echelons in the open water swimming world, although this has been the assumed strategy of some countries.
On the flip side of the equation, swimming with a buddy, younger athletes or less experienced swimmers is practiced often in the amateur events and mass participation races. Swimming alongside a teammate is helpful, enjoyable and a safe strategy. And in the amateur open water swimming world, this buddy can be a newly found friend who you just met on the shoreline - or even a swimmer of similar ability who pulls up alongside you mid-race.
To domestique or not to domestique, that is a question in the open water.
Copyright © 2012 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.
WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...
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.
This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.
But the farmers almanac was just one example among many.
There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.
In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...
Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:
The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.