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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Haley Anderson's Silver Lining At The Olympics

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Haley Anderson, a 20-year-old college senior at the University of Southern California, just missed out on the gold medal by 4 tenths of a second at today's Olympic marathon swimming 10km in Hyde Park.

Outsprinted at the end by Hungary's Eva Risztov, Haley Anderson played to her strengths and took advantage of the situation to capture her first Olympic medal.

When Keri-Anne Payne changed her traditional strategy and did not lead from the front, it changed the complexion of the race - and Risztov and Anderson took advantage.

But Risztov was able to hold off the fast-charging USC senior from California to win an unexpected gold.

"She swam such a great race. She was so good, just 4 tenths [of a second]," recalled her coach Catherine Vogt. "She was smart and tactical. She fed way more than Keri-Anne." Surprisingly, favored Keri-Anne Payne was not really in the medal mix as she changed her traditional strategy of leading from the front to drafting behind. She never quite took control of the race like the two-time world champion normally does. Instead, control was left in the hands of the three-time Hungarian Olympian who retired in 2005 only to make a comeback in open water swimming in 2009.

While the pace was not slow, the pace did favor Anderson whose strength is her closing sprint. Towards the end, she was able to pull away from Payne, bronze medalist Martina Grimaldi and fifth-place Angela Maurer.

Anderson also benefited from the thinned-out pack when other leading contenders like Melissa Gorman, Poliana Okimoto and Swann Oberson fell back (or out of the race). She could concentrate on her stroke and her angles to the buoys and finish instead of worrying about the physicality of the race.

She adapted, played to her strengths and returns to her senior year at university with a silver medal and an even brighter future.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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