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Monday, August 6, 2012

How Olympic Marathon Swimmers Feed (Drink)

The Olympic marathon swimming 10km will come down to a final sprint after 9,900 meters of an increasingly grueling pace.

25 women will weed themselves based on a combination of endurance, stamina, positioning, pacing, tactics...and hydration.

25 men will separate themselves due to strength, strategy, speed...and fueling.

Hydration and fueling are as important to getting on the Olympic podium as is endurance and speed.

He didn’t feed or she didn’t stop for hydration means fans can count out that swimmer when it comes to seeing the medalists.

Maarten van der Weijden of the Netherlands, the 2008 Olympic marathon swimming gold medalist, was a master at fueling and hydrating. He was never rushed and he always positioned himself at the feeding station so other swimmers did not smash into him. He downed his feeds without panic and focused on replenishing his body at the appropriate times.

Then when the time came for a final sprint, van der Weijden was ready to explode with speed.

In the men’s Olympic marathon swim, this may be one of the few advantages that experienced swimmers like Thomas Lurz and Spyridon Gianniotis have over their Tunisian rival Oussama Mellouli. With only two professional 10km marathon swims under his belt, Mellouli lacks the fueling and hydrating experience of the rest of the field.

But his coaches Dave Salo and Catherine Vogt have fast-tracked his open water education and Mellouli has soaked up the information like a sponge.

An intelligent, thoughtful swimmer who has demonstrated his ability to pace well in pool events, Mellouli will undoubtedly be properly hydrated before and during his marathon swimming final on August 10th.

An explanation of the four-step feeding and fueling process commonly used by world-class athletes competing in the Olympic marathon swimming is here (e.g., Seek and Spot, Reach and Roll, Gulp and Go, Toss and Turn).

Other articles on feeding can be found here.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Swimming

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