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Friday, August 10, 2012

Surprises And The Future Of Olympic Marathon Swimming

With the conclusion of the Olympic marathon swim at the 2012 London Olympic Games, there were several surprises and positive outcomes that resulted.

1. Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia (1:49:55.1) powered to an Olympic victory, giving Tunisia and Africa its first Olympic marathon swimming gold. His participation is also adequate evidence that open water swimming does not cause pool swimmers to get slower or destroy their swimming stroke as many age-group and competitive pool coaches fear, but can be a positive addition to their aquatic repertoire. His fast time also proves that the athleticism and abilities of the elite open water swimmers will continue its upward trajectory.

2. Thomas Lurz of Germany (1:49:58.5) capped off a long and illustrious career with a courageous swim against one of the world's fastest waterman, losing by only 3.5 seconds.
3. Richard Weinberger of Canada (1:50:00.3) proved himself a force to come for at least 2 or 3 future Olympic quadrennials
4. Spyridon Gianniotis of Greece (1:50:05.3) gave it all he had for his highest Olympic finish ever over his career.
5. Daniel Fogg of Great Britain (1:50:37.3) finished well for a top 5 finish and will give Weinberger challenges for years to come.
6. Sergey Bolshakov of Russia (1:50:40.1) will remain a stalwart in the sport but will be angling to climb back into the top 3.
7. Vladimir Dyatchin of Russia (1:50:42.8) may have capped a brilliant career on the world's stage but will be a force on shorter swims over many years.
8. Andreas Waschburger of Germany (1:50:44.4), another young swimmer, will push Weinberger throughout the 2106 Rio Olympics and possibly beyond to 2020.
9. Petar Stoychev of Bulgaria (1:50:46.2) is moving on after a most remarkable career spanning world records and 4 consecutive Olympics.
10. Alex Meyer of the USA (1:50:48.2) is another young gun with plenty of upside, especially his performance despite a horrific collarbone break.
11. Julien Sauvage of France (1:50:51.3) can continue to improve and will be in the mix in the future.
12. Troyden Prinsloo of South Africa (1:50:52.9) can continue to develop in this sport.
13. Erwin Maldonado of Venezuela (1:50:52.9) another strong swim for one of the fastest South Americans.
14. Igor Chervynskiy of Ukraine (1:50:56.9) gave a good battle after a long career.
15. Yasunari Hirai of Japan (1:51:20.1) gave hope to a country that helped initiate the sport of open water swimming over 2,000 years ago.
16. Brian Ryckeman of Belgium (1:51:27.1) was cold and finished far below his 2008 Olympic performance but, as is the case with him, he never gave us in the fine tradition of marathon swimmers.
17. Valerio Cleri of Italy (1:51:29.5) was nowhere near where he wanted to be at the end of the race and did not equal the performance of Martina Grimaldi, his female Italian teammate.
18. Csaba Gercsak of Hungary (1:51:30.9) finished well back of his goal, failing to equal the performance of Eva Risztov, his Hungarian female teammate.
19. Arseniy Lavrentyev of Portugal (1:51:37.2) was in his second Olympics as he cracked the top 20.
20. Ky Hurst of Australia (1:51:41.3) was disappointedly 20th mirroring some of the unexpected performances of his fellow Aussie swimmers.
21. Ivan Enderica Ochoa of Ecuador (1:52:28.6) didn't crack the top 20 but gave hope to other Ecuadorean swimmers.
22. Yuriy Kudinov of Kazakhstan (1:52:59.0) towards the tail end of his career was most happy to qualify for the Olympics.
23. Francisco Jose Hervas of Spain (1:53:27.8) could not handle the cooler waters of the Serpentine and is most definitely a warm-water swimmer.
24. Mazen Aziz Metwaly of Egypt (1:54:33.2) is also a warm-water swimmer and teammate of Gercsak in America.
25. Benjamin Schulte of Guam (2:03:35.1) swam by myself for most of the race, but the crowd and countrymen were with him every stroke of the way.

Photo of Oussama Mellouli shows his medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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