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Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Pool To Open Water Transition Is An Olympic Move

The swimming pedigree of Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu is unquestionable. She has world-class speed, strength with stamina - and she is looking towards getting into open water swimming at the world's greatest open water extravaganza.

However, she lacks the open water swimming experience of her chief rivals Keri-Anne Payne of Great Britain and Ashley Twichell of the U.S.A who she will face at the aQuellé Midmar Mile in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa this Sunday.

Hosszu is a 3-time Olympic swimmer and the former 400m individual medley world champion who has won 3 NCAA titles and a record 39 titles during the 2012 FINA World Cup Series with a large number of victories in the middle to long distance freestyle events. So she has the stamina and speed to upset Payne, the 7-time defending champion at Midmar.

But like many outstanding pool swimmers, she has to adjust her mindset and add pacing, surging, navigating, drafting and an onshore running finish to her well-honed pool swimming skills. After admitting that she has never swum in an open water event, the Olympian said, “I am pretty excited and nervous at the same time. I don’t know what to do, how to swim it. I have no tactics. I have no plan about how I am going to swim it. On the other hand, I’m curious about what I can do and how it’s going to go. I’ve been given some tips by race director Wayne Riddin, but we’ll just have to see how it goes, I guess.

No flip turns, no lane lines and plenty of other swimmers in her way. It will certainly be something new. “I’m not sure how it’s going to feel for me in the open water. In the pool, for me, it’s fine. I usually swim the 800m freestyle in the bigger meets. Sometimes I swim a mile in the pool, but I’ve never done open water. I don’t know if it’s going to feel longer or shorter, I’m hoping it’s going to feel shorter,” she laughed.

Hosszu’s name is appropriate for open water swimming. In Hungarian, it means long. And Hungarians have performed well in previous Midmar Mile editions. Diana Hegedus won the open title in 2001 as a 15-year-old and won again in 2002. On the men’s side, Hungary’s David Verraszto lost to South Africa’s Riaan Schoeman in the famous 2009 race where the photo finish took 45 minutes for the officials to make a final decision. “I heard how some [swimmers] got run down at the finish,” said Hosszu. “That’s something that I will have to focus on. I’m pretty curious how the running is going to go because I’ve never really done any running [at the end of the race]. It’s exciting to do something different in swimming, so I am really looking forward to it. It should be a good race and it’s definitely going to be pretty fast because we are all competitors and we all want to win.

The aQuellé Midmar Mile takes place on 9 and 10 February at the Midmar Dam, just outside Howick in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. For more info visit www.midmarmile.co.za.

Photo of Katinka Hosszu with race director Wayne Riddin by Brad Morgan/ Gameplan Media.

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Source

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