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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Colorful Prospects For Australia

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Although Australia is only the 53rd largest country in the world based on its population of 20 million people, when it comes to sports, especially the aquatic kind, the Aussie yellow and goal are frequently finishing at or near the top.

Relatively speaking, how small is the total population of Australia? The cities of Tokyo (Japan), Guangzhou (China), Jakarta (Indonesia), Seoul (Korea), Shanghai (China ), Mexico City, Delhi (India), New York, São Paulo (Brazil), Mumbai (India) and Manila (Philippines) are larger in terms of population.

But at the 2000 Sydney Olympics (4th), the 2004 Athens Olympics (4th), the 2008 Beijing Olympics (6th), and the 2012 London Olympics (10th) Australia finished near the top of the medal count among all the countries in the world.

However, one sport where Australia uncharacteristically got shut out of the medals was marathon swimming. For a country that has developed many great distance freestyle swimmers in the pool over the decades and for a society that has created has the greatest number of mass participation surf lifesaving festivals, surf carnivals and ocean swims along its gorgeous coasts, marathon swimming is a missing piece to its collective and historical Olympic success.

At the upcoming FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup race in Cozumel, 4 Australians will earn the right to carry the Australian mantle at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia this July. The World Championships in Kazan will be the first opportunity for the Australians and their competitors to become an Olympic marathon swimmer. The top 10 athletes in Kazan will qualify for the first 10 slots available in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim.

The Australian representatives will be determined by the results in the FINA race in Cozumel. Six Australians were chosen from the BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series 10 km held in January. There are 3 men and 3 women competing with the first 2 of each gender earning the right to compete in Kuzan.

The final slots for the 2016 Rio Olympic 10K Marathon Swim will be filled by the top finishers at the secondary Olympic qualifier in Setúbal Bay, Portugal in June 2016 where the water temperatures are expected to be 16-18°C. So the first qualifier will be in a very warm-water, predictably flat course in Russia. The second qualifier will be in a cool-water course with steady currents in Portugal, and the Olympic final will be in an unpredictably wavy, windy course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Given the assumed prospects for unpredictability and physicality on a wavy, windy course, the chances of the Aussies to finally climb upon the medal stands in the marathon swimming race are higher than ever before.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi! Oi! Oi!

Two-time Olympian Melissa Gorman is shown above.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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