There are all kinds of subtle moves, surges, positioning, feeding, drafting, officiating decisions due to impeding and physicality that spectators can see during the upcoming Olympic 10K Marathon Swim in Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro next week.
What is there to watch and understand for the uninitiated fan of open water swimming in the Olympics?
There will be occasional breakaways [see above] when the faster swimmers try to push the pace.
There will be constant drafting.
Not only will swimmers draft behind their rivals, but also to the left and to the right depending on the situation and the distance remaining in the race. They will draft right off the hip or lower down by the ankles.
The shape of the peloton will be dependent upon everything from the ocean swells and wind direction to the proximity of the turn buoy and speed of the lead swimmer.
For example, in and around the turn buoys, the pack bunches up and a high degree of physicality occurs.
Meanwhile, on the long straightaways, the pack tends to be wider especially when there will be long rolling swells or the pace is faster.
This will be especially true on the long straightaways in the Copacabana Beach course when swimmers like Jordan Wilimovsky or Ferry Weertman [on the men's side] or Aurélie Muller or Sharon van Rouwendaal [on the women's side] decide to take off.
Ous Mellouli used this same tactic on the Serpentine course at the 2012 London Olympics to put him in the best position to win gold].
Of course, tactics and strategy can change when the top swimmers are given a yellow card or red card for unsportsmanlike conduct or intentionally impeding another swimmer.
One yellow card always gives an athlete more reason to pause and swim less aggressively. Two yellow cards or a red card is an immediate disqualification where the athlete must immediately swim off the course.
The women's race will be officiated by John West of New Zealand while the men's race will be officiated by Sid Cassidy of the USA. Both men are well-known by the entire field on both the men's and women's sides so it should be a relatively clean race in the first half of the race, but during the third and fourth loops as the pace and pressure increases, there will be more warning whistles, yellow cards, and perhaps a red card as was given the pre-race favorite Vladimir Dyatchin around the last turn buoy in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The medalists of men's race on August 16th will sprint towards the finish in under 1 hour 50 minute while the women are expected to finish under 2 hours. The finish will be close unless extremely rough conditions lead to a major break-up of the lead pelotons - or someone like Wilimovsky takes off like he did at the 2015 FINA World Championships.
But anyone taking off alone is highly unlikely at the Olympics in front of hundreds of thousands of fans cheering for local Brazilian heroes like Allan do Carmo, Ana Marcela Cunha and Poliana Okimoto.
The finish will be a vertical plane of touchpads that is anchored by a floating pontoon off of Fort Copacabana.
Although the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim finalists will all wear transponders on both of their wrists that enables officials to determine their final time, the official placing is determined by the eyes and judgment of the referees. This is why high-speed cameras are posted on both sides of the finish pontoon.
In the case of a photo finish, the referees will review the finish on the video cameras to confirm the official placing.
Additional articles on the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim:
* Why Ferry Weertman Will Win 10K In Rio Olympic Games
* Richard Weinberger Expects The Unexpected
* Chad Ho Swimming Out Of The Dark
* Jordan Wilimovsky Leaves World In His Wake
* Jordan Wilimovsky Leads Talented Field To Rio
* Aurélie Muller Wins World Championships, Heading To Rio
* The Internationalization Of Open Water Swimming
* Aurélie Muller Is Chasing Her Dreams
* Ecuadorean Swimmers Train On High
* Why Spyridon Gianniotis Will Win In Rio
* Why Ana Marcela Cunha Will Win The Olympic 10K In Rio
* 14:49.19 Bodes Well For Jordan Wilimovsky In Rio
* Why Haley Anderson Will Win The 10K In Rio Olympics
* Why Jordan Wilimovsky Will Win 10K In Rio Olympic Games
* Why Richard Weinberger Will Win Rio Olympic 10K
* Daunting Double, Taxing Triple At Rio Olympics
* Kane Is Able, A Convincing Case Of Competitiveness
* What Women Will Qualify For The 2016 Rio Olympics?
* Challenger From Chattanooga Heads To Rio
* Olympic Déjà Vu For Kane Radford
* Malibu Man Made Of Mettle
* The Uniqueness Of Spyros Gianniotis And Erwin Maldonado
* The Uniqueness of Poliana Okimoto And Keri-Anne Payne
The Water of Copacabana
* Guanabara Bay Is Not Copacabana Beach
* If Not Copacabana Beach, Then Where?
* Contracting Diseases In The Open Water
* How Copacabana Beach Is Viewed By Fathers
* Responsible Reporting: How ESPN Does It
* American Press, Professor Warns About Olympic Waters
* Rio Report Mixes Up Guanabara Bay, Copacabana Beach
* Won't 30,000 Times As Bad Kill You?
* Christiane Fanzares Follows In The Wake Of London, Beijing
* You Can Swim, But You Cannot Hide (Drug Use)
* Why Open Water Swimming Needs Instant Replays & TV
* 30 Most Influential People in Swimming + 3
* Technical Decisions In The Open Water
* How Close is Close?
* No Wetsuits Now, But Expect Wetsuits In Future Olympics
* Ridiculous And Sad...Wetsuits Considered For Olympic 10K
* Who Is Jon Hestoy And How Did He Make It To Rio?
* Why 2008 Was An Important Year
* Swimming The Race Of Your Life - Mark Warkentin
* Looking Forward To Rio
* IOC Confirms Odaiba Marine Park For Olympic 10K
* A Precursor To The 2016 Olympic 10K Marathon Swim
* The Greatest Olympic Upset In History
* What Men Will Qualify For The 2016 Rio Olympics?
* The Night And Day Of Olympic Swimming
* Podium Hopefuls Train Closely On High
* How Fast Do Olympic 10K Swimmers Train?
* Yasunari Hirai Gets A Kick Out Of Training
* Connecting The Dots In The Open Water
* Crushing Waves, Strong Currents In Copacabana Beach
* Swimming On The Actual 2016 Olympic Course
* London vs. Rio, Open Water vs. Rough Water
* Wipeout At The Rio Olympics - Rough And Not Yet Ready
Rio de Janeiro
* Olympic Marathon Swimming Success Foreseen In Rio
* What To Expect In Rio's 2016 Olympic 10K Marathon Swim
Male Olympic 10K Marathon Swim Finalists:
1. Jordan Wilimovsky, USA
2. Ferry Weertman, NED
3. Spyridon Gianniotis, GRE
4. Sean Ryan, USA
5. Jack Burnell, GBR
6. Marc-Antoine Daniel Frede Olivier, FRA
7. Simone Ruffini, ITA
8. Richard Weinberger, CAN
9. Allan Do Carmo, BRA
10. Federico Vanelli, ITA
11. Lijun Zu, CHN
12. Christian Reichert, GER
13. Ivan Enderica Ochoa, ECU
14. Evgenii Drattcev, RUS
15. Ous Mellouli, TUN
16. Richard Nagy, SVK
17. Jarrod Poort, AUS
18. Yasunari Hirai, JPN
19. Chad Ho, RSA
20. Ventsislav Aydaski, BUL
21. Mark Papp, HUN (Europe)
22. Erwin Maldonado, VEN (America)
23. Kane Rae Francis Radford, NZL (Oceania)
24. Vitaliy Khudyakov, KAZ (Asia)
25. Marwan Ahmed Aly Morsy Elamrawy (EGY, Africa)
Female Olympic 10K Marathon Swim Finalists:
1. Aurélie Muller, FRA
2. Sharon Van Rouwendaal, NED
3. Ana Marcela Cunha, BRA
4. Rachele Bruni, ITA
6. Poliana Okimoto Cintra, BRA
7. Isabelle Härle, GER
8. Kaliopi Araouzou, GRE
9. Haley Anderson, USA
10. Éva Risztov, HUN
11. Xin Xin, CHN [shown above]
12. Keri-Anne Payne, GBR
13. Samantha Arevalo, ECU
14. Chelsea Gubecka, AUS
15. Yumi Kida, JPN
16. Michelle Weber, RSA
17. Joanna Zachoszcz, POL
18. Paola Perez, VEN
19. Spela Perse, SLO
20. Jana Pechanova, CZE
21. Erika Villaecija, ESP (Europe)
22. Stephanie Horner, CAN (America)
23. Heidi Gan, MAS (Asia)
25. Reem Mohamed Husein Elsayed Kaseem, EGY (Africa)
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