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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Olympic Champion Heads To The Sea

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The 2017 calendar for the LEN European Open Water Swimming Cup includes six venues in five countries:

* Leg 1 on March 26th - 10 km in Eilat, Israel
* Leg 2 on July 1st - 10 km in Barcelona, Spain
* Leg 3 on August 5th - 7.5 km in Navia, Spain
* TBC in August 2017 - in Bled, Slovenia
* Leg 4 on August 26th - 6 km in Copenhagen, Denmark
* Final on September 16-17th - 5 km and 10 km in Bracciano, Italy

The Federazione Italiana Nuoto announced that Gregorio Paltrinieri will compete in the first Leg of the LEN Open Water Cup - and the Olympic 1500m champion's comments are indicative of his passion for the open water.

It will be very interesting to see how fast and how adaptable Paltrinieri is - and becomes - in the open water. This is an especially interesting development because the Odaiba Marine Park venue at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games is essentially a flat pool - and because Paltrinieri will have plenty of time to become more experienced in drafting, pack swimming and feeding over the next 3 years.

Unlike the turbulent ocean course held at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the 2020 Olympic 10 km marathon swimming venue in Tokyo will be similar to the 2008 Beijing Olympic course. Odaiba is an area close to the center of Tokyo within Tokyo Bay, largely protected from winds, waves, and currents. It is ideal for a fast pool swimmer who will not have to deal with the shifting dynamics of ocean events.

Paltrinieri won the 2016 Rio Olympic 1500m freestyle in 14:34.57, a blistering fast gold medal time, well ahead of American Jordan Wilimovsky (5th in 14:45.03) and comfortably ahead of Ous Mellouli's times in the 2008 Olympics (gold in 14:40.84) and 2012 Olympics (bronze in 14:40.31).

Paltrinieri is a world long course and short course champion and current 1500m freestyle (short course) world record holder. He has also completed a 5,000m pool swim in 50 minutes 56.50 seconds at the Italian indoor distance championships in Riccione, Italy.

"Racing in the sea is an old idea that I have never given up (Gareggiare in mare, una vecchia idea che non ho mai abbandonato)," wrote Paltrinieri. "This morning I had my first 10 km in the pool for 25 yards (Stamattina ho fatto la mia prima 10 km in vasca da 25 yard) ... Struggle is real."

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