Marathon Swimming

Among the other new events in the 2008 Olympics is the marathon swim – a 10,000 meter (6.2 mile) open-water swim event for women on August 19, for men on August 20. The races are so long that they can’t be held in the Water Cube, where a 10,000 meter swim would entail 200 laps lengths (thanks, Mr. Mayor!) of the pool. Instead, the marathons will be held in the basin where the rowing and canoeing races were earlier held; marathon swims are usually held in lakes, rivers, and oceans, so this is a bit of an odd place to race.

I haven’t swum in years, but this event intrigues me to no end. The technique for feeding racers is incredible (coaches use long sticks to hold food and drink out to the swimmers), a 16-year-old American is a medal possibility in the women’s event, referees can inflict yellow and red cards on swimmers who don’t race fairly, and of course swimming for two hours (in water that might be nearly 90 degrees!) is an enormous physical challenge – heightened by the fact that the swimmers are jostling constantly with one another. Oh, and the races often end in sprints. I’m sure NBC won’t cover more than a few minute of the races on TV, but I’m going to make a point to watch them online.

2 thoughts on “Marathon Swimming”

  1. 200 lengths of the pool. I believe a “lap” in a pool is down and back, whereas a “length” is just one wall to the other.

    Did you see the So. African woman who had lost half of her left leg? She finished only about 80 seconds behind the winner. I think she was 18th place. Pretty impressive considering she’s minus a flipper.

  2. Thanks for the information, Brendon. I made the correction. Technical accuracy is important when blogging.

    I saw some of the coverage of that racer, and was impressed. I wonder how much more her full leg has to work in order for her to keep up, more or less….

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