Last London call for marathon swimmers

BY: FINA, June 6, 2012: marathon swimmers, Whereas pool swimmers race for a matter of seconds or minutes, open water swimmers compete for several hours in an awesome display of strength and endurance, often having to deal with physical contact and natural challenges throughout the race. The last of FINA’s five disciplines to be enshrined in the Olympic temple, open water swimming, made its debut at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

This summer, a total 50 swimmers (25 women and 25 men) will gather in London’s Hyde Park on August 9-10 to write the second chapter of Olympic marathon swimming history.

20 swimmers (the 10 best-ranked from the women’s and men’s 10km races) have already secured a spot at the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai. Two places (one in each gender category) are automatically reserved for Great Britain, the host.

The remaining 28 London berths will be decided in Setubal, Portugal from June 9-10, where the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier is set to take place. It will be the last opportunity for 102 swimmers from 44 countries to make the Olympic line-up. The women’s race will be held on June 9 and the men’s event on June 10.

The first 9 women and 9 men to cross the finish line will book a ticket for the Olympic marathon swimming event. Another 10 (5 women and 5 men) will qualify through continental representation (taking into account the best ranked athlete not yet qualified).

The first to win a gold medal at the Olympics in marathon swimming was Russia’s Larisa Ilchenko, taking out the women’s race in 1h59m27s. Britain’s Keri-Anne Payne and Cassandra Patten captured silver and bronze, respectively. Maarten van der Weijden (NED) won the men’s event in a time of 1h51m51s. David Davies (GBR, second) and Thomas Lurz (GER, third) completed the podium.

The FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier promises to be an exciting, action-packed race with the presence of both open water and pool swimmers, many of whom are internationally-recognised.

2008 Olympic silver-medallist David Davies (GBR) and Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli (TUN), Petar Stoychev (BUL), Csaba Gercsak (HUN), Valerio Cleri (ITA), Karla Sitic (CRO), Ophelie Aspord (FRA), Yumi Kida (JPN), Linsy Heister (NED), Natalie Du Toit (RSA) and Anna Guseva (RUS), to name a few, will compete in Setubal.

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