Paul Radley | August 11, 2012
When Rebecca Adlington, the British Olympian, collected the second of her bronze medals at the Aquatics Centre last week, she said she thought swimming was the hardest sport there is to medal at.
It is debatable whether it is any tougher than having your head kicked in, or rowing to the point of passing out. That said, her colleagues who swim the open water events certainly deserve praise for what they go through.
Forget the 10kms and best part of two hours they swim for. They deserve a medal for braving the minging water of The Serpentine.
At the first modern Olympics, all swimming events were open water on account of their being a lack of pools. The swimmers back then had it tough if the evidence of yesterday’s marathon swim at Hyde Park is anything to go by.
Before the start of the men’s event, a team of ducks meandering near the edge of the pond shared a styrofoam cup between themselves for breakfast. It was probably more nutritious than many of the competitors managed. The most salient feature of an open water marathon swim is the moment the participants try to refuel.
There is a feeding station from where energy drinks are dangled on a five-metre pole. Those competitors pursuing a podium place dexterously do a couple of lengths of backstroke, while aiming the bottle toward their mouth, with green pond water swashing all around.
It is quite a sight. They should make drinking while swimming backwards an Olympic event in Rio.