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Open Water Swimming...the newest Olympic sport

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Interesting Facts

▪ How good are open water swimmers?
The best open water athletes are world-class 800- or 1500-meter pool swimmers who have an intense focus on open water swimming.

▪ What can the swimmers see in the Olympic 10K race?
Swimmers can see a cable underwater when swimming in the rowing basin. The cable anchors the buoys and race lanes in place, but also help the athletes swim in a straight line.

▪ What countries are the best in the world?
The US was dominant in the 1970s and 1980s. Russia and Germany have been the dominant open water swimming countries since 1991. Russia has won 42 out of 168 gold-silver-bronze medals awarded since 1991 – or 25% of the total. Even more impressively, Russia has won 19 out of 56 gold medals awarded since 1991 – or 34%! Germany has won 34 of the total medals awarded since 1991 – or 20%. Combined, Russia and Germany have won over half of all gold, silver and bronze medals awarded since 1991.

▪ What other countries are good?
Swimmers from 18 different countries have won world championship gold, silver or bronze medals, with Greece and Egypt becoming the newest members of this elite group at the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne.

▪ How good is China?
Chinese swimmers placed in the top 15 in China's first participation in a World Championships in the pursuit of higher goals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

▪ How does the English Channel compare with the Olympic 10K?
The English Channel is 34 km (21 miles) at its shortest point. 811 people have successfully swum the English Channel, completing 1185 crossings to date. In comparison, Mount Everest had been climbed 2,049 times. Swimmers have been using the same type of gear since 1875: swim suit, swim goggles, swim cap. Technology has rapidly advanced to the advantage of mountain climbers.

▪ How far do world-class open water swimming train everyday?
World-class open water athletes train an average of 90,000 meters per week during mid-season – or nearly 56 miles swimming every week. Most of the training is done in the pool in addition to weight-training and other land-based training regimens.

▪ What other things must an open water swimmer prepare for?
Acclimatization to water temperature and conditions are a critical element of preparation, whether the water is cold, warm, moving, wavy or filled with jellyfish, seaweed or junk.

▪ Who were the best open water swimmers in the past?
Over 100 individuals have been honored by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. For more information on these swimmers, click here.


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