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FINA Aquatics Magazine Readers Ask: Why did only women break World Records?
FINA Aquatics World Magazine:  Our Readers Ask:
 
Why did only women break World Records at the Barcelona World Championships and during the short course World Cup events?
 
FINA is asking swimming coaches who were in Barcelona to offer their theory on why women have been successful in setting new world records in 2013.

Please send your comments to Gregory Eggert and they may be included in the December edition of the FINA Aquatics World Magazine.
 
We request your reply on or before October 10th via email to:  greggert@aol.com
 
 
Your Link to latest edition of FINA Aquatics World Magazine:  Spotlight on Barcelona
 
Dear Friend,
 
We have the pleasure to send you the 2013/5 edition of our common FINA Aquatics World Magazine, which besides presenting important moments of the FINA leadership’s activities and the usual columns, it also offers a retrospective view of the Barcelona World Championships from different interesting angles, the new column ‘Readers ask’ and an appetiser of the FINA Photo Competition 2013.
 
In this new digital edition you can also find a high number of video interviews as usual, with the most successful aquatic athletes, stars from all disciplines which render the FINA publication even more enjoyable.
 
Please find its link below:

http://fina.wildom.com/fina/edoc?file=fina_aquatics_magazine_free_2013_05.zip
 
Additionally, we are happy to send you all the links of the past editions since 2010, so you may have a nice collection of the previous 22 issues of our Magazine:

http://fina.wildom.com/fina/edoc?freeList=1
 
We would be grateful to receive your comments and/or proposals about how to further improve our Magazine.
 
Thank you very much for your kind cooperation,
  
Best, friendly wishes,
 
Tamas Gyarfas
Editor in Chief, FINA Aquatics World Magazine
 
 
 
In the current edition:  Spotlight on close Open Water races in Barcelona
 
Strategies of Open Water Swimmers Revealed by Elite Athletes and Coaches
 
Our editors noticed that the margins between competitors in some of the Barcelona open water were razor thin.  The tightest races were in the women's events. We compared them with the results of the women's 1500m free.
 
In the 5K Poliana Okimoto Cintra of Brazil finished just .2 of a second behind Haley Anderson, USA
In the 10K Ana Marcella Cunha of Brazil was only .3 of a second behind Poliana Okimoto Cintra, Brazil
In the 25K Angela Maurer of Germany was only .1 of a second behind Martina Grimaldi, Italy
 
In the pool silver medalist Lotte Friis of Denmark was 2.35 seconds off the pace of new world record holder Katie Ledecky.
 
Our panel of elite open water athletes and coaches were asked to answer this question:
 
Why do open water races provide much closer finishes than pool competitions?
 
Petar Stoychev, Bulgaria:  "In marathon swimming there are no corridors like in the pool, allowing the slower swimmers to swim drafting next to or immediately after the faster swimmers. The difference between the speeds of the swimmers is small and drafting allows them to almost catch up; when this happens in the final meters the winner is very often determined by photo finish. When two or more swimmers swim alongside each other they can not always develop their maximum potential, because they interfere in what is called holding of the water. When the hand scoops and passes under the body it feels like there is not enough water to make powerful and strong strokes in order to go ahead of the group. The same goes for the second line swimmers who are often swimming at the legs of the first and therefore the differences are very small in the final."
 
Stoychev won the 25K at the 2011 FINA World Championships. He is one of the most successful long distance marathon swimmers of the last decade and a member of the FINA Athletes Commission.
 
 
Ron Jacks, Canada:  There are a number of elements playing out in creating very close finishes in open water swimming. 
    + The number of experienced high level competitors in the race sets the stage for close finishes.
    + The fact that there are no lane ropes and that drafting is taking place almost all the time in every race.
    +The fact that the real race for finishes usually starts some place after 75-95% of the race has been swum.
    +The fact that turns, push offs, and wall momentum  are not included in the equation of results make the race a simpler "closer" assessment of an ability.
 
Jacks earned three medals in Commonwealth Games champion and competed in the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games. He coaches at the Pan Pacific Swimming Club in Vancouver training Olympic bronze medalist Richard Weinberger.
 
 
Alex A. Pussieldi, Kuwait:  Each open water race is a different story, is incredible but you can have a world champion or Olympic champion finishing on 19th place anytime, thing like we will never see in the pool.
Open water races are completely different then swimming events  where your biggest opponent is the stopwatch. Beating the clock is anybody and everybody deal in swimming. In Open Water, is like a fight, is a challenge event where doesn't matter how long you will take to finish, but you have to beat your opponent and finish ahead. Is like any fight where doesn't matter what round you will beat your opponent as much as you win the fight. Open water swimmers make different strategies and plans but always the deal is beat the opponent, never the clock. For that situation, most of them manage the race and attack on the right time. This creates a fantastic and closer finishes with high excitement for the sport.
 
Pussieldi, originally from Brazil recently retired after a 5 year stint as coach of the Davie Nadadores where he built a powerful program in South Florida. For 10 years he has been the Head Coach of the Kuwait National Team and he is the voice of Brazilian swimming with his work through SporTV/Globosat in Brazil.
 
 
Eva Fabian, USA:  Because open water racing is draft legal, swimmers tend to stay very close together for the entire race. While racing in the pool is also very close, it is time based, rather than based on pure racing. Although some swimmers may be faster than others in open water, finishes tend to be close because each swimmer's race is based off of the other swimmers in that particular race, rather than time.
 
Fabian attends Yale University and competed in Barcelona last summer earning a bronze in the 25K.  In 2010 she won a gold medal in the 5 km at the Open Water Worlds.  Also that summer she earned a silver medal at the Pan Pacific Championships.
 
 
Chip Peterson, USA:   I believe that it all comes down to drafting. Swimming for between one and five hours at maximum effort would result even in the best of endurance athletes fatiguing by the finish. For this reason, swimmers adopt the strategy of drafting and using their competitors to their advantage. Drafting allows for the conservation of energy to use during the final sprint to the finish line. Since almost all racers use this strategy, it is unlikely that any swimmer will win by more that a few seconds and generally results in the entire lead pack finishing almost simultaneously. Another key point to be made is that breaking away requires greater effort for the lone swimmer than it does for the pack to remain with the individual swimmer. If the swimmers behind the leader are getting drafting benefits, the leader attempting to break away needs a large burst of speed and then a strong maintained effort to get a large lead on the pack behind him. Obviously, I believe that if drafting were not a factor in open water swimming, results would have huge differences between the finishers. However, drafting strategies remain one the largest components of successful open water swimmers' skill sets
 
Peterson won the 10 km event and took silver medal in the 5 km event at the 2005 FINA World Championships.  Peterson won the 1500m freestyle and a silver in the 10K at the 2007 Pan American Games.
 
 
Damián Blaum, Argentina:  Open water swimming provides closer finishes than pool swimming because a simple reason. In the pool every swimmer swim in his/her own lane, do not have any extra help than his own technique and abilities, while in an open water event one of the biggest abilities that an open water swimmer needs is to know how to swim in a pack. While swimming in packs, the difference that could exist between the swimmers in the pools, become shorter and much more competitive.
Since 12 years ago approximately the old rule of the 3 meters disappeared giving place to the pack swimming the finishes started being very close. Before that if we check results of different races around the world we can see that there were bigger gaps than now, all these had changed, and now we can enjoy a very competitive and exciting open water events all around the world with close finished in a 5 or 88 km race.
 
Blaum finished in second place in the overall standings in the 2012 FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix series.  He swam for Argentina at the 2008 Olympics where he finished 24th in the Men's 10 km marathon swimming event.
 
 
Colin Hill, UK:  For me it is easier to compare open water swimming with road cycling, there is a pack and drafting.  Stronger swimmers will go to the front and try and break free, the pack can chase them down.  Other swimmers who are better at sprinting will try and conserve energy and sit in the pack and try and be in a good position at the finish. If this was a time trial, where the swimmers set off at minute gaps over a 10k you would see very different results, but in a pack the amount of energy saved can mean that more swimmers will have similar times.  That said if you look at the World Championships it is generally the names that you would expect who win the races.  Lurz won a medal in 5, 10, team and 25K races, so the stronger/experienced swimmer will still come through even in a pack event. 
    This also makes it exciting around the feed points, who feeds when, or around the buoys the best line v getting caught up in a scrum of swimmers is all tactics of the sport. So when people sprint for the finish, swimmers (unlike the pool), can jump onto a faster swimmers feet, draft and then try to come around them.
    When the 25K men caught the women half way through the race, it was the most experienced and stronger females who managed to hold onto the men’s pack the longest who ended up in medal contention, up until that point the women had been in one pack. So having an understanding of how a pack can work to your advantage or disadvantage can make all the difference. 
    The men’s 10k race was interesting with Melloui controlling the race, but stretching out the pack several times until the last 2.5km lap, when Spryidon put his head down and sprinted, which stretch out the pack and secured him a gold.  The women’s 10k race, saw them stay in a pack following a swimmer until the last lap when everyone accelerated together, causing a large pack to go into the turns, as the pack hadn't been stretch out and this caused very crowded turns.
 
Hill was the Olympic Marathon swimming operations manager at the 2012 London Olympic Games. A channel swimmer, he is also a regular contributor to H2Open Magazine.  Hill was the visionary and impetus of the British Gas Great Swim Series, the UK's largest open water swimming series which now has 10,000 swimmers.
 
 
Ous Mellouli, Tunisia:  The most important component in open water besides proper navigation of the course, managing physicality and endurance is strategy. It is obvious that swimmers will try to manage their effort as much as possible to stay in a "striking" position and fresh for the final "kick". That's one. Two, it simply is EXTREMELY hard to "drop" the pack or "drop" another swimmer who basically attached to your hip. That is something only open water swimmers know how it feels and maybe cyclists too.  I took a gutsy risk in London and dropped the pack very early. It paid off but that was an exception to the usual grueling old fashion sprint. 
 
Mellouli is a three-time Olympic medalist, and the only athlete to have won a gold medal in Olympic pool and open water competition.  He was the gold medalist in the 1500m freestyle at the 2008 Olympics an won the 10K Marathon at the 2012 London Olympic Games.  Last summer he won the 5K in Barcelona.
 
 
Spyridon "Spyros" Gianniotis, Greece:  Its a very good question, and the answer is not as easy. Its all down to waiting and holding your power for the end. For me it's like the tour de France bike stages but without team work.  In open water swimming every athlete works by himself.  I believe that the drafting in the water is the same as on the bike, so no one can easily break away. Athletes that swim on the kick of the in front of them have an advantage than the one who does not.
 
Gianniotis swam in the last four Summer Olympics finishing 4th in the 10K in the London Olympic Games and 5th in the 1500m freestyle at the 2004 Athens Olympics. In 2011 he won the 10K at the world championships in Shanghai and successfully defended his title last summer in Barcelona. 
 
 
Paul Asmuth, USA:  It is because drafting plays such a strategic role in the sport.  Many of the top finishers are able to conserve much of their energy for the final 100 meters of the race by drafting behind another swimmer. While the open water swimming races are much longer distances than the pool, drafting keeps the fastest athletes closely bunched together over the entire distance in a "pack" of swimmers like the Tour du France peleton of cycling.  With many swimmers tightly grouped within 100 to 200 meters of the finish the finishes are much more like a pool sprint race than the pool 1500 meters. 
 
Asmuth won seven World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation titles between 1980 and 1988.  He won Canada's 42K Traversée Internationale six times and was inducted in both the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He has guided the USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Team from 2007 to 2013.
 
 
Dave Kelsheimer, Cayman Islands & USA:  The best pool races are ultimately about swimming the fastest time. This is because it has been proven time and time again that this focus is the best way to win. It is also true that in pool swimming, it is possible to have a great swim and not win. In an open water race, the only focus is beating your opponent. This is best accomplished by swimming as much of the race as possible with as little effort as possible saving as much as you can for the very last moment. What the final time might be ultimately does not matter. Everyone knows what it takes to win, and the only challenge is to be patient enough and in the right place to apply it. The surge towards the finish is much stronger and evenly matched than you will ever see in the pool. Open water swimming is more chess match than individual athletic pursuit.
 
Kelsheimer has overseen the successful Stingray Swim Club and was the Cayman Islands national swim coach.  An age-group and elite swimming coach who has guided athletes to success in Australia, the Cayman Islands and the USA and is now the head coach of Team Santa Monica in Southern California. Kelsheimer coached US's Jordan Wilimovsky in the 25 km event at the 2013 FINA World Swimming Championships in Barcelona.
 
 
Greg Towle, AustraliaNo Longer are OW races just a war of attrition it is a highly competitive game of cat and mouse. The combination of elite distance swimmers boasting pool credentials, large fast moving packs and the unpredictability of course design and environmental conditions has ensured that the modern OW athlete, as tenacious as they are, are required to fight for every inch and remained focused for every second as the smallest mistake can cost them the race. Now put 40-70 like minded athletes in a race with one of the toughest Olympic Selection Criteria's available, the result can only be one thing……. close!"
 
Towle was the Swimming Australia's national open water swimming team coach at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and 2012 London Olympic Games where he coached Ky Hurst and Melissa Gorman in the Olympic 10k Marathon Swim. He is also one of the organizers of the BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series Open Water Challenge in Western Australia.
 
 
Colin Braund, Australia:  Open water races are generally raced in uncontrolled environments and swum in large groups where tactics are a big part of the race. It is not always the fastest swimmer who wins but generally the smartest. This is why we see swimmers who have not only great endurance but have the ability to produce a fast finish sprint to the line,making open water swimming the complex and exciting sport that we all love.

Braund was Australia's open water swimming Coach at the London Olympics and is the coach of two-time Olympian Ky Hurst of Australia, a finalist in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic 10K Marathon Swim.
 
 
Sid Cassidy, USA:  Open water races are very different than the more sterile pool events quite simply because there are no lane lines and drafting is not only allowed, but encouraged. This simple difference is the primary reason that there are so many races that come down to incredibly tight finishes
 
Cassidy is a former professional marathon swimmer, record-breaking channel swimmer, a national team coach, USA Swimming and FINA administrator, Olympic official, race announcer, race director and strong advocate of the sport.  He is a member of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee and a member of the board of directors of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.
 
 
Shelley Taylor-Smith, Australia:  The major and decisive contributing factor is pack swimming! Master this vital skill and you’re in the mix for a podium finish if you have the speed to match the best of the best in the final 500m… all the way to the touchpad!”
Taylor-Smith's is a 7-time Women’s World No.1 Marathon Swimming Champion. Her first major achievement was breaking the world four-mile record in 1983. She won the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim five times, breaking the world record in 1995 for the 48K race. She won a gold medal in the inaugural open water swimming event at the 1991 World Aquatics Championships in Perth and a bronze at the 1994 Championships in Rome.
 
 
Zsofia Balazs, Canada:  I think it is because we get to interact with one another during a race. In pool swimming there are lane ropes that separate swimmers while in open water I get to be one someone's hip allowing me to be aware of every move and every speed change of other swimmers as soon as it happens. In pool swimming, even though you get to see down the lanes you still just race the clock. You won't know when someone makes a move or changes speeds. It is actually fairly standards what will happen in a pool race as far as pacing goes. Go fast and try going faster at the end. Done. Everyone will try and do the same thing.  In open water there are people dictating speeds, there are people who will try and get the pack to start slow to allow for more energy at the end of a race. It always changes which will mean that the pack will respond as a mass making finishes mass finishes and make races depend on milliseconds. As much as no open water swimmer will admit it, our swim will depend on other people's swims. The swimmer in front is in control of the entire pack until the last couple hundred meters. In the pool it is all out and hope for the best for everyone. No room for games and strategies.  It makes it easier for people to break away as there will be no other swimmers in your wake dragging you down. In open water if you want to brake away you better be sure you can hold that lead or the pack will reel you in swallow you down.
 
Balazs finished sixth in the final FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier to earn a spot for the Olympic 10 km Marathon Swim in London where she placed 18th.  Balazs immigrated to Canada with her family in 2004 from Hungary, made the 2005 Canada Games Team and won silver in the 200m fly. She holds Canadian national Open Water 10 km titles in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and the 1500 Freestyle in 2010.