Monday, March 19. 2007
Date: Sunday, March 18, 2007
Location: St. Kilda Beach, Melbourne
Theme: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble
Written by Steve Munatones
Victoria (Canada) is no Victoria (Melbourne). The difference between the 10K race at the 2006 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships and the 5K race at the 2007 World Swimming Championships became readily apparent to the American swimmers by the first turn buoy. The pace was faster, the field was deeper and the physical contact was greater.
“I got hit in the lip,” said Leah who finished 17th in 1:00.58.5, 17 seconds behind the Russian gold medalist. “Someone pulled me down and others grabbed my shoulder,” said Chloe who finished 12th in 1:00.51.9, 10 seconds behind first.
“The pack just kept running into each other around the buoys,” said Scott who finished 15th in 57:36.9. “I couldn’t believe how rough it was,” said Mark who finished 17th in 57:39.5. “I thought the pace in the Tiburon Mile with a $10,000 first prize was fast, but this pace was even faster, for a longer time.”
The Americans were not the only ones who faced flying elbows, buoy bumps and constant physical contact during the race. The referee frequently blew his whistle at the swimmers in the lead pack, but no yellow or red cards were issued. In terms of strategy, experienced observers were not surprised to note that all the medalists in both the women’s and men’s races were among the top 5-6 swimmers throughout the race, from start to finish. Their lead positioning enabled them to minimize the amount of physical abuse they absorbed – or had to dish out. With the inaugural Olympic 10K race coming up in 2008, this aggressive style of racing is apparently here to stay.
After a day off in the schedule, the women’s 10K will be held on Tuesday, March 20th and the men’s 10K will be held on Wednesday, March 21st.
Interesting note of the day: The dive start off of the floating pontoon went off safely without a hitch. Photo courtesy of Dr. Jim Miller will follow in a subsequent email.
A more descriptive recap of the events can be seen at www.melbourne2007.com.au or www.theage.com.au (under Sport which is one of the Australian newspapers). Quotes in The Age’s Sports page include the following:
· Kate Brookes-Peterson, the Australian bronze medalist: "My tactic really is to get out from the front. I was back in the pack for the first lap (1.25 kilometres) and I was just getting smashed around. Going around the turns I was just getting knocked further and further back so I just went up the side and got up the front and decided just to swim at my own pace. The plan was just to hang on there until the end, and I tried so hard but those Russian girls just came up the side".
Australian reporter’s accounts include the following:
· “Allegations of tog-tugging from fourth-placed German Britta Kamrau-Corestein (who finished 0.1 of a second behind) were quickly dismissed. "I've never been known for pulling," she said. No protest was lodged.”
· “Australian reporter’s account: Spectacular it's not, but willing, bordering on violent, it is. In the brutal washing machine that is the start and on the turns, arms and legs fly with abandon.”
“The start of the men's race had the best right hook in this city since Azumah Nelson fought at Princes Park, landing fair on the jaw of an American.”
· The battle for bronze was controversial, with Brookes-Peterson edging out German Britta Kamrau-Corestein by 0.1 seconds. The German then leveled allegations of foul play, saying the Australian had pulled her swimsuit in the scramble for the finish line.
Brookes-Peterson denied the accusation: "I don't play dirty in the water, I just do the best I can, but when people are swimming over the top of you and pushing you under the water, if you let them do it then of course they're just going to swim over the top of you so you have to fight for your ground a little bit.".
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