PHOENIX, Arizona, November 26. OUR annual rollout continues with Swimming World Magazine's Open Water Swimmers of the Year. In a pair of articles written by managing editor Jason Marsteller, we name Russians Larisa Ilchenko and Vladimir Dyatchin our Female and Male Open Water Swimmers of the Year.
Ilchenko and Dyatchin established themselves as the premier open water swimmers of 2007, but they know they'll have plenty of competition in Beijing when open water swimming debuts as an Olympic sport.
The following are excerpts from full features on both swimmers in our upcoming December issue:
LARISA ILCHENKO, Russia
Female Open Water Swimmer of the Year
With less than a year left until the debut of open water swimming as an Olympic sport, Russia's Larisa Ilchenko continues to state her case as the top swimmer in the women's division, winning Swimming World Magazine's Female Open Water Swimmer of the Year honors for the second straight year.
At the FINA World Championships held in Melbourne last March, Ilchenko won a pair of world titles for the second straight year. Ilchenko walked away with the 5K title in 1 hour 41.3 seconds, then came back three days later to win the gold medal in the Olympic-distance 10K with a time of 2:03:57.9.
Male Open Water Swimmer of the Year
Germany's Thomas Lurz had won Swimming World Magazine's Male Open Water Swimmer of the Year award three straight years. He first shared the award with Grant Cleland and Brendal Capell in 2004 before tying with Chip Peterson in 2005. He then went on to win the title outright for the first time last year.
Lurz had another outstanding open water season in 2007, winning the 5K title at the World Championships and finishing second in the 10K.
But it wasn't enough.
This year's male open water honors went to Russia's Vladimir Dyatchin, who beat Lurz in the Olympic-distance 10K by a mere 6-hundredths of a second, 1:55:32.52 to 1:55:32.58.