Open Water Test Event: Full Training Mode for the Olympic 10K

By Steven Munatones, Swimming World Special Correspondent

BEIJING, China, May 31. "I will get into full training mode starting on Monday morning, training as hard as I can, getting ready both mentally and physically," said Chloe Sutton after earning a spot in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim final. "I expect an amazing race [at the Olympics]."

Sutton of Mission Viejo certainly fine-tuned her open water race strategy on the right day at the right venue. She qualified as the sole American female entrant in the Olympic 10K Marathon by totally controlling the pace and strategy.

"I have grown so much [since last year]. I am much stronger now," reflected Sutton who was selected as the American representative, along with Kirsten Groome, only a few weeks ago.

"Because I did not know I would be coming here until two weeks ago, I have been training for the pool since earlier this year. I will try to do my best to qualify there [at Olympic Trials], but open water is my priority right now."

Sutton took the early lead in the 10K race in 69 degree Fahrenheit water and led the first half of the race, followed by a pack of 25 competitors. On the third loop, Karla Sitic of Croatia started to push the pace and the field quickly dwindled to six. Groome and two Italian swimmers were in the mix. By the end of the third loop, Sitic and Sutton had built up a sizable lead and it was clear Sutton had prepared well for this event.

"I felt comfortable. The Croatian girl took the lead on the third lap and I let her lead, but when she went off-course a bit, I look the lead [for good]."

By the last feeding station, Sutton had built up a 3-body lead and was in control. The rest of the field had strung out far behind Sutton who had split a 30:40 on the first loop, a 30:37 on the second loop and a 30:38 on the third loop.

"On the final lap, I knew I was ahead of the pack. I just tried to keep going fast. I sprinted the whole way [near the end of the race]."

Sutton finished 31 seconds ahead of Martina Grimaldi of Italy and 48 seconds ahead of Alice Franco, also of Italy. After her comfortable victory, Sutton was overcome with emotions.

"It all fell into place. I was overwhelmed and excited when I finished. It hasn't yet sunk in."

So the final field is set for the women's Olympic 10K Marathon Swim with 25 athletes from 23 countries. Coaches from England, Germany, Australia and elsewhere were at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park, scouting out the venue and competition. Sutton summed up the venue and course for the Chinese press after the race, "The venue is beautiful. The water was nice and cold, which I like. It was a simple course with clear water. It was a wonderful experience and I enjoyed it."

The men's qualification race is scheduled for today.

With 37,000 spectators expected to cheer on Sutton and her open water competitors in Beijing, the open water final should be an amazing sight to see.

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