Open Water Test Event: Olympic 10K Marathon Swim Fields Set

By Steven Munatones, Swimming World Special Correspondent

BEIJING, China, June 1. PETAR Stoychev qualified for his second event of the Beijing Olympics with a spectacular win in the men's Olympic 10K Marathon Swim qualification race on Sunday. With strong winds whipping the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park basin into a whitewater of fury, Stoychev had to battle the elements as much as his fellow competitors.

When open water was added to the Olympics, open water traditionalists questioned the rigor of holding open water races in an enclosed rowing basin. However, the conditions in Beijing proved that even a man-made enclosed course can be stirred and shaken to mimic rough water conditions of the open ocean. As the 30 men dove from a bouncing start pontoon, the race was unlike the women's race held the previous day. The men fought through white caps hitting them head-on as they battled down the front half of each of the four loops. On the back half of each loop, the men were pushed with a strong surface chop.

Under these unexpected conditions, there were 8 yellow flags as the men were tossed around like little boats in a big sea. These conditions were ideal for Stoychev, a 7-time World Cup series champion and English Channel record holder, who has faced these conditions numerous times throughout his long career.

Stoychev, like his British rival, David Davies, will swim both the 1500 freestyle and the 10K marathon swim at the Olympics. "I always do my best in the summer," said Stoychev. "We fight for the Olympic qualification. We worked very hard over the last two years [to get to this point]. There is no secret, just to be very well prepared."

A field of 27 men stayed together through the first 8K, with no one stopping for a feeding after the 6.5K mark. The lead pack was reduced to about 18 men after 9K as the pace picked up. With 900 meters to go, 15 men were still in position to grab the ten available Olympic spots. In the wind-induced surf, Stoychev took off, but veered off-course. Still he powered to the finish with a comfortable lead and a 3.9-second victory. Although the first four positions were easy to judge, the referees had to review the video tape of the finish to make the final decisions on the placing from fifth through twelfth.

So the fields are set for Olympic 10K Marathon Swim on August 20th (women) and August 21st (men) with everyone holding medal dreams. "There is nothing to compare with this venue," said Stoychev. "I am sure the Olympics will be excellent."

Name/Country Time Time Behind Winner Olympic Qualifier
1. Petar Stoychev, BUL 1:59:13.8 — Q
2. Csaba Gercsak, HUN 1:59:17.7 3.9 Q
3. Rostislav Vitek, CZE 1:59:35.5 21.7 Q
4. Chad Ho, RSA 1:59:37.6 23.8 Q
5. Erwin Maldonado, VEN 1:59:37.9 24.1 Q
6. Allan Do Carmo, BRA 1:59:38.8 25.0 Q
7. Damian Blaum, ARG 1:59:39.1 25.3 Q
8. Jakub Fichtl, CZE 1:59:39.2 25.4
9. Daniel Katzir, ISR 1:59:39.5 25.7 Q
10. Rolando Salas, VEN 1:59:39.7 25.9
11. Jose Francisco Hervas, ESP 1:59:40.4 26.6 Q
12. Diego Noguiera, ESP 1:59:40.8 27.0
13. Michael Dmitriev, ISR 1:59:45.1 31.3
14. Arseniy Lavrentyev, POR 1:59:54.1 40.3 Q
15. Igor Chervynskiy, UKR 1:59:57.5 43.7
16. Philippe Dubreuil, CAN 2:00:18.2 1:04.4
17. Julien Baillod, CAN 2:00:19.9 1:06.1
18. Martin Clement, SUI 2:00:20.9 1:07.1
19. Roberto Penailillo, CHI 2:01:46.7 2:32.9
20. Konstyantyn Ukradyga, UKR 2:02:21.1 3:07.3
21. Rok Kerin, SLO 2:02:53.3 3:39.5
22. Aljaz Ojstersek, SLO 2:03:07.0 3:53.2
23. Sung Mo Cho, KOR 2:03:59.3 4:45.5
24. Jarrod Ballem, CAN 2:04:50.9 5:37.1
25. Marcelo Romanelli Soares, BRA 2:05:14.1 6:00.3
26. Kurt Niehaus, CRC 2:11:36.3 12:22.5
27. Mandar Divase, IND 2:16:04.2 16:50.4
Kai Wai David Wong, HKG DNF
Tin Yu Ling, HKG DNF
Mohammed Alghareeb, KSA SNF