Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Ous Mellouli‘s competitors in the Olympic Marathon Swimming 10 km know that his qualification just upped the ante. While Europeans won all the open water medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the epicenter of the sport may have just shifted to Tunisia.

The men’s Olympic marathon swim was already going to be a fast race. With Mellouli in the game, it just got faster.

Basketball fans want Kevin Durant taking the last shot in a basketball game. Swimming fans want Jason Lezak anchoring their relay. And Tunisia is looking forward to seeing Mellouli throwing down the hammer on the last loop in the Olympic marathon swimming final on August 9th.

New Zealand’s Kane Radford explained Mellouli’s speed from his perspective. “I would be willing to put money on [Mellouli] to win the gold at the Olympics with the speed he showed in those last two laps. It was something unbelievable. You had to witness it to see how fast that change of speed was. It’s hard to believe you could swim 7-8km and still have that much speed left in the tank.”

Mellouli’s pool training consists of lower volume, but arguably greater intensity, than his competitors. Watching him train is to see balanced, streamlined power and controlled fury as his body rides high in the water.

I’ve never been in a race that has changed gears so quickly and so fast,” explained Radford to the New Zealand media. “It has opened my eyes that it is the way it is going now, that you have to have that amazing turn of speed over the last 2 km.”

Photo by Dr. Jim Miller.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association