Ous Mellouli of Tunisia and Eva Risztov of Hungary are the 2012 London Olympics Games marathon swimming champions.

Both athletes swam courageous, gutsy swims and they deserve the global accolades coming their way.

While they did not swim together, they did swim under similar conditions in nearly identical water temperatures in a carefully marked course with the same number of boats and buoys.

Both athletes used similar racing and pacing strategies in their gold medal performances against world-class competitors who were significantly more experienced. They both played to their strengths that also seemed to throw their competitors off-balance. Simply put, both Mellouli and Risztov went on the offensive that forced their competitors to react defensively.

Fundamentally, their gold medal performance strategy was based on the following:

1. They grabbed the early lead and held it throughout much the race.
2. They significantly increased their pace on the fifth of six laps.
3. When they decided to make a break, there was no turning back.
4. They sprinted hard on the last lap while being chased by 3-4 competitors.

It is interesting to note that Mellouli was 7 minutes 43 seconds faster than Risztov over the same 10,000m course (1:49:55 vs. 1:57:38). This difference is within the general range of time differences between the elite professional men and women in 10km courses. The top men’s times are usually between 6-8 minutes faster than the women when they swim on the same course on the same day.

Below is an analysis of their total, average and split times.

Total time – 1:49:55 vs. 1:57:38
Average time per lap – 18:19 vs. 19:36

Mellouli split times and the difference per lap from the average lap time:

Lap 1 – 18:09, -10 second difference from average split
Lap 2 – 19:06, +47 second difference from average split
Lap 3 – 18:32, +13 second difference from average split
Lap 4 – 18:34, +15 second difference from average split
Lap 5 – 17:45, -34 second difference from average split
Lap 6 – 17:46, -33 second difference from average split

Risztov split times and the difference per lap from the average lap time:

Lap 1 – 19:22, -14 second difference from average split
Lap 2 – 19:47, +11 second difference from average split
Lap 3 – 20:00, +24 second difference from average split
Lap 4 – 19:49, +13 second difference from average split
Lap 5 – 19:33, -3 second difference from average split
Lap 6 – 19:05, -31 second difference from average split

While there are slight differences, Mellouli and Risztov swam like champions with remarkably similar racing and pacing strategies.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source