The men’s 2012 FINA Olympic 10km Marathon Swimming Qualifier in Portugal’s Setubal Bay at 4 pm Portugal time (or 8 am Los Angeles time, 9 am Denver time, 10 am Mexico City, 11 am New York time, 5 pm Amsterdam / Cape Town time, 11 pm Beijing / Kuala Lumpur time, 12 midnight Tokyo time, 1 am Brisbane on Sunday).

Setubal is essentially a swim-off within a race within a qualifier: it is the ultimate strategic head-to-head competition.

Athletes will be racing against their teammates for only the fastest in each country has a chance to go. The top 9 have a chance to qualify for the Olympics, if they are the fastest of their country. Then, in a complicated formula, the top finisher in each of the 5 continents will qualify. For example, if there is no athlete from the continent from Oceania in the top 9 finishers, then the fastest swimmer from the continent of Oceania will qualify. [Note: in this particular case, it is practically a race between the New Zealanders. In the case of Great Britain that gets an automatic bid, it is a swim-off between David Davies vs. Daniel Fogg].

The five continents include the Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceania.

The stakes, the pressure and the pay-off could not be higher.

The following 61 men are entered and ready to enter this battle: no lanes, no lines, no walls…no mercy in 61°F (16°C) water. The colder-than-expected water has the potential to dramatically change the dynamics of the race for the following reasons:

1. The men will be cold at the start and they will push the pace early in an attempt to stay warm.
2. The faster men from warm-weather climates who have been competitive in warmer waters will fall off the pace after 45-60 minutes.
3. The closing sprint will have fewer position changes than normal because the ability to sprint and shift gears after two hours in the colder water will be reduced.

But the number of men who can hang with the lead pack is large…and it will be an exciting race to watch.

Damian Blaum vs. Luciano Sales Rubio (ARG)

Matthias Schweinzer (AUT)

Sergiy Fesenko (AZE)
Allan Do Carmo vs. Lucas Kanieski (BRA)

Petar Stoychev vs. Ventsislav Aydarski (BUL)

Richard Weinberger vs. Francois Xavier Desharnais (CAN)
Lijun Zu vs. Yuanpeng Lang (CHN)
Kurt Niehaus (CRC)

Tomislav Soldo vs. Josip Culina (CRO)

Iacovos Hadjiconstantinou (CYP)
Rostislav Vítek vs. Jan Pošmourný (CZE)

Santiago Enderica Salgado vs. Ivan Enderica Ochoa (ECU)

Mazen Aziz vs. Ahmed Gad (EGY)

David Davies vs. Daniel Fogg (GBR)

Benjamin Schulte (GUM)

Tin Yu Ling vs. Yeung Lee (HKG)
Csaba Gercsak vs. Gergely Gyurta (HUN)
Divase Mandar Anadarao (IND)

Chris Bryan (IRL)
Michael Dmitriev vs. Yuval Safra (ISR)

Nicola Bolzonello vs. Valerio Cleri (ITA)

Yasunari Hirai vs. Yuto Kobayashi (JPN)
Yuriy Kudinov (KAZ)

Said Saber vs. Mohammed El Mehdi Essadiq (MAR)
Ivan De Jesus Lopez Ramos vs. Luis Ricardo Escobar Torres (MEX)
Marcel Schouten vs. Ferry Weertman (NED)
Kane Radford vs. Jonathan Pullon (NZL)
Ahmed Gebrel (PLE)
Arseniy Lavrentyev vs. Vasco Gaspar (POR)
Gabriel Moldoveanu (ROU)

Troyden Prinsloo vs. Chad Ho (RSA)
Stefan Sigrist vs. Jovan Mitrovic (SUI)

Saleh Mohammad (SYR)
Oussama Mellouli (TUN)
Igor Snitko vs. Igor Chervynskiy (UKR)
Erwin Maldonado vs. Johndry Segovia (VEN)

Watch the swim-offs and Olympic qualification races live on Portuguese television (here) or online (here or here today at 4 pm Portugal time (or 8 am Los Angeles time, 9 am Denver time, 10 am Mexico City, 11 am New York time, 5 pm Amsterdam / Cape Town time, 11 pm Beijing / Kuala Lumpur time, 12 midnight Tokyo time, or 1 am Brisbane on Sunday) today.

Photo courtesy of Jim Miller.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association