At the 2008 World Open Water Swimming Championships, teammates, swimming fans and prognosticators were shocked when world and Olympic champion Grant Hackett did not qualify for the Olympic 10km Marathon Swim at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Hackett had everything you could imagine in an open water swimmer: proven sprinting speed (with a 1:46 200m freestyle), endurance (with a 14:34 1500m freestyle), size (with a 198cm or 6′-6″ frame), supportive federation, pedigree (Australian distance freestyler) and ocean swimming experience.
But he was caught in the middle of the pack and in the heat of the battle, he was disqualified and never made it to the marathon swim in Beijing. It was a tough blow for such an outstanding athlete and swimming ambassador.
Dial forward four years later, and Ous Mellouli, another Olympic pool swimming champion, appears to be in the same boat: he has the speed, endurance, size, supportive federation, pedigree and cold-water swimming experience.
Could it be that the swimming world will be shocked once again if Mellouli does not qualify for the Olympic 10 km Marathon Swim this weekend?
Highly unlikely. In fact, no way, no how.
Because Mellouli has the benefit of learning from history. He does not want a repeat of Hackett history. He and his coaches are taking nothing for granted in the qualifier. The unexpected can be expected – Mellouli and his coaches are preparing for every possibility, potential and precaution.
Mellouli has been gearing up for this qualification race by doing FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup races, training recently at high altitude with a precise taper period under the guidance of some of the world’s most experienced coaches at the Trojan Swim Club in Southern California. And he is taking this qualification swim very, very seriously. “He is such a hard worker and he knows what he wants,” said Catherine Vogt who has been mentoring him throughout his preparation period. “He was injured a bit a few years ago, but he recovered and is swimming so well now.”
So expect one of the finest tuned, hardest working Olympic distance freestyle champions to be leading the pack on June 10th in Setubal Bay. “Everything is so strategic at the highest levels [of open water swimming], but at the end of the day, it is also primarily about raw speed, incredible endurance and power. And Ous has all three.”
Without a doubt.
Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source