Since Keri-Anne Payne began her dominance in this quadrennial over the elite marathon women, only one woman has broken her streak of victories: Martina Grimaldi of Italy in 2010.

Grimaldi has the tools – both mental and physical – to win the gold in the Olympic marathon swim. For her to win, everything must fall into place.

She is aerobically fit and maintain any pace necessary to medal. She is sufficiently fast to close out a 10,000m swim with a blazing sprint. She swims “wide” and protects her “space” so she can swim offensively or defensively as needed. And she is spatially savvy, meaning that she knows where all her competitors are during every moment in the race.

• She must conserve energy by drafting off Payne throughout the race
• She cannot get boxed in the second tier of the lead pack; she must maintain a clear second position
• Her feeds must be spot on, taking in sufficient hydration in a minimum amount of time
• She cannot waste time or get tangled up swimming around any turn buoys
• She must be relaxed during her time in the Olympic Village and on race day morning
• Coming around the last few turn buoys, she must slingshot wide of Payne and take a clear line to the finish

If she is caught trying to chase Payne with other leading swimmers like Melissa Gorman, Marianna Lymperta, Poliana Okimoto and Haley Anderson, there may be too much traffic and physicality for her to run down Payne at the end of the race.

But her coaches are preparing her well for the swim of her life.

I train in a swimming pool in my home town of Bologna where my typical daily training distance is 17 km. I am now in a training camp with the Italian national open water swimming team.”

And everyone knows that Grimaldi lays everything on the line and gives it every last bit of energy she has.

Photo shows Grimaldi at the 2007 World Swimming Championships 25 km race where a squall interrupted the race.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source