The questions were asked of Ous Mellouli, Trent Grimsey, Valerio Cleri, Alexander Studzinski, Allan do Carmo, Ana Marcela Cunha and Poliana Okimoto. Collectively, these athletes have 9 Olympics, 5 world championship titles, 1 channel record, 3 FINA World Cup circuit titles, and numerous professional marathon swimming victories among them.
Alexander Studzinski: “This is the fourth time I had done the King and Queen of the Sea race. It is a nice race, but it is different than the other races because we run in between each loop. It is definitely fun, but different.”
Valerio Cleri: “It is a great race and very different than the other races. I took a bit of a break after the [London] Olympics, so I am not sure how I will do here this week.”
Ous Mellouli: “I am very excited to be here after being on a break for a few months after the London Olympics. I am trying out different races around the world and this is one of them.”
2009 and 2011 King of the Sea victor Trent Grimsey. “I love this race, probably my favorite race. I have won here twice, but the quality of the race keeps on getting better and better.”
2010 King of the Sea victor Studzinski was asked his strategy to upset Grimsey and Mellouli. “I am going to stick with these guys because the race will all come down to the final 200 meters.”
The field was asked about their plans for the 2016 Rio Olympics that will be held in the same location at the King and Queen of the Sea on Copacabana Beach. 2-time world champion and 2-time Olympian Cleri said, “I only have short-term goals right now, so I do not know about 2016 right now.”
English Channel record holder and 2012 FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix champion Grimsey answered, “It is one of my goals to swim in the 2016 Rio Olympics. I will do some training camps in Brazil to prepare.”
Double gold medalist Ous Mellouli replied, “I was ready to leave my swimming career behind me after the London Olympics. I felt like I did what I wanted to do in the world of sports. But I have been traveling to exotic places [to do open water swims] and will do a couple more races like here in Rio. But I will be 32 years old by the time of the Rio Olympics which is pretty old for a swimmer.”
When asked how he swims relative to the other swimmers, Grimsey said, “I do best in very choppy salt water. I swim in it more often than the other guys. So on Sunday, I hope it is going to be very choppy with big surf.”
Chad Ho of South Africa, another FINA World Cup champion, echoed Grimsey’s hopes. “Yes, the rougher, the better. Preferably with big waves so we can body surf in and get out fast in huge surf.”
The Brazilian media is very interested in the Ana Marcela Cunha vs. Poliana Okimoto rivalry. The two superstars of the Brazilian open water swimming world have ruled the last three years of the international FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup circuit. Domestically, they trade off places on the victory stand throughout the Brazilian summer season. Cunha, who will get married soon, expects the race to be very close as usual. “We do not know who will win, but the race will come down right to the finish. Last week, we tied and that was also unexpected. When I am training [in my home pool], I am always thinking about what is Poliana doing in her workouts. It is a big motivation.”
Okimoto also diplomatically described her expectations, “We cannot predict who will win, but it will always be a close race.”
However humble their answers may be, it is clear to see that each of the athletes is here to win. Being champions who have tasted victory, their expectations within their hearts is nothing but standing on top the award podium at the end.
Sunday’s televised race in Brazil should be great entertainment.
Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source