We can only observe and marvel at the pain and suffering that the elite marathon swimming women will go through at the FINA World Championships 10 km marathon swim in Barcelona, Spain on July 23rd next week.

Marathon des Sables, Badwater Ultramarathon, Race Across America, the Iditarod, Hawaiian Ironman, and Tour de France are renowned, punishing endurance races. Without a doubt, many athletes must themselves beyond reason in these competitions.

They are endurance events that pit the human spirit and capabilities against nature, conditions, and distances. Man vs. Nature, Mind over Matter. No pain, no gain. No guts, no glory.

But in the women’s world championship 10 km race, the contestants will have 2 hours of pure aerobic hell as they are slamming into one another, getting hit with elbows and knees, and dealing with other competitors veering them off-course, slapping on their legs, and entangling their arms. Goggles come off, teeth are chipped, bruises results. All while they are dealing with trying to navigate in an offshore environment. This is why we call it the roughest, toughest race on the planet.

The 53 women will race right from the start. They will absolutely punish themselves with a blistering pace that begins on the first stroke. With fearless swimmers like world champions Angela Maurer and Ana Marcela Cunha competing against Olympic medalists like Keri-Anne Payne and Éva Risztov just trying to get in front will be difficult.

But it is in the middle of the lead pack where the real damage is done. The physicality among the women goes beyond anything in the men’s race. The 10 km marathon swim is analogous to a wrestling match that breaks out during a marathon run. Zsofia Balazs, Melissa Gorman, Martina Grimaldi, Christine Jennings, Rebecca Mann, Poliana Okimoto, Yurema Requena Juarez, Karla Šitić, Erika Villaécija García, Olga Beresnyeva, and Ophelie Aspord are just a few of the top swimmers who will be banging into one another, keeping the FINA officials busy and diligent as can be.

Yellow cards are a given; red cards are also a guarantee. Tempers will flare and fierce words will be aimed at one another. The action is brutal and constant for 2 straight hours, with no let-up. Either on straightaways and especially around the turn buoys, the women’s 10 km marathon swim is the most physical endurance race on the planet, bar none. The competitors have to handle the physicality at the same time they are swimming almost all out and navigating at the same time, occasionally stopping for mere seconds to down a bit of hydration.

It is a difficult race to predict, but we suspect that the race will come down to a final sprint with Angela Maurer, Ana Marcela Cunha, Keri-Anne Payne, Éva Risztov, Ophelie Aspord, Poliana Okimoto, Melissa Gorman, Martina Grimaldi, Christine Jennings, and Rebecca Mann in the lead pack on the final stretch.

And an Italian, American, and Hungarian flag to be flown at the post-race awards ceremony.

The list of competitors include the following:

1. Angélica André (PORTUGAL)
2. Kalliopi Araouzou (GREECE)
3. Julia Lucila Arino (ARGENTINA)
4. Ophelie Aspord (FRANCE)
5. Cara Baker (NEW ZEALAND)
6. Zsofia Balazs (CANADA)
7. Celia Barrot (FRANCE)
8. Olga Beresnyeva (UKRAINE)
9. Rachele Bruni (ITALY)
10. Nataly Rosalia Caldas Calle (ECUADOR)
11. Fiona On Yi Chan (HONG KONG)
11. Ana Marcela Cunha (BRAZIL)
12. Laila El Basiouny (EGYPT)
13. Yanqiao Fang (CHINA)
14. Heidi Gan (MALAYSIA)
15. Melissa Gorman (AUSTRALIA)
16. Elizaveta Gorshkova (RUSSIA)
17. Martina Grimaldi (ITALY)
18. Valerie Gruest (GUATEMALA)
19. Chelsea Gubecka (AUSTRALIA)
20. Danielle Huskisson (GREAT BRITAIN)
21. Mariya Ivanova (KAZAKHSTAN)
22. Christine Jennings (UNITED STATES)
23. Yumi Kida (JAPAN)
24. Clarice Le Roux (SOUTH AFRICA)
25. Hannah Hang Fung Li (HONG KONG)
26. Marianna Lymperta (GREECE)
27. Rebecca Mann (UNITED STATES)
28. Angela Maurer (GERMANY)
29. Florencia Belen Mazzei Villegas (ARGENTINA)
30. Vicenia Navarro (VENEZUELA)
31. Poliana Okimoto (BRAZIL)
32. Anna Olasz (HUNGARY)
33. Keri-Anne Payne (GREAT BRITAIN)
34. Paola Perez (VENEZUELA)
35. Permana Risa Andriani Permana (INDONESIA)
36. Barbora Picková (CZECH REPUBLIC)
37. Yurema Requena Juarez (SPAIN)
38. Éva Risztov (HUNGARY)
39. Emma Robinson (NEW ZEALAND)
40. Xeniya Romanchuk(KAZAKHSTAN)
41. Lizeth Rueda Santos (MEXICO)
42. Silvie Rybářová (CZECH REPUBLIC)
43. Poorva Kiran Shetye (INDIA)
44. Yu Shi (CHINA)
45. Karla Šitić (CROATIA)
46. Alexandra Sokolova (RUSSIA)
47. Francis Mishel Tixe Cobos (ECUADOR)
48. Mahina Valdivia Dannenberg (CHILE)
49. Erika Villaécija García (SPAIN)
50. Melissa Villaseñor Reyes (MEXICO)
51. Michelle Weber (SOUTH AFRICA)
52. Nadine Williams (CANADA)
53. Svenja Theresa Zihsler (GERMANY)

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