Great Moves In Open Water Swimming History – Beijing

Courtesy of World Open Water Swimming Association.

The World Open Water Swimming Association offers a series of talks about open water swimming. One series includes Great Moves In Open Water Swimming History.

The Ilchenko is one of the few terms in the open water swimming world that is named specifically after an individual. And what an individual that swimmer was.

Larisa Ilchenko, Olympic and world champion.

If you are a sports fan who enjoys excitement, drama and uncertainty, Larisa Ilchenko was your kind of athlete. For all the world championships that she won (5 km in 2004, 5 km in 2005, 5 km and 10 km in 2006, 5 km and 10 km in 2007, 5 km and 10 km in 2008 as well as the 2008 Olympic 10K Marathon Swim), she rarely led any race.

Until the end. The very end.

Whether the race were 5,000 meters or 10,000 meters, it was not in Ilchenko’s interest to be in the lead except when it counted. She just knew how to kick into a different gear when it mattered most. The Queen Bee of the last decade among professional marathon swimmers, Ilchenko knew when and how to shift gears.

On the days before race day, she was full of smiles and good cheer, but on race day, she was all business. “Yesterday, everyone was so kind and friendly – everyone was wishing each other good luck,” Ilchenko said. “Today all the smiles were wiped off. It was a fight from the first moments of the day.”

The competitive ambiance among the women was never more evident as during the 2008 Olympic 10K Marathon Swim in the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park at the Beijing Olympic Games. Characteristically, Ilchenko trailed right behind the British dual leaders of Keri-Anne Payne and Cassandra Patten who lead the field for 9,900 meters of the 10,000. But things did not go completely to plan for Ilchenko. Early in the race, American Chloe Sutton moved into her usual trailing position and later in the race, she completely missed her feeding and had to hydrate on guts and rely on her closing speed.

As the lead women came around the last turn buoy, Ilchenko was following in her familiar position. With less than 100 meters to go, Ilchenko moved up alongside the right side of her two British opponents. She picked the ideal straight-line tangent to the finish pontoon. As her competitors were gasping at the end of the race, Ilchenko seemed to speed up with an even stronger 6-beat kick and faster arm tempo. She culminated her Olympic victory with a body-length lead to spare.

2008 Beijing Olympic Games Women’s Results:

Gold: Larisa Ilchenko (Russia) 1:59:27.7
Silver: Keri-Anne Payne (Great Britain) 1:59:29.2
Bronze: Cassandra Patten (Great Britain) 1:59:31.0
4. Angela Maurer (Germany) 1:59:31.9
5. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil) 1:59:36.8
6. Swann Oberson (Switzerland) 1:59:36.9
7. Poliana Okimoto (Brazil) 1:59:37.4
8. Jana Pechanová (Czech Republic) 1:59:39.7
9. Andreína del Valle Pinto Pérez (Venezuela) 1:59:40.0
10. Martina Grimaldi (Italy) 1:59:40.7
11. Marianna Lymperta (Greece) 1:59:42.3
12. Teja Zupan (Slovenia) 1:59:43.7
13. Yurema Requena (Spain) 1:59:46.9
14. Edith van Dijk (Netherlands) 2:00:02.8

15. Melissa Gorman (Australia) 2:00:33.6
16. Natalie du Toit South Africa 2:00:49.9
17. Daniela Inácio (Portugal) 2:00:59.0
18. Eva Berglund (Sweden) 2:01:05.0
19. Fang Yanqiao (China) 2:01:07.9
20. Imelda Martínez (Mexico) 2:01:07.9
21. Aurelie Muller (France) 2:02:04.1
22. Chloe Sutton (United States) 2:02:13.6
23. Natalya Samorodina (Ukraine) 2:10:41.6
24. Antonella Bogarin (Argentina) 2:11:35.9
Kristel Köbrich (Chile) DNF

* Great Moves In Open Water Swimming History – Lake Michigan is here
* Great Moves In Open Water Swimming History – Lac St-Jean is here
* Great Moves In Open Water Swimming History – Mount Everest is here
* Great Moves In Open Water Swimming History – Marine Stadium is here
* Great Moves in Open Water Swimming History – Rome is here
* Great Moves In Open Water Swimming History – Río Coronda is here

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