Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.
Kilometer after kilometer, day after day, year after year, Olympic 10K Marathon Swim bronze medalist Richard Weinberger has been training by himself. Alone and lonely, he has trudged innumerable solitary miles in pools and lakes in and around Vancouver, Canada.
Weinberger has made a steady progress to the top of the sport of marathon swimming.
And it is entirely possible that he wins a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
While it is nearly impossible to accurately predict the medalists in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the Olympics…some athletes are ideally prepared to swim the race of their lives and capture gold. Weinberger is one of those athletes who can be expected to rise to the occasion and stand on top of the podium on Copacabana Beach:
1. His track record of success on the international stage, especially at the 2012 London Olympics where he missed the gold medal by 5 seconds. He has long been a contender in every international competition he has ever participated in; the bigger the stage, the higher he places.
2. His natural calm, composure and confidence. Despite the pressure of the Olympics, he has an even-keeled personality with experience with the logistics and expectations of the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim.
3. He can adapt to all racing situations. Weinberger is never out of contention in any race. He has won races by surging with others or initiating surges himself from the front, from the middle of the lead pack. In particular, he has demonstrated the ability to come from far behind and pick off competitors one-by-one.
4. He can come out on top in any all-out drop-dead sprint against his top competitors – from 50 meters out or 500 meters out.
4. He has succeeded in medaling in lakes and seas, and in rough and calm conditions. In fact, the rougher, the better. Nothing seems to bother the tall Canadian, before or during his races.
5. The water temperature, especially the cold, or the reported deadly bacteria in Copacabana waters will not bother him. He is comfortable in all weather, wind and water conditions – and has swum in “places [around the world] 20 times worse“.
6. He is not only comfortable, but also relishes surf and waves along the Copacabana course. He understands the dynamics of the rough water conditions which will be extremely important if Copacabana is wavy and turbulent.
7. The 26-year-old believes he can medal and win. His self-confidence is based on a lot of training (up to 22,000 meters per day and 100 km per week) and race experience.
8. The power, resources and logistical operations of Swimming Canada is behind him, many of his daily cares are taken care of by staff members.
9. He is a strategic thinker and can executive on his Plan A as well as alternative Plans B and C.
10. He finally has training partners.
His coach Steve Price recruited Hau-Li Fan and William Walters to train with Weinberger and provide a good deal of physicality to Weinberger during their training.
Physicality as in pull-backs, ziplines, elbows, and possibly even kicks and punches that Weinberger knows can come at the most inopportune moment.
“It can get pretty rough,” said Price. “So [Fan and Walters] swim behind and beside Richard during training. They’ll try and cut in front of him and create the conditions you have to deal with in open water swimming.”
“The Assassins [Weinberger’s nickname for this training buddies] don’t normally go the same mileage as me, but they’ll throw on the fins [so they can keep up] and come in on one of my sets,” said Weinberger. “They’ll battle me, swim on either side and squish me so I have to practice holding my stroke. They’ve meant a lot to me. I haven’t had a training partner for five or six years. To do this all alone can be really lonely.”
Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association