If The 2020 Olympic Marathon Swim Were Held As Scheduled: The Women

Courtesy of WOWSA, Odaiba Marine Park, Tokyo Bay, Japan.

Because I enjoy thinking about the future and because many fans will miss watching the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim in Tokyo Bay’s Odaiba Marine Park as part of the originally scheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games this August, I thought it might be an interesting – and certainly controversial – thought experiment to predict the outcomes of the men’s Olympic 10K Marathon Swim – if it were held as scheduled,” explained Steven Munatones.

A few things are known:

1. There will not be any FINA international races for months.
2. All the Olympic finalists – including defending gold medalist Sharon van Rouwendaal – will gradually get back into racing shape after forced swimming layoffs during the global lockdown.
3. The course in Odaiba Marine Park will be very warm and very flat.
4. Podium finishers will most likely come from the top 10 finishers from the 2019 FINA World Championships [see below].
5. Physicality will play a major role in determining the outcome – especially around the turn buoys and feeding pontoons and in through the finish chute.

Correctly theorizing who might win a mythical Olympic 10K Marathon Swim in Tokyo is impossible, but sort of enjoyable to think about. What strategies and tactics will they use? What will be their pace throughout the race that will position them to possibly win a medal? What do they need to do in order to earn a podium position?

Munatones continued, “I will describe this mythical competition in a multi-part series – discussing the race lap-by-lap – over the next several weeks. The series will certainly be a highly debatable prognostication, based on one person’s imagination.

But readers are encouraged to email [email protected] with their own comments and predictions, along with their reasons, if they wish to share their opinions and predictions and be quoted in this series about the theoretical race. It will be fun to analyze this imaginary race buoy-by-buoy, kilometer-by-kilometer, lap-by-lap until the finish.”

Accurately predicting the outcome of a pressure-packed, extremely competitive race like the Olympic 10 km marathon swim final – is impossible. There are additional factors that must be considered – including the impact of this unprecedented lockdown and forced training layoff, the anticipated high air and water temperatures that will introduce the very real potential for hyperthermia, the possibility of poor water quality in Odaiba Marine Park, the unannounced course layout (4-loop or 6-loop course?), and the as-yet-unannounced selection of the FINA referees from among the Technical Open Water Swimming Committee members.

The following assumptions form the foundation of the race predictions and the ultimate winners:

1. All the swimmers will be healthy and optimally fit for the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim.
2. The water temperature will be near the maximum of 31°C.
3. The water conditions will be flat while the air will have nearly 100% humidity with few clouds and no rain in the days leading up to the race.
4. Feeding will be crowded and there will be physical contact around each buoy and each feeding station.
5. No athlete will be red-carded (disqualified), but several yellow cards will be given by the FINA referees.
5. The finish will be controversial with protests filed to the FINA officials.
6. The course will be 6 loops of 1.67 km each.

Top 10 Women from the 2019 Olympic Qualification Race at the 2019 FINA World Championships:
1. Xin Xin (China) 1:54:47.20
2. Haley Anderson (USA) 1:54:48.10
3. Rachele Bruni (Italy) 1:54:49.90
4. Lara Grangeon (France) 1:54:50.00
5. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil) 1:54:50.50
6. Ashley Twichell (USA) 1:54:50.50
7. Kareena Lee (Australia) 1:54:50.50
8. Finnia Wunram (Germany) 1:54:50.70
9. Leonie Beck (Germany) 1:54:51.00
10. Sharon van Rouwendaal (Netherlands) 1:54:51.10

Stay tuned for Lap 1 of this thought experiment series about the mythical Olympic 10K marathon swim final in Tokyo for the world’s fastest women in the open water.

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