Friday, June 6, 2008

Lasting Images from Beijing - Part 10


Most people think of calm, flat, glassy water in a rowing basin, but the rowing course at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park is in a flatlands area where stiff winds can whip down from the nearby mountains to generate serious whitecaps in the rowing basin.

For rowers, the Olympic race will start at one end of the venue and finish at the other end - the entire rowing competition is with the wind. With wind-whipped surface chop and whitecaps in the rowing basin, the possibility of a rower 'catching a crab' increases significantly.

For swimmers, if the winds pick up on race day, half the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim course will be swum "upstream" against the wind and chop. Additionally, visibility of the course and one's competitors decreases significantly under such conditions. The other half of the race will be swum "downstream" with the wind, which is much easier for swimmers to navigate, but is more difficult to catch someone. These varying conditions demand a wide range of skill sets and strategies for the athletes ... which makes the Olympic 10K race so interesting and tactical.

The photo from the recent Olympic 10K Marathon Swim men’s qualification race in Beijing shows a wave slamming against the floating start pontoon when the athletes are diving in the water.

Therefore, it is possible that the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim can present rough water conditions similar to its distant cousins in Waikiki and La Jolla.

Note: Sid Cassidy, Chairman of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee, is seen in the photo in the light blue shirt setting the swimmers off.

Photo by Pei Qingsheng.

Copyright © 2008 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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