It is going to be a great Olympic 10K Marathon Swim webcast live on NBCOlympics.com at 9:00 pm ET on August 19th.
Yesterday, Britain's Cassandra Patten qualified for the 800-meter freestyle finals with a time of 8:25.91, ahead of America's top two distance aces, Katie Hoff and Kate Ziegler, and better than Chloe Sutton's time of 8:31.23 that she did at the USA Olympic Swim Team Trials.
Although Patten's best event and priority in Beijing is the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim, she is obviously swimming well. "...to come out here and make the final is pretty good. I've taken four seconds off my [personal best] after taking six or seven [seconds] off just to make the Olympics."
Qualifying first in the 800-meter freestyle was Patten's teammate, Rebecca Adlington, who upset Hoff in the 400 freestyle with a strong finishing kick. If Patten has any kind of finishing kick like her British teammate, she may be in the driver's seat in the 10K.
However, insiders suspect winning will take more than great finishing speed and tremendous endurance. Pre-race hydrationn, perfect feedings, a minimum of navigational and tactical mistakes, and the ability to swim well in the heat and humidity are what it will take for Olympic gold.
As Patten and world champion Larisa Ilchenko of Russia streak down the final straightaway to the finish, it will be very interesting to see how they fend off Chloe Sutton and the top European medal contenders.
Photo of Cassandra Patten (in front of America's Micha Burden) walking to the starting pontoon at the 2008 World Open Water Swimming Championships.