Under the incredibly hot, humid and smoggy conditions in Beijing, it seems inplausible for athletes to swim the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim the same way they would do under normal or colder conditions.
Whether the water temperature is 28ºC (82ºF) or 31ºC (87.8ºF) and whether the humidity is 70% or 85%, the race conditions seem to favor those swimmers who are carrying less body fat than their competitors.
In the men's Olympic 10K Marathon Swim, these conditions seem to favor a lean swimmer like Brian Ryckeman of Belgium.
Brian is a 3:53 400-meter and a 15:31 1500-meter freestyler from Belgium who stands 6'-5" (201 cm) and weighs 165 lbs (74.8 kg). He has consistenty placed in the top 10 for years and can handle himself well in the physical battles. Most impressively, at the 2008 World Open Water Swimming Championships in Seville, Spain, Brian's feeding cup was smashed by one of his competitors and he had to swim the entire distance "on empty".
Brian may be flying under the radar at the Olympics, but the stars and weather may be lining up for a darkhorse medal swim for Belgium's lone open water swimmer in Beijing.
Photo by Javier Blazquez of the men's 10K race where Brian is shown in the black cap staring at Spyridon Gianniotis of Greece in the blue-and-white cap. Grant Hackett is ahead of them in the green cap, but Brian passed him in the last 2K.