As reported by Michael Church of PA Sport in Beijing, David Davies and Cassandra Patten, two leading British marathon swimming medal contenders gave a clear explanation of what they expect in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim.
"You are all swimming in a pack and you don't have a lane to yourself so it is a very physical sport and you do swim on top of each other and get the odd fist in the face and that sort of thing," said Davies.
"But I do really enjoy it. It's a very demanding event, a very hard, endurance-based event and it deserves to be in the Olympic programme because the athletes who do it are very hard working and endurance-based athletes. So it's good it's in the programme this time and I've got the chance to not only do the pool event but the open water event as well."
It's the hardest thing I've ever done. Adapting to the tactics of it and the physicality of it and learning to swim in a straight line without having a blue line at the bottom of the river is obviously the biggest challenge.
I've got scope for improvement but there's no pressure on me because I'm a novice at this and it's just a good thing for me to do after the pool swimming has finished."
Patten also explained the physicality of the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim.
"You've got 20-30 girls in close proximity and normally I'll give them 'three strikes'. I'll let the first two go but if I get hit a third time I might give them one back. I can look after myself."
Photo by Javier Blazquez of Christine Jennings in the 5K race at the 2008 World Open Water Swimming Championships.
Copyright © 2008 by World Open Water Swimming Association