The Olympic 10K Marathon Swim athletes will swim 4 loops of 2.5K in the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park. The swimmers will pass a floating "feeding" pontoon where they will be handed drinks and gel packs from their coaches. The drinks are handed to the athletes via a "feeding stick" which is can be constructed of any material (including bamboo) and be of any length.
Most coaches hang a small flag of their country at the end of their feeding sticks so their position on the feeding pontoon (or station) can be more easily identified by swimmers in the water, especially when the swimmers are swimming fast or are in a large pack.
Under the rules, swimmers cannot touch the floating pontoon or feeding stick, so they grab their cups quickly while rolling over on their backs.
The 4 general rules of feeding among the open water swimmming community are as follows:
1. Spot and Seek (as the swimmer approaches the feeding pontoon).
2. Reach and Roll (as the swimmer grabs the cup or bottle).
3. Gulp and Go (within 2-3 seconds while on one's back).
4. Toss and Turn (as the swimmers throws the cup away and turns to go).
It is a skill and process that takes practice and near perfect timing with one's coach.
Paul Asmuth will feed Chloe Sutton during the women's 10K. John Dussliere will feed Mark Warkentin in the men's 10K.
Photos taken by Dr. Jim Miller at the 2003 and 2007 World Swimming Championships.
Copyright © 2008 by World Open Water Swimming Association