The dominance of Larisa Ilchenko has stymied her competitors since she first won the 5K world championships in 2004. Like the anchor leg finish of Jason Lezak, everyone knows Ilchenko's blazing finish will come...they just can't seem to do anything about it. Fast pace, slow pace, ocean, lake, Ilchenko comes through every time.
At the Singapore leg of the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup, former world champion Shelley Taylor-Smith asked Ilchenko's competitors how they plan to dethrone Ilchenko.
Fourth-place Olympic 10K finisher Angela Maurer told Taylor-Smith, "The difference between Larisa and the rest [of us] is not that she is faster, but that she swims smarter than the rest of the competitors."
Brazilian open water swimming coach Igor de Souza said of Ana Marcela Cunha, the youngest swimmer in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim, "Anna is young. Not just her age, but in 10K racing, she is young compared to Larisa and many of the experienced marathon swimmers like Angela Maurer, Britta Kamrau and others. So we will now go back and prepare Ana Marcela to focus on becoming a 'smart racer'. She must learn to race. Speed is important, yes. But thinking like a 10K marathon swimmer is what wins. I believe that is what it is going to take to beat Larisa."
Photo by Satiro Sodré/CBDA shows Ana Marcela Cunha at the Olympic 10K.