At the 2008 World Open Water Swimming Championships, the Russian women placed 1st and 3rd in the 25K race. The photo on the left shows the two Russian women - Natalya Pankina (#89) and Ksenia Popova (#37) - in the background at the start.
A split second later, another photo shows Ksenia and Natalya taking their time to start the race vs. their competitors. Eventually, over the next 5+ hours, the two women caught their competitors and placed first (5:27:48) and third (5:27:53) respectively, with superstar Edith van Dijk in a very close second.
When asked why she took her time at the start, Natalya answered, "Because I did not want to be traumatised!" giving us a little hint of the aggressiveness of the world's elite female swimmers.
Upper photo by Javier Blazquez. Lower photo from Natalya's Facebook page.
Copyright © 2009 by Open Water Source