Monday, April 13, 2009

The Big Three in the Great Channel Swim

India vs. Pakistan (cricket). Liverpool vs. Manchester United (soccer). Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier (boxing). AC Milan vs. Inter Milan (soccer). Red Sox vs. Yankees (baseball). Argentina v Brazil (soccer). Andy Irons vs. Kelly Slater (surfing). Ohio State vs. Michigan (football). Kasparov vs. Karpov (chess).

Great rivalries all with passion, intensity, strategy and non-stop action. This is what makes for memorable competitions.

In the sport of marathon swimming, we may soon witness the greatest rivalry since John Kinsella and Claudio Plit went at each other in the English Channel races in the late 1970's.

In August 2009, the fastest three men in English Channel history will showcase their heated rivalry to the world in the Great Channel Swim. Bulgarian Peter Stoychev (6 hours and 57 minutes best time) will face off against Russian Yuri Kudinov (7 hours and 6 minutes) and German Christof Wandratsch (7 hours and 3 minutes in 2005 and 7 hours and 20 minutes in 2003).

Although Peter (shown on left) holds the current record, Yuri has won 3 world 25K championships (over Petar) and Christof (shown above) has won 2 world 25K championships.

For the first time on the world's greatest open water stage, the Big Three of the Channel will go head-to-head, swimming for a £10,000 prize (with £5,000 for second, £2,500 for third and £1,500 for fourth).

"Petar is the standout guy, he's won the [FINA Grand Prix] series for the last [eight] years," said Brendan Capell, another world marathon swimming champion who has the potential to upset the Big Three. "We competed against each other at Lac St Jean in Canada, and the conditions are similar to what we will have across the Channel, it was very cold as the lake freezes over in winter, and it generates quite a swell."

"After 32K, there was just five minutes between Petar and myself, he just managed to pull away at the end. When he set the Channel record (see Petar's route on left), apparently he got a pretty good day. I think this time they haven't set a specific date, it's supposed to be the best weather conditions of the year predicted between the 19th and 24th and they are going to wait for the best date for the race, to try and set up a really fast race."

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