2022 FINA World Championships Diary by Gary Francis "Gaz" - Competition Day Twelve
Competition Day Twelve
Today Ruby Heath really learned what World Class Marathon Swimming is all about! The 10km swim is the Olympic distance for OW, and therefore the main event at the World Championships. One of the best fields ever assembled saw the front swimmers push a very fast first lap which split the field. Ruby was too fast for the last pack but couldn’t hold on to the group - which meant 5-6km of swimming alone.
For those of you who have experienced this in the open water you know it’s hard to measure your pace and stay focused. Ruby did a good job and slowly gained on the small group who were about 100-150 metres ahead of her with 3kms to go. She passed them all and finished a creditable 44th.
Her initial response once she regained her breath after finishing was to discuss with me how she could avoid the big gap occurring in future and how developing her stroke rate would help her immensely at staying in the leading packs.
She is a great example of why we need to get our OW swimmers across to Australia this summer as much as possible so they can learn about swimming in a faster pace with crowded fields and packed feeding pontoons! We also need the OW swimmers to train together, to learn how to turn around the buoys safely in a pack, draft off each other and work as a team when there is more than one NZ swimmer in a race. The French, Portuguese and Americans did this very well during the 10km today. They seem to use each other in the same way that fighter pilots have ‘wing-men’, protecting them from being bumped from behind as well as sharing the lead to allow the following swimmer a draft. Very similar to distance running or cycling, when it gets to the last kilometre or so it’s the swimmer who is still in the best shape who pushes for the result. We have a long way to go to get to this stage, but if our swimmers can enter Australian events as a team we can practice and work on it.
Tomorrow she is back again in the true marathon - 25kms. Only the really tough swimmers even contemplate this distance. It’s a 7am start but it will be very hot by the time they turn for the final 2.5km lap so preparing for the conditions with cooler drinks and preparing a mix of puréed fruit will be essential, after a dinner tonight that contains a good deal of complex carbohydrate!