Swimming Upstream Without A Paddle

Swimming Upstream Without A Paddle

Yesterday, American Fran Crippen gutted out a furious finish to out-sprint South African Chad Ho and Bulgarian Petar Stoychev in the La Patagones Viedma in Argentina, the second FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup on the 2010 pro circuit, but the back story on his victory in the warm 22°C (72°F) waters of the Río Negro River is even more interesting.

The 10K La Patagones Viedma course was on a fresh water river with currents flowing up to 4 knots depending on the time of day. Although it is located 30K from the sea, there is a tidal influence on the river where the race is held. With the tide, the water level rises up to 4 meters. The 10K race was started to coincide with the onset of high tide and, as usual, the current changed during the race: it flowed slighty upstream at the start and downstream by the last loop.

According to coach Jack Fabian, Fran did not realize the river was flowing backwards at the beginning of the race. Trying to gain an advantage, Fran took off and tried to swim in the center of the river on the first loop. Assuming he was going downstream, he actually hit the tide coming in. His competitors, on the other hand, swam near the shore. By the end of the first loop, Fran was almost 200 meters behind everyone. However, with his competitors coming off of a hard 10K in Brazil last week and a strong wind creating a lot of surface chop during the first half of the race, Fran’s early navigational decision was not the end of the story. As the winds died down in the later half of the race and the tides turned again, his will to win and his plain ol’ Philadelphia toughness clearly showed when he won comfortably in 3 seconds.

Notice how close the race was for the top 8 finishers on both the men’s and women’s side.

Women’s Results:

1. Angela Maurer (GER) 2:03:34
2. Karla Šitić (CRO) 2:03:34
3. Eva Fabian (USA) 2:03:35
4. Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA) 2:03:35
5. Linsy Heister (NED) 2:03:36
6. Annika Traxel (GER) 2:03:36
7. Anna Guseva (RUS) 2:03:42
8. Anastasia Zhidkova (AZE) 2:03:43
9. Cecilia Biagioli (ARG) 2:03:45
10. Maaike Waaier (NED) 2:03:52
11. Elizaveta Gorshkova (RUS) 2:06:20
12. Alejandra González (MEX) 2:06:23
13. Inha Kotsur (AZE) 2:08:38
14. Heidi George (USA) 2:08:48
15. Odette Saldívar (MEX) 2:10:50
16. Antonella Borgarín (ARG) 2:10:51
17. Gina Mohr (GER) 2:11:25
18. Nika Kozamernik (SLO) 2:11:29
19. Nadine Reichert (GER) 2:12:02
20. Lara Rodríguez (ARG) 2:12:55
Andreína Pinto Perez (VEN)
Swann Oberson (SUI)
Micha Burden (USA)

Men’s Results:

1. Francis Crippen (USA) 1:50:57
2. Chad Ho (RSA) 1:51:00
3. Petar Stoychev (BUL) 1:51:02
4. Michael Dmitriev (ISR) 1:51:02
5. Allan Do Carmo (BRA) 1:51:03
6. Tom Vangeneugden (BEL) 1:51:04
7. Sergiy Fesenko (AZE) 1:51:04
8. Christian Reichert (GER) 1:51:05
9. Robin den Boer (NED) 1:53:18
10. Victor Simões (BRA) 1:53:24
11. Spyridon Gianniotis (GRE) 1:58:11
12. Libor Smolka (CZE) 1:58:59
13. Erwin Maldonado (VEN) 2:00:15
14. Resman Shahar (ISR) 2:03:52
15. Barton Wells (USA) 2:04:05
16. Juan Cruz Guidi (ARG) 2:07:05
Samuel De Bona (BRA)
Michael Mruzek (CZE)

Photo courtesy of the La Patagones Viedma website.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones
Steven Munatones