OW Swimming, roller-derby style, at the Olympic qualifier

Apparently things got a little rough at the men’s FINA 10K World Open Water Championships in Seville, Spain–and I don’t mean the water. Aussie Grant Hackett, the Olympic 1500 champ, here bidding to qualify for the 10K’s debut at the Beijing Olympics, may have been something of a marked man, at least according to fellow swimmer Ky Hurst, who claimed, “A lot of the Europeans were rumoured to have said they would target Grant and they unfortunately did.”

Hackett ended up DQ’d, interestingly, but apparently would have been out of the running anyway.

Winner Vladimir Dyatchin of Russia clocked a time of 1:53.21, and all the qualifiers posted times under 1:55, another reminder that Olympians are a different breed of human. American Mark Warkentin qualified in 1:53.37.8, 16.8 seconds behind Dyatchin.

The women’s race the day before may not have been quite so brutal an affair, but was noteworthy in an entirely different way. Fourth-place finisher Natalie du Toit of South Africa, was just edged out for third, and swam a 2:02.7.8, despite the fact that her left leg was amputated at the knee when she was hit by a car in 2001.

According to an article in The Independent, ” After her accident she switched to longer events to make up for the loss of speed with a single leg, focusing on 800m to 1500m freestyle, rather than the 200m and 400m medley competitions she had formerly excelled at.”

I’d call that making the most of a setback.

There will be one more qualifier in Beijing itself to award the remaining available slots for the finals.

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