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Who will qualify?

US-based swimmer and writer Elaine K. Howley has written a piece for us on the history of open water swimming in the Olympics for our June 2012 issue of the magazine. We asked her to share with us her thoughts on who might still qualify for a coveted slot in the 2012 Olympic Marathon swim. Ten men and ten women have already qualified thanks to their performance at the World Championships last year and a further nine slots for each gender will be determined in Setabul, Portugal, on the 9th and 10th of June, exactly 2 months in advance of the event at the Games.

Like his UK-counterpart, Payne, 27-year-old David Davies is no stranger to elite competition; Davies represented Britain in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and claimed sliver in the Beijing 10K event, finishing a slim 1.5 seconds behind Holland’s van der Weijden. A versatile swimmer, Davies has already qualified for the Games in the men’s 1,500 meter pool event, but must still battle against fellow Britons Daniel Fogg and Tom Allen to claim the single 10K slot that’s still up for grabs. According to a March report from WalesOnline, the Cardiff-based swimmer has been working with a top-secret computer program called “Open Water Warfare” to help improve his navigational intelligence, a lack of which some say lost him the gold medal in the ’08 Games.

But Davies must still overcome the rising tide of fellow Brit Daniel Fogg, who led for most of the Shanghai event, only to fall back in the latter half of the race, possibly a sign of inexperience. The 25-year-old prepares at the Loughborough Intensive Training Center and vowed that after his record-shattering 1,500-meter race in April that earned him a place on Britain’s Olympic team he will also best Davies for the UK slot in the 10K event.

Ashley Twitchell or Haley Anderson—both American swimmers who recently punched their tickets to participate in the Setubal Olympic qualifier by finishing first and second in the US Open Water National event—are strong swimmers with podium potential should either qualify for the Games in Portugal. Twitchell made the more convincing argument for her Olympic potential by finishing more than 45 seconds ahead of the field in the late-April, Fort Myers, Florida race.

In similarly spectacular fashion, 22-year-old Richard Weinberger of Canada turned heads last summer when he finished first with more than 26 seconds to spare in the Serpentine test event. Since that startling and inspiring performance, Weinberger has continued to prove his stellar turn in London may not have been a fluke by giving additional strong performances in the FINA World Cup race held in Santos, Brazil in early 2012 and the 2012 Australia Open Swimming Championships in Perth. He finished third and first respectively in those races. As young as he is, Weinberger could be headed for the top of the podium and might just stay there for many years to come.

But as we’ve seen in this sport before, and as Danish physicist Niels Bohr so eloquently put it, “Prediction is very difficulty, especially if it’s about the future.” The beauty of any sport is that anything – including the impossible— can happen.
Already qualified:

Women
1. Keri-Anne Payne (GBR)
2. Martina Grimaldi (ITA)
3. Marianna Lymperta (GRE)
4. Melissa Gorman (AUS)
5. Cecilia Biagioli (ARG)
6. Poliana Okimoto (BRA)
7. Jana Pechanova (CZE)
8. Angela Maurer (GER)
9. Swann Oberson (SUI)
10. Erika Villaecija Garcia (ESP)

Men
1. Spyros Gianniotis (GRE)
2. Thomas Lurz (GER)
3. Sergey Bolshakov (RUS)
4. Alex Meyer (USA)
5. Ky Hurst (AUS)
6. Francisco Hervas (ESP)
7. Brian Ryckeman (BEL)
8. Julien Sauvage (FRA)
9. Vladimir Dyatchin (RUS)
10. Andreas Waschburger (GER)
(source: openwaterpedia.com)