Ous Mellouli Is A Game Changer In The Olympic Marathon Swim

Ous Mellouli upped the ante in the Olympic marathon swimming 10km when he qualified for the 2012 London Olympic Games. While Europeans won all the open water medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the epicenter of the sport may have just shifted to Tunisia.

The men’s Olympic marathon swim was already going to be a fast race pre-Mellouli. With Mellouli now in the game, it just got a whole lot faster.

Basketball fans want Kevin Durant taking the last shot in a basketball game. Swimming fans want Jason Lezak anchoring their relay. And Tunisia is looking forward to seeing Mellouli throwing down the hammer on the last loop in the Olympic marathon swimming final on August 10th.

New Zealand’s Kane Radford explained Mellouli’s speed from his perspective. “I would be willing to put money on [Mellouli] to win the gold at the Olympics with the speed he showed in those last two laps [in the qualification race]. It was something unbelievable. You had to witness it to see how fast that change of speed was. It’s hard to believe you could swim 7-8km and still have that much speed left in the tank.”

Mellouli’s pool training consists of lower volume, but arguably greater intensity, than his competitors. Watching him train is to see balanced, streamlined power and controlled fury as his body rides high in the water.

I’ve never been in a race that has changed gears so quickly and so fast,” explained Radford to the New Zealand media. “It has opened my eyes that it is the way it is going now, that you have to have that amazing turn of speed over the last 2 km.”

Mellouli has been gearing up for the Olympics by doing FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup races. He also trained at high altitude with a precise taper period under the guidance of some of the world’s most experienced coaches at the Trojan Swim Club

in Southern California. And the Olympic gold medalist from the pool is taking open water swimming swim very, very seriously. “He is such a hard worker and he knows what he wants,” said Catherine Vogt who has been mentoring him throughout his preparation period. “He was injured a bit a few years ago, but he recovered and is swimming so well now.”

So expect one of the finest tuned, hardest working Olympic distance freestyle champions to be leading the pack in the Serpentine. “Everything is so strategic at the highest levels [of open water swimming], but at the end of the day, it is also primarily about raw speed, incredible endurance and power. And Ous has all three.”

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