Olympics: Swim

Meyer ninth at midpoint of men’s marathon swim

Just your average 10-kilometer swim race. (Martin Bernetti — AFP/Getty Images)

American Alex Meyer has dropped back to ninth in the men’s marathon swim at Hyde Park but appears to be swimming a controlled, mature race.

In fourth after the first lap, Meyer had moved up to third after two laps, one second behind Canada’s Richard Weinberger, who had claimed the lead to cross under the timing gate in 37 minutes, 13.8 seconds.

But when the field of 25 crossed under the scoring arc after three laps, marking the midpoint of the 10-kilometer swim, Meyer was in ninth. Germany’s Andreas Waschburger led

Not every change of position in marathon swimming represents a surge or fade in power, however. It’s as much a tactical race as one of endurance. And smart swimmers adjust their position in the pack for a myriad reasons — to get out of the way of someone who’s banging into them, to ride along in someone else’s wake, to find a moment’s peace from the frenetic throng.

The crucial thing is to keep the front-runners within range and stay focused and calm.

Tunisia’s Oussama Mellouli, who had dominated the first lap, had dropped back to sixth after two laps but reclaimed the lead on Lap 3.

Hyde Park’s Serpentine Lake, normally laden with clumps of algae during summer months, has been cleaned up for today’s event. The swimmers are accompanied by eight pontoon boats of safety officials keeping track of each competitor’s cap and four kayaks.

The swimmers’ coaches look on from the far shoreline’s pontoon that serves as the feeding station. At the feeding station, each swimmer has someone extend a pole over the water, with his nation’s flag dangling from the pole to help him find it, that dangles a bottle of water or energy drink. They grab, take a few gulps with one hand while swimming with the other, and toss the bottle.