Olympics: Swimming

Tunisian earns historic win in marathon swim

Tunisia’s Oussama Mellouli became the first swimmer to win gold in both the pool and in open water. (Martin Bernetti — AFP/Getty Images)

Tunisia’s Oussama Mellouli made history Friday as the first swimmer to win Olympic gold in the pool and in open water by winning the men’s open-water swim in 1 hour 49 minutes 55.1 seconds.

Mellouli won gold in the 1,500-meter swim at the 2008 Beijing Games and took bronze at the distance earlier at the London Games.

The silver went to Thomas Lurz, 32, of Germany, the 2008 bronze medalist in the sport’s Olympic debut at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Canada’s Richard Weinberger took bronze.

American Alex Meyer, 22, was 10th in the Olympic debut.

It was the first Olympics for Meyer, a Connecticut native who graduated from Harvard in 2010 and prepared for the competitive ordeal with periodic swims in Walden Pond.

Meyer in middle of the pack with one lap remaining

The men’s Olympic marathon swim has come down to the final lap, and American Alex Meyer appears out of medal contention.

Tunisia’s Oussama Mellouli, an early front-runner, has reclaimed the lead and completed five of the six laps around the Serpentine Lake in 1 hour 32 minutes 8 seconds.

Germany’s Thomas Lurz is second, and Canada’s Richard Weinberger is in third.

Meyer is 14th.

The 10k swim, which takes just under two hours to complete, made its Olympic debut at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Meyer 12th in men’s marathon swim

Belgium’s Brian Ryckeman has the pole, so to speak, as he gets some nourishment during the men’s open-water swim. (Martin Bernetti — AFP/Getty Images)

With the men’s marathon swim at Hyde Park’s Serpentine Lake two-thirds complete, American Alex Meyer has fallen back to 12th among the 25 competitors.

Setting the pace is Germany’s Andreas Waschburger, who completed four of the six laps in 1 hour 14 minutes 20.9 seconds.

In second was Canada’s Richard Weinberger, followed by Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia.

Meyer is 10 seconds back of Waschburger (1:14:30.9).

The 10k race comprises six laps of 1.67 m each, with the gold medal winner expected to complete it in just less than two hours.

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.

Meyer fourth after first marathon swim lap

American Alex Meyer finished the first of six laps in the men’s marathon swim in fourth, hugging a single file of front-runners paced by Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia, Canada’s Richard Weinberger and Britain’s Daniel Fogg.

This may well be precisely where Meyer wants to be because he’s keeping the leader well within range yet taking advantage of the slip-stream created by the men just ahead of thus, thus conserving his energy for the nearly two-hour ordeal.

Most swimmers skipped the chance to get water and gel-pack energy snacks when they passed the dock that serves as a feeding station on the return side of the rectangular Serpentine Lake. Though swimmers keep their stroke motion going while they chug water and toss the bottle, the refueling slows them down and costs them position in the pack.

Mellouli, 28, led from the start and set the pace throughout the first lap, which he completed in 18 minutes 9 seconds.

Meyer poised to plunge in 10k marathon swim

It’s a gorgeous, sun-drenched day in Hyde Park for one of the more grueling events of the London Olympics: The men’s 10-kilometer marathon swim.

Former Harvard swim-team captain Alex Meyer is the lone American among the 25-man field, competing in his first Olympics at age 24.

And he’s expected to face his biggest challenge from older, more seasoned competitors Spyridon Gianniotis of Greece, 32, the reigning world champion and a four-time Olympian, and Thomas Lurz of Germany, also 32, the bronze medallist in the sport’s Olympic debut at the 2008 Beijing Games.

The 10k swim is a contact sport, particularly at the start, with 100 limbs thrashing in a furious tussle for early position.

It should take the swimmers just less than two hours to complete the six laps, marked by buoys, which comprise the 10-kilometer circuit around the finger-shaped Serpentine Lake.

Swimmers pass through a timing gate after each lap that records their time. On the final lap, they must pass through the gate and lap to overhead board to register their finish.

For Thursday’s women’s event, thousands of spectators stood 15-deep around the lake to cheer Britain’s Kerry-Anne Payne, who finished a heart-rending fourth.

The historic Serpentine Lake is situated amid one of the more beautiful settings of the London Games, in the heart of verdant Hyde Park, with Kensington Gardens on its west back and Kensington Palace just beyond.

Risztov wins women’s open water swim; Anderson second

Hungary’s Eva Risztov (left) celebrates after holding off Haley Anderson to win the women’s open water swim. (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

American Haley Anderson made a strong push at the end of the women’s 10,000-meter open water swim, but ran out of space to catch Hungary’s Eva Risztov. After nearly two hours of racing in The Serpentine, the gold medal was decided by four-tenths of a second.

Risztov touched the overhead board at the finish line just ahead of Anderson, winning gold in 1 hour, 57 minutes, 38.2 seconds. Anderson took silver in 1:57.38.6 and Italy’s Martina Grimaldi won bronze (1:57.41.8).

Britain’s Kerri-Anne Payne, the defending world champion, finished fourth, to the disappointment of the crowds that lined the banks of course in Hyde Park.