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Fogg In Channel* - Continent Cut Off

Apr 15, 2013  - Craig Lord

The world of swimming is awash with world-title trials this month as pool swimmers chase tickets for the FINA World Championships in Barcelona. There's a battle unfolding in Open Water, too, and the latest result from the 10km World Cup reminds us of a famous newspaper headline of yore from the island on the edge of Europe.

Fifth over the marathon course in The Serpentine at London 2012 after racing in the 1500m final at the Aquatics Centre, Daniel Fogg, coached by Kevin Renshaw at the Intensive Training Centre at Loughborough University, won a debut FINA 10km World Cup gold off the coast of Cozumel in Mexico at the weekend.

For victory in 1:56:38.10, Fogg, 25, got the better of the most-medalled man in his sport, Thomas Lurz (GER), Olympic silver in 2012 after bronze in 2008 and multiple champion at world and European level along the way.

Lurz, who has been instrumental in driving political and organisational change in open water in the wake of tragic events in 2010 and the death of Fran Crippen, clocked 1:56:40.20 for second, Italy's Simone Ruffini third in 1:56:40.40.

All of which reminds us of a newspaper headline in British publication way back when that spoke to the dangerous weather in the English Channel: 

Fog In Channel - Continental Cut Off, screamed the paper. It was later picked up by BBC anchor man and journalist Jeremy Paxman for his wonderful book "The English" as a reflection of Britain's "island mentality" and relationship with its European neighbours on occasion. "How unfortunate for continental Europeans to be so at the mercy of our weather", wrote Paxman, tongue in cheek.

In the world of open water, though battle is battle, camaraderie counts for much on a circuit small compact enough for almost everyone to know everyone else and appreciate the dedication and hard work it takes to be out there in the wash racing at a pace incomprehensible to the average bather on the beaches not far from where Fogg and Co got down to business at the weekend.

Britain, which had a spectacular Olympic marathon debut in 2008 with two silvers and a bronze from two races, is building up strength on the wave, Tom Allen (Swansea) and Tom Sunter (Sheffield) 11th and 28 in 1:56:54.80 and 1:59:41.50 respectively in Fogg's wash.

Berni Dietzig, Interim Head of Open Water in Britain said: "The boys have done a great job to achieve this result and the race was very challenging. The currents were extremely strong and consequently only those swimmers with the best lines and tactics had a chance of finishing in the top places. 

"Due to clever tactical manoeuvres, Dan managed to swim at the front of the pack and escaped the mayhem 65 swimmers create when trying to get around a buoy at the same time. He was continuously challenged for the lead by some of the world's best open water swimmers over the last 2km, but he displayed his strength and determination and defended his position into the finish."

Coach Renshaw, added: "2012 showed Daniel that he really is an elite distance swimmer. This year he has worked extremely hard and raised his training to a new level. He is producing work that is better than any swimmer I have ever worked with and he deserves this result - it's a good step in our cycle towards Rio."

In the women's race, Martina Grimaldi (Fiamme Oro Napoli/Uisp Bologna) took the win in 2:09:39.20, followed by American Eva Fabian, 2:09:39.40 and the winner's fellow Italian Rachele Bruni (Esercito/Forum), 2:09:39.70.

The open water events at Barcelona 2013 will unfold in the Catalan capital's harbour, overlooked by huge crowds, the World Trade Centre and the Porta d'Europa (the world's longest port bridge). The swimmers will swim around the Maremagnum, a shopping and recreational center that welcomes 18 million visitors each year, and then the Port Vell at the gateway to Las Ramblas at the heart of a great city.