Handbags At Dawn In Marathon Maul
Aug 6, 2008
Craig Lord

Fists will fly when the 10km open water marathon swimming gets underway the week after next, according to Brit medal hopes David Davies and Cassie Patten.

The sport that did for Grant Hackett, the 1,500m Olympic and world champion from Australia who was slugged a few times on his way to missing the grade for the 10km race in Beijing, is steadily gaining a reputation for being closer to water polo than swimming.

Davies finished second by a hand behind Russian Vladimir Dyatchin at the World Championships in Seville. 'Wayward fists' is how the Welshman described his experience of what others described in far more extreme terms as 'violent clashes'.

Smiling, Davies said: 'You just have to take it, it's part of the sport and you just have to take it and accept the fact that it's not going to be an easy ride. The last couple of races I've tried to swim out in front to try and stay out of trouble but it could be different this time. You just don't know what's going to happen, you have 'to think on your feet' and adapt to what happens.

'You all swim in a pack compared to when you swim in a pool you've got a lane to yourself, so it is a very physical sport, you do swim on top of each other and you get the odd fist in your face, but I do really enjoy it. It's not a violent sport, but it just happens that it's up close and personal.'

Patten, also a silver medallist at the Worlds in May, said: 'I normally give them the three strikes. The first strike's an accident, the second strike 'you're playing on a dodgy line there', and the third time I give 'em one back... I'm a big girl so I can look after myself.'

Davies, sitting alongside Patten, quipped: 'You know it's intentional when the girls take their hand-bags to the starting line.'