The Olympic 10K Marathon Swim was held in a flat, calm rowing basin in 2008 (Beijing) and a flat, calm lake in 2012 (London).
But over the 4-year quadrennial, the winning times of the men significantly dropped from 1:51:51 to 1:49:55. The women’s winning time dropped from 1:59:27 to 1:57:38. While conditions were different and cannot be considered equal, those (basically) 2-minute gaps illustrate how much faster swimmers have become between 2008 and 2012.
The 2008 men’s gold medalist would have placed 21st in London 2012 with his time from Beijing while the 2008 women’s gold medalist would have placed 15th in London with her time from Beijing – and the athletes in 2008 were wearing tech suits.
Swimmers are simply moving faster and faster in the water.
On every continent, swimmers are performing greater and greater feats at older and older ages. They are swimming further and further in colder and colder bodies of water. As they read, see, and hear about other swimmers going fast, swimmers around the world are elevating their game as they similarly believe they can get better and better.
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