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First-in-history marathon swim

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New to the Olympics: marathon swimming, to be held at the Rowing-Canoeing Park in Beijing starting tomorrow, August 20th. The Park is a lake-size sheet of water where the winds can kick up some nasty 2-3-foot whitecaps. The 10K swim for women is August 20, and the men's swim on August 21. Swimmers will make several rounds of the park for the distance. The U.S.A.'s Chloe Sutton is a heavy favorite to win, according to one sport swim site I found.

LGBT interest here: Our own Diana Nyad was one of the great pioneers of this daunting sport, so she's partly responsible for the fact that it has finally been granted Olympic status.

Retired from swimming today, Diana occupies herself with motivational speaking and sports consulting for the media.

Marathon swimming has been around since the 19th century. But for a long time it existed in a twilight zone, with people doing solo feats like swimming the English Channel or the Irish Sea. Diana once attempted a swim from Cuba to Florida. Many people felt that these swims were stunts, attempted by people who were crazy or looking for publicity (which is how marathon running on land used to be viewed).But now marathon swimming is coming of age and getting respect as a real competitive racing sport, and makes its Olympic debut. As a former landlubbing marathoner, I have a super-mega-massive respect for anybody who races this way in the water, battling waves, wind, hypothermia, etc. I wrote a big backgrounder in my profile of Diana Nyad in The Lavender Locker Room.

Glimpses of the two races may or may not be broadcast on TV, but streaming video or rewinds are likely to be found on the NBC website.