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GB swimmer shines in 10km marathon event

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Great Britain’s Daniel Fogg produced a strong finish to claim fifth place in the men’s 10km marathon swim at a sunny Hyde Park today.

The 24-year-old clawed his way through the 25-man field on the sixth and final lap to touch home in 1 hour 50 minutes and 37 seconds, as Tunisia’s Oussama Mellouli claimed gold ahead of Thomas Lurz (Germany) and Richard Weinberger (Canada).

And Fogg, who also finished eighth in the 1,500m freestyle final at the Aquatics Centre six days ago, was happy with his Olympic effort.

He said: “I didn’t really have an idea where I was. I knew I was a bit behind with a lap to go and thought it’s now or never.

“I just wanted to focus on the man in front, try to get round them, then focus on the next one. I gave everything I could on the last lap.”

Fogg made a good start to the race, swam in water temperature of 21 degrees, and reached the first turn in second place.

Weinberger headed the field at the end of the first lap, before competitors took fluids at the feeding station during the second circuit.

And Weinberger remained in front until lap three, when Mellouli moved to the front of the pack, ahead of fierce rival Lurz.

The lead group had pulled away after the next feed, with Fogg hanging on to sixth place at the midway mark of the race, with Germany’s Andreas Waschburger taking pole position.

But Fogg slipped back during the second half of the race and Mellouli – who served an 18-month ban after testing positive for stimulant Adderall, which he claimed to have taken to help him focus on college studies – began to pull clear of the other medal hopefuls.

The lead group of four all declined to take on fluids on the last two laps, for fear of giving up their position as the race for medals intensified.

And Fogg was not far behind them at the end of the gruelling event, adding: “I was really happy with the start. I had a great dive in and it felt really easy.

“There were only 25 guys in the race, not the 55-60 you get in World Championships, so it wasn’t that physical. But I stayed on the edge of the pack, in clear water, to concentreate on my own swimming.

“The race slowed and bunched up close and I fell back a bit, I’m one of the smaller guys and most of the others are over six foot. I was just concentrating on trying to pass the next man.”

Having slipped to as low as 22nd place, Fogg certainly did a good job in hauling himself back into the top five.

But he has never been afraid of swimming long distances.

Fogg joined the Waltham Forest Gators club at the age of eight, competing in his first Essex Championships a year later and moving up to the top squad when still only 12.

He was soon winning medals at the longer freestyle events, including national bronze over 1,500m in 2003 before earning a spot on the GB training programme under former head coach Bill Sweetenham.

A national junior champion at 1,500m in 2005, Fogg finished 10th at the European Championships before starting at Loughborough University.

He lost a swim-off at the Beijing Olympics, before winning Commonwealth Games bronze in 2010, but this was his first Olympic marathon swim, after finishing 17th at the 2009 Worlds and 15th last year.

Mike Bush coached Fogg at Waltham Forest and said: “He was an accomplished 200 fly swimmer all through school, before specialising in distance freestyle.

“He was driven, a hard worker, and has got there on hard work. He wasn’t the most talkative of kids, the others would mess about and have mock punch-ups, but Dan was in the pool. He was always there to work. And he was the first to push off and go.

“He would train twice a day, first at 5.15am, for two hours. He never got out early and used school as an excuse. He’d do another two hours in the afternoon. Then land and weight training.

“He was 10th at the European Juniors, then came back and was doing two sessions at the weekend as well. He was doing 24 hours a week, a hell of a lot of mileage – 72,000 to 80,000 metres per week.

“Two or three years before he went to Loughborough he was doing 80,000m a week. As a distance swimmer, we didn’t want to take it down too much.

“Dan has been a beacon to the rest of the kids at the club. They love following him. He’s a very good ambassador.

“Community clubs like ourselves, a small north London club, can produce top-level swimmers. We only had 250 members. It’s not just the universities. Dan has come out of Waltham Forest.”

The GB swim team has come in for some criticism during these Games, with only one silver medal from Michael Jamieson and a pair of bronze from Rebecca Adlington.

But they were out in force in support of Fogg, who has yet to decide if he will continue in both the pool and the open swims.

And Fogg believes some of the remarks have been a bit unfair, adding: “I’ll let this sink in and analyse it before I plan for the future, but I’m really happy with my 1,500m final and feel I’ve got a lot to come in that.

“I’ve got to decide if I’ll do both or concentrate on one. Dave (Davies) did it four years ago and got a silver medal (in the open swim).

“We’re one big team, cheering each other on, and it was great to swim just a few feet away from the public.

“We’ve been under a bit of stick for the medals we’ve had, but look at the number of finalists. In a bit of time the medals will come, but if our funding is cut it will be extremely hard to turn finals into medals.”

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