It’s easy to imagine a 10-kilometer swim putting enough distance between swimmers that there couldn’t possibly be a close finish.
However, on Monday, the women’s 10km marathon swim came down to a photo finish, as after Dutch swimmer Sharon van Rouwendaal easily took gold, France’s Aurelie Muller and Italy’s Rachele Bruni entered the final leg in a tight race for silver.
After nearly two hours, the two swimmers were in a dead tie with the finish line in sight, thus inciting a desperate sprint for second-place.
What resulted was one of the wildest, most intense finishes we’ve seen these games.
In the final leg, van Rouwendaal had a sizable lead, but Muller and Bruni were tied.
At this point, Muller and Bruni began swimming hard, as evidenced by their big wake and splashes.
They both began drifting toward the left side of the finish line because it’s closer than the right side due to the angle.
That’s when chaos unfolded. As both swimmers got within feet of the finish line (swimmers must touch the white banner overheard), they began jostling for position, both unable to actually reach the banner.
Finally, they reached it in a photo finish, with both swimmers seemingly touching at the same time.
After reviewing the finish, officials disqualified Muller for leaping over Bruni by actually holding her down. By going over the top of her, she prevented Muller from touching.
Wildly enough, this isn’t all that uncommon. As The Telegraph’s Daniel Schofield wrote, “Muller’s crime was to make it so obvious, right by the finishing board which is pretty much the only place such skulduggery can be detected. The rest of the time, it is open season for kicking, elbowing and even the odd spot of gouging.”
According to Schofield, British swimmer Keri-Anne Payne actually took judo lessons in anticipation of the grappling for position that would take place during the race.
The disqualification of Bruni also had a beneficial outcome for Brazil’s Poliana Okimoto, who then took bronze in the race.
It was a wild, desperate finish that could seemingly only unfold under the intense pressure of the Olympics. You can see the full finish here >
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