British swimmer Kerri-Anne Payne had to navigate around a couple of dawdling ducks and fight through tangles of reeds Wednesday as she tried out the Olympic open-water course at Hyde Park.
A challenge for a Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte, maybe. But in the sport known as marathon swimming, live waterfowl and patches of tall grass rank as minor inconveniences.
''I can assure you that as an open-water swimmer, I've swum through way worse things than reeds and a few ducks,'' Payne said. ''It just depends on the person and how strong-willed you are.''
At the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne, only Payne's second open swim, she shared the water with ''thousands and thousands of jellyfish,'' all the size of dinner plates.
''It was very difficult, to be honest,'' she said.
Another time, in Hong Kong, she found out the big buoys the racers were swimming around were in fact shark nets. Payne said she made sure to stay in the middle of the pack for that race.
Then there was the river...