Magali di Marco will never forget what she saw at the scene

Magali di Marco as she chases down the triathlon podium.

Magali di Marco as she chases down the triathlon podium. Pic: Instagram

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Former triathlete Magali Di Marco doesn’t have great memories about the river that will host a number of events at next year’s Paris Olympics. She also recounts all the times she feared for her health in the troubled waters of France and elsewhere.

08.31.2023, 05:5508.31.2023, 07:44

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when she learned that there are several swimming events scheduled in the Seine as part of this summer test events After the 2024 Olympics in Paris were canceled due to pollution, Magali di Marco could do nothing but smile.

“If we don’t send athletes into dirty water today, it is because we are a year away from the Games, all eyes are on Paris and it is important that no one gets sick. However, I I’m sure the scene is much cleaner now than it was when we swam there 10 or 15 years ago, but with the media focus on Paris and the Olympics, the organizers don’t want to take any chances.

Magali di Marco himself says: “The risk, I took some”. During her career as a triathlete, which ended in 2010, Valais-based Romande sometimes swam in troubled waters. As in 1996, in the scene (already). she tells:

“It was my first World Cup start and it was given 2km above the Eiffel Tower. The image of what I saw when I put my head in the water will never leave me again. I saw garbage (pieces of plastic, bags) and even a sanitary napkin which almost stuck to my face. I had finished third in the competition, and while I was a novice, I later learned that half the competitors had taken Imodium before the competition, to prevent potential gastric upsets. Luckily, I wasn’t sick when I got out of the water, but that could also be because my stomach isn’t particularly sensitive.”

Swiss athlete Magali di Marco Mesmer, right, leads the group at the start of the race at the Women's European Triathlon Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, Saturday, Aug. 2...

athlete in 2005.Image: Keystone

When told that if she was able to see the trash, it was because the water was clear enough, which is good news, Magali Di Marco laughs and tempers our enthusiasm: “Clear water doesn’t necessarily Have clean water There are plenty of troubling ones that are still drinkable.

vomiting and diarrhea in washington

Throughout his career, the bronze medalist at the 2000 Olympics has had to show a certain fatalism in order to continue practicing his sport. Otherwise she would have changed the job.

“There are a lot of questionable spots where we dived without any analysis by the organisers. We swam to ports, industrial areas, large cities. Pff…»

The triathlete has never taken any medications to prevent possible gastric disorders. “Imodium keeps you from getting diarrhea. But even if you swallow water during a run, you won’t get sick right away. Usually it comes a little late. Like in Washington in 2009. a bad moment

“We had to play the World Cup event there. The day before, at the race briefing, we were told that the officials had done the analysis and didn’t want us to swim in the Potomac River. We weren’t very happy traveling so much that we eventually had to convert our triathlons into duathlons. The federation asked us to vote and all the athletes wanted to go anyway, as it was our job but at a shorter distance (1000m instead of 1500m).

epa01453717 (LR) Sarah Haskins from the United States, Magali Di Marco from Switzerland and Laura Bennett from the United States run out of the water during the women's triathlon event at the Olympic Games in Beijing, ...

The Swiss (centre) also took a bath in Beijing.Image: EPA

“we refused to swim”

Swimming in dirty water can be threefold problematic: First, it’s not pleasant; Again, this is dangerous to health (in Washington, according to Magali Di Marco, “many triathletes suffered from diarrhea and vomiting”); Eventually, this can affect performance. Some athletes who are sensitive to water quality may start to think and reflect on their discomfort and thus deviate from their objective. The chances of them shining in the Gironde would have been very slim.

“We did a Grand Prix in this river. Do you know the color of Gironde? When we put our hand under the water, we could not even see it. What we did see, however, were the wreckage of rusted boats with their tips sticking out. There were also very strong currents, it was very violent. We had lodged a protest and refused to swim believing that it was too dangerous.

That’s because she has experienced many misadventures during her career, when Magali Di Marco (51), who has become a Green deputy, smiles as she learns of the precautions taken in favor of athletes at the Paris Games.

“We want to clear everything for the Games. However, the organization of competition, whether in France or elsewhere, should not serve as a temporary showcase for government greenwashing. It should allow for a global awareness of the absolute need to take care of our rivers, lakes, seas and oceans, our soil and our air. And we have to do it for everyone, not just professional athletes and two weeks of competition.

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