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Last Updated: Friday, 8 June 2007, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Patten sets twin targets for 2008
By Matt Slater

Open water swimming star Cassie Patten
The talented Patten won an open water silver at the Worlds in March
Open water star Cassie Patten wants to double up at next year's Olympics by qualifying for the pool's 800m event.

In March, less than a year after taking up the event, Patten claimed a world silver in the 10km open water race.

But one week later the 20-year-old was back in the pool to win the 800m at the British Championships in Manchester.

"Winning there opened a few people's eyes that I wasn't past it in the pool - I don't think I've shown what I can do at 800m yet," said Patten.

"People have assumed I'm not going to swim the 800 anymore but I get a bit offended. I'm still training really hard!

"I get that question a lot - 'do you see yourself as an open water swimmer now?' I don't see myself as that at all. I've never thought of myself as one or the other. People see things for you sometimes.

I'm pushing to achieve the qualification times in the pool too - when I decided to give open water a try last year I didn't think that was going to be an option

Cassie Patten
"When I didn't get the (open water) gold, people said 'aren't you upset that you missed out?' But I hadn't even considered that.

"I was just so pleased I came second because, realistically, I didn't have nearly enough experience to be thinking about golds."

Patten's gutsy display in Melbourne's jellyfish-infested waters has raised her profile and raised expectations. From being on the edge of selection at 800m (the longest distance women swim in the pool) a year ago, she is now one of Britain's best chances of a swimming medal in Beijing.

Her move to open water was both a product of the 10km event being added to the Olympic programme for 2008 and her stalled progress in the pool. Patten admits that she tried open water as something of a last resort. But the combination of a change of clubs and the confidence she has gained from her open water exploits has reinvigorated her hopes of pool success.

"I moved from Plymouth to Stockport Metro last year so I'm working with a new coach, Sean Kelly, and I've improved more than I thought I would," she said.

They haven't rested for the event, as this year is about preparing for 2008, but it will provide a great experience as they'll be back here in 12 months

Patten's coach Sean Kelly on this weekend's Seville race
"I'm pushing to achieve the qualification times in the pool too. When I decided to give open water swimming a try last year I didn't think that was going to be an option."

Victory in Manchester clearly changed that, and even though the field lacked Britain's best 800m swimmers, as they were competing in Melbourne, her time demands respect.

Taking seven seconds off her 2006 personal best, Patten's 8:36.64 is the 18th fastest in the world this year and the third fastest by a Brit. Not bad for somebody just off the plane from Australia.

And the Cornwall-born star is confident she can juggle her pool and open water commitments.

Patten is in Seville this weekend, along with the rest of open water swimming's top stars, for the latest stage of Fina's 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup.

The seven-strong British team is using the weekend as a staging post on the way to Beijing as the Guadalquivir River venue is hosting next year's Olympic qualifying event.

Cassie Patten reacts to just missing out on gold in Melbourne
Patten was badly stung by jellyfish during her Melbourne swim
Patten's coach Kelly said: "Everyone involved in the sport from around the world is here.

"It's going to give people an insight into what will be required next year and the field itself will be as high a quality as we saw at the World Championships.

"The team has trained as a group, mainly in the pool, and are very optimistic about the competition.

"The river course is going to be pretty warm, around 25 Celsius, but it looks a good course, four laps of 2.5km, and the guys are certainly prepared for it.

"They haven't rested for the event as this year is about preparing for 2008, but it will provide a great experience for the athletes as they'll be back here in 12 months' time."

The Spanish event starts a busy summer for the open water swimmers and they will continue their Beijing preparations in London next week at the Festival of Open Water Swimming, a weekend of international competition at the Royal Albert Docks from 16-17 June.

For Patten, however, the chance to race will come as a welcome break from her demanding training schedule.

"We've just started doing some really hard gym sessions and there have been times when I've thought 'please don't make me do another circuit'," she said.

"But then I remember this is the pain you have to feel if you want to get to the Olympics, so I say, 'come on Cass, one more circuit!'"

Open water warrior
12 Jun 07 |  Swimming
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20 Mar 07 |  Swimming
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