AP Photo/Felipe Dana

The Associated Press has 61 photographers and 16 photo editors in Rio de Janeiro dedicated to capturing and curating the the very best images of the Olympics.

They have always gone above and beyond in pursuit of that goal. For the first time in the Summer Games, they are going under as well.

Donning wet suits, flippers and goggles, photographers Felipe Dana and David Goldman plunged into the murky waters off of Copacabana Beach with handheld cameras to shoot the men's 10-kilometer marathon race. The AP has used underwater cameras in past Olympics, but always in the crystal clear pools that are home to Michael Phelps, synchronized swimming and diving.

This was the first time they tried to shoot in the open water, which brings an entirely different set of challenges.

"I had the idea to get them underwater, but since the visibility was not good, if they were more than a meter or so away you could not see anything," Dana said.

How close did Dana and Goldman have to get? Just ask American Jordan Wilimovsky.


AP Photo/Felipe Dana

Goldman, an avid surfer, started by swimming out to the first buoy to get swimmers at the first turn in the course. Dana shot the start of the race, quickly sent some images in for editing, and then started swimming out to another buoy to get a different perspective. 

"You can’t get too close because you obviously don’t want to interfere with the race, so I decided to stay just behind the buoy where they would turn and just hoped they would come close enough to the buoy for the underwater photos to work," Dana said. "And it did, for a couple of frames at least."

Dana used a wider lens than Goldman so the two of them could capture images that didn't duplicate. Here is American Sean Ryan, coming right into your living room.


AP Photo/David Goldman

"It’s hard to get good images from in the water," Goldman said. "You never know when the athletes will show their faces out of the water to breathe."

Adding to the difficulty is Rio's well-documented problems with pollution in the water. Dana played an integral role in The AP's reporting on the issue, so he was well-versed before Tuesday's adventure.

"Going in the water in Copacabana was a much better experience than shooting in Guanabara Bay, Lagoa and other heavily polluted places," Dana said. "I had a terrible experience when shooting in Sao Conrado Beach, where you could smell and see the sewage while in the water, so to me the water in Copacabana was not bad."

Most swimmers have echoed that sentiment after competing, saying they were not bothered during the marathon.

"It was a nice swim," Dana said.


AP Photo/Felipe Dana


AP Photo/Felipe Dana


AP Photo/David Goldman