David Davies has battled dead dogs, "messed up courses" and exhaustion, but this weekend he will take on one of his closest friends Daniel Fogg as the pair fight it out in Portugal to secure the one open water swimming spot on the Great Britain team at next month's Olympics.
The 27-year-old was second over 10 kilometres in Beijing four years ago, his second consecutive Olympic medal after bronze in the 1,500 metres freestyle in Athens in 2004. Success in the Greek capital was followed by 1,500m bronze at the 2005 and 2007 World Championships, sandwiching victory in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
He also claimed a memorable open water silver in 2008, pipped by Dutchman Maarten van der Weijden after drifting off-line.
However, he was then afflicted by ongoing fatigue problems. In July 2010 Davies returned to Dave Haller, who had guided him since childhood at Cardiff, following three years with Kevin Renshaw at Loughborough.
The Cardiff City fan enjoyed an emotional victory at the World Championship trials last year, stating afterwards: "For Dave it was like somebody knocked on his door and left a bag of rubbish there and said 'deal with this'."
However, his joy was short-lived, further fatigue issues forcing his withdrawal from Shanghai although he was given a reprieve when neither Fogg nor Tom Allen qualified for the open water in London.
Davies' determination and undoubted talent was again evident at the Olympic trials at the Aquatics Centre in March as he booked a spot in the 1,500m freestyle after finishing second behind Fogg. Now the pair will go head to head in Setubal for that one chance to swim in the Serpentine in August.
Davies said: "Dan is one of my closest friends in swimming and one of my best mates. We're very close, we talk often and we've got a lot of things in common. I imagine it's going to be a bit bizarre: we'll room together but one will go [to London 2012 in the marathon] and one won't be there. There's no bitterness unless he punches me on the start line!
"When I first met him he was a student and very much trying to work his way up the ladder. He was a minute slower than me at that stage in the 1500m.
"He didn't have any of the gear, no racing suits, sponsorships. I'd give him a couple of suits from my sponsor but now he's beating me I might ask for them back!"