Wednesday, 29 December 2010

New Vote - Top Women's Performance of 2010

FYI: Not a FINA approved suit

 I've picked what I feel are the Top 10 Female Performances of 2010. Choosing the candidates for this list was hard enough, deciding which swim was the best will be even tougher.

There are 6 Long Course and 4 Short Course efforts. You're job is to choose the most impressive swim of 2010. Remember: This is not a personality contest.

Just a week to vote.

The Top 10

- Ranomi Kromowidjojo, 50 SCM Free - 23.37
5th fastest performance of all time. Missed Veldhuis' WR by 0.12 seconds.

- Ranomi Kromowidjojo, 100 SCM Free -51.44
4th fastest performance of all time. Missed Trickett's WR by 0.43 seconds.

- Zhao Jing, 100 LCM Back - 58.94
8th fastest performance of all time. Missed Spofforth's WR by 0.82 seconds

- Natalie Coughlin, 100 SCM - 56.08
4th fastest performance of all time. Missed Sakai's WR by 0.85 seconds

- Zhao Jing, 200 LCM Back - 2:06.46
9th fastest performance of all time. Missed Coventry's WR by 1.65 seconds.

- Rebecca Soni, 100 LCM Breast - 1:04.93
3rd fastest performance of all time. Missed Hardy's WR by 0.48 seconds

- Leisel Jones, 100 SCM Breast - 1:03.63
4th fastest performance of all time. Missed Soni's WR by 0.93 seconds.

- Rebecca Soni, 200 LCM Breast - 2:20.69
6th fastest of all time. Missed Pierse's WR by 0.57 seconds.

- Ye Shiwen, 200 LCM IM - 2:09.37
14th fastest performance of all time. Mised Kukors' WR by 3.22 seconds.

- Hannah Miley, 400 LCM IM - 4:33.09
16th fastest performance of all time. Missed Rice's WR by 3.64 seconds.

Some stellar swims just missed this list. Jessica Hardy's 30.03 50 LCM Breast is the one that I was closest to including.
Other swims that came close to making the Top 10: Katie Hoff's 3:57.07 400m Free, Mireia Belmonte's 2:05.73 200m IM and Ariana Kukors' 58.65 100m IM all from SC Worlds. Jiao Liuyang's 2:05.46 200 LCM Fly and Federica Pellegrini's 1:55.45 200 LCM Free were close, whilst Ranomi Kromowidjojo almost got on the list for the third time with her 53.44 LCM 100m Free (not fully tapered).

Any swims that you feel deserve special mention, add them in the comments.

Top Male Performance of 2010 - Vote Result

Top Male Performance of 2010 - Vote Result

The ten efforts below prove what a good year of swimming this was on the Men's side. In the end the vote came down to two swims.  One was an effort that shook the most iconic World Record in Men's swimming to its core vs. a swim that crushed a World Record from the techsuit era. Only two votes split the swims, so without further ado.... The Top Male Performance of 2010 goes to...

Michael Phelps Sun Yang


A Cut Above The Rest

Sun Yang, 1500 LCM Free, 14:35.43 - 26 votes (32%)
Ryan Lochte, 200 SCM IM, 1:50.08 - 24 votes (29%)

Honourable Mentions

Camille Lacourt, 100 LCM Back, 52.11 - 7 votes (8%)
Cesar Cielo, 50 SCM Free, 20.51 - 7 votes (8%)

So Good I Made The List Twice

Camille Lacourt, 50 LCM Back, 24.07 - 5 votes (6%)
Ryan Lochte, 200 LCM IM, 1:54.43 - 4 votes (4%)

'Just Pleased To Be Nominated' Tier

Kosuke Kitajima, 100 LCM Breast, 59.04 - 3 votes (3%)
Park Tae-Hwan, 400 LCM Free, 3:41.53 - 2 votes (2%)
Stanislav Donets, 100 SCM Back, 48.95 - 2 votes (2%)
Fred Bousquet, 50 LCM Free, 21.36 - 1 vote (1%)

Thursday, 23 December 2010

World Short Course Championships Dubai - Losers


Australia - No issues with the number of medals, a healthy 11, but just the one Gold. Not great for a team trying to hang onto the No.2 spot in world swimming. On the plus side, they have some new talents in Kenneth To and Kotuku Ngawati... and are back in the Ashes.

US Men - Taking away the US Women & Ryan Lochte, the rest of the US men won just 4 medals. Nathan Adrian was surprisingly absent on the sprint Freestyles and Nick Thoman's star has faded since last year's breakthrough. Looking past Lochte for plusses, Josh Schneider had an impressive international debut and is establishing himself as a big final swimmer. Tyler Clary was solid and Garrett Weber Gale was back to his best. Plus there is Mr. Phelps and Mr. Peirsol to add to this team. Not all doom and gloom, more like a bit overcast.

Russia's last legs on relays - Danila Isotov must have been taking lessons from Alain Bernard before the final of the 4 x 100m Free relay. Isotov flat out choked on the last leg when he was up against Yannick Agnel. Russia's No.1 100m Freestyler going into Dubai was over half a second slower than his teammates. Make no mistake, Isotov lost that relay for Russia rather than Agnel winning it for France. That wasn't the only disappointing last leg for Russia either, individual bronze medalist Nikita Lobintsev didn't look like he ever had a chance of overhauling Garrett Weber Gale on the 4 x 100m Medley relay. I don't want to ruin Christmas in Moscow so I will say that it shows Russia's strength in depth that they won one relay and probably should have won all three.

USA Relays - Despite the Men's Medley team ending the meet on a high for Team USA, the cold hard facts are as follows. 6 Relays, 1 Gold, 3 Silver, 2 Fourths. For most countries that would represent a good meet, but for the world's strongest swimming nation its not up to par. This is USA Swimming we are talking about though, so you know by Shanghai and London they will be back on top.

Federica Pellegrini - Another poor meet for Pellegrini. She is not in a good place right now as Dubai represented another competition of poor results and pulling out of races. Immediately after Dubai she announced that she would be leaving her coach, Stefano Morini. Worryingly I see a lot of similarities between Pellegrini this year and Laure Manaudou as she was coming towards the end of her career. For the Italian's sake, lets hope that she can sort out her issues soon. On talent alone she cannot be matched.

Anastasia Zueva/Yulia Efimova - Russia's female stars were noticeable by their absence from the medal podium. Efimova was the clear favourite in the 50m Breast but ended up fourth and didn't fare any better in the 100 or 200m Breast. Zueva was a long way behind the medalists in her Backstroke events, something she has found in the world rankings all year. Efimova has had a stronger year, but is clearly a level below Rebecca Soni and Leisel Jones right now.

Katinka Hosszu - Expectations were high for Hosszu after some rapid short course yards swimming in America just before Dubai. Unfortunately she was only able to manage 2 fourth-placed finishes. Her 1:58.20 in the 4 x 200m Freestyle relay also wiped out any chance of the Hungarian team making the podium.

Dutch 4 x 100m Free Relay - The Dutch Dream-Team won their Gold, but failed to break a World Record that should have been within their reach. Probably unfair to include them on this list, but I'm still a little bitter.

Roland Schoeman - To quote from Schoeman's twitter feed, 'Back to the drawing board. Serious evaluation needed. Another unsuccessful international meet in the books'. A year to forget for Schoeman.

Arkady Vyatchanin - Please don't think its anti-Russia day today, but Vyatchanin has to make this list. Last year he set an incredible world record in the 200m Back, in a time of 1:46.11. This year he didn't make it out of the heats, finishing 10th in 1:52.62. Suffering from injury early on this year, 2011 can't come soon enough for the big Russian.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

New Vote - Top Male Performance of 2010

This is without doubt the toughest vote we have had so far.

I've picked what I feel are the Top 10 Male Performances of 2010. 7 Long Course, 3 Short Course. You're job is to choose the most impressive swim of MMX. Remember: This is not a personality contest.

Just 6 days to vote on this one.

The Top 10

- Sun Yang, 1500 LCM Free- 14:35.43
2nd fastest 1500 of all-time. Missed Hackett's WR by  0.87 seconds.

- Ryan Lochte, 200 LCM IM- 1:54.43
3rd fastest 200m IM of all-time. Missed his own WR by 0.33 seconds.

- Camille Lacourt, 50 LCM Back- 24.07
2nd fastest 50m Back of all-time. Missed Tancock's WR by 0.03 seconds.

- Park Tae-Hwan, 400 LCM Free- 3:41.53
10th fastest 400m Free of all-time. Missed Biedermann's WR by 1.46 seconds.

- Fred Bousquet, 50 LCM Free- 21.36 
22nd fastest 50m Free of all-time. Missed Cielo's WR by 0.45 seconds.

- Kosuke Kitajima, 100 LCM Breast- 59.04
12th fastest 100m Breast of all-time. Missed Rickard's WR by 0.46 seconds.

- Camille Lacourt 100 LCM Back, 52.11
2nd fastest 50m Back of all-time. Missed Peirsol's WR by 0.17 seconds.

- Cesar Cielo. 50 SCM Free- 20.51
3rd fastest 50m Free of all-time. Missed Schoeman's WR by 0.21 seconds.

- Stanislav Donets, 100 SCM Back- 48.95
2nd fastest 100m Back of all-time. Missed Thoman's WR by 0.01 seconds

- Ryan Lochte, 200 SCM IM- 1:50.08
Fastest 200m IM of all-time. Broke Darian Townsend's WR by 1.47 seconds.

(If you feel like a different swim deserves to be on this list, state your case in the comments below).

Monday, 20 December 2010

World Short Course Championships Dubai - Winners


Swimming - The sport got its mojo back in Dubai. This was easily the most exciting competition of 2010. It just goes to show that swimming is only at its strongest when we have a global competition.

Ryan Lochte - Just incredible. A sign of how far Lochte has come in the last few years is that none of what he did in Dubai came as a surprise. Clearly ahead of Phelps right now in the run-up to 2012.

Mireia Belmonte -Definitely wins the prize for 'Where did that come from?'. Coming off a so-so long course season, Belmonte was white hot in Dubai. 3 Golds and just beaten into Silver on the 800m Free. Time to step up in LCM now. Top female swimmer of the competition.

Ranomi Kromowidjojo - Confirmed her status as the world's best freestyle sprinter on the women's side. Still only 20, there is still room for big improvement.

US Women - Rebecca Soni dominated the Breaststroke events. Katie Hoff returned to the top of world swimming. Missy Franklin won her first international medal. Natalie Coughlin showed her class once again. Chloe Sutton showed huge improvement on some of her technical aspects.... The future is bright for the US Women.

China - The sleeping giant of the swimming world is wide awake. China has two advantages going forward: a) their rising stars are all very young, b) they have tremendous strength in depth. Winning two of the three relays on the women's side was a huge step forward.

Paul Biedermann - Biedermann had a rough 200m Free where he finished 5th. This naturalyl led to the now standard crowing that Biedermann can only perform with a high-tech suit. Instead, his coach spoke of the need to improve his tactics and that is exactly what he did when winning the 400m Free. Rather than waiting until the final 50m, Biedermann stayed in touch with the lead before taking over at the 300m turn. The time might not have rewrittent the record books, but the final was a Korean and two Chinese swimmers short of the best the world has to offer.

Ous Mellouli - Tunisia's finest hadn't had the best 2010 leading up to Dubai, but he came ready to race. Mellouli's 400m IM was spectacular just missing Laszlo Cseh's old WR and he showed great composure to win the 1500m Free from a morning heat.

Stanislav Donets - There is a new king of short course Backstroke. Donets was untouchable in the 50m and 100m Back finals, but saved his best swim for the last event of the competition. The Russian swam 48.95 to lead off the Medley relay, barely missing Nick Thoman's World Record by 0.01 seconds. Check out his underwaters. Question: Who wins a 100m Back shoot-out between Donets and Lochte?

Camille Muffat - Muffat has had an excellent 2010, but like other years, didn't have much to show for it going into Dubai. That all changed when she won her first senior world medal in the 200m Free final, where she dominated an elite field. A very real medal threat during the next few years.

Naoya Tomita - He might not be Japan's No.3 200m Breaststroker after all. Tomita, 21, is a rising star.

Chad Le Clos - That's two major finals Le Clos has won this year (Commies & Dubai) that he wasn't expected too, at just 18 this is impressive swimming. Maybe tone down the celebrations though Chad, generally not a good idea to soak the guys you just pipped for the win. (The celebrations start at 4:25 of the video... also listen to the Chinese commentators sigh at the finish of the race as Peng Wu is overhauled in the last few metres. Priceless)

Ye Shiwen - She certainly wasn't an unknown before this meet started after a strong LC season, but this was the first time I got to see Ye Shiwen live... I wasn't disappointed. The youngster is an extraordinary talent and had she not come up against a possessed Spainiard in the Medleys we would be talking a lot more about this 15 year old.

Cesar Cielo - The sprint Freestyles on the men's side were stacked with the world's best, and Cesar Cielo once again rose to the top. I sound like a broken record when I talk about him, but he is just an incredible major meet swimmer.

Garrett Weber-Gale - Special mention to GWG for blowing away Nikita Lobintsev in the final relay of the competition. Diving in 0.04 seconds ahead of the individual bronze medalist in the 100m Free, it would be fair to assume that he was the underdog, however GWG found another level to rip off a 45.42 split for USA's first and only relay victory. Don't tell anyone, but USA might have found Jason Lezak's successor.

Comeback Vote Results

"If Geoff can do it..."

The swimming world have spoken, and this is what they had to say:-

"Ian Thorpe, enough time chilling out in the sun, get back in training and make a comeback."

Thorpe was the clear winner of the comeback vote getting 138 votes. The runner up was Pieter Van Den Hoogenband (80 votes) with fellow Dutch legend Inge de Bruijn (75 votes) just 5 votes back.

- After seeing Thorpe working for the BBC during the Commonwealth Games, I think he might have started to sneak in a bit of training. He certainly looked in good shape... although a suit can do wonders. He's still just 28 years old remember. I've written plenty in the past on Thorpe returning, its safe to say I'm in favour of it happening.

- Pieter VDH on the other hand is 32 years old now and seems to have moved on in other areas of the sport. He was the Chairman of the Organising Committee for the recent European Short Course Championships. He also has two children, so his life looks to be pretty full. Still looks like he could bash out a quick 100m Free though...

- Inge de Bruijn is an intriguing prospect. Whilst she is now 37 years old, she has made a comeback once before earlier in her career. There are also plenty of examples of sprinters acheiving top results in their late 30s, early 40s... Dara Torres, 43, Lars Frölander, 36, Mark Foster, who swam until he was 38. You can't tell me every time she sees Dara Torres step up on the block, she's not itching to get back into racing.

In August stories came out that she was considering a comeback after spending some time with the Dutch team at a training camp in Tenerife. It seemed to start out as a joke, but started to take a bit more shape.

An Inge de Bruijn comeback wouldn't just be a trip down memory lane, I think she would challenge the current crop of Free and Fly sprinters. IF she does comeback, the first obstacle would be the domestic competition in Holland, the strongest women's sprint nation around.

- Other interesting results: Ian Crocker getting more votes than Brendan Hansen, lack of enthusiasm for a Susie O'Neill comeback, pretty low vote for Yana Klochkova (she got a vote from me).

Final Results

Ian Thorpe - 138 votes (41% of people voted for him)
Pieter VDH - 80 (15%)
Inge de Bruijn - 75 (22%)
Alex Popov - 57 (16%)
Ian Crocker - 41 (12%)
Brendan Hansen - 35 (10%)
Mark Foster - 34 (10%)
Janet Evans - 21 (6%)
Gary Hall Jr - 19 (5%)
Yana Klochkova - 15 (4%)
Lenny Krazelburg - 14 (4%)
Susie O'Neill - 8 (2%)

Total number of people voting - 336

Sunday, 19 December 2010

USA wins Men's 4 x 100m Medley Relay

 I bet Mike Alexandrov was glad he packed the shades.

Lochte's 200m Back Finish


Watch World Short Course Championships Dubai Live - Day Five

Watch Here.

Coverage starts at 3:15pm London time, 15 minutes after the finals session starts (Unfortunately its more cross country skiing to get through before the swimming starts).

Today should be a fantastic end to the meet of the year.

- Cesar Cielo v Fabien Gilot in the 100m Free.
- Lochte in the 200m Back and then 12 minutes later in the 100m IM.
- Therese Alshammar v Felicity Galvez Part II in the 100m Fly.
- Hoff, Pellegrini, Muffat, Palmer, Yi Tang, Evans, Verraszto & Vollmer in a stacked 200m Free final.

- Race of the night. Men's 4 x 100m Medley Relay featuring Lochte on the Fly leg for Team USA. Great race in prospect with USA, Russia, France battling it out in the middle lanes. Watch out for an outside challenge from a loaded Brazilian team.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Thoughts from World Short Course Champs - Day Four

After three thrilling days of competition, Day Four in Dubai offered a bit of a breather...

- The Dutch quartet took Gold in the Women's 4 x 100m Free relay, but missed out on the World Record by 0.32 seconds.

You could see their mixture of emotions. Happiness to win, but disappointment that they didn't break the record. Their disappointment was trumped by just one other person... myself. After a spectacularly well thought out prediction before the competition started, I had a self-congratulatory blog all ready to go. This was supposed to be my Watergate moment. The Pullitzer prize givers probably already started to engrave my name on the medal. Sadly, it wasn't to be.

Frankly, they should have cleared the record comfortably. Femke Heemskerk led off 0.15 seconds slower than her individual final time from last night and Ranomi Kromowidjojo swam just 0.03 seconds faster than her final time, despite the benefit of having a relay take over. Inge Dekker and Hinkelein Schreuder both had solid legs, if not spectacular legs.

- Ryan Lochte gave Peter Mankoc's world record a scare in the semi final of the 100m IM. Lochte's time of 50.81 was just 0.05 seconds shy of the veteran Slovenian's mark. I'm not sure if it was pleasant experience or not for Mankoc, but he was able to 'enjoy' Lochte's swim the lane next to him.

The scheduling is not conducive for the record to go tomorrow as Lochte will have the 200m Backstroke final just minutes before the 100m IM final, with only the Women's 200m Breaststroke final in between the two finals. If anyone can pull off that kind of double, its Lochte. He's been racing tough all year in domestic meets, swimming multiple events on short rests. Hopefully the meet organisers will throw in some medal presentations to pad out the amount of rest the American can get.

- Mireia Belmonte added the 200m IM crown to her golds in the 200m Fly and 400m IM, as well as her 800m Free silver (had the race been 805m Free we would be talking about a four-time individual gold medallist). Eurosport had satellite problems so I didn't see the race, which is a shame because from the splits it looked like a great race. Katinka Hosszu led after the fly, the lead then passed to Missy Franklin after the back, Ariana Kukors was in the top spot after the Breastroke before Belmonte and Ye Shiwen stormed clear of the field on the Freestyle.

Belmonte is no stranger to success on the international stage, but this competition has taken her to a new level. It will be interesting to see in the coming months whether this is a breakthrough meet for the Spaniard that leads to greater success in the Long Course pool, or whether she is predominantly a Short Course specialist.

Watch World Short Course Championships - Day Four

Watch Live (once the cross country skiiing has finished... No offense to any cross country fans, but this has to go down as one of the most tedious sports...)

Thoughts from World Short Course Champs - Day Three

Another day, another World Record crushed. 

This is getting ridiculous. I agree with IronDoc on Twitter.

"Let's just ban Ryan Lochte!"

- Lochte once again dominated proceedings tonight in the 200m IM... Not that it wasn't forecast, this was THE record that was earmarked to go before the meet.... but Lochte didn't just break it, he SHATTERED it.

Ryan Lochte swam 200m IM in 1:50.08. That is a great freestyle time, Lochte swam IM.

- Robo-Kromo was at it again. At European Short Cousre, Ranomi Kromowidjojo won in a time of 51.44. At World Short Course, she won in 51.45. Femke Heemskerk followed home in second for a robotic Dutch 1-2, just pipping Natalie Coughlin.

- I loved the Women's 400m Free. A look at the start list before the race showed what a strong event it would be, but also how open the race could be. That was true right up until the moment Katie Hoff dived in, and then duly dominated the race. Hoff took the lead from Kylie Palmer at 250m and never looked like relinquishing it.

Speed Endurance would like to welcome back Katie Hoff to the top of world swimmiing.

Here's what else impressed me, Chloe Sutton, finishing 4th at World SHORT COURSE. I've picked up on Sutton's turns all year, but they have improved a huge amount. Are they as good as Hoff's? No... but they are a lot closer than they were previously. In 2011, Long Course... watch out.

- Cesar Cielo, in a pair of jammers, just swam 20.51 for 50m Freestyle. I don't know what else to say. - Sensational. Too good.

Say what you like about his performance at Pan Pacs, on the global stage he's come through once again.

What drives his success on the biggest stage is his mental strength, one of the more underrated strengths at major championships.

- Another swimmer showing a lot of character tonight was Paul Biedermann. Positioned out in Lane 8 for the 400m Free final, Biedermann put on a great show of tactical racing and fast swimming. He allowed Ous Mellouli to set the pace, hung with him for 300m and then dropped 'Der Hammer' to record a superb time of 3:57.07.

If you are a regular reader of the blog, it is no secret that I am a fan of Biedermann's. Today is the first day, with confidence, that I can say that Biedermann has proved his doubters wrong. Paul Biedermann can swim fast without a techsuit.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Thoughts from the World Short Course Championships - Day Two

Two further world records were crushed tonight. This is getting ridiculous, its making a mockery of our sport. Jammers and Kneesuits should be banned immediately...

- Ryan Lochte became the first individual swimmer to break a World Record post-techsuit. Rather than shave a tenth or two from Laszlo Cseh's record, he obliterated it.  Lochte took control of the race on the Breaststroke once again, flying past Tyler Clary, who had a decent lead (0.74 secs) over Lochte at the 200m mark.

Unlike some of the other swimming sites on the net, I'm holding off on my end of year Top Male/Top Female/Top Performance lists until the only global competition of the year has taken place. Last week Lochte had some competition for Top Male of 2010 from a French Backstroker, Japanese Breaststroker and two Chinese and South Korean Freestylers. It looks like the contest is well and truly over now.

- The second world record of the evening went in the most exciting race of Day Two. Russia and USA were locked in a head to head battle in the 4 x 200m Freestyle relay. Consistency won in the end with only 0.37 seconds splitting all four of Russia's relay legs. The US fell behind after Peter Vanderkaay's 1:43.83 before Ryan Lochte got them right back into the race with an incredible 1:40.48. Despite superior turns and underwaters, the US weren't able to overhaul the Russian team.

The fact that the US came so close to a full strength Russian team, and crushed the previous world record themselves... all without Michael Phelps should provide some comfort for any nervous US swim fans out there...

... Alternatively you could take the view that we have seen 3 of the 6 relays in Dubai. USA have finished 4th, 4th and 2nd, have little chance in the Women's 4 x 100m Free and only look to be strong favourites in the Women's 4 x 100m Medley relay.

- Sticking with the US. Natalie Coughlin showed that no one is better when it comes to short course Backstroke. Coughlin (56.08) held off a strong Chinese challenge from Zhao Jing (56.18) and Gao Chang (56.21).

After watching the semi final I was beginning to doubt Coughlin's superiority on turns and underwaters. In the final tonight she showed that she is still the best in the world. Just incredible off the walls.

- Stanislav Donets might just be the new undisputed king of backstroke underwaters on the men's side. Donets just missed out on Nick Thoman's world record of 48.94 on the touch, settling for a stunning time of 49.07. Donets is having an incredible few weeks of short course swimming. Peter Marshall's world record on the 50m Backstroke is definitely on this week. Donets might also be the difference maker in the 4 x 100m Medley relay.

- Talking of the world's best, Cesar Cielo is the best sprinter in the world. His 20.61 semi final tonight was one of the most dominant SC 50m Free's you're likely to see. Fred Bousquet in the lane over was blown away by Cielo, in fact the entire field going into tomorrow's final are half a second behind.

Same old Cesar Cielo, getting it done on the big stage.

I'm not sure what happened to Nathan Adrian tonight, it looked like he didn't get his breakout right after his turn. His heat time would have got him safely through to the final. Not the meet many expected so far for Adrian.
- Rebecca Soni won the 50m Breast in 29.83 going away from the field. Watch out on the 100m and 200m.
- Femke Heemskerk and Ranomi Kromowidjojo go into the 100m Free final tomorrow ranked 1-2. I fully expect them to come out of the final with the top two spots, although I think Ranomi KRobotKromowidjojo will come out on top.

- Finally, what a meet Spain are having... Mireia Belmonte was the star of the show last night with two individual golds and almost got herself a third in the 800m Free. Only her team mate Erika Villaecija stood in her way tonight as they recorded a Spanish 1-2, something you do not say often on the world stage of swimming.

Hasta Mañana

World Short Course Championships Dubai - Watch Live Day Two

Coverage over for another day. Check back in tomorrow.

Day Two Finals Coverage.

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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Thoughts from the World Short Course Championships - Day One

Swimming fans around the world, rejoice... our sport is saved.

It feels like the end of Star Wars. Luke Skywalker is burning Paul Biedermann's bodysuit, the ewoks are going nuts, C3:PO's doing the robot like he just don't care... all celebrating the end of the techsuit era. The sport's darkest hour has passed... a World Record has been broken again.

It won't sit well with many sceptics that China was the first nation to acheive the feat, but I happen to believe in innocent until proven guilty. Is it such a surprise that a nation that became more professional, worked harder, and brought in the best coaches from around the world for their home Olympics are reaping the rewards two years later?

What a statement. What symbolism that China, as a nation, were the first to break a world record in 2010. "The times, they are a-changin'" (and getting faster again).

A look at the splits tells the story. China won it because of their incredible strength in depth. Every swimmer was either on 1:53 or 1:54. They didn't have the fastest splits of the race, Australia's Kylie Palmer took that accolade with an incredible 1:52.42, Camille Muffat, France, led off in an equally impressive 1:53.17 with Katie Hoff just behind in 1:53.37. They just flat out had the strongest team, an area the US has dominated in for years.

The excitement didn't end there on a superb Day One of competition...

- The French have finally figured out how to win a 4 x 100m Freestyle relay. You pick your best 4 swimmers and don't let Alain Bernard swim last.

It worked tonight as they beat my pre-race favourite, Russia. Russia had the lead at the 300m mark, 0.11 seconds clear of France. Danila Isotov went for Russia, Yannick Agnel for France. Isotov led comfortably for most of the race, before being stunningly overhauled by the young French rising star. (You may remember a certain swimming blog predicting that Agnel was the last piece of the puzzle for the French team).

A closer look shows that Isotov was taking advice from Bernard in the call room. His split of 46.48 on the final leg is a long way short of what was expected of him. His team mates were in the 45.7, 45.8 range and he is supposed to be the Russian No.1 in this event. I think its fair to say that Isotov lost this relay rather than Yannick Agnel won it.

- With regards to the individual Men's 100m Free, Cesar Cielo put down a marker with his split of 45.08, the fastest split by some margin. Nathan Adrian was some way off that with his lead off effort of 47.35. Alain Bernard, 46.78 , and Steffen Nystrand, 46.70 both had solid lead legs but will need to make up ground on the Brazilian World and Olympic champion.

Classic Cielo... just dominating major meets.

- Outside of the relays, the undoubted star of the evening was Spain's Mireia Belmonte Garcia, who won an incredibly tough double this evening.

First up was the 200m Fly final (8:05pm) that saw Liu Zige and Felicity Galvez take the race out ahead of world record pace at 100m.They paid the price though. As both women started to drop back, Belmonte Garcia and Britain's Jemma Lowe turned on the jets to take the top two spots in 2:03.59 and 2:03.94. At the 100m mark they were placed 7th and 8th respectively. That's how you pace a race. Belmonte Garcia's final 50m (31.58) was faster than her third 50m (31.72), the only woman achieving to this feat in the final.

The fly victory was impressive, but the 400m IM was a performance to leave you stunned. Swimming the final at 8:49pm, just 44 minutes after the 200m Fly, Belmonte (4:24.21) won a battle against China's Ye Shiwen (4:24.55). The key to this race was the Breaststroke leg as the Spaniard came from nowhere to take the lead. Her split of 1:13.51 was over 3 seconds faster than the next fastest breaststroke split. Going into the freestyle leg against Ye Shiwen, who won a World Cup leg in the 100m Free, now was the time the tiredness would surely kick in... but it never came. Belmonte came back sub-60 seconds to round off an incredible evening's work.

Credit also to Ye Shiwen, just 14 years of age, she showed real fight and pushed Belmonte incredibly hard. Her last leg of 59.03 was extremely impressive. The future looks bright for this swimmer. She should be hailed alongside swimmers such as Yannick Agnel and Silke Lippok as one of swimming's brightest talents.

- Ryan Lochte got the evening off to a strong start with his 1:41.08. An excellent first race out of the way for the American. Hopefully he'll get even faster as the meet continues and maybe even break a world record or two.

Paul Biedermann didn't have a race to remember, finishing down in 5th. Cue the claims that Biedermann is just a suit swimmer blah blah blah. I'm tired of hearing it. The German is a great athlete swimming in arguably the most loaded event on the men's side.
- A race to watch out for tomorrow is definitely the Men's 100m Breaststroke. Mike Alexandrov (57.18), Felipe Silva and Cameron Van Der Burgh (both 57.19) are split by just 0.01 seconds going into the final. Fabio Scozzoli on 57.34 is also looking in fine form after a sub-58 heat swim too. For fans of the 200m Breast, Daniel Gyurta and Naoya Tomita both made it through and look in good form.

- Talking of showdowns, the Men's 100m Back should be another tasty final. Stanislav Donets is the in-form swimmer after his times at European SC and he qualified fastest tonight in 49.62. Camille Lacourt, the star of LC Backstroke this year was second fastest in 50.53 with World Record holder Nick Thoman third in 50.69. Tough final to call.

- Check back in tomorrow for more live video and analysis.

World Short Course Championships Dubai - Watch Live

Watch Here.

UPDATE - With English Commentary HERE


Tuesday, 14 December 2010

World Record Prediction - Women's 4 x 100m Free Relay

Thomas Jefferson - "I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past."
In a bold move that Jefferson would be proud of, I am sticking my head above the parapet and predicting a World Record in the Women's 4 x 100m Freestyle relay.

There are plenty of records under threat in Dubai...Darian Townsend's 200m IM mark looks to be on borrowed time with Ryan Lochte and his metal teeth lurking. Rebecca Soni has been threatening LC records all year, no reason not to think she can't challenge the SC marks either. The men's 50m Back mark came under heavy fire from Stanislav Donets at the European SC Champs and he will be joined by Camille Lacourt, the same man who narrowly missed the LC mark. These are all records that have a solid chance of being broken.

The current Women's 4 x 100m Free relay world record, however, makes those other marks look like they are on safe ground by comparison. The time of 3:28.22 was set back in December 2008, notably, before the tech-suits became even faster. The record went to Holland with their quartet of Hinkelein Schreuder (52.88), Inge Dekker (52.24), Ranomi Kromowidjojo (52.12) and Marleen Veldhuis (50.98!).

The same team, with a slightly tweaked line-up, will challenge the record again, and the worrying aspect for whoever signs the World Record bonus cheques... they are even better than they were two years ago.

Here is the Dutch team this year with their season best SC times:-

Ranomi Kromowidjojo (51.44)
Femke Heemskerk (51.96)
Inge Dekker (52.85)
Hinkelein Schreuder (53.63)

Total Time = 3:29.88

Now comes the exciting part. Take off 0.5 seconds for each of the three relay takeovers (a conservative estimate) and the time is now 3:28.38 (just missing the WR of 3:28.22). Finally, lets not forget that we are at the World Championships, a competition you would expect some improvement from some, if not all of the team and suddenly it no longer looks like an issue of CAN the Dutch break the World Record, but more like by HOW MUCH.

Hup Holland Hup!

Monday, 13 December 2010

World Short Course Swimming Championships - Dubai - Prediction Time

As another major competition rolls around, it can mean only one thing.... Prediction time.

The World Short Course Champs get underway in Dubai on Wednesday (Dec 15th). Full start lists can now be found HERE.

Men’s 200 Free
1. Ryan Lochte
2. Paul Biedermann
3. Yannick Agnel

Should be a fantastic race. Lochte’s underwaters will prevail though.

Women’s 50 Breast
1. Yulia Efimova
2. Rebecca Soni
3. Leiston Pickett

Men’s 100 Back
1. Camille Lacourt
2. Stanislav Donets
3. Nick Thoman

Hard to bet against Donets after European SC, but Lacourt is having a special year.

Women’s 200 Fly
1. Liu Zige
2. Katinka Hosszu
3. Mireia Belmonte Garcia

Men’s 100 Breast
1. Cameron van der Burgh
2. Felipe Silva
3. Fabio Scozzoli

Women’s 100 Back
1. Zhao Jing
2. Natalie Coughlin
3. Gao Chang

Another superb contest on the horizon. Zhao Jing is in top form, but then again, Coughlin is the queen of short course swimming.

Men’s 100 Fly
1. Steffen Deibler
2. Evgeny Korotyshkin
3. Joeri Verlinden

Sorry Geoff, prove me wrong.

Women’s 400 IM
1. Ye Shiwen
2. Hannah Miley
3. Li Xuanxu

Men’s 400 Free Relay
1. Russia
2. USA
3. France

It will be billed as USA v France. I think Russia wins.

Women’s 800 Free Relay
1. Australia
2. USA
3. China

Very close relay. Hungary and Netherlands also have good shots.

Women’s 100 Free
1. Ranomi Kromowidjojo
2. Femke Heemskerk
3. Dana Vollmer

Kromowidjojo is in a different league to the rest of the field right now.

Men’s 400 IM
1. Ryan Lochte
2. Tyler Clary
3. Laszlo Cseh

Women’s 50 Fly
1. Therese Alshammar
2. Inge Dekker
3. Marieke Guehrer

Men’s 50 Free
1. Fred Bousquet
2. Cesar Cielo
3. Nathan Adrian

Potential classic here. Bousquet wins it for me, but Cielo, Adrian, Schoeman, Josh Schneider and Steffen Deibler will all challenge.

Women’s 100 IM
1. Hinkelien Schreuder
2. Evelyn Verraszto
3. Missy Franklin

Schreuder has dominated this event for a few years now.

Men’s 800 Free Relay
1. Russia
2. USA
3. Germany

If I’m picking Russia to win the 4 x 100 Free, no reason why they shouldn’t win the 4 x 200 Free as well.

Women’s 800 Free
1. Federica Pellegrini
2. Kate Ziegler
3. Katie Goldman

Very tough race to call. Pellegrini hasn’t yet proven herself over 800m, but her 8:15 from Europeans suggests there is a good swim in her in Dubai.

Men’s 50 Back
1. Camille Lacourt
2. Stanislav Donets
3. Aschwin Wildeboer

Very hard to bet against a guy who just came close to the SC WR (Donets)… but I will.

Women’s 200 Back
1. Alexianne Castel
2. Missy Franklin
3. Femke Heemskerk

Heemskerk could win this by 5m or not make the final at all.

Men’s 50 Fly
1. Roland Schoeman
2. Steffen Deibler
3. Fred Bousquet

Schoeman was beating Deibler throughout the World Cup series.

Women’s 100 Breast
1. Rebecca Soni
2. Leisel Jones
3. Yulia Efimova

Top two breaststrokers in the world go head to head once again.

Men’s 400 Free
1. Paul Biedermann
2. Yannick Agnel
3. Peter Vanderkaay

Revenge for Biedermann after his defeat to Agnel at Europeans.

Men’s 200 IM
1. Ryan Lochte
2. Markus Rogan
3. Markus Deibler

Women’s 400 Free
1. Federica Pellegrini
2. Katie Hoff
3. Chloe Sutton

My heart tells me that Chloe Sutton might get amongst it in the 400m Free, I just worry about the turns… for that reason I’m taking Hoff ahead of Sutton.

Men’s 200 Breast
1. Naoya Tomita
2. Daniel Gyurta
3. Eric Shanteau

Women’s 400 Medley Relay
1. United States
2. Netherlands
3. Australia

As is the norm in international relays, it will come down to the Breaststroke. Soni > everyone else.

Women’s 50 Back
1. Gao Chang
2. Zhao Jing
3. Alexandra Herasimenia

Men’s 100 Free
1. Cesar Cielo
2. Nathan Adrian
3.Danila Izotov

Cielo… big competition performer.

Women’s 100 Fly
1. Therese Alshammer
2. Dana Vollmer
3. Inge Dekker

Alshammer v Vollmer should be one of the races of the competition.

Men’s 100 IM
1. Ryan Lochte
2. Markus Deibler
3. Kenneth To

Women’s 50 Free
1. Ranomi Kromowidjojo
2. Jessica Hardy
3. Hinkelien Schreuder

Women’s 200 IM
1. Ye Shiwen
2. Katinka Hosszu
3. Ariana Kukors

I’m going for the young Ye Shiwen over the established stars.

Men’s 50 Breast
1. Cameron van der Burgh
2. Felipe Silva
3. Roland Schoeman

Schoeman’s ranked fastest in the world this year, but Cameron VDB and Felipe Silva should up their game.

Women’s 400 Free Relay
1. Netherlands
2. United States
3. Australia

The Dutch team should be unstoppable. I’m predicting a World Record. You heard it here first.

Men’s 200 Back
1. Ryan Lochte
2. Arkady Vyatchanin
3. Ryosuke Irie

High class field. Camille Lacourt could be strong, even though the distance might be too long. Hard to overlook Tyler Clary too.

Women’s 200 Breast
1. Rebecca Soni
2. Leisel Jones
3. Annamay Pierse

Pierse was struck down with Delhi Belly at the Commonwealths, should be back on form… still won’t be good enough to down Soni & Jones though.

Men’s 200 Fly
1. Kaio Almeida
2. Pawel Korzeniowski
3. Laszlo Cseh

Women’s 200 Free
1. Federica Pellegrini
2. Dana Vollmer
3. Femke Heemskerk

Men’s 400 Medley Relay
1. Brazil
2. Russia
3. France

Brazil have a dynamite team. Guido, Silva, Almeida and oh yeah... Cesar Cielo. Russia & France are also stacked. Is it possible that USA don’t medal in the 4 x 100m Medley relay?

Men’s 1,500 Free
1. Sebastien Rouault
2. Pal Joensen
3. Federico Colbertaldo

Tough race to call. Ous Mellouli and Peter VDK lurk prominently but haven’t shown great form in the 1500 this year.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Comeback Vote Update

Just 8 days left to get your votes in for 'Who Would You Most Like to See Make a Comeback for 2012?'

At 275 votes so far, this has been by far the most popular vote on this blog.

Thorpedo currently leads the way with an impressive 114 votes, however a recent Dutch surge has vaulted Pieter VDH and Inge De Bruijn clearly ahead of the chasing pack.

The early enthusiasm for a Brendan Hansen or Ian Crocker return is dwindling, whilst any Ukrainians and Australians who haven't voted might want to show some much needed appreciation for Yana Klochkova and Susie O'Neill.

Gun to my head, with just one vote, I would vote for Thorpe.... run close by VDH, Inge De Bruijn, Hansen, Crocker, Klochkova & Alex Popov.

Get voting.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Thoughts from the European Short Course Championships - Ranomi Kromowidjojo Special

When it comes to Ranomi Kromowidjojo this year the overriding question has to be...What might have been in 2010?

She started the year in white hot fashion with blazing times of 24.40 (LC 50m Free) and 53.44 (LC 100m Free) back in March. Even after all the major LC competitions this summer, she remains top ranked in the world over 100m Free and second in the 50m Free. Fully tapered at Europeans, Britta Steffen's textile best time of 53.30 surely would have gone... and by some margin. Unfortunately for Kromowidjojo and Holland, she was hit with a bout of Meningitis in July, before she could perform at Europeans...

... as a result its all the sweeter that she should have returned at the European Short Course Champs, on home soil, in such top form.

Here's a run down of her phenomenal performances from last week's competition.

1.) Women's 100m Freestyle Final - 51.44 (Last year in Istanbul - 51.44)

The 4th best performance of all time, equalling her time exactly from last year's corresponding competition. Missed the WR by just 0.43 seconds.

2.) Womens's 50m Freestyle Final - 23.58 (Last year in Istanbul - 23.58!)

The 10th best performance of all time, equalling her time exactly from last year's corresponding competition. Missed the WR by just 0.33 seconds.

3.) Women's 4 x 50m Medley Relay - Freestyle split - 22.70. (Last year in Istanbul - 22.70!!

Equals her own fastest relay split of all-time, EQUALLING HER TIME FROM LAST YEAR'S CORRESPONDING COMPETITION!

4.) Women's 4x50m Freestyle Relay - Split 23.09.  (Last year in Istanbul - 23.03. So close!)

The Dutch team get pretty close to their own World Record, just 1.09 seconds away.

Had Marleen Veldhuis' 23.38 from the relay heats replaced Femke Heemskerk's 23.79 from the final, and Kromowidjojo swam the 22.70 that came later in the competition, a difference of 0.8 seconds, they would have missed the WR by just 0.29.

For the 100m Free in Shanghai 2011 and London 2012, I'm making Kromowidjojo favourite with Fran Halsall her closest competition.

PS. Has anyone in major competition history, ever swum four races, equalled their time from the year before in three of those races, and been just 0.06 seconds off in the fourth race? Only logical explanation is that Ranomi Kromowidjojo is a robot, unaffected by suit law changes.

PPS. Thanks to Youtube user zwemsitenl ( for the videos, hope you don't mind me stealing them offering them to a wider audience).

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Sun Yang - 14:35.43

My gut reaction to Sun Yang's 14:35.43 is that it was the best swim of 2010.

In a year that has seen some incredible swims, this one might just top them all. To come so close to a record many felt would last well into this decade is remarkable, and you know what... it might even be better than Grant Hackett's 14:34.56. 

Shocking statement? Not really. Hackett was wearing an ankle to shoulder body suit, Sun Yang was in a pair of jammers. In such a long race, I would certainly prefer to have a suit that covers the legs. (Don't forget the messages swimmers were told back in the early 2000s from the suit makers, that these suits were faster than skin).

So what lies ahead for Sun Yang? Just how good is he?

He's clearly a huge talent, on December 1st he will celebrate his19th birthday. He stands 198cm (6"5) tall, towering over his fellow Asian freestyle star Park Taehwan (6").and has been a member of the Chinese national team since 2006. He swam at Worlds in 2007 and then in the 2008 Olympics, where he made the final of the 1500m (heat time of 14:48.39). Last year he made further progress winning bronze at the World Championships with a time of 14:46.84. His coach in Australia (and Grant Hackett's old coach), Dennis Cotterell, apparently expected his young charge to break Hackett's WR next year.

Looks like he is ahead of schedule.

Right now he leads a deep field of 1500m Freestylers, stacked with talent. Ryan Cochrane, Ous Mellouli, Sebastien Rouault, Pal Joensen, Zhang Lin, Chad La Tourette & Peter Vanderkaay will all have to bridge the gap to Sun Yang.

Speed Endurance prediction - Hackett's World Record goes in the final of 2011 Worlds in Shanghai. With a home crowd cheering Sun Yang on once again and a year's improvement it should go. Also, watch out for Thorpe/Biedermann's 400m mark too.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Park Taehwan - 48.70 - 100m Free

Park Taehwan's huge meet continues as he blasted a 48.70 to win the 100m Free at the Asian Games. The time moves him to 16th in the world this year, just ahead of middle distance rivals Paul Biedermann, Yannick Agnel, Ryan Lochte and Danila Isotov .

The 1500m is still to come tomorrow. Should be a top race between Park, Sun Yang and Zhang Lin.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Park Taehwan - 3:41.53 - 400m Freestyle

Question - "Who is the male swimmer of 2010?"
Answer -  "Easy... Ryan Lochte. Next."

Up until two days ago that answer was pretty water tight. Not any more. Park Taehwan just staked a huge claim for male swimmer of the year, and the possibly more coveted 'Speed Endurance Swim of 2010'. His time of 3:41.53 winning the 400m Free at the Asian Games leads the world, makes him the second fastest ever in a textile suit and is the tenth fastest swim of all time (suited efforts and Ian Thorpe included).

Incredibly he was under Paul Biedermann's world record pace for 349m of the 400m race.

I have always liked Park as a swimmer. I like the fact that he is 6 ft (183cm) tall, by no means a physical freak. I like the fact his stroke isn't flashy, just efficient. And I like the fact that in the space of two days he has blown the rest of the world away on the 200m and 400m Free.

Watch and enjoy.

PS. Sun Yang's not too bad either.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Asian Games 2010 - Day One and Two

Whilst much of the swimming world's focus is now firmly on SCM/SCY swimming, in Guangzhou (China) the best Asia has to offer are competing in their biggest LCM meet of the year.

The meet is essentially a head-to-head between China and Japan, and it's fast. Day Two's swimming has just finished and there have already been a number of stand-out swims. For anyone that is surprised at how fast the swimming is (or anyone that immediately assumes doping is involved when it comes to China), you shouldn't be. Japanese and Chinese swimmers have been on great form all year.

Much is made of Britain's rise in the sport ahead of London 2012 and there is no doubt that we are closing the gap on USA and Australia, but so is the rest of the world, particularly in China and Japan.

Highlights from the first two days

Takeshi Matsuda - 200m Fly - 1:54.02

Matsuda's stunning time puts him at the top of the world rankings in 2010 ahead of Michael Phelps. As this is the last major LC competition of the year, Matsuda's time is unlikely to be topped this year. We all know that Phelps isn't on top form this year, but he has still been dominant in his pet event and this will mark the first time since 2005 that Phelps hasn't led the world rankings at the year's end.

Zhao Jing - 100m Back - 58.94 (First leg of the Medley relay)

Zhao Jing became the first woman under 59 seconds in a textile suit with her relay lead-off split. The women's 100m Back has been one of the more interesting events in swimming this year. Emily Seebohm looked like she was clearly out in front after setting a textile best times early in the year, Britain's Lizzie Simmonds and Gemma Spofforth got close to Seebohm before Aya Terakawa vaulted herself to the top of the world rankings and a new textile record with her 59.13 in September. Zhao Jing, however, has really put down a marker in the event. Terakawa will have the chance to respond in the individual 100m Back later in the week.

Zhao Jing - 200m Back - 2:06.46

Talking of putting down a marker, how about two world leading and textile best times in two days. Zhao Jing, 19, is the first woman in a textile suit to better Krisztina Egerszegi's 2:06.62 set all the way back in 1991.The event had been dominated by Lizzie Simmonds this year with the world's top three times, but no longer. Zhao Jing, world champion in the 50m Back last year in Rome, proved that she isn't a one-year wonder and will be a huge threat next year and beyond.

Ye Shi Wen - 400m IM - 4:33.79

Ye Shi Wen, just 14 years of age continues her impressive year. She moves to 2nd in the world in the 400m IM behind Hannah Miley's 4:33.09 and just ahead of USA's Elizabeth Beisel's 4:34.04. 2010 might be the year of the comeback, but it has also thrown up some fantastic new talents. Ye Shi Wen, Yolane Kukla, Yannick Agnel, Silke Lippok, Bence Biczo, Evan Pinion and Vlad Morozov are just a few of the new names to get accustomed to in the lead up to London.

Park Taehwan - 200m Free - 1:44.80

I mentioned earlier that this competition is essentially a head-to-head between China and Japan. That is true for most events, however it's not so in the men's middle distance Freestyle. South Korea's Olympic champion Park Taehwan rocketed to the top of the world in the 200m Free by a full 0.5 seconds.

Park has been on fire this year. He set some lightning quick times back in February, had a strong Pan Pacs in August... all the time saving his best for the Asian Games.

1:44.80 is a sensational time. Park Taehwan is the first man since the new suit laws to get towards Michael Phelps (1:43.86) and Ian Thorpe's (1:44.06) best textile times. I'm just going to say it, the men's 200m Free is the most intriguing event in swimming right now. Phelps, Lochte, Biedermann, Agnel, Park, Verschuren, Isotov, Lobintsev, Zhang Lin, Sun Yang, Basson, Meichtry... Thorpe?

Monday, 8 November 2010

2010 - The Year of the Comeback

What is it with comebacks in 2010? There are still two months of the year left, and already there have been a number of high profile returns to the sport. Why is it happening this year? Is it linked to the new suit laws? Increased professionalism in the sport? Burning desire to get back into competition in time for London 2012?

Here's a rundown of the major comebacks so far this year...

Janet Evans - Easily the biggest shock comeback so far. Many doubts still remain as to the level Evans can come back to, but it has certainly captured the swimming world's imagination. Some people think her comeback will be more Mark Spitz than Dara Torres (I'm sitting comfortably on the fence). Like Torres, she is starting with Masters competitions and seeing where it goes from there.

Geoff Huegill - Janet Evans can try all she wants, Geoff Huegill still takes the prize for swimming's best comeback of 2010. In fact, you'd do well to convince me that its not the greatest swimming comeback of all-time. His 100m Fly victory in Delhi was the feel-good swim of the year.

Libby Trickett - Staying in Australia, Trickett recently announced that she was making a comeback after a year out of the water. It has come at a good time for the Australian women's relays.

Laure Manaudou - Another recent comeback. Although Manaudou hasn't been out of competition all that long (competed in Beijing), mentally she seemed to check out years ago. The swimming world hopes to see the form she showed earlier in her career when it looked like she would go down as one of the all-time greats of the sport. If the comeback is a success, she still might...

Ed Moses - Spurred on by the lack of top American breaststrokers, Moses confirmed to Swimming World's Garrett McCaffrey that he was gearing up for a comeback. He's got a big money bet with Ryan Lochte about what time/rankings he can get back too. I, for one, would definitely like to know more details of that bet. The comeback could see him training alongside Kitajima with Dave Salo in California. Moses was an excellent LC Breaststroker (silver at 2000 Olympics), but was on a different planet when it came to SCM. If you don't remember Moses, check out his performances from the 2002 SC World Cup Series.

Natalie Coughlin - Less of a comeback than the others on the list after only short time out of the water, but she came straight back at world leading level this year.

Amanda Beard - Beard's silver at US Nationals was sensational. Few gave Beard much chance, she was coming out of retirement and less than a year after giving birth. But she showed her class at US Nationals and then again at Pan Pacs (5th in the final). She's currently tied for 7th in the world this year on 2:24.30. London calling.

Dara Torres - I've lost count of which comeback this is, but Torres confirmed that she is back in training for London 2012, and will probably make it.

Vote above on who you would like to see announce a comeback in time for 2012. Ian Thorpe is streaking away with the vote currently (I still stick by my earlier comments, Thorpe's coming back). If there is anyone else not on the list that you think should be, add your suggestion in the comments section.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Janet Evans Returns for 2012. Wait. What?

Another normal day in the swimming world. The Moscow World Cup wrapped up, next stop Stockholm, some more top US swimmers commit to their future universities, Janet Evans is coming out of retirement.

*Choke* Sorry, what was that last one?

Janet Evans, the greatest female distance swimmer ever, is rumoured to be coming out of retirement.

Assuming this happens, some thoughts:-

1.) Evans had an extremely distinguished and LONG career. She won international medals between the years 1987 and 1994. She also competed in the 1996 Olympics, where she finished 6th. That is 9 years competing at the very top

2.) Evans has been out of swimming for, wait for it, 14 YEARS! Natalie Coughlin is considered to have 'made a comeback' after 2 years out of the sport.

3.) As swimmers get older, the tendency is to drop down in distance. The training focus moves from quantity towards quality. An 800m swimmer will often end up in the 200m/400m towards the end of their career. Evans, who remains the third fastest 800m Freestyler, and fourth fastest 1500m Freestyler in history, no longer has that huge base behind her... even if she has continued to swim regularly, a move down in distance might come naturally to her.

4.) Evans reached the very top of the sport, well ahead of her time. She has won everything there is to win in swimming. Apart from the obvious financial benefits, what more is there to acheive?

5.) Evans WAS ahead of her time. Right up until 2006 Evans remained in a class of her own, then came Manaudou, Ziegler, Adlington, Pellegrini etc. The current crop of distance freestylers are the best they have been for years. The depth is incredible. Evans would not only need to be at her best, she would need to be better. At 40, that's asking a lot.

5.) If the goal is to reach the 2012 Olympics, the domestic competition will be fierce. Katie Hoff, Chloe Sutton, Kate Ziegler, Allison Schmitt are all established stars and all potential Olympic medalists. Youngsters such as Dagny Knuton and Chelsea Chenault are on the up too.

6.) The only sensible reasoning behind this comeback would be a) financial gain, which if even moderately successful on her return, would be plentiful b) she misses the thrill of competition, c) it brings her back into the media spotlight for a few more years.

7.) Finally, sit back and enjoy a clip of Evans from Seoul 88. She has a stroke that no coach would suggest to their swimmer, it is beautiful and fluid from the side on, and inelegant and choppy from above. Looks like a perfect open water stroke to me.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

FINA/Arena Swimming World Cup - Stockholm

FINA/Arena Swimming World Cup - Stockholm - 6-7 November

The World Cup series will look to go out with a bang this weekend at the final leg in Stockholm.

The start list has been released and there are some intriguing battles shaping up.

Races to watch out for

Duje Draganja v Roland Schoeman v Steffen Deibler - 50m Fly

Schoeman and Deibler have been battling it out all World Cup series in the 50m Fly but in Stockholm they will be challenged by short course expert Draganja. Qatar's Croatia's Draganja has had a quiet year by his high standards only managing 24.26 at Europeans, however in Stockholm he returns to the shorter pool where he has had so much success.

Draganja will also swim the 50m Free, 100m Free, 100m Fly and 100m IM.

Alain Bernard v Lyndon Ferns v Steffen Nystrand v Draganja v Schoeman v Deibler - 100m Free

Alain Bernard will see World Cup action for the first and only time in 2010 in Stockholm. Down to swim the 50m, 100m & 200m Free, it will be the 100m Free that should throw up the best race (although it will be very interesting to see what he goes over 200m v Biedermann).

So far nobody has been able to get close to Cesar Cielo's stunning 45.87 set in Brazil in September. Schoeman, Deibler and co. have all had a fair few attempts now so I wouldn't expect huge improvements from them. Bernard, however, could have a shot at Cielo's time.

Sebastien Rouault vs Pal Joensen - 1500m Free

After their epic battle in Budapest this summer, we'll get to see Rouault v Joensen Part II. In one of the best races of the European Champs, Joensen led for 1350m with Rouault trailing by up to 3 seconds during the race, however the Frenchmen reeled in Joensen to win in a time of 14:55.17 to 14:56.90.

Joensen on home turf (kind of, still in Scandinavia) has his chance for revenge and has more SC racing this year under his belt, Rouault though is a product of the US collegiate system won't have any problems in SCM.

Camille Muffat v Coralie Balmy v Ophelie Cyralie Etienne v Lotte Friis- 400m Freestyle

The women's 400m Free is one of the most interesting races in world swimming right now. Federica Pellegrini is out in front right now, but there is an extremely strong (and deep) group chasing her.  In Stockholm we will get the see the best France has to offer as well as European Bronze medalist, Lotte Friis.

In 2010 the French trio of Balmy, Etienne and Muffat's best times in the 400m Free LC are split by just 0.09 (4:05.40 to 4:05.49, joint 4th and 7th in the world), which should lead to a great race this weekend. My money would be on Muffat who can swim great untapered. Worth watching out for German youngster Silke Lippok too who continues to impress, although 400m could be too far for her.

Dana Vollmer v Sarah Sjoestrom v Therese Alshammar - 100m Fly

Vollmer's 100m Fly in Berlin (55.59) was one of the swims of 2010. Just half a second shy of the world record, she took down the World Cup points leader Alshammar in the race. However, you know that Alshammar will not want the same result when she swims in front of her home crowd. Sjoestrom too will have home support. Should be close, but you have to favour Vollmer on this one though.

Monday, 1 November 2010

FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup - Berlin Recap

As expected, there were a number of fast times from the Berlin leg of the World Cup series. In a notoriously fast pool, the large number of international swimming stars did not disappoint.

Speed EnduranceTop Performers

Femke Heemskerk - 100m Free - 51.96, 200m Free - 1:52.42, 100m Back - 57.72

The star of the meet. Heemskerk destroyed a quality field in both the 100 and 200m Freestyle. She became the 3rd fastest woman ever over 200m Free and moved up to 8th all-time in the 100m Free. Heemskerk also smoked a 57.72 to win the 100m Back in the 6th fastest time of the year (notably ahead of Natalie Coughlin's best effort of 2010 so far).

Now, if only Heemskerk had some other lightning quick Dutch female sprinters to swim a relay with...

Dana Vollmer - 100m Fly - 55.72, 100m Free - 52.50, 200m Free - 1:53.67, 50m Fly 25.74

If Heemskerk takes the prize for swimmer of the meet, Vollmer just about takes performance of the meet for her 100m Fly effort of 55.72. Just 0.54 away from Diane Bui Duyet's World Record, Vollmer became the 3rd fastest ever in the event. She let Therese Alshammar take the race out (25.9 to her 27.3) but came back in an incredible 28.29. Bear in mind that most swimmers get faster as the World Cup series progresses, there might be more still to come from Vollmer.

Thiago Pereira - 200m IM - 1:52.81, 400m IM - 4:02.83, 100m IM - 52.59

No surprise that Thiago Pereira swam fast, he's been lights out throughout the entire SC season so far. Once again his best performance came in the 200m IM where he was under World Record pace by 0.37 at the 150m mark. Unfortunately he couldn't match the suited speed of Darian Townsend, an excellent Freestyler, on the final 50m, however he did come back faster than in Rio where he swam 1:52.72. (In Rio he was even faster at 150m - 0.83 seconds under WR pace).

As mentioned before... Pereira is getting close to Townsend's WR and could break it... Ryan Lochte could smash it.

A full set of results can be found here.

(Moscow World Cup starts tomorrow. Results will be here)

Thursday, 28 October 2010

FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup - Berlin

FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup - Berlin - 30-31 October

The World Cup Series hits Europe for the first time in 2010 this weekend. Moscow (2-3 November) and Stockholm (6-7 November) are the final two stops on the tour.

On paper this looks like the strongest short course competition so far in 2010. Germany, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Hungary, Poland & Norway have all sent strong teams. Australia and the US both have some of their big names competing too. However, the biggest story revolves around the return to the pool of two Olympic Gold medalists.

Germany's double Olympic Gold medalist Britta Steffen makes her competitive return after a long spell suffering from injury and sickness. Only 26, Steffen recently admitted that she had considered retirement during her break from competition. The German certainly won't have it easy on her return in the 50 and 100m Free as she goes up against the likes of Therese Alshammar, Hinkelien Schreuder, Femke Heemskerk, Dana Vollmer as well as compatriots Daniela Schreiber & Dorothea Brandt.

Berlin will also mark the first competition for Steffen since she announced her relationship with boyfriend Paul Biedermann (who's getting his blog on again). Biedermann will dominate race in the 200 and 400m Free.

Its gone relatively unnoticed, but Berlin will also mark the return of another Olympic champion at her first major meet of 2010, Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry. Coventry now trains in South Africa and returned to competition at a local meet in SA at end of September. Like Steffen, Coventry will have some fierce competition in Berlin. She's down to compete in the 50, 100, 200m Back and the 100, 200m IM. Amongst her competitors will be Sanja Jovanovic, Anastasia Zueva, Hinkelien Schreuder, Belinda Hocking, Julia Smit, Evelyn Verraszto and Zsuzanna Jakabos.

World Cup Points leaders Thiago Pereira and Therese Alshammar have pretty much wrapped up the men's and women's titles (and the $100,000 that comes with it). The only other swimmers with a sniff at the prize are Darian Townsend and Julia Smit.

Pal Joensen (FAR) (400m & 1500m  Free) will be worth watching out for as will the French trio of Fabien Gilot (50, 100, 200m Free), Camille Lacourt (50, 100, 200m Back) & 100m Free , William Meynard (50, 100, 200m Free). Lacourt, a member of Team Speed Endurance 2010, a three pronged team of the world's best performers this year(The other members are Ryan Lochte & Rebecca Soni), should put in some excellent swims in the sprint backstroke events.

The Germans are sending an elite team to their home leg of the World Cup. Steffen Deibler (50, 100m Free & Fly) has performed well all year, especially in SC metres (great turns) whilst Silke Lippok (50, 100, 200m Free & 100m IM) has been one of the breakout stars of 2010.

The Hungarian team is also strong and will feature Zsuzanna Jakabos (100m, 400m IM, 200m Free & Back), Evelyn Verraszto (100m, 200m Back & IM), Agnes Mutina (200m, 400m Free, 200m IM) and  David Verraszto (200m Fly, Back & 400m, 1500m Free).

Europe's top male breaststroker, Alexander Dale-Oen, will also be on display in the 50m, 100m and 200m Breast.

South Africa, a staple of the World Cup series have strong representation once again, Roland Schoeman (50m Brst, Fly & Free), Cameron 'Too tired to swim' Van Der Burgh (50m & 100m Brst), Darian Townsend (100m & 200m IM & Free) and Lyndon Ferns (50m, 100m Free & Fly) lead the way.

Russia also are sending their best ahead of the home leg in Moscow. Anastasia Chaun & Yulia Efimova (50m, 100m & 200m Brst), Sergiy Fesikov (50m Back, 50m, 100m Free & 100m IM), Evgeny Korotyshkin (50m, 100m Fly), Nikolay Skvortsov (50m, 100m, 200m Fly), Arkady Vyatchanin (50m, 100m, 200m Back) and Anastasia Zueva (50m, 100m Back) should give Russia a fair share of Top 3 finishes.

Very smart from the US Team with a mixture of household names and youngsters. Its a great opportunity for the established swimmers to make some money, whilst the experience for the younger swims in an international team is invaluable. Dana Vollmer (50, 100m Fly, 100, 200m Free) makes her short course metres debut and is joined by Julia Smit (50m, 100m, 400m Free, 100m, 200m IM, 200m Back), Elaine Breeden (50m, 100m, 200m Fly, 100m, 200m IM), Randall Bal & Peter Marshall (50m, 100m Back). It will be exciting to see William Copeland race short course metres in Europe when he competes in the 50m, 100m, 200m Free as well as the 50m and 100m Fly. Jasmine Tosky (200, 400m IM, 100, 200m Fly, 200m Free) will be another youngster to look out for.

Other Star Swimmers attending.

Belinda Hocking (AUS), Thiago Pereira (BRA), Felipe Silva (BRA), Kristel Kobrich (CHI), Omar Pinzon (COL), Kvetoslav Svoboda (CZE), Yannick Lebherz (GER), Jenny Mensing (GER), Johannes Dietrich (GER), Hendrik Feldwehr (GER), Alexandra Wenk (GER), Lucien Hassdenteufel (GER) (FYI he's got a rockstar name - his surname translates to 'Hate The Devil'), Theresa Michalak (GER), Daniela Schreiber (GER), Grainne Murphy (IRE - entered 8 events!), Vytautus Janusaitis (LTU), Giedzius Titenis (LTU), Femke Heemskerk (NED), Hinkelien Schreuder (NED), Ingvild Snildal (NOR), Konrad Czerniak (POL), Pawel Korzeniowski (POL), Kathryn Meaklim (RSA), Amanda Loots (RSA), George Du Rand (RSA), Joline Hoestman (SWE), Sarah Sjoestroem (SWE), Stefan Nystrand (SWE), Jennie Johansson (SWE),

Start List - Here
Video - Here
Results - Here

(Just to get a personal wish in, all the best to the swimmers from SC Magdeburg & SC Wiesbaden. Mageburg was my old team when I was in Germany and Wiesbaden has a great coach by the name of Mircea Hohoiu (ex-coach of Michael Gross & Tamara Costache))

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup - Singapore

Top swims from the Singapore leg of the FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup:-

Thiago Pereira - 200m IM - 1:53.45 - 951 Points - Game over for the overall men's point title. Pereira has now notched up the maximum available 75 points from the first three legs of the World Cup series. He leads Darian Townsend by 36 points with just four legs remaining. With Pereira scheduled to compete in each of the remaining stops on the tour, the only viable way for him to be overhauled is if world records start dropping, and Pereira has been the only man this year to threaten a world mark. Pereira's time of 1:53.45 improved upon the time set a few days previously in Beijing, but was 0.73 down on his world leading time from Rio.

One of the races to look forward to at the World Shortcourse Champs will be Pereira v Ryan Lochte. It might also be the race that sees 2010's first World Record go down. Darian Townsend's 1:51.55 might be within the reach of Pereira. It's definitely within reach for Lochte.

Therese Alshammar - 100m Butterfly - 56.32 - 934 Points - Game over for the overall women's point title. Ok... Alshammar doesn't have the title sown up to the same degree as Pereira has, however by taking 25 points in Singapore (total of 55 for the series) she has gone a long way towards making it a formality reality. Her closest rival is Julia Smit, who is back on 30 points. At this stage Alshammar just needs to score consistently in the last four rounds to wrap up the points title. Ominously for her rivals, the Swedish sprint queen is also getting faster round by round (57.04 in Rio, 56.80 in Beijing, 56.32 in Singapore).

Julia Smit - 200m IM - 2:08.14 - 919 Points - I wrote back in August, that until Julia Smit proves otherwise, I'm marking her down as a short course specialist. After a swift 2:08 in Singapore I haven't changed my opinion. She is now ranked third in the world, just half a second behind Australians Emily Seebohm and Kotuku Ngawati. This year Smit also broke the NCAA & American record in the 200yd IM but has only been able to manage a 2:12.5 in LC metres (22nd in the world this year, 8th fastest American). With the domestic competition so fierce in the 200m IM, Smit is going to need to improve in a LC pool if she is going to make future national teams.

Natalie Coughlin - 100m Backstroke - 57.78 - 873 Points - Coughlin was victorious on her return to short course swimming, a discipline she dominated for most of the last decade. Her time of 57.78 is off her very best from 2008 (56.51), but represents a successful return. Emily Seebohm leads the world on an impressive 56.58. Gao Chang (57.45) and Belinda Hocking (57.67) have also been faster than Coughlin's time this year. The 100m Backstroke should be a fantastic race in Dubai and Coughlin will need to get back down to her best time or better to stand a chance. With the quality of her starts and turns, I would find it hard to bet against her.

If you've read down this far, you're probably a pretty big fan of swimming. If that is the case, check out Fantasy Swimming. You pick the Top 3 swimmers per event and get points for each correct selection. They have the remaining legs of the World Cup available to make your picks, as well as Short Course Worlds.