The Paris Open is over for another year. In NFL Draft style, I thought I would grade some of the star swimmers that were on display:-
Michael Phelps - C
Phelps himself is reported to have said he was 'disgusted' with his swims in Paris. That might be going a little far for a non-tapered event but certainly highlights the less than stellar year Phelps has had so far. Its a measure of his greatness that he can be upset after swimming 1:55.70 in the 200m Fly, 1:58.95 in the 200m IM, 49.44 in them 100m Free and 1:47.24 for the 200m Free.
Cesar Cielo - A
Just when it looked like Fred Bousquet was starting to establish himself as the no.1 50m Freestyler in the world, Cesar Cielo re-affirmed his supremacy. Of all the textile records in swimming, Alex Popov's 21.64 was the most iconic. Popov, wearing briefs, stunned the world with the time in 2000. Whilst Cielo's 21.55 will not go down in official record books, it will help towards Cielo going down as one of the sport's greatest sprinters. In his relatively short career (he is still only 23) here are Cielo's acheivements:-
Olympic Gold - 50m Free, Olympic Bronze - 100m Free,
World Champion - 50m Free and 100m Free,
World Record Holder - 50m Free and 100m Free,
Textile Best Time - 50m Free.
Alain Bernard - D
Bernard was the face of this year's Paris Open and despite lowering expectations before this meet I expected him to come out fighting this weekend. I predicted that Bernard would win the 100m Free and make the top 3 in the 50m Free, in the end he had to watch both finals from the stands. 22.73 and 50.44 are less than encouraging heat swims with Europeans not too far away. Bernard has a history of not getting it right in the heats and missing finals, something which might just come back to haunt him at major competitions in the future... He also has a habit of swimming fast (in finals) at the big meets.
Camille Muffat - B+
As I've mentioned before, Muffat, 20, is one of the most underrated female swimmers currently. Muffat took victory in the 200m Free (1:56.92) and 200m IM (2:11.18) and second in a tight 400m Free (4:05.49). Muffat moved to 2nd in the world on the 200m Free, 3rd on the 400m Free and 4th on the 400m IM.
She is also showing a tremendous level of consistency. She holds 5 of the Top 25 times in the 200m Free, 4 of the Top 25 on the 400m Free and 7 of the Top 16 times on the 200m IM.
Ranomi Kromowidjojo - B
Kromowidjojo underlined her favourite status for European's with strong performances in the 50m Free (24.54) and 100m Free (54.08). Kromowidjojo owns the Top 3 times in the 100m Free this year and after Therese Alshammar's 24.27 owns the next 3 fastest times in the world on the 50m Free. Excitingly for Dutch swimming enthusiasts, Kromowidjojo is still just 19 years of age.
Elizabeth Simmonds - B
In the 200m Back Simmonds came out on top in likely her only LC duel with American youngster Elizabeth Pelton in 2010. With the major global meets fast approaching Simmonds has shown herself to be the woman to beat on the 200m Back. She currently owns 6 of the Top 10 times in the world this year. Simmonds' fastest time this year of 2:06.79 is just 0.17 secs off Krisztina Egerszegi's textile best time of 2:06.62 set at the 1991 European Championships. Expect this to go at Commonwealths, if not at Europeans.
Nathan Adrian - B+
Nathan Adrian put in some strong times in Paris that certainly whet the appetite ahead of US Nationals and Pan Pacs in August. 22.01 on the 50m Free and 48.83 on the 100m Free are very strong times for Adrian's stage of the season.
Yannick Agnel - A
2010 was already a breakout year for Yannick Agnel but he made the world take notice by taking down Michael Phelps in the 200m Free. He bettered his own best time in the world this year in the 200m Free with a 1:46.30. With 3 of the top 4 times in the world this year on the 200m Free some might see him as favourite for the Europeans. I personally think Paul Biedermann will get the better of him in Budapest but to be swimming these times at the age of 17 is remarkable. He is also showing his strength in the 100m Free with a 2nd placed (tied with Adrian) finish in a time of 48.83.
Here's a stat worth keeping a close eye on over the next few years - Head-to-Heads vs. Michael Phelps in Finals - Agnel - 2, Phelps - 0.
Camille Lacourt - B+
Lacourt won the 50m Back (24.82) and 100m Back (53.73) at Paris. In doing so he took down some major competitors (Liam Tancock, Randall Bal, Aristeidis Grigoriadis). Lacourt's emergence could be very interesting for the French 4 x 100m Medley Relay team's chances. The freestyle team is well known and that leg of the relay is certainly taken care of. With Hugues Duboscq offering a strong Breaststroke and Lacourt now offering the French a world class Backstroke leg the Butterfly leg is the one piece missing in the puzzle. If Clement Lefert, Romain Sassot or even Fred Bousquet can keep the French within striking distance before handing over to Bernard or Gilot the French could cause a major upset this year or next.