Wednesday, 14 July 2010

European Junior Championships - Day One

Great Britain made a great start to Day One of European Juniors with a medal haul of 1 Gold (Sophie Smith - Girls 400m IM - 4:44.46), 1 Silver (Boys 4 x 100m Freestyle - 3:23.97) and 2 Bronze(Alfie Howes - Boys 400m Freestyle - 3:56.11, Sara Lougher - Girls 50m Breaststroke - 32.48). The British team also has the top seed going into tomorrow's Girls 200m Backstroke (Karley Mann) and the second fastest qualifier in the Girl's 200m Butterfly final (Rachael Kelly).

The British girls are excelling, just like their senior counterparts. Whilst the silver medal in the relay and bronze in the 400m Free is a fantastic result for the boys team.

Yannick Agnel was always expected to be a cut above the competition at this meet and so it proved tonight. Agnel swam a sensational 400m Free in 3:46.26. The time ranks him third in the world this year and sets up a fascinating duel with Paul Biedermann at European Seniors. The 400m Free figures to be a two-horse race at Europeans and hopefully Agnel and Biedermann can push themselves to times comparable or better than those being swum at Pan Pacs where the 400m final should be stacked with talent.

Not satisfied with the 3:46, Agnel swam the first leg of the 4 x 100m Free relay for France and smoked a 49.08. This was the foundation for a dominating French win in the relay. Agnel's addition as a reliable relay swimmer to the French 4 x 100m Free team should be enough to put an already strong team over the edge. You just can't see how a team that includes Bernard, Gilot, Agnel as well as Meynard, Bousquet, Mallet or even Leveaux can be beaten right now. I guess the same was said prior to Beijing and Rome, but Agnel offers a much needed 'steady hand' in the relay which should transform this team.

1 comment:

  1. "...but Agnel offers a much needed 'steady hand' in the relay which should transform this team."

    Honestly, I think Agnel still has a way to go before proving himself on the biggest stage. He's won European Junior titles, set French records, and even beat Michael Phelps at the Paris Open, but he's never even been to a major international competition. The same cannot be said for Phelps (obviously), Biedermann, Izotov, or any of the other relay possibilities you mentioned, all of whom have won medals at Worlds last summer (and many at the Olympics). Not saying he won't be a stud, but if you remember French Nationals, he did falter a bit in finals; all of his times were slower than semis. The question is, can he stand up on the blocks in Budapest and stand a chance against Biedermann? Frankly, I doubt it.

    In the 4x100 free relay, I'm not even sure Agnel is a straight-to-finals swimmer, mainly due to his lackluster performance in finals at French trials, where he got 7th. I think the order was Gilot, Bernard, Meynard, Steimetz, Bousquet, Leveaux, Agnel. I think Gilot should go first in the final and not have to swim prelims in Budapest, and Bernard also direct to final. That leaves five. Don't leave Bousquet off the relay, because he's back at Auburn training with Brett Hawke, and I would not be shocked if he pulls off another excellent relay leg. Maybe Leveaux because of the lackluster season he's had. Decisions, decisions.