Monday, 5 July 2010

Paul Biedermann - 1:45.84 - Wins German Nationals

A week after Yannick Agnel made all the headlines in the men's 200m Free at the Paris Open, Paul Biedermann responded in his own way at German Nationals today.

Biedermann took over from Agnel at the top of the world rankings with a superb time of 1:45.84. Biedermann took the race out hard turning in 24.96 at 50m and 51.26 at the 100m turn. (During his 1:42.00 swim Biedermann split 24.23 and 50.12).

To be recognised in the same company as 200m Free greats Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps, Biedermann will need to get down to their textile best times. Thorpe's best is 1:44.06 from the 2001 World Champs, Phelp's best (and the best time ever in a 100% textile suit) is 1:43.86 from the 2007 World Champs. Whether this is a 100% fair comparison is open to debate considering that Thorpe wore his trademark black all body suit and Phelps was wearing a suit covering his chest and legs.

Biedermann was actually faster than Thorpe's 2001 split at 100m (51.26 to 51.45). At 150m Thorpe edged slightly ahead on 1:18.26 to Biedermann's 1:18.49. Before Thorpe 'dropped the hammer' on the last 50m.

Even more interesting is the comparison between Biedermann's effort today and 2001's 2nd placed finisher Pieter van den Hoogenband. Biedermann swam 24.96, 26.30, 27.23, 27.35 to finish in 1:45.84. VDH swam 24.67, 26.76, 27.03, 27.35 to finish in 1:45.81. Just 0.03 split the two swims and they had an identical final 50m. The big difference between the swims was the fact that VDH was swimming in 2001's most hyped race, Biedermann was at his national championships without any competition. At European's vs. Agnel and/or next year's World Champs vs. Phelps we will surely see even more from Biedermann.

Add your thoughts on Biedermann below. Let's work this out together.


  1. Something interesting (that I will expand on in a blog soon): Biedermann was more than a second faster in the 200 than in Monaco (and his 100 was good too), but he was slower in the 400. In the 400, he was behind Clement Rapp until the final 50. Just a hypothesis, but perhaps Biedermann (until last year, just known as a 200 freestyler) needs competition to run down to have a great 400. Since he will have little in that event in Budapest, could it affect his time? (Also could be because he was saving up for the 100 later that day but...)

    Definitely looking forward to some excellent racing with Agnel and Izotov at Europeans and "virtual racing" with Park, Phelps, and the other Americans over at Pan Pacs. Not convinced anyone can go sub-1:44 this year, but Biedermann (and Phelps and maybe others) could be right around Thorpe's best ever, which is pretty sick.

  2. I was surprised at his time on the 400m Free, I was expecting something in the 3:45 region. @Swimsportnews might be able to help us out with an explanation but you might be onto something with your thoughts on needing competition. He's probably already raced his toughest 400m Free this year when he beat Zhang Lin and Mellouli in Monaco. Rouault is swimming well and one of the Italian's might step up, but he should be a step above them at Euros.

    I think his focus will be on the 200m Free (you could argue it has been ever since Rome 09 and the rivalry with Phelps). I can see Biedermann going out in a similar time at Europeans, 24-high, 51-low (maybe 50-high) on the first 100m and then hanging on better on the last 100m. If he can manage that then I think 1:44 is a realistic target. I think we need to wait until World's next year for a sub-1:44. Agnel and Isotov (although he hasn't really shown up so far in the 200m this year) have similar 100m speed to Biedermann but don't have his endurance, I don't think they'll be able to cope with his finishing power.

  3. If Izotov gets his pacing right (which he definitely didn't at his Nationals) and is with Biedermann at the 100, he will be able to close. He was closing down Phelps on the last 50 at Worlds, and he did the same thing to Biedermann on the last 100 at European Short Course champs in December, becoming only the second man under 1:40.

    I'm pretty sure his focus has always been on the 200 over the 400. When he was top qualifier on day one in the 400 in Rome, I was pretty surprised. He won Europeans in 2008 and made the World final in 2007/Olympic final in 2008 in the 200. 1:44-mid should be an easy goal for him in Budapest, but in the 400, I'm not sure we can expect more than a 3:45 or maybe 3:44. Don't think anyone else in the field (Lobinsev, Glaesner, Rouault, etc.) can get under 3:47, let alone 3:46. If they don't take him out, can he get get much faster?

  4. I was surprised about the 400, too. And also Paul. He said, that he was very disappointed about the time and that he even has to think about if it's expedient to compete in the 400 at the EC or not. Of course he will compete! It was just the reaction right after the poor race. But it shows, that he was expecting a much better time and didn't save fuel or something like that. I just took a look at the splits again. He was MUCH to slow at the second and third 100m. with "real" competition he won't slumber that part of the race I think... He has to organize his race much better. One year ago at Berlin he swam 3:46,67. Without hightech but wearing an Arena R-Evolution. The last 100 in 2009: 56,9. The last 100 in 2010: 56,9...
    I also don't know how much he is missing the suit. Especially on the 400 the feeling is much much different, he told me on tuesday (so before the race). But at Berlin he even looked better in shape than last year. Never saw him with such a sixpack. Let's see how he'll go out with some faster guys by his site. But who could it be? Agnel or Rouault also didn't look much better than Paul on the 400 and the Russians were quite disappointing up to now this year. His coach Embacher told me, he expects that 3:46 or 3:45 is needed to win at Budapest and I don't think that Paul can go faster than this right now...

    (By the way: "He's coming from the distance", as we say. As junior-swimmer he was focused also on 800 and 1500 free. I think he also was European Junior-Champion in this event.)

    But his pet event now is of course the 200m and he's focused on this distance. Sub-1:44 would be really tough. Do you know Agnel's splits at Paris? Both can drive each other to awesome times. I think Biedermann can go 51 low - 53 high, would be a typical Biederman-race from the pre-higtech-age. Paul watched the Paris Open on TV and he can't wait to compete against Yannick and also Sebastiaan Verschuren. But much depends on the preparation. There have very often been wrong trainings by the DSV before big events in the past, especially before Beijing. But with Dirk Lange I don't fear this anymore.

    I'm also looking forward to see him at the 100m. He had a great finish at Berlin, caught Steffen Deibler on the last meters. We'll have to wait, if Paul's competing in Budapest or not. But at least at the 4x100fr he will swim the 100 and also in the medley-relay...

  5. Great insight into Biedermann's current thoughts. Amazing that he's even mentioning the possibility of not swimming the 400.

    FYI - Agnel split 52.07, came back 54.23. He will need to go out a second quicker in Budapest or risk getting left behind. I agree with 51 low, 53 high being a good target for Biedermann.

    Germany v France v Russia should be a fantastic race in the Medley relay. Had Helge Meeuw been swimming I would go for a dominant win for Germany, but he will be sorely missed. Stefan Herbst will need to step up for you guys in the Backstroke. With Camille Lacourt swimming so well the French are just missing a dominant fly swimmer but their team might still be strong enough. The Russians normally have the most complete team but Vyatchanin isn't swimming well so they might struggle on Backstroke too. Italy aren't the force they once were and Britain probably won't be in good enough condition to challenge.

  6. I didn't see Benjamin Starke on the roster for Budapest either. He would be a strong factor in the 100 fly and all three relays. For the medley, I'd go with France: Lacourt/Duboscq/Lefert/Bernard. Lefert didn't swim the 100 fly this year to focus on the 200 free at Nationals, but he is the French record-holder at 51.4 from 2009 (and he was the fly leg on the fifth-place relay in Rome). If Bousquet can get his mojo back for 100s, he went 51.5 in 2008. That said, Vyatchanin's recovery (he had eye surgery and trained only a few weeks before Nationals) could change everything, since the Russians have Sludnov back (he didn't swim in Rome), Korotyskin swimming great, and a bunch of excellent 100 freestylers (Grechin, Izotov, Lagunov, Fesikov, etc.).

  7. Starke suffers a herpes zoster. He could have helped our 4x200 relay very much, too... But the 4x100 medley will be Herbst/Feldwehr/Deibler/Biedermann... If Herbst (by the way 32 years old, a real veteran ^^) can keep contact (do you say so?) then there's a good chance to medal. Deibler replaces Starke, but will also be able to swim high 51/low 52 in the relay.

    French media is hopeful, that Bousquet will be in real good shape in Budapest, but if not, they got a real problem ^^. Bernard could be a problem, too, but if he would not be in best shape, there are enough 100m-swimmers who could replace him. In my opinion Bernard is no "relayer", there's missing some kind of spirit...

    Who's swimming the GB-relay? Tancock/Jamieson(?)/Rock/Tancock_2 ;) ?

  8. Benjamin Starke won't be there. Can't remember why exactly. Steffen Diebler will take his place, he went 52.45. Not too far off Korotyskin's 51.70 from Russian Nationals.

    Helge Meeuw is finishing his studies and overcoming an injury, he's also moved club to SC Magdeburg. He did swim the final Medley relay and went 56.09 off a 27.4 split which would have been good enough for 4th in the A final.

    I would also pick the French at this stage. Backstroke - the race might be over if Lacourt gets a second or more lead over GER/RUS.
    Breast - Duboscq can hang with Feldwehr and Sludnov.
    Fly - Lefert might lose some time to Korotyskin and will need to give...
    Free - ...Bernard (/Gilot) a fighting chance. Both are quicker than the Russians. The French might be tempted to put Gilot in for his consistency.

  9. GB relay will probably be (assuming they all swim at Europeans) Tancock/Gilchrist/Rock and either Adam Brown or Simon Burnett. Our hopes probably rest on Liam Tancock getting us a decent lead.

  10. I would say Biedermann's decline in the 400 has something to do with getting a bit older. I think the suits also helped him stretch up a little bit more to that event than he could on his own. Typically swimmers do not get better at the highest distance they swim relative to shorter races as they get to Paul's age, think Ryk Neethling, Thorpe, even Larsen Jensen was a better 400 guy vs 1500 by 2008. Vanderkaay is the best example trying to buck this trend currently

  11. Tom, you make a good point that GB may not be at full strength at Europeans. Adam Brown swam some sick times at NCAA's (19.03/42.33), and he can probably split under 49 on a relay.

    Wondering now if Germany will bother entering a medley relay. Since neither Diebler nor Herbst made cuts, seems like they may not but we'll see. Whether they do or not will decide if Herbst makes the team. (Obviously Diebler has three other individual events.)

  12. As it stands now, we are comparing both Phelps and Thorpe's best times against Biedermann's current time. I am not convince that Phelps can swim that fast anymore despite the excuse that it isan off year. His times have summarily degraded post World Championships and rarely dominates like he used to. He can't even place third in 100 free.

  13. Tony, it's Phelps. I think he will be just as dominant this summer, albeit maybe not as fast. I expect at least a 1:44-mid at Nationals and/or Pan Pacs. Biedermann's time yesterday was a good two seconds off Phelps' textile best, so I don't think he has put any distance between himself and his competition yet.

    As for the 100 free, he had swum the 200 fly (1:55.70) barely a half hour before. Hard to come back from that, at least for mere mortals.

  14. @Tom: there WILL be a german medley-relay! Herbst made the team (german ec-roster's here: ) Herbst would not be on the list, if there would be no german medley-relay...

    And: Steffen Deibler made the cut in the 100 butterfly. (By the way: It's Deibler not Diebler :-)

    @ chris: I don't think age is a matter. He'll be 24 this year... not 30...

    The EC aren't the GB-Higlight this year, the focus is on the Com. Games, isn't it?

  15. Correct. Dennis Pursley had this to say...

    "The European Championships will be a high priority competition for British Swimming and are very important to our goals for the year," said Pursley. "The approach won't be the same as it would be for a peak performance competition as we will continue training throughout with our focus on the Commonwealth Games.

    For Britain, the European Championships offer a vital opportunity to really work on our competition skills, our focus and mental toughness, and race against some of the best in the world even though we may not been in the same state of preparation that they will be."

    So pretty clear from the GB head coach.

    Interestingly, keep an eye out for Rebecca Adlington at Europeans. Given that Pellegrini, Friis, Muffat and Balmy represent some of her fiercest competition I'd be surprised if she wasn't slightly more prepared for this meet than some of her compatriots.

    Tony - With Phelps on the 200m Free he can be a second off his best textile time and still swim a 1:44.8.

    The guy that I may have dismissed too quickly is Agnel. The guy was born in 1992, swam 1:47.0 last year in briefs, is already down to 1:46.30 and has the biggest competition of his life so far coming up. If he improves at a Thorpian/Phelpsian/normal 17-18yr rate who's to say he can't go 1:44 low in Budapest?

  16. My/our mistake on Deibler. People do the same thing with Aaron Peirsol a lot (and me, for that matter...).

    Tom, perhaps Agnel CAN go 1:44-low, but I doubt he will. I have to believe he and some of the other French guys (such as Gilot, Lacourt) had some rest for the Open, based on the amount of time they dropped from other in-season meets. Can't see Agnel going much better than 1:45-mid/high or so.

    I elaborated some more on Biedermann's swims from the weekend, as well as Elizabeth Beisel's in Canada: