Tuesday, 31 August 2010

New Poll Question

Who will win the Men's 200m IM at the 2012 London Olympics?

The Contenders

 Ryan Lochte - Over the last two years Lochte has established himself as the world's best 200m IMer. World Record holder and World Champion in 2009. Pan Pacs Champion, World ranked no. 1, textile suit best time and beating Phelps in 2010.

So this poll should be obvious. Lochte is the clear winner, right?

 Michael Phelps - How many people are willing to bet against the great Michael Phelps at an Olympic Games. Think back just 2 years ago to Beijing where Phelps destroyed Lochte by over 2 seconds, surely a fit and well prepared Phelps is stronger than Lochte, right?

Tyler Clary - What about Clary? The 21 year old will be at an ideal age by the time London comes around. Clary continues to improve at an impressive rate. If he keeps on improving Lochte or Phelps might not even make the Olympic team on the 200m IM.

James Goddard - Clary's not the only guy improving. Goddard threw down an impressive 1:57.76 back in March. Goddard continues to improve on the 200m IM and has already been close to his suited best time of 1:57.12 from 2009. One huge 'x factor' on Goddard's side, swimming at a home Olympics.

Laszlo Cseh - A discussion on the 200m IM wouldn't be complete without Laszlo Cseh, the perennial runner up behind either Phelps and/or Lochte. Cseh has to be one of the most talented swimmers to have never won an Olympic Gold medal. Can Cseh get up to Lochte's/Phelps' level by 2012?

Poll Results - In the same suit, who would have won the 200m Free at last year's Worlds?

Poll Results: If Phelps and Biedermann would have worn the same suit in Rome 2009 in the 200m Free, who would have won? - (Total votes - 155)

Phelps - 86 votes - 55.5%

Biedermann - 60 votes - 38.7%

Isotov - 9 votes - 5.8%

So the swimming world has spoken. Had both men worn the same suits at last year's World Championships, the majority of people believe Michael Phelps would have beaten Paul Biedermann in the 200m Free final.

I personally voted for Biedermann... here's my reasoning:-

1. As much as his suit helped him, its not like Phelps was wearing a pair of boardies when he swam. He was wearing a full body LZR suit. Is the difference between Biedermann's suit and Phelps' worth a full 1.22 seconds?

(Side note 1 - One article described the race as 'man against thermoplastic, basically a case of Phelps trying to swim faster than a guy wearing the hull of a spacecraft' and went on to say 'his outdated Speedo LZR suit, which was a relic, a junker despite the fact that just a year ago its “ultrasonically welded” seams were the sport’s latest rage.')

(Side note 2 - This 'outdated suit' still broke smashed four world records in Rome - Phelps - 100m and 200m Fly, Gemma Spofforth - 100m Back and Daniela Samulski - 50m Back).

2. Phelps was 0.28 seconds slower than his best time set in Beijing, a great swim but one that opened the door for Biedermann on top of his game.

3. Biedermann has the strength on the back end of a race to challenge Phelps like few others before have been able to. Phelps can no longer rely on a stunning final 50m to overhaul Biedermann like he can against some of his other competitors. Phelps may well have needed a different race plan if he was going to beat Biedermann in Rome.

4. A strong argument against Biedermann is the time he dropped from 2008 to 2009. Rewatch the 2008 Olympic final and look out for the following points:-

a) his awful start

b) the suit he was wearing (just legs, compared to Phelps' LZR)

c) his technique, it wasn't bad in Beijing but had clearly improved by Rome

d) his physique. Biedermann got a lot stronger between 2008 and 2009

Ofcourse we'll never know what would have really happened that day in Rome.

- One problem I do have is the backlash that Biedermann has faced since Rome. Even this year people continue to criticise him for swimming 'slowly' (an example from a commentator on SwimmingWorld, on the day he swam a 1:45.47 relay lead off leg - "people who did well in suits and are now fading away (Herr B., for instance)")... Fading away? Biedermann is ranked 2nd in the world this year ahead of Phelps and 2nd only to a superhuman Ryan Lochte.

Whatever side of the fence you sit (even the 9 of you that voted for Isotov) - 2011 - World Championships, 200m Free final, mark it in the diary.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Junior Pan Pacific Swimming Championships

As the dust begins to settle on a frantic couple of weeks of senior international swimming, the juniors now get a chance to show what they are made of. Junior Pan Pacs start today and it will be fascinating to see how this meet compares to the European Junior Championships that took place last month in Helsinki.

You can find results of Junior Pan Pacs - Here

Results from European Juniors - Here

The great thing about international junior competition is that you get to know some new names that are destined for big things in the future. However, certain junior swimmer have already begun to make waves in senior waters (no pun intended... but intended). Assuming they all compete, some names worth looking out for who are starting to establish themselves:-


Yolane Kukla, Australia - Fly/Free
Jasmine Tosky, USA - Fly/Free
Chelsea Chenault, USA - Free
Lia Neal, USA - Free
Miyu Otsuka, Japan - IM
Rino Hosoda, Japan - Fly
Kelly Naze, USA - Fly
Mai Harada, Japan - Back
Madison White, USA - Back
Sayaka Akase, Japan - Back
Emma McKeon, Australia - Free
Brittany Elmslie - Australia - Free
Tessa Wallace, Australia - Breast
Rebecca Kemp, Australlia - Breast
Andrea Kropp, USA - Breast
Saya Kuroiwa, Japan - Breast


David Nolan, USA - IM/Fly
Evan Pinion, USA - Free
Clay Youngquist, USA - Free
Jayden Hadler, Australia - Fly
Kenneth To, Australia - Free
Masaya Kano, Japan - Breast
Daiya Seto, Japan - IM
Declan Potts, Australia - Free
Hirofumi Ikebata, Japan - Fly
Ryan Murphy, USA - Back
Akihiro Yamaguchi, Japan - Breast
Christopher Ashwood, Australia - Free

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

World Leading Times 2010 LC Meters

50m Free21.36*Fred BousquetFRA
100m Free47.98Brent HaydenCAN
200m Free1:45.30Ryan LochteUSA
400m Free3:44.73Park Tae HwanKOR
800m Free7:48.28Sebastien RouaultFRA
1500m Free14:47.46Sun YangCHN
50m Back24.07*Camille LacourtFRA
100m Back52.11*Camille LacourtFRA
200m Back1:54.12*Ryan LochteUSA
50m Breast27.18*Cameron VanDer BurghRSA
100m Breast59.04*Kosuke KitajimaJAP
200m Breast2:08.36*Kosuke KitajimaJAP
50m Fly23.03Cesar CieloBRA
100m Fly50.65Michael PhelpsUSA
200m Fly1:54.11Michael PhelpsUSA
200m IM1:54.43*Ryan LochteUSA
400m IM4:07.59Ryan LochteUSA

50m Free24.27Therese AlshammarSWE
100m Free53.44Ranomi KromowidjojoNED
200m Free1:55.45Federica PellegriniITA
400m Free4:03.12Federica PellegriniITA
800m Free8:21.25Rebecca AdlingtonGBR
1500m Free15:59.13Lotte FriisDEN
50m Back27.54*Gao ChangCHN
100m Back59.13*Aya TerakawaJAP
200m Back2:06.79Elizabeth SimmondsGBR
50m Breast30.03*Jessica HardyUSA
100m Breast1:04.93*Rebecca SoniUSA
200m Breast2:20.69Rebecca SoniUSA
50m Fly25.49Therese AlshammarSWE
100m Fly57.32Magnuson/SjoestromUS/SW
200m Fly2:05.46Jiao LiuyangCHN
200m IM2:09.70*Alicia CouttsAUS
400m IM4:33.09Hannah MileyGBR

* - Denotes fastest time to be set in a 100% textile suit.

Last updated 14 October 2010

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Thoughts from Pan Pacs Swimming - Day Three and Day Four

The final two days at Pan Pacs provided a number of highlights, here are just a few...

- Ryan Lochte joined Camille Lacourt in the exclusive club of male swimmer's who have given world records a real scare this year.

Lochte's time of 1:54.43 for the 200m IM is third on the all-time list behind his own world record from last year (1:54.10) and Michael Phelps' Beijing winning time (1:54.23). Lochte now owns six of the top ten swims all-time over 200m IM, Phelps has three, Laszlo Cseh one. I think we can now say Lochte is the best in the world over 200m IM.

Phelps will be back, you know that being number two domestically is going to hurt him, but at this stage... asssuming both men are 100% fit and ready at London 2012, who wins the 200m IM? Leave a comment below with your answer.

Where I am at... My heart says Lochte, my head says Phelps.

- Rebecca Soni's 2:20.69 was the second swim of Day 4 that rattled a world record. Going into the meet there had been a fair amount of hype surrounding Soni breaking Annamay Pierse's global standard. Unfortunately for Soni she came up half a second short.

In terms of the swim itself, Soni didn't have the best of starts, although that usually isn't the strongest part of her race and was 0.33 seconds down at the 50m mark, 0.30 down at 100m, 0.49 down at 150m and finished up 0.57 seconds down on the WR at the finish.

It's a fantastic swim in a textile suit but interestingly (and I'm sure frustratingly for Soni) she did not get past Leisel Jones' best textile time of 2:20.54 set in 2006.

There's no doubt Soni has the talent to break 2:20, she has been close to it all-year. Still... 1:04.9 in the 100m, 2:20.6 on the 200m and proving herself as the undisputed best female breaststroker in the world represents a great Pan Pacs for Rebecca Soni.

- So Michael Phelps is the fastest 100m Freestyler in the world. That's something I did not expect. Its not like we're early in the season either, all the main players (with the possible exception of Eamon Sullivan) have shown their strongest hand and Phelps beat them all. Here's a list of names Phelps is faster than in 2010. Cesar Cielo. Alain Bernard. Brent Hayden. Fabien Gilot. Eamon Sullivan. Nathan Adrian. Jason Lezak.

Much has been made of Phelps' lack of fitness, including what amounts to being thrown under the bus by Bob Bowman in this Washington Post article. I don't see Pan Pacs as a bad meet for Phelps at all, quite the opposite. I believe we've seen what direction he will now take on his journey towards 2012. He swum the 400m IM and didn't get out of the heats. He swam the lead-off leg of the 100m Free and shot to the top of the world rankings. I didn't think Phelps could win gold in the 100m Free at Olympics, I felt the size and speed of Bernard, Cielo, Adrian etc. would be too much to overcome.... but that all changed when he went 48.13 on that lead-off leg of the relay. Now, 48.13 will not win gold in London, but if Phelps can get down to Pieter VDH's textile best time of 47.84 things will start to get very interesting.

Shot in the dark on 2012 Olympic Schedule for Phelps (depending on the scheduling of events)

100m Freestyle
100m Butterfly
200m Freestyle
200m Butterfly
200m IM
4 x 100m Medley Relay
4 x 100m Free Relay
4 x 200m Free Relay

= 8 Events

- Emily Seebohm became the first clean athlete to break 2:10 in a textile suit. Wu Yanyan had swum 2:09.72 back in 1997 before a later positive doping test. Turning level with Ariana Kukors at 150m, Seebohm proved to have the strongest freestyle leg to win in 2:09.93 to Kukors' 2:10.25.

Seebohm, 18, winner of the 100m Back and 200m IM and silver medallist in the 50m Fly and 100m Free, isn't too far away from becoming one of swimming's biggest stars on the women's side.

- I told myself earlier this year never to write off Kosuke Kitajima. Never. In any Breaststroke event. Guess what... I wrote him off on the 200m Breaststroke at Pan Pacs... and he swum an incredible 2:08.36 (breaking Brendan Hansen's textile best time of 2:08.50 in the process).

Lesson learnt.

- Nathan Adrian beating Cesar Cielo was a big surprise. Both men had great times, 21.55 and 21.57 respectively.... but fascinatingly, Cielo got a great start and looked like he was up on Adrian at the breakout. So that means that Adrian's flat out sprint freestyle speed was considerably faster than Cielo's. (Seems like an obvious point but not many people imagined that to be the case coming into Pan Pacs).

- If Park Tae Hwan, Paul Biedermann and Yannick Agnel raced each other tomorrow on the 400m Free I'm picking Park to win. He demolished the field on the final 100m at Pan Pacs. His last split.... 53.85, the fastest 100 of the entire race. When Ian Thorpe swam 3:40.08 his final 100m split was 54.65... (Thorpe did go out in 1:49.57). Biedermann came back in 52.90 in Rome last year when he swam 3:40.07 but hasn't looked comfortable over 400m all year.

- Congratulations to Chloe Sutton on winning her first Gold medal in an international pool competition on the 400m Freestyle. A real talent who should add many more to her tally. Next year at Worlds she gets to face the best Europe has to offer, Federica Pellegrini and Rebecca Adlington.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Thoughts from Pan Pacs Swimming - Day Two

Pan Pacs looks like a fun meet. Odd. But fun.

Let's get straight to Day Two's talking points...

- Natalie Coughlin looked supreme as she took victory in the women's 100m Free. The one thing she hasn't lost is her incredible skill on starts and turns. On the women's side, Coughlin remains the best underwater swimmer in the world. With Britta Steffen and Marleen Veldhuis out of action, the world's top two 100m Freestylers this year have been Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Fran Halsall. Coughlin looks like she's made it into a top three.

- Nathan Adrian continues to impress in the freestyle sprints winning in a time of 48.15. Last year Adrian got down to 48.00 at US Nationals. In Rome he made it to the semi-finals where he finished 10th in 48.13 behind Pan Pac swimmers such as Cesar Cielo, Nicolas Oliveira, Brent Hayden, David Walters and Lyndon Ferns. The tables have certainly been turned in 2010.

Brent Hayden was equally impressive with his time of 48.19. Cesar Cielo looks like his 50m Free is going to be a bit special splitting in 22.74 before running out of gas on the second 50m. Eamon Sullivan also went out quickly (22.89) before coming home 7th in 48.84. It's been a strange year for Sullivan, lets see what he can go at Commonwealths.

- Rebecca Soni's victory in the 100m Breast (1:04.93) wasn't just a sensational time, it was a statement. In the first head-to-head with Leisel Jones this year, Soni smoked the second 50m to pull clearly away from Jones. There wasn't much doubt before the meet that Soni is currently the best female breaststroker in the world, there can be none now.

Milestones from yesterday's swim

- 3rd fastest 100m Breaststroke of all-time (Soni now owns the second and third fastest times ever)
- Fastest time ever in a textile suit (beating Leisel Jones' 1:05.06)
- First woman under 1:05 in a textile suit
- Faster than Leisel Jones has ever been in the 100m Breast

The most exciting part.... Soni still has her best event, the 200m, still to come. Annamay Pierse's WR is under serious threat.

- Kosuke Kitajima is the best breaststroker in the world. Surprised?  Despite being slower in the final (59.35) than the heats (59.04), Kitajima was in complete control of the race and won comfortably. It went a little unnoticed but during the heats Kitajima broke Brendan Hansen's textile best time of 59.13. Again, that was during the heats.

- So after I crowned Caitlin Leverenz the best US female over 400m IM, I now have to eat my words and give the title back to Elizabeth Beisel. Like Kitajima, Beisel was slower in the final than the heats, but still dominated the race. To win Pan Pacs by 3 seconds is an impressive swim, even if the race was missing Steph Rice.

Beisel still needs to find a second to get past Hannah Miley's world leading time from Europeans (not fully tapered) which is starting to look more and more impressive.

- 2010's top male swimmer Ryan Lochte impressed again winning the 400m IM. This race was an example of the difference between how a race can look on TV and how it actually panned out. At US Nationals Tyler Clary was up on Lochte at 200m before Lochte blew past him on the Breast and Free. On the surface last night it looked like Lochte went out much faster than US Nationals on the Fly and Back legs (well ahead of Clary at 200m) before hanging on during the Breast and Free legs. The splits tell a different story though with Lochte faster on all 4 strokes last night. It was on Backstroke where the two splits were closest.

- Pan Pacs        4:07.59 - Fly - 54.83, Back - 1:01.90, Breast - 1:12.01, Free - 58.85
- US Nationals 4:09.98 - Fly - 55.95, Back - 1:02.11, Breast - 1:12.69, Free - 59.23

- Women's 50m Backstroke was interesting as it didn't feature a US female swimmer in the top 3 for the first time so far at 2010 Pan Pacs. The men have also had one race so far where a US swimmer didn't make it into the top 3, the men's 50m Butterfly on Day One.

- Junya Koga took Japan's second victory of the night in the men's 50m Backstroke in a time of 24.86. Not a bad time, but once again Camille Lacourt must be beaming when he sees that he is still 0.65 seconds clear of all Pan Pac swimmers this year over 50m. (The closest Pan Pac swimmer to Lacourt in 2010 is Matt Grevers who didn't make the US team).

- The women's 4 x 200m Free was much closer than expected. During prelims of the 200m Free, USA swimmers were ranked 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 8th. The Australian women were ranked 4th, 5th, 9th and 10th. Despite this going into the final leg Australia were ahead of the Americans by 0.13. Fortunately America could call on the individual 200m Free winner Allison Schmitt to avoid the upset.

- No such trouble for the US men who won the 4 x 200m Free relay by over 7 seconds from Japan. Their time was also nearly 3 seconds clear of Russia's best effort from the European Champs. That will happen when you have two guys swim 1:45 and the other two swim 1:46s.

Interestingly the US team were 5 seconds adrift of the WR they set in Beijing and then improved by a hundredth of a second last year in Rome. Whilst we are seeing that some individual world records should go over the next couple of years, the effect the suits had on the relay events hasn't been studied in detail. With the benefits the suits gave multiplied by four on a relay, these are records that we could be seeing for many years to come.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Thoughts from Pan Pacs Swimming - Day One

I won't be running through the top three of each event, if you want results check them out here. If you want to watch the races, see them here.

- I picked Yolane Kukla to win the 50m Butterfly, one spot ahead of Marieke Guehrer. I'm going to say I was half right. Kukla won the B final in 25.99, the exact same time that Guehrer won the A final in. Emily Seebohm took second in the A final just 0.09 behind Guehrer. At Pan Pacs where only 2 per nation can go into the A final and a third swimmer can only swim in the B final, the women's 50m Fly was as close to a 1-2-3 for Australia as we're going to see.

- Cesar Cielo looks like he's on form. He won the 50m Fly in a rapid 23.03 that also included a bit of a glide in to the wall. Cielo's finish had nothing on Roland Schoeman who took his last stroke with a good 3m still to swim. Good thing Schoeman has long arms.

Cielo's time must be making Fred Bousquet sit up and pay attention. Bousquet had been no.1 in the 50m Free with a time of 21.71 earlier this year. Cielo took that down a notch when he swam 21.55 in Paris in June before Bousquet turned in a stunning 21.36 at Europeans last week. Will we see the mantle of the world's best sprinter change hands once again at Pan Pacs?

- Pretty dominant win for Allison Schmitt on the 200m Free. Schmitt won silver last year at World's behind Federica Pellegrini and is now ranked second in the world this year behind Pellegrini (by a clear distance to Dana Vollmer in third). Is it safe to say now that she is the number two 200m Freestyler in the world?

Sidenote - Pleased to see Haruka Ueda make the 200m Free final as I have her pegged in for bronze on the 100m Free. Interesting fact about Ueda, last year at world's she was 30th in 55.91, this year she is already down to 54.87... suits, what suits?

- Stat-head's rejoice. Here's your virtual Ryan Lochte vs Paul Biedermann 200m Free race.

Despite the overall times coming up pretty close (just 0.17 seconds in it), both men swam the race very differently. Lochte got out a lot faster on the first 50, with both men swimming almost identical second 50s. Lochte made another strong move on the third 50 that broke the field in Irvine and was 0.3 seconds faster than Biedermann's third 50. On the way home though Lochte was hanging on whilst Biedermann was flying. Biedermann came home almost a second faster than Lochte. Just a shame we won't get to see Lochte v Biedermann (and ofcourse Phelps) this year. Both guys are big-time racers and you know that Lochte would have raised his game on the final 50 against the German, just as Biedermann wouldn't have let Lochte get so far ahead at 150m.

Lochte vs. Biedermann splits
Lochte         - 24.77, 51.65 (26.88), 1:18.12 (26.47), 1:45.30 (27.18)
Biedermann - 25.53, 52.37 (26.84) , 1:19.14 (26.77), 1:45.47 (26.33)

- Impressive swim by Emily Seebohm to win the 100m Back. Seebohm now has 3 of the top 4 swims in the world this year over 100m Back.

At 70m I thought Natalie Coughlin would hold on for victory, but she faded over the last metres. Still an awesome job in her first major international meet back after a year's break.

- Classic Peirsol swim. Wait until people start to write him off, rely on Ryan Lochte scratching the final to swim, then win the whole thing. There is one thing that does need to be brought up. This is the American team's big meet of the year and the backstroke boys have ended up well behind Camille Lacourt. Lacourt swam 1.2 seconds faster than Peirsol to win Europeans, almost breaking his WR in the process. Think Lacourt's swim was a one-off or a fluke? He's been faster than Peirsol's winning time 5 times this year.

Tough crowd for David Plummer, outstanding job to qualify for the final in a time of 53.33 which would have been good enough for second in the final. He couldn't quite match that in the evening finishing 5th in 53.80.

Quiz time - Who is the fastest American 100m Backstroker in 2010? Clue... He didn't qualify for the Pan Pac team.

- Great battle in the 200m Fly between Jessicah Schipper and Teresa Crippen. Both ladies went for it and were suffering in the last 5 metres. 3rd (Schipper) and 6th (Zsuzsanna Jakabos) in the world this year are separated by just 0.16 of a second. China's Jiao Liuyang is well out infront with an impressive 2:05.46

- Never thought I'd say this but..... sort your turns out Mike. Michael Phelps put up a much stronger showing in the 200m Fly at Pan Pacs than he did at US Nationals. It was the dominant win you expect everytime from Phelps over 200m Fly, but he still completely missed his first and third turns. 

- Epic battle on the women's 800m Free. Kate Ziegler, Chloe Sutton and Katie Goldman all held the lead at various points of the race but it was Ziegler's strong second half (out 4:11.4/back 4:10.1) that clinched it. The signs have been there for a while now but Ziegler is definitely back to her best form. Her time moves her to 2nd in the world this year, just behind Rebecca Adlington. Sutton also had a great swim to take her first international medal in the pool, one of many you suspect. Katie Goldman showed that she will be Rebecca Adlington's number one competitor at Commonwealths later this year.

- Ryan Cochrane was dominant on the 1500m Free. I'd be surprised if his time of 14:49 is bettered this year. Not sure what happened to Ous Mellouli. He trailed in last place in a time of 15:24. Mellouli's entered into the 10k open water, you hope endurance isn't his problem in California.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Pan Pacs Predictions

David 'The Swim Geek' Rieder has another prediction contest lined up for the upcoming Pan Pacific Champs which take place Aug 18th-Aug 22nd. Pysch Sheet - Here

Results - Here and Here

UPDATE - Table with all predictions can be found here.

During the last prediction contest for US Nationals I steered Speed Endurance to a second placed finish, this time I'm looking to go one better and take the top spot.

Those just missing out on a spot in the top 3 were... Zhang Lin - 200m Free, Nick Thoman - 100m Back, Eamon Sullivan Brent Hayden - 100m Free, Chang Gao - 100m Back, Satomi Suzuki - 100m Breast & Takuro Fujii - 100m Fly. On second thoughts, I can't leave Eamon Sullivan out of the 100m Free. Brent Hayden is arguably more consistent, but Sullivan has the talent to win this thing if he hooks it up right on the day.

Jessica Hardy is down to swim both the 100m Free and 100m Breast on Day Two. Swimming multiple finals didn't work out too well for her at Nationals so I am taking a leap of faith and assuming she qualifies for the 100m Free and decides to swim that as she has a better shot at Gold.

Hard to know what to make of the Chinese contingent. I'm picking Liu Zige to turn up and have a strong meet, despite spending 2010 under the radar. I don't care if she was wearing a rocket propelled suit, I'm picking the lady that's been 2:01.81 for 200m Fly.

Women's 50 Fly
1. Yolane Kukla
2. Marieke Guehrer
3. Christine Magnuson

Men's 50 Fly
1. Roland Schoeman
2. Geoff Huegill
3. Cesar Cielo

Women's 200 Free
1. Allison Schmitt
2. Dana Vollmer
3. Bronte Barratt

Men's 200 Free
1. Ryan Lochte
2. Tae Hwan Park
3. Peter Vanderkaay

Women's 100 Back
1. Emily Seebohm
2. Natalie Coughlin
3. Aya Terakawa

Men's 100 Back
1. Aaron Peirsol
2. Junya Koga
3. Ryosuke Irie

Women's 200 Fly
1. Liu Zige
2. Jessicah Schipper
3. Kathleen Hersey

Men's 200 Fly
1. Michael Phelps
2. Nick D'Arcy
3. Takeshi Matsuda

Women's 800 Free
1. Chloe Sutton
2. Katie Goldman
3. Kate Ziegler

Men's 1500 Free
1. Ous Mellouli
2. Ryan Cochrane
3. Chad LaTourette

Women's 100 Free
1. Dana Vollmer
2. Jessica Hardy
3. Haruka Ueda

Men's 100 Free
1. Cesar Cielo Filho
2. Nathan Adrian
3. Eamon Sullivan

Women's 100 Breast
1. Rebecca Soni
2. Leisel Jones
3. Ann Chandler

Men's 100 Breast
1. Kosuke Kitajima
2. Brenton Rickard
3. Ryo Tateishi

Women's 400 IM
1. Caitlin Leverenz
2. Arianna Kukors
3. Miho Takahashi

Men's 400 IM
1. Ryan Lochte
2. Michael Phelps
3. Yuya Horihata

Women's 50 Back
1. Aya Terakawa
2. Emily Seebohm
3. Sophie Edington

Men's 50 Back
1. Junya Koga
2. Guilherme Guido
3. Nick Thoman

Women's 4x200 Free
1. USA
2. Australia
3. Canada

Men's 4x200 Free
1. USA
2. Japan
3. Australia

Women's 400 Free
1. Katie Hoff
2. Bronte Barratt
3. Chloe Sutton

Men's 400 Free
1. Tae Hwan Park
2. Zhang Lin
3. Ous Mellouli

Women's 100 Fly
1. Jessicah Schipper
2. Liu Zige
3. Christine Magnuson

Men's 100 Fly
1. Michael Phelps
2. Andrew Lauterstein
3. Tyler McGill

Women's 200 Back
1. Belinda Hocking
2. Elizabeth Beisel
3. Shiho Sakai

Men's 200 Back
1. Ryosuke Irie
2. Ryan Lochte
3. Aaron Peirsol

Women's 50 Breast
1. Jessica Hardy
2. Rebecca Soni
3. Leisel Jones

Men's 50 Breast
1. Kosuke Kitajima
2. Felipe Silva
3. Brenton Rickard

Women's 4x100 Free
1. USA
2. Australia
3. Canada

Men's 4x100 Free
1. USA
2. Australia
3. South Africa

Men's 800 Free
1. Ous Mellouli
2. Ryan Cochrane
3. Peter Vanderkaay

Women's 200 IM
1. Ariana Kukors
2. Emily Seebohm
3. Caitlin Leverenz

Men's 200 IM
1. Ryan Lochte
2. Michael Phelps
3. Thiago Pereira

Women's 50 Free
1. Kara Lynn Joyce
2. Yolane Kukla
3. Jessica Hardy

Men's 50 Free
1. Cesar Cielo Filho
2. Nathan Adrian
3a. Josh Schneider protest pick
3b. Roland Schoeman

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

Men's 200 Breast
1. Ryo Tateishi
2. Brenton Rickard
3. Eric Shanteau

Women's 1500 Free
1. Melissa Gorman
2. Kristel Kobrich
3. Kate Ziegler

Women's 4x100 Medley
1. USA
2. Australia
3. Japan

Men's 4x100 Medley
1. USA
2. Japan
3. Australia

Women's OW 10km
1. Chloe Sutton
2. Eva Fabian
3. Melissa Gorman

Men's OW 10km
1. Fran Crippen
2. Ous Mellouli
3. Allan Carmon

Monday, 16 August 2010

Thoughts from the European Swimming Championships - Day Six


Fred Bousquet just swam one of the most impressive 50m Freestyles of all-time. In a pair of jammers that make him feel naked, he absolutely crushed the 50m Freestyle field in the semi-final. The power Bousquet has is phenomenal.

Bousquet and coach Brett Hawke must be feeling pretty good right now. If you didn't catch it back in May 2009 there was quite a spat between Hawke and Swimnews' Craig Lord. This article on Swimnews led to this reaction from Brett Hawke and later this retort on Swimnews.

Its clear (to me at least) that Bousquet is, and was in 2009, in the shape of his life. He has taken the 50m Free into a new era. Alex Popov's 21.64 was the textile best time until this year, to be 0.28 seconds under that mark is phenomenal.

What will we see from Cesar Cielo, Nathan Adrian, Ashley Callus and Eamon Sullivan at Pan Pacs this week? Will anyone, most obvious contender being Cielo, be able to better Bousquet's time?

- Paul Biedermann must have been reading 'Thoughts from Day Three' where I doubted he would end up ranked no. 1 in the world on 200m Freestyle. All it took was the added incentive of racing Yannick Agnel for Biedermann (1:45.47) to knock half a second off his individual final time and have a strong chance of leading the world for the rest of this year.

That was step 1 on Biedermann's 3-step plan to prove his doubters wrong. Still to crack... 2.) Get down to 1:44 and challenge Phelps and Thorpe's best textile times and 3.) Win the World Championships in 2011.

Hats off to the German and French teams for making Biedermann vs Agnel a possibility. They could have easily put both men on the final legs but I suspect that both men requested the lead off leg.

Its becoming increasingly clear that Biedermann thrives on competition, it plays right into his hands. On the 200m he tends to hang with the pace on the first 100 before taking over on the third 50m and pulling away on the final 50m. The stronger the field, the stronger the pace on the first 100m.

... So I'm just going to say it, he's a big time swimmer... Just makes a showdown with Phelps even more enticing.

- Biedermann's lead off time was the main story of the 4 x 200m Free relay but Russia's victory is noteworthy. Because they lack 'star power' (and easily pronounceable names), the Russian team will likely be overlooked when it comes to future freestyle relays at the World Champs/Olympics but the fact is they have incredible strength in depth. The 4 x 100m team's slowest leg was Andrey Grechin's 48.32. Lets see what the US and Australia can muster at Pan Pacs this week.

- Just can't stop talking about this relay... Jeremy Stravius, the Backstroker, swam an incredible 1:45.44 for the French team. Faster than Danila Izotov's split.

- Good job Dragos Agache on the 50m Breaststroke (Silver in 27.47). Nice to see some success for the Romanian men now that Razvan Florea and Dragos Coman are out of the picture. The star of Romanian swimming for many years, Olympic champion Camelia Potec, announced before the competition that she will be deciding on her future in the sport after Budapest.

- Aliaksandra Herasimenia won the women's 50m Backstroke in a new textile best time of 27.64. Unfortunately it doesn't move me in the slightest. Herasimenia was banned for two years for a doping violation in 2003.

Thoughts from the European Swimming Championships - Day Five

- Seriously, what is it with Alain Bernard?

The guy can't swim the final leg of a relay to save his (or France's) life, but steps up heroically when it comes to individual 100m Free finals. First Beijing in 2008, now Budapest in 2010... on both occasions he underwhelmed on the final leg of the relay before producing excellent final swims in the individual.

The 'easy' explanation is that he's selfish and cares more about his own performance than the team's. This I suspect does a huge disservice to Bernard. In Rome 2009 he showed that when tucked away in the less pressured spots of the relay he can produce the goods (his split of 46.46 swimming the second leg was the fastest of the race). I would suggest the odds of Bernard going last on the 4 x 100m Free relay at Worlds next year currently sit somewhere between slim and none.

- Is Sebastien Rouault now ready to make the next step up to compete with distance freestyle's main players? (Mellouli, Zhang, Park, Cochrane, Peter VDK). Rouault acheived the 800/1500 Free double with both victories in world leading times. Talent has never been a problem for Rouault who was a European Junior medalist as well as NCAA champ in 2006 (beating Peter VDK, Larsen Jensen, Michael Klueh and Ous Mellouli in the process).

Rouault's problem appears to be inconsistency. He swam very well in 2006 when he took silver at Europeans in 14:55. In 2005 he swam pretty well at Worlds with a 15:08 but then at 2007 Worlds he swam 15:24 and in Beijing in 2008 swam 15:21.

- 2010 is 'The Year of the Soni' when it comes to women's Breaststroke (especially over 200m), however Anastasia Chaun did a great job of bridging the gap between Soni and the rest of Europe. Going into Europeans on a 2:26, Chaun swam a perfectly paced race (splits of 34.0, 36.2, 36.7, 36.5) to finish on the third fastest time in the world this year (2:23.50).

Chaun's swim denied us of what I can only assume is a rare/never seen before Scandinavian Top 3, with all medals come from a different Scandinavian country. Instead we saw Norway take silver, Denmark take bronze and Sweden take fourth.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

European Junior Championships - Day Four

According to the BBC commentators at the end of tonight's session,
"This must be one of the best sessions Britain's ever had."
Perhaps I got too caught up in the competition and hyped the British team a little too much earlier today but I was left feeling a little flat. Possibly unfair given the fact that we're not fully rested and tapered for this meet, let me explain why...


- Hannah Miley - For me the best swim of the evening for the British team came from Hannah Miley in the 200m IM. Miley was by no means a lock for a medal here and to get down to 2:10.89 is fantastic.Steph Rice (AUS) will certainly not have it easy in both the 200 and 400m IM in Delhi.

- Liam Tancock - Despite nearly losing his 50m Back world record to Camille Lacourt, Tancock did a great job securing silver in a great non-tapered time of 24.70. Must be a little daunting to see just how fast Lacourt (24.07) is swimming, however Tancock is the type of guy that will use it for motivation.

- Number of medals - 5 medals in a session is an excellent result against top class, rested European swimmers. Certainly a sign of a British team cementing its position as a major force in European senior swimming.

- Reaction of the relay team after securing a bronze medal - I loved to see this. Whilst Adrian Moorhouse and Andy Jameson (BBC Commentators) were praising the women's relay team for a 'great' bronze medal, the girls themselves were disappointed and wanted more. The reactions after the race summed it up,
Becky Adlington - "It was a good, solid swim but we all expected a little bit more. If I was at my best we would have won that if I was on form, it's a bit gutting."
Hannah Miley - "I think when we sit down and look at this result we'll see the positives, it's not the end of the world and hopefully we can stick it to them next time."

Jaz Carlin - "I've been waiting around, this is my first swim so I was a bit anxious going in. I'm happy to come away with a bronze, we wanted a bit more but hopefully we'll be on the podium in London 2012."

Jo Jackson - "We're definitely a team effort, there were four of us in there. We want to do our best, we know we're better than the time we did but we're all in heavy training and to come away with a medal, we should be really proud of ourselves."
For me this is a great example of the old British Swimming mentality vs the new. In previous years we would have been happy just to get a medal but nowadays, particularly on some women's events, anything other than gold is disappointing. We're starting to adopt the same mentality of the USA and Australia where its no longer enough just to 'try your best'.


- Times in the 100m Backstroke Final - Let me explain why Britain finishing first and second again in the women's backstroke is a negative. Doing the double is a fantastic acheivement and both Gemma Spofforth and Lizzie Simmonds should be delighted with their medals. The disappointing aspect of the race were the times the British girls did. Spofforth's 59.80 and Simmonds' 1:00.19 were both down on British Nationals. Fortunately they both get a chance to improve in Delhi where Emily Seebohm (59.21 this year) will be waiting for them.

- 800m Freestyle final - Becky Adlington seemed out of sorts tonight on the 800m Freestyle. Right from the start she didn't look her usual self in the water. Whether it was physical or mental, I'm certain that Adlington will get it right for Commonwealths. Three things I am taking away from this race  - Rebecca Adlington is still 2 seconds clear at the top of the world rankings this year. She is still the best female 800m Freestyle swimmer in the world. She will be ready for the Commonwealths.

- 800m Freestyle relay - This is an event we should have won and its great to see the four girls react the way they did. The Chinese, Australians and Americans will always produce great teams in this event and by London 2012 we need to get into the habit of winning relays. The quality we have is plain to see, we just need to learn to lift ourselves an extra percent or two like the Americans seem to be able to do on relays.  Unfortunately in Delhi, from a British perspective, the teams will be split up into England, Scotland and Wales.

European Swimming Championships - Preview Day 4

Apologies to all non-British readers, its Union Jack waving time at Speed Endurance. God save the Queen.

All fans of British swimming need to make sure they watch tonight's evening session of the European Swimming Championships as we could be in for a cracker.

- First up we have Dame Rebecca Adlington go in her favoured event, the 800m Freestyle. This will likely be Adlington's toughest test of 2010 as she goes up against last year's 800m Free world champion Lotte Friis as well as Federica Pellegrini (ITA), Olympic Champion in the 200m Free in Beijing and World Champion last year in the 200m and 400m Freestyle. Friis poses the most obvious threat as she has proven class in the 800m. Pellegrini on the other hand is some what of a wild-card over 800m but is currently the world's best over 200m and 400m Free.

Adlington is at a disadvantage as this competition isn't her main focus and whilst I'm sure Commonwealths are the main focus, I would not be surprised if Adlington has prepared more for this meet than some of the other British swimmers.

Reasons to be hopeful

  • Nova Centurion team-mate Jessica Sylvester has been in pretty good form at this competition on the relays and individual events.
  • Adlington's heat swim was solid, going out in a strong 4:11

  • Adlington has already gotten the better of Friis once this year at the Barcelona leg of the Mare Nostrum tour. (8:21.25 to 8:23.76). In that race Friis set the pace with Adlington never letting her get more than a second away before taking over the race at the 600m mark.

- Hannah Miley has a real chance of picking up a second medal in the 200m IM final. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) and Camille Muffat (FRA) are the favourites for the top two positions. European Record holder Hosszu must still be hurting after her 400m IM defeat on home soil whilst Muffat has been one of the most impressive swimmers of 2010 so far, the French are also on fire in Budapest.

Miley will face further competition from Evelyn Verraszto (HUN) and Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP).

- Lizzie Simmonds and Gemma Spofforth could, and probably should, clinch a second British 1-2 in the 100m Backstroke.

Simmonds has been hugely impressive on her starts and turns and that could prove the difference against Spofforth. World Record holder Spofforth had a good 200m and swam a stunning 59.46 at British Nationals (0.03 second behind Simmonds) whilst still jet-lagged from a trans-atlantic flight.

Predicting the winner of this race is extremely tough. Gun to my head, I would go with Simmonds in 59-low.

- The British women's 4 x 200m Freestyle team will go into the race as strong favourites. The European record holders boast Rebecca Adlington, Jo Jackson (who looks like she is back to full fitness), Jazmin Carlin and Hannah Miley. However, the French team will push the Brits very hard. From the individual times posted this year, the French are slightly ahead of Britain. Britain's chances may rest on what sort of form Jo Jackson is in as she is a better swimmer than her 1:58.93 from this year indicates.


Muffat - 1:56.92
Balmy - 1:58.55
Cyrielle Etienne - 1:59.27
Farrell - 1:59.66
TOTAL - 7:54.40


Adlington - 1:57.87
Carlin - 1:58.51
Jackson - 1:58.93
Miley - 1:59.52
TOTAL - 7:54.83

Other competition will likely come from Hungary (Agnes Mutina, Katinka Hosszu, Eszter Dara, Evelyn Verraszto - combined time this year 7:56.82)

Strangely Italy, 4th at Worlds last year, haven't entered a team.

Coverage of tonight's swimming

Thursday 12 August
1500-1630, BBC Two/online
1600-1800, BBC Red Button/online
1555-1800, BBC 5 live sports extra

Thoughts from European Swimming Championships - Day Three

Day Three didn't provide quite the same excitement as Day One and Day Two had, however they were hard acts to follow. That's not to say the night was short on action, time to run through the main talking points:-

- From a personal point of view I was looking forward to the men's 200m Free above all the other races at Europeans. Frankly, I was a little underwhelmed by tonight's final.

I really thought Biedermann would swim faster than he did. Not an unreasonable expectation given the fact that he swam 0.2 seconds faster at German Nationals. Biedermann seems to react best when the competition is fierce and he just didn't have that big of a challenge tonight. The man who should have posed the biggest challenge, Danila Izotov, seemed like he was on top form after his relay heroics on Monday but just didn't show up for the final.

There are a lot of people that will jump on this swim (and his 400m Free) and highlight how much slower he is this year without his suit. Unfortunately for Biedermann, because he beat Michael Phelps wearing a techsuit (100% legal remember), he has become the poster boy for the suit era. He must be tired of answering questions on how this year is different to last. To answer his skeptics he really needs to do one or all of these three points:-

1.) Finish the year on top of the world rankings (looking unlikely now)

2.) Get down into 1:44 territory and get close to Phelps and Thorpe's best textile times. Phelps' best textile time (wearing a textile suit that covered his chest and legs) was 1:43.86, whilst Thorpe's was 1:44.06 (wearing his trademark full body suit).

3.) Win the World Championships again in 2011.

- The race that needs to happen in Budapest is a rematch of the 400m Free Final over 200m. Yannick Agnel vs Paul Biedermann. Hopefully the German and French teams give the fans what they want and put both men on the first leg of the 4 x 200m Free relay. (Knowing the French selection policy, Agnel will probably be dropped from the relay as he didn't do his victory lap of honour quickly enough on Monday evening.)

- Fran Halsall showed that she has made a significant step-up in world swimming by winning the 100m Freestyle final tonight despite not being fully tapered. It was the type of performance that showed real racing quality.

53.58 moves her to second in the world this year and is just 0.28 seconds off Britta Steffen's textile best time. Assuming everything goes to plan in Delhi we could certainly see Steffen's mark go and could even see the first woman under 53 seconds in a textile suit.

- Whilst Britain celebrates its third Gold medal, spare a thought for Ranomi Kromowidjojo. The Dutch sprinter had been one of the revelations of 2010 and her 53.44 effort back in March still leads the world rankings. Had Kromowidjojo not been struck down with illness just weeks before the competition started we may have been talking about a historic swim from the talented Dutch freestyler. Kromowidjojo's time will come and she will likely be a formidable force next year at World's and in London in two years time.

- Watch out for Daniel Gyurta tomorrow in the 200m Breaststroke final. There looked to be a lot more in the tank after his semi-final effort of 2:10.11. Brendan Hansen's textile best time of 2:08.50 could well be within Gyurta's reach in front of a home crowd.

- Another day, another stunning swim from Camille Lacourt. This time he raced to the top of the world rankings and took down his second textile best mark in the 50m Back. His semi final time of 24.30 moves him ahead of Liam Tancock's effort of 24.52 from earlier this year. Tancock's WR sits a little uneasily at 24.04. For more insight into Lacourt's progression over the last few years check out David Rieder's profile of the Frenchman.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Thoughts from the European Swimming Championships - Day Two

- I hereby crown Camille Lacourt with the prestigous Speed Endurance Swim of 2010... So Far award. (It probably ranks right up alongside breaking the European Record.)

The much sought after award had been held by Rebecca Soni's 2:21.41 200m Breaststroke from the Barcelona Mare Nostrum event. It was then snatched away last week by Ryan Lochte's stunning 1:54.86 victory over Michael Phelps in the 200m IM at US Nationals.

(Lochte must be fuming right now to only hold the title for less than a week, but the truth is that Lacourt's swim tonight eclipsed both Soni and Lochte.)

52.11.... in textile jammers... is out. of. this. world. In my eyes it has to be considered an even better swim than Aaron Peirsol's techsuit legs aided 51.94 from last year's US Nationals, which is the only swim faster than Lacourt's effort from tonight.

Lacourt is a giant of a man but combines his size and strength with a faultless, increbily smooth technique. If you missed the race, check it out below (updated video with the passionate French commentators)

I honestly believed that Liam Tancock's 52.85 had a chance of holding up until the end of the year as the world's fastest time. Guess I got that one wrong.

Lacourt adds a new element to future 4 x 100m Medley races at both European and World level. The French team now looks like Lacourt on Back, Hugues Duboscq on Breast, Clement Lefert or Fred Bousquet on Fly and Alain Bernard/Fabien Gilot on Freestyle. The only weak link on that team is the fly and should either Lefert/Bousquet/A.N. Other get down to 50/51 seconds on the 100m Fly, the French team would become a real danger to the Americans.

Chapeau Camille Lacourt!

- Alexander Dale Oen was only slightly behind when it came to the most impressive swim on day two. Dale Oen's 59.20 final winning time improved on his 59.29 from yesterday's semis and moves him to within 0.07 of Brendan Hansen's textile best time. Dale Oen went out quickly again splitting in 27.69 (0.03 seconds slower than last night) and looked strong throughout the race.

It will be fascinating to see how Brenton Rickard, Kosuke Kitajima, Mike Alexandrov and Ryo Tateishi respond at Pan Pacs in just a few days time. I'm not sure I can see them beating Dale Oen's time.

(You can also read Swimnews' take on the race which starts with the line, 'Alex Dale Oen (NOR) hated the shiny suits and couldn't wait for them to be gone'... seriously, enough already)

- Lizzie Simmonds and Gemma Spofforth took an extremely satisfying, if a little predictable, British 1-2 in the 200m Backstroke.

Simmonds (2:07.04) went out hard for the race and hung on at the end. Spofforth (2:08.25) had a much more evenly paced race.

The time is impressive for Simmonds although not as fast as she has been earlier this year. What I want to highlight are her starts and turns which were a league apart from the rest of the field tonight.

Starts, turns and underwaters have been a staple of US success for years. No-one does them better. However, Simmonds looks like the first British swimmer in this generation to have caught up with the very best America (and the world) has to offer. Possibly the only backstroker right now that can come close to her underwater is Natalie Coughlin.

- Quick prediction for tomorrow's 200m Free final. 1. Paul Biedermann. 2. Danila Izotov. 3. Sebastian Verschuren in a very close race. I think Verschuren has something special to give tomorrow and I hope he blasts the first 100m. Biedermann will need to not play games and get out in a 51 high if he wants to have a shot at going 1:44 which I think he can. Definitely the race of tomorrow night on paper.

- Finally... To all future race organisers in Europe. Please, please stop playing Right Said Fred - Stand Up after EVERY medal ceremony. It leads me to my next question... What is the ideal song to be played after medal ceremonies? Answers in the comment section please. Let's come up with a solution together.

Thoughts from US Nationals - Day Four and Five

Lets get straight to the bullets to finish off the US Nationals round-up...

- Is Ryan Lochte currently the best male swimmer on the planet? Yes.

Some facts:- Mark Spitz was the greatest swimmer of all-time. Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer of all time. Kosuke Kitajima is the greatest Breaststroker of all-time. Aaron Peirsol is the greatest Backstroker of all-time. In 2010, Ryan Lochte is the best swimmer in the world.

On Friday night I witnessed one of the greatest 200m IM swims of all-time. It had everything. A great race, personal significance for both Lochte and Phelps and a potential dawning of a new era. It also happened to be the fastest swim ever in a textile suit. (Lochte's 1:54.84 eclipses Michael Phelps' 1:54.98 from the World Championships in 2007).

One other thing the race had was Phelps getting blown away on a turn. Lochte's Fly-Back turn was unbelievable. If there was any debate on who is the best underwater swimmer in the world, I think it was answered during US Nationals this year.

Is it a surprise that Lochte has shone in 2010? One of the biggest benefits the suits offered was on the underwater section after starts and turns, now that we're back to a level playing field those who excel on underwaters will rise to the top once again.

(If you're interested in the statement 'one of the greatest 200m IM swims of all-time', the greatest 200m IM performance for me was Phelps winning the World Championships in 2003)

- Did Speed Endurance get a subtle shout-out from Mel Stewart on Swimnetwork's coverage of the 800m Free?

At 3"24 on the video above... "A lot of people were saying this after her 400m Free, you know what she had the fastest 400 Freestyle of any swimmer in the pool...swimming. But her turns, not there."

I'm not so sure about 'a lot of people', but I certainly said it and I stick by the statement.

Swimming is a sport of evolution and no-one can accurately predict what will happen in 2 months let alone 2 years but as it stands right now, Federica Pellegrini is the best 400m Free swimmer in the world. She has 100m speed that the other women can't match and enough stamina to last a 400m. She might even have enough for the 800m which we will find out over the next year or two.

The list of those capable of beating Pellegrini over 400m is pretty small. Britain's Rebecca Adlington and Jo Jackson look like the front-runners. France's Coralie Balmy and Camille Muffat could have a chance if they continue to improve, one of the Australian women might make the step-up. Katie Hoff is certainly well on her way back to top form and could get back on terms. I think Sutton needs to be on the list of potential 400m Free world beaters. She certainly has the swimming speed to compete already and it now becomes a question of technical improvement. An admirable quality Sutton possesses is how she reacts to this. Quoting Mel Stewart once again,

"I talked to Sutton about this and she said 'I know my turns aren't there but you know it gives me something to work on. I can feel positive about that."

Feeling positive when somebody points out something you're not doing as well as you could is the stuff of champions.

- Very pleased for Jessica Hardy making the Pan Pac team on the 100m Freestyle. Competing at her first Nationals for 2 years the meet had not been going well for her. Despite leading both the 50m Free and 100m Breast she fell off the pace in both races and her participation at Pan Pacs (and Worlds in 2011) was looking a little shaky. Against such a mentally tough backdrop, the second place finish in the 100m Freestyle becomes all the more impressive.

- The future looks bright for the US men's 1500m. Chad LaTourette should have plenty of years left but potentially even more exciting are the emergences of Sean Ryan, 17, and Arthur Frayler, 16. Ryan (15:04.84) and Frayler's (15:07.37) world top 10 times are extremely impressive for an event that tends to be dominated by more senior swimmers.

(Sceptical? Last year's World Champs finalists and birth years -
David Davies 1985, Zhang Lin 1987, Ryan Cochrane 1988, Sun Yang 1991, Oussama Mellouli 1984, Marco Rivera 1983, Federico Colbertaldo 1988, Samuel Pizzetti 1986)

- The women's 200m Breaststroke WR looks like its on borrowed time. It survived US Nationals, not sure it will make it through Pan Pacs.

Thoughts from the European Championships - Day One

Day One of the European Championships is in the books and it could turn out to be the most dramatic day of the week long competition.

Much like US Nationals, you can find event by event recaps at various swimming sites (here, here and here for example). Instead I will focus on some of the bigger talking points.

Let the bullets fly...

- From a British perspective the highlight of Day One had to be Hannah Miley's incredible victory in the 400m IM. All eyes were on Hungarian (training with Dave Salo in California) Katinka Hosszu for the following reasons:- a) Hosszu is the third fastest swimmer of all-time in this event and until last night was ranked second in the world this year. b) Hosszu was tapered, Miley is apparently focusing on the Commonwealth Games this year. c) Hosszu was swimming infront of a home crowd and d) Training partner Marcus Rogan had tipped Hosszu to become the first swimmer post-suits to break a WR in yesterday's race.
    Miley had other ideas and used a devastating breaststroke leg to overturn the sizable lead (1.36  seconds) that Hosszu held after 200m.This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Miley has been consistently fast this year and was in great form on the Mare Nostrum circuit.

    Miley moves to second all-time in a textile suit (just 0.2 seconds behind Katie Hoff's 2007 WR) and notably has now been faster than European legend Yana Klochkova in textile.

    Hoff TBT  - 29.83 - 1:03.91 - 1:39.49 - 2:14.10 - 2:51.50 - 3:29.68 - 4:01.64 -  4:32.89
    Rice WR   - 28.66 - 1:01.47 - 1:36.17 - 2:09.83 - 2:48.12 -  3:27.25 -  3:58.92 -  4:29.45
    Hosszu ER -28.45 - 1:01.61 - 1:36.05 - 2:09.29 - 2:48.77 - 3:28.81 - 3:59.95 - 4:30.31

    Miley     - 30.04 - 1:03.50 - 1:38.65 - 2:13.05 - 2:51.50 - 3:30.42 - 4:02.33 - 4:33.09
    Hosszu  - 29.07 - 1:01.97 - 1:37.32 - 2:11.69 - 2:51.32 - 3:32.21 - 4:04.30 - 4:36.43

    TBT = Textile Best Time

    - Incredibly, France managed to lose another 4 x 100m Freestyle relay, despite entering the event with their swimmers dominating the world rankings. Surely it is now time to move Alain Bernard to a less-pressured position on the relay, to swim 0.4 seconds slower than your best time WITH a rolling start is not good enough. He performed well in Rome last year swimming the second leg but has now under performed on the last leg in Beijing and now Budapest (maybe it only happens at cities beginning with 'B'?).
      Take nothing away from the Russians. The victory was built on Evgeny Lagunov's stunning, world leading 48.23 (Lagunov is suddenly a very real threat to take gold on the individual as well as two sub-48 second legs from Nikita Lobintsev and Danila Isotov.

      Shocking stat no.1- The French B team (3:13.12) swam faster in the morning heats than the A team did in the finals (3:13.29).

      Shocking stat no.2 - 200m Freestyle rivals Paul Biedermann and Danila Isotov had differing fortunes in the relay. Isotov had the fastest split of the entire race (47.87) whilst Biedermann (49.06) was 16th fastest. If anyone is under the impression that Biedermann will have it easy on the 200m Free because of Yannick Agnel's absence, they need to re-evaluate immediately.

      (Hat tip to David 'Swim Geekatov' Rieder who has been championing the Russian freestylers for some time, although did pick France to win this race.)

      - You know its been a good night of swimming when an 18-year old, competing at his first senior competition, beats the reigning world champion and world record holder... and its only the third biggest story of the night. Yannick Agnel continued his rapid ascent of world swimming by winning his only individual event of the Europeans. Agnel's 4:46.17 moves him to third in the world this year with Biedermann moving to fourth with his 3:46.30.
        Watching the race it looked like Biedermann got his tactics slightly wrong. He tried to use his usual tactics of waiting until 300m before putting the hammer down on the final 100m, by doing this he underestimated Agnel's speed and stamina. Agnel and Biedermann have both been 48.80 this year and he took too big a risk by trying and beat Agnel for speed at the end of the race.

        Swimsportnews.de had earlier commented on this blog about Biedermann and the 400m Free this year and looking back at those comments are telling. After a disappointing swim at German nationals Biedermann in the heat of the moment mentioned that he might consider pulling out of the 400m Free at Europeans, the question of race tactics and organisation was also brought back in early July. As Swimsportnews also mentioned Biedermann's main event has now clearly become the 200m Free. Biedermann will have his work cut out against Danila Isotov who is looking like he got his taper exactly right.

        - Camille Lacourt and Alexander Dale-Oen posted incredible times in the semi finals of the 100m Backstroke and 100m Breaststroke respectively.
          Lacourt has been extremely consistent this year and had a number of 53 second swims. However, 52.58 took him to a new level. Liam Tancock's 52.85 from British Nationals had looked like it could last a long time at the top of the world rankings, especially after the efforts of the US men last week. However, Lacourt blew that time away setting a new textile best mark in the process (8th fastest swimmer of all-time). Aaron Peirsol's 51.94 suddenly doesn't seem as untouchable as it once did.

          Dale-Oen also launched himself to a new level. His time of 59.29 just missed Brendan Hansen's textile best time of 59.13. Dale-Oen turned in a rapid 27.66 (0.01 under Brenton Rickard's WR split) and he kept his form to the finish. Dale-Oen's time was the 25th fastest of all-time (he had previously been 59.16 and 59.20 at the Beijing Olympics). He acheived the same impressive feat that Lacourt managed.... He made the high-tech suit WR of 58.58 suddenly look a lot more acheivable in the near future. Something the swimming world needed.

          Monday, 9 August 2010

          European Swimming Championships

          The European Swimming Championships start today in Budapest.

          From a British perspective it has a strange feel to it knowing that the Commonwealth Games will be the main focus this year. It is a shame that British Swimming don't put so much emphasis on European competition. As good as Australia, South Africa and Canada are, for many of our top swimmers they face much fiercer rivals in Europe than they do in the Commonwealth.

          Britain should still come away with a decent medal haul. With Ryan Lochte swimming like a man possessed something must be going right in Florida so look for team-mate Gemma Spofforth to have a good meet.

          Key British races to watch

          Elizabeth Simmonds vs Gemma Spofforth - 100m/200m Backstroke

          Katinka Hosszu vs Hannah Miley - 400m IM

          Liam Tancock vs Camille Lacourt - 100m Backstroke

          Francesca Halsall vs Femke Heemskerk - 100m Freestyle

          Rebecca Adlington vs Federica Pellegrini vs Lotte Friis - 800m Freestyle

          Ellen Gandy vs Jemma Lowe vs Mireia Belmonte Garcia vs Katinka Hosszu vs Zsuzsanna Jakabos - 200m Butterfly

          Federica Pellegrini vs Rebecca Adlington vs Jo Jackson vs Coralie Balmy vs Camille Muffat - 400m Freestyle

          Women's 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay

          Women's 4 x 100m Medley Relay

          Other races to watch out for

          Paul Biedermann vs Yannick Agnel - 400m Freestyle

          Laszlo Cseh vs Gergo Kis - 400m IM

          Fred Bousquet vs Alain Bernard vs Fabien Gilot vs Amaury Leveaux - Heats 50m Freestyle (only 2 can go through)

          Start Lists and Results can be found - Here

          Live Timing - Here

          For those in the UK, the BBC are doing a pretty decent job this year with some coverage of every evening session. (Unfortunately it only makes it onto BBC 2 three times during the competition)

          Eurosport as usual will show both heats and finals. For those that don't have Eurosport you can sign up online for £3.99 a month to watch it online. Well worth it.

          Search Amazon.com for swimming books

          Friday, 6 August 2010

          Thoughts from US Nationals Day Three

          Normality returned to US Nationals on Day Three. Michael Phelps swam a rapid 100m Fly (second fastest time in a textile suit), Rebecca Soni blasted her 100m Breast and Nathan Adrian confirmed his status as one of the very best sprinters in world swimming. There were also a number of other stories of note from last night.

          Let's get through this together...

          - Josh Schneider's DQ was ridiculous. Simply ridiculous. I hope he gets off on his equally ridiculous technicality and gets to swim at Pan Pacs. He deserves to as he did nothing wrong during the 50m Freestyle. After all the controversies of suits and the new rules being introduced, why does the sport need to employ such drastic and unnecessary measures for simply skipping an event without informing the meet organisers? To DQ someone in swimming it needs to be for a valid reason... false start, more than 15m under water, illegal suit, doped up to the eyeballs etc. Schneider did none of these (hopefully).

          Make Schneider pay $20 for missing the race, make him run round the pool in a Borat Mankini, but don't disqualify the guy when he did nothing wrong during the event.

          - Hat tip to Nathan Adrian for becoming the fourth fastest man ever in a textile suit behind Cesar Cielo (21.55 this year), Alexander Popov (21.64 in 2000) and Roland Schoeman (21.69 in 2005). I would say its safe to now say that he is firmly established in the top tier of world sprinting alongside Mr. Cielo, Mr. Bernard and Mr. Bousquet. His 100m Freestyle today could be something special.

          - Some swimmers who win nationals benefit from being in the right place at the right time. They may have had an incredible taper which allows them to be in the perfect condition to race. The competition may have had an off day, bad taper or let pressure get to them. Caitlin Leverenz winning the 400m IM was the exact opposite of that.

          Watching that 400m IM it was clear to me that Leverenz must be considered USA's new No.1 in the event (and yes there is a difference between winning nationals and being the No.1 swimmer in an event in my eyes). The lead she gained after the Breaststroke leg was enormous. Leverenz split 1:15.56, the next fastest Breaststroke leg was Katie Hoff's 1:18.74. Whilst Leverenz' freestyle leg leaves a lot to be desired (she will need to shave some time off her 1:05.12 split at Pan Pacs), her breaststroke is a weapon that the rest of the world should be fearful of.

          Breastroke splits of the women ranked ahead of Leverenz on the 400m IM this year
          Katinka Hosszu - 1:19.80
          Steph Rice - 1:19.83
          Hannah Miley - 1:17.39
          Xuanxu Li - No idea (no access to the results/splits from Chinese Nationals)

          (Socaladvracer, who commented on David Rieder's blog, has been spot on with his singling out of not only Leverenz but also Morgan Scroggy to do well.)

          - Rebecca Soni has a lot more to come on the 100m Breaststroke. Soni's time of 1:05.73 moves her to No. 1 in the world this year but it masked the fact that she had a poor start and poor finish. The second 50m of her race though was one of the most impressive 50 meters I have seen all year. She completely destroyed the rest of the field.

          Spare a thought for Jessica Hardy. It has been a rough few years for Hardy and she is making her first appearance at Nationals for 2 years. She led both the 100m Breaststroke and 50m Freestyle finals last night before slipping away towards the end of both races.

          (Weird fact from the 100m Breaststroke final last night. Rebecca Soni was the only swimmer to improve upon her heat time. Everyone else was slower in the evening's final.)

          - Finally... You think Ryan Lochte is the only swimmer to have his own personalised shoes? Think again. This is the final proof that Britain is catching up with America in swimming.