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.


  1. Well. Alexander Dale Oen refused to swim in the X-glide, because he REALLY did not like those kind of suits, feeling it tampered with who was the best swimmer. So at last year worlds he swam 59.9 in an Arena textile pants, without even being really prepared....

    For Oen it is correct to say he hated them, and he wanted to keep his personal bests to fight against. He sacrificed a year of competitions, possible medals, just waiting for the new suit regulations.... It was also the reason he did not compete at the european short course championships in Istanbul...

  2. I think its admirable of Dale Oen to take that stance. (Although I don't think other swimmers should therefore be less admired for using a suit that was 100% legal at the time).

    Look, I'm glad the suits are gone. I am pleased it is a level playing field once again and contrary to some beliefs, I am enjoying this year more than 2009.

    My issue is that it is now 8 months since the suit ban and certain publications *cough Swimnews cough* still seem to be focusing more on the suits than the actual swimmers and the racing. This is exactly the opposite effect the ban was supposed to have... ofcourse there are times when they should be mentioned, but not in EVERY single story that is written.

  3. Totally agree on Lizzie's turns - beautiful to watch.

  4. I agree. Swimnews talk way to much about the suits, and sometimes inappropriately and misplaced. I was just pointing out that in this case he was right, mr. Lord have sometimes used a bit to big words.

  5. Not only does Mr Lord bang on excessively about 'shiny suits', but he irritates the hell out of me, at any rate, by constantly saying that someone is 'at the helm' meaning in the lead. The helm of a vessel is at the stern, where the helmsman sits or stands. Ah well, I still enjoy reading about races soon after they are finished.