Thursday, 12 August 2010
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.