Monday, 16 August 2010

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.

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