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.


  1. Since Pan Pacs is only four days, a lot of swimmers double up with individuals and the relay on a given day, so relay times are slower. We all know Lochte could have been 1:44.5 (at least) on the relay, but he only went 1:45.2, less than an hour after the 400 IM. No clue what happened to the American women, they were all REALLY slow. Aussies had an opportunity to take the race but missed it. Relays tend to be fairly slow here (with several notable exceptions).

  2. Well Rachel Bootsma (USA) did make it into the top 3 in the 50 Fly A final (28.44), if in a 3 way draw shared with Fabiola Molina (BRA) & Emily Thomas (NZL).

    Also the Americans by tradition don't prioritise the non Olympic 50 distance events at all. They seldom race in these and so almost never train for them either. For example, from an interview Christine Magnuson apeared to be very pleasantly surprised by her bronze in the 50 Fly.

    This tweet from Rowdy Gaines of the USA seems to summarise their general attitude: "USA does not care about the 50 strokes...not Olympic events and we're not covering them on NBC".

    I believe the American entrants for the 50 events @ Worlds (other than the 50 Free obviously) are usually selected from the best 1st 50 splits of the 100 times from US Nationals, which can penalise the true 50 sprinters like Randal Bal in the Back.

    However I think tonight's 50 Breasts could be a different story for the Americans, as Rebecca Soni & Jessica Hardy might arguably be favoured for the Top 3 over Leisel Jones & Sarah Katsoulis...not to mention Mark Gangloff and perhaps Michael Alexandrov will have a shot at Bronze IMO.

    Hardy has been training for her Free & Fly sprints much more than her Breast this season, and appears to have some lingering nerves/confidence issues when it comes to performing to her full potential in the Breast events on the international stage, so I'd have to go with Soni for the gold in the 50 as she's been on such a roll what with her textile best time in the 100 yesterday over her arch-rival Jones, and her having paid more serious attention to her sprint work since winning the 50 silver @ Rome last year (Yuliya Effimova having been the only competitor who has consistently outraced Soni in the 50 distance recently, @ Mare Nostrum).

    But you can never count the Aussies out esp a legend like Lethal Leisel, and both Leisel and Sarah are likely more familiar with racing the 50 distances than either American I reckon...

    btw the times for Thoman & Plummer in the morning heats would have rewarded them with gold & bronze in the 50 Back finals (with Plummer losing to Koga by 1/100th!), they just couldn't replicate their impressive heats performances when it really counted.

  3. Sorry for the typo in my previous comment - supposed to be 50 BACK not Fly with regards to Bootsma... :P

  4. Does Rebecca Soni's swim de-throne Lacourt's 100 back as the SpeedEndurance swim of the year (so far)?

    I think it might. 1:04, in textile, is the fastest ever done. Hell of swim, I think.

  5. I'm not covering heats - but check out prelims here -

    Sutton and Schmitt through for US on the 400 Free. Congrats Ladies.

    Park Tae Hwan and Zhang Lin top 2 on 400m Free. Watch Park Tae Hwan in the final... both guys have been rapid in 2010... credit to Charlie Houchin (USA) making the final.

    Magnuson and Vollmer dominating 100m Fly as expected.

    Phelps and McGill dominating 100m Fly as expected.

    Nice comeback from Pelton, 2:07. Pelton v Beisel v Seebohm v Hocking should be a great final.

    Lochte and Peirsol qualify for 200m Back... wait, Lochte and Clary qualify for 200m Back! Great job by Clary. Watch out for Mr. Perfect Technique Ryosuke Irie in the final.

  6. Hmm I wonder if Rowdy will change his mind bout including coverage of the non Olympic 50s if Hardy was to break her suited WR tonight (unlikely I know ;), or at least beat Effimova's top ranked 2010 time (30.29) as well as win gold from Lethal Leisel? Wasn't expecting Chandler's ousting of Soni from the A final at all, but this may provide an extra incentive for Soni to prove she's still the top of the pack by going for a #1 time in the B final?!

    Very impressive swims from Pelton & Beisel in the 200 Back this morning, they are both really on fire compared to their US Nationals performances (esp Pelton), and this puts them ahead of an (unrested) Gemma but still behind our Lizzie Simmonds from Euros.

    Bet Missy Franklin isn't all that happy @ Liz Pelton keeping her out of a spot for 2011 Worlds lol, in both the 100 Back (by 1/100ths no less!) and now potentially in her pet event, the 200... :P

    Also congrats to Sutton and (Schmitt) in making the A final of the 400 Free, though Ziegler may have something to prove in the B. Really hard luck on Katie Hoff, just hope she'll bounce back in the 200 IM tomorrow.

  7. Lizzie pelton is really impressing me, I think Pelton vs Beisel and our own Simmonds would be a cracker, Lizzie said her 2.07.04 was not fully rested so i think she is the best in the world right now, And Gemma will probably cut a second off her time in Delhi, Another shout out aswell, Britains Steph Proud 21(Trains with spoff) swam a not fully rested 2.09.04 200m back in sunderland GB grand prix today, Great to see Gb/England having such backstroke depth at the moment.

    I think it is great seeing Ziegler back and swimming great times, I was behind her all the way in that epic in 2007, Although Adlingtons unrested 4.04.55 looks supreme, 4.02 in delhi i am thinking. Relay splits have suffered this year, our girls splits were very ropey at euros, Becky 2.00.29...OUCH!!!
    btw I dont think miley was unrested, She said she was going for twin peaks.

    Finally coughlin is a true champ, That 100 free was class, 3rd in the world, And is seebohm beatable in the 200 medley her are her times.
    Back: 59.21
    fly: 26.06(not sure 100)
    free: 53.96
    Impessive as hell.
    Also how fast do you think Halsall will go in delhi, here 2010 times unrested.
    free: 24.67...53.58
    fly: 26.44...57.40
    She could put together a decent medley, Her back PR is 1.01.57.

  8. so it looks like Sutton & Hoff are in for the 400 free @ worlds? (Hoff w/a faster time from her nationals finals than either Zeigler or Schmitt @ both finals).

    Beisel & Franklin over Pelton for the 200 back...

  9. and now Hardy & Soni over Chandler for the 50 breast worlds selection based on their finals time! or do we not select for the 50 other than the free?