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.


  1. Very interesting about Park. Thing is, he came back AT LEAST half a second slower in the 200. Remember, he had the lead at the 100 before Lochte blasted the turn at took off. 400 free will be very interesting next summer, with Park, Biedermann, Agnel, Zhang Lin, Mellouli, and Vanderkaay (who has something much better than he showed us). I think the 200 free at World Short Course in December will be interesting too. Assuming Lochte goes and Phelps doesn't (which I very much expect), he will race Biedermann in the 200 free. I would pick Lochte to win for sure, considering what we've seen from him this year and the fact that his turns and underwaters are so much better than Biedermann. And it will be his first of a thousand finals for him.

  2. Great point about the 200. Park's last 100m in the 200m Free was 54.81, a second slower than his 400m split.

    A lot can change in a year but if I was asked to predict the 400m Free at Worlds next year I would say

    1. Park Tae Hwan
    2. Yannick Agnel
    3. Zhang Lin

    Unless Biedermann shifts his focus back from the 200m to the 400m then I don't see him making the podium. It looks like he is moving down in distance as his career progresses.

    Lochte has to be red hot favourite for the 200m Free at World Short Course, as well as every other event he swims. His underwaters are substantially better than any other swimmer in the world - Before Pan Pacs on twitter he said;
    "Went a 50 meter kick underwater this morning and went a 22.9.... I'm ready!!!"... In the 50m Free heats at Pan Pacs Roland Schoeman went 22.74...

  3. Is it really so surprising that Phelps is atop of the 100m freestyle talent heap? Seems more like a return to the pre-tech suit world order. He did the exact same thing at the '07 WCs. Had the fastest lead-off leg of the field that was also a faster time (barely) than the 100m free individual gold medal winner.

  4. I take your point about 2007 Worlds, but I think it is still surprising that Phelps leads the world rankings... presuits, the best Phelps had ever ranked on the 100m Free was 3rd (2007 - 48.42)... but he was half a second behind Nystrand's best time and 0.3 slower than Bernard that year.

  5. Emily seebohm is Amazing, Such an all round swimmer, Olympic champ at 15!
    She is gonna be hard to beat in delhi IM.
    Although she has many challengers in every event.
    100 Free: She will definately Medal, But silver at best i think after Halsall swimming 53.58.
    50 Fly:Will struggle to make the final, Guehrer & Kukla are quicker, Halsall could challenge if she swims it, 26.53 split at euro, and held on for a 30.87 comeback.(Kukla 26.7 and home in 31.5)
    Backstrokes will all be about her Hocking, edington and the English girls, Proud could shock Spoff or simms in the 200 Back.
    200m IM she looks Unbeatable.
    2 relays, Medley Aus should win but England can go close with(Spoff/Simms-Bushell/Haywood-Gandy/halsall-Halsall/Smith)
    Free relay Aus look the best, The threats will be England & Canada, Halsall & Smith (53.58 & 54.48) Unrested could spice things up.