Thursday, 28 October 2010

FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup - Berlin

FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup - Berlin - 30-31 October

The World Cup Series hits Europe for the first time in 2010 this weekend. Moscow (2-3 November) and Stockholm (6-7 November) are the final two stops on the tour.

On paper this looks like the strongest short course competition so far in 2010. Germany, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Hungary, Poland & Norway have all sent strong teams. Australia and the US both have some of their big names competing too. However, the biggest story revolves around the return to the pool of two Olympic Gold medalists.

Germany's double Olympic Gold medalist Britta Steffen makes her competitive return after a long spell suffering from injury and sickness. Only 26, Steffen recently admitted that she had considered retirement during her break from competition. The German certainly won't have it easy on her return in the 50 and 100m Free as she goes up against the likes of Therese Alshammar, Hinkelien Schreuder, Femke Heemskerk, Dana Vollmer as well as compatriots Daniela Schreiber & Dorothea Brandt.

Berlin will also mark the first competition for Steffen since she announced her relationship with boyfriend Paul Biedermann (who's getting his blog on again). Biedermann will dominate race in the 200 and 400m Free.

Its gone relatively unnoticed, but Berlin will also mark the return of another Olympic champion at her first major meet of 2010, Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry. Coventry now trains in South Africa and returned to competition at a local meet in SA at end of September. Like Steffen, Coventry will have some fierce competition in Berlin. She's down to compete in the 50, 100, 200m Back and the 100, 200m IM. Amongst her competitors will be Sanja Jovanovic, Anastasia Zueva, Hinkelien Schreuder, Belinda Hocking, Julia Smit, Evelyn Verraszto and Zsuzanna Jakabos.

World Cup Points leaders Thiago Pereira and Therese Alshammar have pretty much wrapped up the men's and women's titles (and the $100,000 that comes with it). The only other swimmers with a sniff at the prize are Darian Townsend and Julia Smit.

Pal Joensen (FAR) (400m & 1500m  Free) will be worth watching out for as will the French trio of Fabien Gilot (50, 100, 200m Free), Camille Lacourt (50, 100, 200m Back) & 100m Free , William Meynard (50, 100, 200m Free). Lacourt, a member of Team Speed Endurance 2010, a three pronged team of the world's best performers this year(The other members are Ryan Lochte & Rebecca Soni), should put in some excellent swims in the sprint backstroke events.

The Germans are sending an elite team to their home leg of the World Cup. Steffen Deibler (50, 100m Free & Fly) has performed well all year, especially in SC metres (great turns) whilst Silke Lippok (50, 100, 200m Free & 100m IM) has been one of the breakout stars of 2010.

The Hungarian team is also strong and will feature Zsuzanna Jakabos (100m, 400m IM, 200m Free & Back), Evelyn Verraszto (100m, 200m Back & IM), Agnes Mutina (200m, 400m Free, 200m IM) and  David Verraszto (200m Fly, Back & 400m, 1500m Free).

Europe's top male breaststroker, Alexander Dale-Oen, will also be on display in the 50m, 100m and 200m Breast.

South Africa, a staple of the World Cup series have strong representation once again, Roland Schoeman (50m Brst, Fly & Free), Cameron 'Too tired to swim' Van Der Burgh (50m & 100m Brst), Darian Townsend (100m & 200m IM & Free) and Lyndon Ferns (50m, 100m Free & Fly) lead the way.

Russia also are sending their best ahead of the home leg in Moscow. Anastasia Chaun & Yulia Efimova (50m, 100m & 200m Brst), Sergiy Fesikov (50m Back, 50m, 100m Free & 100m IM), Evgeny Korotyshkin (50m, 100m Fly), Nikolay Skvortsov (50m, 100m, 200m Fly), Arkady Vyatchanin (50m, 100m, 200m Back) and Anastasia Zueva (50m, 100m Back) should give Russia a fair share of Top 3 finishes.

Very smart from the US Team with a mixture of household names and youngsters. Its a great opportunity for the established swimmers to make some money, whilst the experience for the younger swims in an international team is invaluable. Dana Vollmer (50, 100m Fly, 100, 200m Free) makes her short course metres debut and is joined by Julia Smit (50m, 100m, 400m Free, 100m, 200m IM, 200m Back), Elaine Breeden (50m, 100m, 200m Fly, 100m, 200m IM), Randall Bal & Peter Marshall (50m, 100m Back). It will be exciting to see William Copeland race short course metres in Europe when he competes in the 50m, 100m, 200m Free as well as the 50m and 100m Fly. Jasmine Tosky (200, 400m IM, 100, 200m Fly, 200m Free) will be another youngster to look out for.

Other Star Swimmers attending.

Belinda Hocking (AUS), Thiago Pereira (BRA), Felipe Silva (BRA), Kristel Kobrich (CHI), Omar Pinzon (COL), Kvetoslav Svoboda (CZE), Yannick Lebherz (GER), Jenny Mensing (GER), Johannes Dietrich (GER), Hendrik Feldwehr (GER), Alexandra Wenk (GER), Lucien Hassdenteufel (GER) (FYI he's got a rockstar name - his surname translates to 'Hate The Devil'), Theresa Michalak (GER), Daniela Schreiber (GER), Grainne Murphy (IRE - entered 8 events!), Vytautus Janusaitis (LTU), Giedzius Titenis (LTU), Femke Heemskerk (NED), Hinkelien Schreuder (NED), Ingvild Snildal (NOR), Konrad Czerniak (POL), Pawel Korzeniowski (POL), Kathryn Meaklim (RSA), Amanda Loots (RSA), George Du Rand (RSA), Joline Hoestman (SWE), Sarah Sjoestroem (SWE), Stefan Nystrand (SWE), Jennie Johansson (SWE),

Start List - Here
Video - Here
Results - Here

(Just to get a personal wish in, all the best to the swimmers from SC Magdeburg & SC Wiesbaden. Mageburg was my old team when I was in Germany and Wiesbaden has a great coach by the name of Mircea Hohoiu (ex-coach of Michael Gross & Tamara Costache))

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup - Singapore

Top swims from the Singapore leg of the FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup:-

Thiago Pereira - 200m IM - 1:53.45 - 951 Points - Game over for the overall men's point title. Pereira has now notched up the maximum available 75 points from the first three legs of the World Cup series. He leads Darian Townsend by 36 points with just four legs remaining. With Pereira scheduled to compete in each of the remaining stops on the tour, the only viable way for him to be overhauled is if world records start dropping, and Pereira has been the only man this year to threaten a world mark. Pereira's time of 1:53.45 improved upon the time set a few days previously in Beijing, but was 0.73 down on his world leading time from Rio.

One of the races to look forward to at the World Shortcourse Champs will be Pereira v Ryan Lochte. It might also be the race that sees 2010's first World Record go down. Darian Townsend's 1:51.55 might be within the reach of Pereira. It's definitely within reach for Lochte.

Therese Alshammar - 100m Butterfly - 56.32 - 934 Points - Game over for the overall women's point title. Ok... Alshammar doesn't have the title sown up to the same degree as Pereira has, however by taking 25 points in Singapore (total of 55 for the series) she has gone a long way towards making it a formality reality. Her closest rival is Julia Smit, who is back on 30 points. At this stage Alshammar just needs to score consistently in the last four rounds to wrap up the points title. Ominously for her rivals, the Swedish sprint queen is also getting faster round by round (57.04 in Rio, 56.80 in Beijing, 56.32 in Singapore).

Julia Smit - 200m IM - 2:08.14 - 919 Points - I wrote back in August, that until Julia Smit proves otherwise, I'm marking her down as a short course specialist. After a swift 2:08 in Singapore I haven't changed my opinion. She is now ranked third in the world, just half a second behind Australians Emily Seebohm and Kotuku Ngawati. This year Smit also broke the NCAA & American record in the 200yd IM but has only been able to manage a 2:12.5 in LC metres (22nd in the world this year, 8th fastest American). With the domestic competition so fierce in the 200m IM, Smit is going to need to improve in a LC pool if she is going to make future national teams.

Natalie Coughlin - 100m Backstroke - 57.78 - 873 Points - Coughlin was victorious on her return to short course swimming, a discipline she dominated for most of the last decade. Her time of 57.78 is off her very best from 2008 (56.51), but represents a successful return. Emily Seebohm leads the world on an impressive 56.58. Gao Chang (57.45) and Belinda Hocking (57.67) have also been faster than Coughlin's time this year. The 100m Backstroke should be a fantastic race in Dubai and Coughlin will need to get back down to her best time or better to stand a chance. With the quality of her starts and turns, I would find it hard to bet against her.

If you've read down this far, you're probably a pretty big fan of swimming. If that is the case, check out Fantasy Swimming. You pick the Top 3 swimmers per event and get points for each correct selection. They have the remaining legs of the World Cup available to make your picks, as well as Short Course Worlds.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Poll Result - Who will win the Men's 200m IM at the 2012 London Olympics?

Speed Endurance readers, possibly the world's foremost collection of swimming experts, have spoken...

Ryan Lochte will win the 200m IM at London 2012. 

Note this down. With the collective knowledge and brain power on hand, this is as close to a guarantee as possible.

Lochte and Michael Phelps were locked in a close race for the duration of the vote. Phelps initially led, before a strong surge in support for Lochte took him away. Lochte's lead stretched out to 13 votes at one point before a late Phelps push closed the gap to 8 votes.

This has every chance of being the race of the 2012 Olympics (I'm not limiting that statement to just Swimming either). Lochte v Phelps. The two biggest stars of male swimming.

Here's how their best times match up:-

Lochte 2010- Fly - 24.86 - Back - 28.42 -Breast - 33.41 - Free- 27.70 - 1:54.43 (in Jammers)
Lochte 2009 - Fly - 24.72 - Back -28.48 - Breast -33.08 - Free -27.82 - 1:54.10
Phelps 2008 - Fly - 24.59 - Back -28.81 - Breast -33.50 - Free -27.33 - 1:54.23

If you break it down by stroke, Phelps has an advantage on Fly, Lochte has a stronger Back.
Breaststroke and Freestyle are harder to split. It would appear Lochte has the upper hand at the moment on Breaststroke, whilst on Freestyle, Phelps has stronger splits, but Lochte is currently the world's fastest over 200m Free. As is so often the case in Medley races, Breaststroke looks like it will be the pivotal stroke in 2012.

Ryan Lochte - 82 votes (50.9%)
Michael Phelps - 74 votes (46.0%)
James Goddard - 3 votes (1.9%)
Tyler Clary - 1 vote (0.6%)
Laszlo Cseh - 1 vote (0.6%)

PS. There's a new box at the top right of the site. Click Like to add Speed Endurance on Facebook. The page has only just been created so its currently a little short on numbers.... Click Like and spread the word.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup - Beijing

The two days of swimming at the FINA/ARENA World Cup in Beijing have produced some outstanding times.

Some of the highlights below:-

Thiago Pereira - 200m IM - 1:54.21 - 932 Points. Pereira took another maximum 25 points from Beijing to match his 25 from Rio. With a full 50 points from the first two legs and due to compete at all the remaining legs of the World Cup, the competition for this year's World Cup prize for top male point scorer might just be over. One possible cause for concern is the difference in time (1.49 seconds) from his win in Rio (1:52.72) and Beijing (1:54.21).

Darian Townsend - 200m IM - 1:54.26 - 931 Points. Pereira only just held on to win the 200m IM from Townsend. At 150m Pereira was 1.44 seconds up on Townsend but only finished 0.05 seconds ahead of the South African. The two are due to go head to head again in Singapore this weekend and if Townsend can get even closer at the 150m we might see these positions reversed.

Gao Chang - 26.00 - 50m Back - 966 Points. The top scoring swim of the meet came from Gao in the 50m Back. It becomes the 5th fastest all time performance over 50m Back and is just 0.3 seconds shy of Sanja Jovanovic' World Record of 25.70. The Chinese Backstroker is putting together a strong 2010, she's now ranked No.1 in the world for LC and SC 50m Back and is 6th in the world in the LC 100m Back rankings with the Asian Games still to come this year.

Liu Jing - 400m Free - 4:00.55 - 931 Points. Liu Jing took the maximum available 25 points with victory in the women's 400m Free. She becomes the 16th fastest all-time performer in the event. Still a long way behind Laure Manaudou's textile best time of 3:56.09 though. (Manaudou's time from 2007 is one of the most impressive short course swims ever, despite being set before the suit era, it remains the third fastest swim ever).

Therese Alshammar - 56.80 - 100m Fly - 910 Points. Alshammar suddenly looks a little vulnerable in the race for the women's top points scorer. Despite winning the 100m Fly in an excellent time of 56.80, Alshammar was only able to pick up 5 points. Fortunately for the Swedish sprint star, not one of the Chinese women who finished ahead of Alshammar in the points in Beijing will be competing at the next stop in Singapore. Hinkelein Schreuder is the only other woman to have scored points from the first two World Cup legs and she sits 17 points back of Alshammar.

Ye Shiwen - 400m IM - 4:28.67 - 917 Points/53.66 - 100m Free - 859 Points. 14 year old Ye Shiwen continued to impress in 2010 with a particularly impressive 400m IM swim. Trailing World Record holder Julia Smit for most of the race, Ye put in a devastating freestyle split of 58.97. Smit led by 2.08 seconds at 300m but could only manage a freestyle leg of 1:01.30 to take second in 4:28.92.

Ye Shiwen's time is all the more impressive as it came on the same evening as her victory in the 100m Free in a time of 53.66. Clearly a special talent.

Ye Shiwen's swims will come under scrutiny. Some people will doubt her times and suspect that to acheive so much at such a young age, she must be doped... strange that Yolane Kukla, just turned 15, Yannick Agnel, Vlad Morozov, Bence Biczo etc don't receive the same scepticism. I suspect this will come to the fore when the Asian Games are upon us, where I predict China will set a number of world leading times... Remember - All athletes should be innocent until proven guilty.

Full Results - Here
Men's Overall Points Leaderboard - Here
Women's Overall Points Leaderboard - Here

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup - Singapore 16-17 October

The third leg of the FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup takes place in Singapore (16-17 October) with arguably the best field so far this year.

All eyes will be on Natalie Coughlin (USA) who makes her return to short course metre competition. Coughlin has been in good form so far in 2010 and with her world class starts and turns, expect some fast swimming from the American ace. Also representing a strong USA squad will be Jessica Hardy, Randall Bal, Peter Marshall, Julia Smit, Elaine Breeden and Madison Kennedy.

A host of medal winners from the recent Commonwealth Games will also be on show. Australia's team includes medalists Leisel Jones, Marieke Guehrer, Hayden Stoeckel and James Richardson. South Africa are also sending a strong team led by Roland Schoeman, Cameron Van Der Burgh, Lyndon Ferns, Darian Townsend, Graemme Moore and Kathryn Meaklim. Canada's team includes Victoria Poon, Genevieve Saumur and Audrey Lacroix as well as seasoned IM swimmer Brian Johns.

Europe has a number of medal contenders competing with strong challenges likely to come from Therese Alshammer, Stefan Nystrand, Lars Frolander (SWE),Dominik Meichtry (CHE), Steffen Deibler, Dorothea Brandt, Jenny Mensing, Kerstin Vogel (GER), Hanna Maria Seppala (FIN), Hinkelein Schreuder (NED), Arkady Vyatchanin, Grigory Falko and Sergey Fesikov (RUS).

Results & Start Lists - Here
Official Site - Here
For anyone in Singapore - Tickets can be found here

FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup - Beijing

Action gets underway today at the FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup 2010 in Beijing. The competition sees the return of international competition to one of the most iconic swimming pools in the world, the watercube.

Fresh from competing at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, South Africa have taken a strong team with their star swimmers Lyndon Ferns, Cameron Van Der Burgh, Roland Schoeman and Darian Townsend all competing. I'm sure they will be hoping for a more straight forward competition after the problems in India with Delhi Belly and the uproar caused by comments by Roland Schoeman, seemingly taken way out of context.

Other stars on display include Thiago Pereira, Guilherme Guido, Henrique Barbosa (BRA), Therese Alshammer, Lars Frolander (SWE), Steffen Deibler, Dorothea Brandt, Jenny Mensing (GER), Elaine Breeden, Peter Marshall, Julia Smit (USA), Arkady Vyatchanin, Grigory Falko, Sergey Fesikov (RUS), Gao Chang, Ye Shiwen (CHN), Hinkelein Schreuder (NED), Naoya Tomita (JAP)

Results & Start Lists - Here

UPDATE - First day finals recap - Here

Top point scorers from Day One
Women - Gao Chang - 50m Backstroke - 26.00 (966 points) Great time! Just missed Sanja Jovanovic' World Record of 25.70. More proof that the change of suits has affected Backstroke less than the other strokes.
Men - Naoya Tomita - 200m Breaststroke - 2:05.30 (893 points) Solid effort from Tomita, however I expect that points total to be beaten tomorrow. In Rio, Thiago Pereira led the men with 969 points for his 1:52.72 200m IM.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Thoughts from Commonwealth Games Swimming - Day Four

Excellent night of swimming in Delhi tonight. The 'Big Four'(Australia, England, Canada and South Africa) all came away with one gold each. Lets dig a little deeper...

. Brace yourselves, things are about to get controversial... Right now, Brent Hayden is the world's best sprinter.

- I know, I know. What about Nathan Adrian. Cesar Cielo. Fred Bousquet. Alex Popov. Matt Biondi. Johnny Weissmuller. Let me explain why...

David Rieder got the discussion up and running after his claim that Adrian deserved the recognition as the world's best sprinter. His argument was that although Adrian wasn't ranked first in either event in the world rankings, his high ranking in both was unmatched. Not a terrible argument at the time, but it didn't sit well with me. I believe to be classed as the world's best sprinter, you should be a) leading the world in one or both of the 50m and 100m Freestyle and (less importantly) b) have won an individual Gold in a major championship.

Hayden has now done both and should put this issue to bed (until someone goes even faster) after winning gold in the 100m Free final. His 47.98 tonight was superb becoming the first man under 48 seconds this year. He is also the first man to break 48 seconds in a jammer, a fact he is fully aware of after mentioning it in his interview with the BBC... (The fastest time in a textile suit remains Peter VDH's 47.84 set in legs at the 2000 Olympics). 

The 50m Free is still to come, and its fair to expect Hayden to improve upon his 21.89 set at Pan Pacs (Delhi Belly permitting). My prediction 21.59, Gold.

. Staying with the 100m Free, I wonder whether Delhi 2010 will go down as the meet that marked the return of Simon Burnett as a force in international swimming once again. Talent is certainly not a problem for Burnett, the fact that he remains the NCAA record holder for 200m Free (1:31.20), even after the suit era, attests to that.

2010 has been a good year so far for the Tuscon Ford swimmer with a strong showing at Europeans and now an excellent silver in Delhi (taking the notable scalp of Eamon Sullivan). However, there is still a way to go to fully catch up with the guys eating at the top table in the 50m and 100m Free (Hayden, Cielo, Adrian, Phelps, Bousquet).

Mark Foster gave his opinion on why Burnett has been slightly off form for the last few years. Foster believes that Burnett's problem lay in the fact that after leaving university and swimming full time, as an intelligent guy, he didn't have enough to occupy his mind. Interesting theory. (If you missed the charity Burnett mentioned during his BBC interview you can find out about it Here).

. The only choice for breakout (and star) performer of the meet so far is Alicia Coutts. She continued her incredible competition by picking up the 100m Fly in 57.53 to add to her victories in the 100m Free and 200m IM. The time moves Coutts up to 5th in the world this year, one spot behind Fran Halsall's 57.40, untapered, at Europeans.

Such a shame we didn't get to see a fit Halsall go up against Coutts.

. Nice swim from Rebecca Adlington. She got herself into a dominant position early on and kept the distance to the chasing pack at a comfortable(ish) margin. After the race she spoke about the importance of winning, with the time being less important. She also mentioned that she was conserving some energy for the 400m Free.

From a British perspective it is great to see Becky win her first major 800m Free victory since Beijing, which should lift a weight from her shoulders. The 800m Free remains her best event and on form she remains the world's best.

For Adlington, 2009 was a challenging year, 2010 has been a rebuilding year, 2011 looks like being a stronger, 2012 will  be a .......... year. (Fill in the gap)

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Thoughts from Commonwealth Games Swimming - Day Three

The home nations couldn't build upon yesterday's success as Australia dominated. Six Golds for the Aussies tonight, one for England, one for South Africa and one for Kenya. In short, the rest of the Commonwealth got pumped. On a day like today you need to tip your hat (preferably whilst listening to Men At Work). Results Here (Tip - To get the results in easy to read spreadsheet form, go to the Reports column on the right hand side and select Event Related -> Results).

. Both Aussie 4 x 200m relays dominated as expected. However, for all those who wondered what would have happened if Britain swam as a team... here's your answer:-


Kylie Palmer - 1:58.51
Blair Evans - 1:57.47
Bronte Barratt - 1:58.33
Meagen Nay - 1:59.40
Final time - 7:53.71

Britain's fastest 4
Jo Jackson - 1:59.06
Rebecca Adlington - 1:59.68
Jazmin Carlin - 1:59.39
Sasha Matthews - 1:59.08
Final time - 7:57.21

On paper, a British team would have just pipped New Zealand for silver, but would have still been a long back of Australia.


Thomas Fraser Holmes - 1:47.04 (Great swim. Would have won the individual 200m Free by an astonishing 0.84 seconds... also the fastest leg of the entire event despite going first)
Nick Ffrost - 1:48.68
Ryan Napoleon - 1:47.05
Kenrick Monk - 1:47.52
Total Time - 7:10.29

Andrew Hunter - 1:48.32
David Carry - 1:48.00
Robbie Renwick - 1:47.38
Robert Bale - 1:48.12 (led off the relay in 1:48.72, I've taken off 0.6 for the takeover)
Total Time - 7:11.82

This would have been a closer race with Bale's inclusion, but a second and a half is still a comfortable margin of victory. This is all virtual and doesn't take into account race conditions, but whichever way you look at it, the Aussies were dominant.

. Top swim from James Goddard tonight. 1:55.58 is a great time and puts Goddard ahead of Aaron Peirsol and Michael Phelps this year. However, it also puts Ryan Lochte's 1:54.12 into perspective. Delving back into the virtual world, Goddard would have been several metres behind Lochte had they been in the same race.

. Congratulations to Jason Dunford for winning Kenya's first ever swimming Gold medal. Yes he is a product of English and American training, but it a fantastic acheivement all the same. You hope its received well back in Kenya and inspires a generation of youngsters to have a go at swimming.

I'm pleased for Dunford but would have loved to see Geoff Huegill win gold to cap what is already an incredible comeback. I don't think the sport of swimming has ever seen a comeback like this one. The guy lost 45-50kg. Now that is a movie, waiting to be made...

. We've had three days of competition and I think its fair to say that the swimming has been slower than expected. This is the main meet of the year, but many swimmers are failing to beat their seasons bests from untapered meets. It will be very interesting to see what filters through once the meet is finished but at this point I'm putting it down to one, or a combination, of these factors:-

Delhi Belly - A lot of cases of stomach upsets emerging. At a major meet any type of sickness can be disastrous. The physical effects are clear enough, but mentally too it puts you 'off your game'. Such a shame to train all year for a competition, with funding levels riding on it in the case of the British swimmers, and not be able to perform at your best because of sickness.

4am wake ups and 40 minute bus rides to and from the pool - If there is ever a sub-species of human that are used to waking up early, it is Homo Aquaticus (swimmers), however, not when they are competing. Its a tough ask to wake up that early, swim heats and then get back up for finals.

Slow Pool - Whether you believe it or not, swimmers believe in slow and fast pools. Sometimes there is a science behind it (depth of water, deck level pools etc.), other times a pool just won't feel right. If any swimmers have it in their heads that the Delhi pool is slow, performance will drop.

. If the pool is slow... how can you explain Alicia Coutt's 2:09.70 200m IM and Goddards 1:55.58 200m Back?

. Final point. Aussie turns. Better than all other nations competing in Delhi.

Maybe I will start a new feature....

SpeedEndurance World Rankings for Starts & Turns

1. USA
2. Australia
3. Japan
4. France
5. Rest of the world

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Thoughts from Commonwealth Games Swimming - Day Two

Much better day for the home nations, much needed after a quiet first day... Lets bullet...
. Fran Halsall is going to have a monster meet. The 50m Fly was on paper her toughest individual event, and she took down the best Australia had to offer. Pre-competition I picked Yolane Kukla to win, with Marieke Guehrer picking up silver and Halsall taking Bronze. Pre-race I had bumped Guehrer and Halsall up a spot. In the end Halsall showed once again that she is a tremendous 'racer' (lazy cliche again, apologies) and had a tremendous last 5m and finish.

Finishing a 50m sprint so strongly bodes extremely well for her 100m Free and Fly.

- I was also impressed with Halsall's 100m Free semi. She was clear of the field at 50m and although Alicia Coutts looked strong on the back 50m (and had a tremendous turn), I don't expect anyone to challenge Halsall when she gets up to full speed and effort in the final. It's now a very real possibility that she will win 4 individual Golds (I can't see England winning any relay golds).

. The Aussies will be a little sore after losing the 50m Fly. Kukla, Guehrer and Seebohm have all been faster than Halsall's winning time this year.

Kukla in particular seems to be struggling. She is ranked 8th in the world this year in the 100m Free but ended up missing the final. Her time will come, but from the evidence so far, that won't be in Delhi.

Update -  According to InfostradaLive - "Halsall (ENG) became the first woman from outside Australia in 20 years to win gold in an individual Women's Butterfly event at Commonwealth Games."

. Liam Tancock was dominant in his 50m Backstroke. Winning by 0.46 in a 50m is a real achievement.

However, you know in the back of Tancock's mind will be the memory of the 24.07 from Camille Lacourt at Europeans. The 100m Back is still to come, and I think Tancock can improve upon his 52.85 this year, but its looking like Lacourt will end the year head and shoulders above the rest of the world.

Lacourt, head and shoulders above Tancock... in every sense.

.  Robbie Renwick had a nice swim to win the 200m Freestyle. Ross Davenport went for an outside smoke show but got reeled in on the last 25m. Good result for Renwick, but to put it in some perspective, his winning time of 1:47.88 would have finished 7th at Pan Pacs. On the flipside he did beat the 4th (Fraser-Holmes), 5th (Monk) and 6th (Basson) placed finishers on that day.

Leads me to the question, which was the better swim... Thomas Fraser-Holmes coming 4th at Pan Pacs in 1:47.23, or Robbie Renwick winning Commonwealths in 1:47.88?

. The BBC have nailed it this year with their in-studio team. Clare Balding admits that she doesn't know a great deal about swimming, but has a genuine enthusiasm for the sport and a willingness to learn more (hopefully a sentiment echoed by the viewers). Mark Foster is on good form and is able to give a good insight into the British swimmers thoughts and personalities as he has competed on the same team as most of them.

However, the real star is Ian Thorpe. This guy really knows how to talk about swimming. Not too technical to put off casual fans, whilst not oversimplifying his explanations either. Such a shame that he won't be working for the BBC in 2012 as he'll be busy competing...

... Out of interest what are the views on BBC commentators Adrian Moorhouse and Andy Jameson?

Monday, 4 October 2010

Thoughts from Commonwealth Games Swimming - Day One

The first day of Commonwealth Games is done. Great day if you're Australian. Good day if you're Canadian, South African or Welsh. Decent day if you're English or Scotltish. Here are the main talking points...

- Alicia Coutts, where did that come from?

The surprise doesn't just come from the fact that she took down the pre-race favourite Emily Seebohm, it was her manner of victory that was so shocking stunning.

2:09.70 is an incredible swim. It moves Coutts up to the 9th fastest swimmer of all-time and more importantly set a new textile best time. This textile best time is one of the more emotive as it betters Wanyan Yu's drug tainted 2:09.72 set in 1997.

Seebohm went out for the race, she was 0.3 seconds quicker in Delhi at the 100m turn than she was at Pan Pacs. Where she had problems was the breaststroke leg. Coutts had an incredible Breaststroke splitting 37.66 to Seebohm's 39.44 (compared to 38.52 at Pan Pacs).

Just incase you're counting, this is how the depth of women's IM swimming looks in Australia. Stephanie Rice - Olympic Champion - 2:10.0 this year, Emily Seebohm - Pan Pacs Champion - 2:09.9 this year, Alicia Coutts - Commonwealth Champion 2:09.7. Coutts, Seebohm and Rice also make up the top 3 in the world this year.

- If you get a chance, check out Leiston Pickett's technique. Does she take a breathe on the 50m Breast? Seriously, has she perfected the first ever non-breathing Breaststroke?

I've watched it over and over again. I can kind of figure out how she gets oxygen, but I haven't figured out how she doesn't take a shot of H2O at the same time.

Either way, she looks the one to beat in the 50m Breast final. Leisel Jones will have her work cut out.

- The Men's 4 x 100m Free relay threw up plenty of talking points.
- Which is the better swim heading into the individual 100m Free - Brent Hayden's lead off leg of 48.18 or Eamon Sullivan's 47.49 with a flying start? I'm going with Hayden.
- Who saw England taking down South Africa? Not me. Not a great sign for the South African relay team's hope of winning in 2012.
- What was the white stuff floating in the pool before the start of the race? Did they really need the extra long pole for it? Did they get it all? If they didn't, where is the rest of it? Did the English team have the right to pause the competition for so long or should golf rules have applied, 'play it as it lies' and all that.

- Is it the new fashion to wear your goggles round your neck? Chad LeClos rocked the goggles look immediately after his race and then even more dramatically, on the medal podium. Once can be put down as a mistake, twice is deliberate. All the kids in South Africa will be doing the same soon.

Goggles round the neck look a lot better when there is a gold medal alongside them

Commonwealth Games Swimming Preview - Women's Medley

200m IM
1. Emily Seebohm - Beat Ariana Kukors in her own backyard at Pan Pacs. Only woman under 2:10 this year. Pretty sure thing for Gold in Delhi.
2. Hannah Miley - Outstanding swim in Budapest to take Bronze in 2:10.89
3. Julia Wilkinson - Fourth at Pan Pacs in 2:11.32

Anne Bochmann - Talented English swimmer Bochmann swam 2:13 last month to make the team.

400m IM
1. Hannah Miley - Her 4:33.09 in Budapest took Miley into a different league. Red hot favourite.
2. Samantha Hamill - Closest on paper to Miley this year, still almost 5 seconds adrift.
3. Blair Evans - 4:40.49 back in March.
3. Wendy Trott - Because Blair Evans isn't swimming the event.

Aimee Wilmott - Having a good 2010 so far. Excellent at GBR vs GER Duel and then also at British Nationals. Third place looks up for grabs in this race and Wilmott is certainly one of those in contention

Commonwealth Games Swimming Preview - Men's Medley

200m IM
1. James Goddard - I've got a feeling Goddard will do something special here. I'm talking 1:55 special.
2. Leith Brodie - Stunning 1:56.69 at World's last year. All set up for a mammoth battle with Goddard.
3. Darian Townsend - Townsend might struggle to stay with Goddard and Brodie.

Joe Roebuck - Fresh from his medal at Europeans, if Roebuck can drop even more time we could see a pair of Englishmen on the podium.

400m IM
1. Roberto Pavoni - Wide open race. Pavoni and Schoeman lead the Commonwealth this year on 4:14s.
2. Riaan Schoeman - Went 4:15 at World's last year, already down to 4:14 this year.
3. Thomas Fraser-Holmes - With his speed on the Freestyle, if Fraser-Holmes is close going into the last leg the race is likely his.

Brian Johns & Thomas Haffield - Johns is a relative veteran compared to the young crop of 400m IM swimmers. His experience might pay off. Haffield was pre-selected for this competition so has kept his card close to his chest. If he gets close to his 4:11 from last year he might run away with this.

Commonwealth Games Swimming Preview - Women's Breaststroke

50m Breaststroke
1. Leisel Jones - Leisel's back. 50m is a bit on the short side but still has the fastest time in the Commonwealth this year.
2. Leiston Pickett - Pickett got the better of Jones at Pan Pacs.
3. Kate Haywood - Has suffered huge injury troubles but was able to put them behind her to win silver at Europeans this year.

Achieng Ajulu-Bushell - So impressive at British Nationals in March. She was a long way off her best at Europeans. For a senior swimmer you wouldn't worry so much but it was Ajulu-Bushell's first competiton for Great Britain and may have been tough to get over. She has the added pressure of competing against Kenya, who she was recently competing for. A lot to deal with for a youngster.

100m Breaststroke
1. Leisel Jones - A huge shock if Jones didn't win the 100m Breast. She is in a different league to the competition here. The big question is can she get close to Rebecca Soni's 1:04.93?
2. Sarah Katsoulis - 4th at World's last year. 3rd at Pan Pacs this year. Silver a very real possibility.
3. Samantha Marshall - I'm picking Marshall to complete the Aussie 1-2-3 after her strong showing at Pan Pacs. Her 1:07.04 to win the B final wass impressive.

Annamay Pierse -  A definite 200m specialist, she was 5th at World's last year. Someway off the top three's times this year, with a good taper she could pick up a silver or bronze.

200m Breaststroke
1. Leisel Jones - This is going to be a tight race! The top Breaststroker of the last decade up against the new world record holder.At Pan Pacs they were split by just 0.42, in favour of Jones. That's why she gets the vote.
2. Annamay Pierse - From all accounts Pierse seems to be in good shape for Delhi. So little to split Jones and Pierce, these places could easily be reversed.
3. Sarah Katsoulis - 2:24.38 at Pan Pacs was impressive. Bronze is probably the best Katsoulis can hope for though.

Martha McCabe & Stacey Tadd - At World's last year Martha McCabe swam 2:23, 2:22 & 2:23. Needs to find that kind of form in Delhi. Tadd is dropping chunks of time on the 200m. At World's last year she swam 2:32, she's down to 2:27 this year.

Commonwealth Games Swimming Preview - Men's Breaststroke

50m Breaststroke
1. Cameron Van Der Burgh - Hard to bet against the World Champion and World Record holder.
2. Brenton Rickard - Fastest in the Commonwealth this year. Having a great 2010.
3. Scott Dickens - Got the better of Rickard at Pan Pacs

Glenn Snyders - The top three look pretty set, but this is a 50m where anything can happen. Snyders won the B final at Pan Pacs in 27.83 and could sneak a medal.

100m Breaststroke
1. Brenton Rickard - Rickard was in superb early season form. If his taper has gone well I expect 59 low.
2. Christian Sprenger - Sprenger took silver at Pan Pacs in this event beating Rickard.
3. Cameron Van Der Burgh - Yet to hit top form this year, took bronze in Rome last year. Bronze here may be setting expectations too low.

Daniel Sliwinski - A long way off his 59.55 from last year in 2010. Sliwinski still looks the home nations' best hope in the 100m.

200m Breaststroke
1. Brenton Rickard - If Van Der Burgh is off form we might be looking at clean sweep of the Breaststroke events by Rickard. 2:08 looks on the cards.
2. Michael Jamieson - Looked superb at the GBR vs GER Duel in February. Best of 2:11.14 this year. This could be the meet that vaults him to the next level.
3. Christian Sprenger - Has struggled in the 200m this year after breaking the world record last year. If he is on top form he could win the event, however if he repeats his Pan Pacs performance of 2:15, he's in trouble.

Kris Gilchrist & Neil Versfeld - Both men were semi finalists at World's last year. Both men have swum 2:11s this year. Both men have medal chances.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Commonwealth Games Swimming Preview - Women's Butterfly

50m Butterfly
1. Yolane Kukla - Watch Kukla's starts, they are lightening quick. Particularly helpful on a 50m sprint.
2. Marieke Guehrer - Won Pan Pacs in 25.99 (Kukla won the B final in the same time). Reigning World Champion in this event.
3. Francesca Halsall - Expect a blanket finish. Halsall might miss out on this one to the Fly specialists.

Emily Seebohm - Was just 0.09 seconds behing Guehrer in the A final at Pan Pacs. Certainly an event we could see an Australian 1-2-3.

100m Butterfly
1. Francesca Halsall - Has to be considered favourite after pushing World Champion Sarah Sjoestrom so close in Budapest untapered.
2. Alicia Coutts - Leads the Australian charge after her 57.99 at Pan Pacs.
3. Yolane Kukla - Felicity Galvez and Kukla is a hard choice for Bronze. I'm going with youth over experience

Ellen Gandy - I expect 3 Australian's in the Top 4 positions, however Ellen Gandy could break that up. 100 isn't Gandy's distance but if her training has gone right she could challenege for a medal.

200m Butterfly
1. Jessicah Schipper - I always seem to underestimate Schipper in major competitions and I don't know why. Surely age is going to catch up with her soon as she's been around for so long. Yeah, she's still only 23.
2. Ellen Gandy - I tried as hard as I could to find an argument to pick Gandy ahead of Schipper but fell short. Gandy won't be far off though having been 2:07.54 at Europeans. Expect even faster in Delhi.
3. Jemma Lowe - Missed the European final by 0.01. If the taper went well in Florida she will challenge.

Audrey Lacroix & Samantha Hamill -Both women made the final of World's last year and will be in the hunt for medals.

Commonwealth Games Swimming Preview - Men's Butterfly

50m Butterfly
1. Geoff Huegill - Comeback king. Winning Commonwealth's would cap one of the sport's greatest comebacks. Incrediblly consistent this year.
2. Roland Schoeman - Will give Huegill a great race. Possibly should be considered favourite, however, to use a lazy sporting cliche, Huegill will 'want it more'.
3. Jason Dunford - Dunford's having a great year so far.

Andrew Lauterstein - Quality sprinter. Shouldn't be far off, although Huegill and Schoeman look to be a class apart.

100m Butterfly
1. Andrew Lauterstein - Missed out on the final at Pan Pacs, but his 51.79 from Aussie Nationals is clear of the rest of the competition.
2. Geoff Huegill - Superb 5th place at Pan Pacs in 52.32 puts him second in the Commonwealth this year.
3. Michael Rock - Not having the best of years after beating Phelps at Duel in the Pool but this is where it will count.

Jason Dunford - Was a tough choice picking Rock over Dunford. Dunford's had the better year so far.

200m Butterfly
1. Nick D'Arcy - Should be one of the rare locks at this competition. D'Arcy looks to be well clear of the field.
2. Michael Rock - Received a lot of attention from the British press for beating Phelps at the Duel in the Pool. 
3. Christopher Wright - Impressive 1:56.23 at Australian Nationals in March. Strong chance to get on the podium.

Jayden Hadler - Only 17 years old, beat Wright in the B final of Pan Pacs. 1:57.07 at Aussie Nationals.

Commonwealth Games Swimming Preview - Women's Backstroke

50m Back
1. Sophie Edington - Pan Pac champion and must be favourite to do the double at Commies.
2. Emily Seebohm - Edington's biggest challenger and only other woman in the race to go under 28 seconds this year.
3. Gemma Spofforth - Not a specialist at 50m but has all the skills for the race.

Emily Thomas - Bronze medallist from Pan Pacs. Rare medal hope for New Zealand.

100m Back
1. Gemma Spofforth - This will be Spofforth's first LC fully rested and tapered meet of 2010. Broke the WR in Rome in a Speedo LZR. I expect the winner of this race to go sub 59.

2. Emily Seebohm - Seebohm's time of 59.21 was the fastest in the world for most of the year and is faster than both Spofforth and Simmonds this year. The finish should be very tight.
3. Elizabeth Simmonds - Despite being a 200m specialist, Simmonds could win the 100m. She beat Spofforth at British Trials. Has arguably the best underwaters of anyone in the race.

Belinda Hocking - Just outside breaking 60 seconds this year. Will struggle to get on terms with The 3 S's (Spofforth, Seebohm and Simmonds).

200m Back
1. Elizabeth Simmonds - Simmonds has been the best 200m Backstroker in the world this year. Expect Kristina Egerszegi's textile best time of 2:06.62 to be taken down.

2. Gemma Spofforth - Despite not being in top form at European's, swam a highly respectable 2:08.25.
3. Belinda Hocking - Top ranked Australian this year. Won Aussie Nationals in 2:07.89.

WildcardStephanie Proud - It would be a surprise if Proud got past the Australian trio of Hocking, Seebohm and Nay, however an English 1-2-3 remains a possibility. Proud is Spofforth's teammate in Florida so we could see a couple of Gators on the podium in India.

Commonwealth Games Swimming Preview - Men's Backstroke

50m Back
1. Liam Tancock - World record holder Tancock should be a class apart in this event.
2. Ashley Delaney - Delaney was in good form at Pan Pacs.
3. Hayden Stoeckel - Could very well take silver as he and Delaney seem to be even heading into Commies.

Gerhard Zandberg - At his best could get close to Tancock but hasn't shown that kind of form this year.

100m Back
1. Liam Tancock - Before Camille Lacourt exploded at Europeans, Tancock was making a case as the world's No.1 on the 50m and 100m Back. It will be fascinating to see how he reacts to the gauntlet thrown down by the Frenchman.
2. Hayden Stoeckel - Swam an impressive 53.61 back in March. Will be looking to get close to, if not break, 53 seconds.
3. Ashley Delaney - Had the upper hand on Stoeckel at Pan Pacs. Similar to the 50m, Stoeckel and Delaney are pretty interchangeable here.

Gareth Kean - Finalist at Pan Pacs, albeit helped greatly by the 2 per nation rule. Born in 1991, should be able to build upon his strong performances at Pan Pacs and Pan Pacs Juniors.

200m Back
1. James Goddard - Got the better of Walker-Hebborn at British trials this year 1:57.06 to 1:57.39.
2. Christopher Walker-Hebborn - Will push Goddard all the way.
3. Gareth Kean - Won Junior Pan Pacs in a time of 1:57.78. One of New Zealand's best medal hopes at these games.

Marco Loughran - Loughran is yet to show his strongest hand in a Long Course metre competition. The Welshman trains in Florida. Can't be bad tihng to swim with Gemma Spofforth and Ryan Lochte.

Commonwealth Games Swimming Preview - Women's Freestyle

50m Free
1. Fran Halsall - European Champs showed why much is expected of Halsall in 2012.
2. Yolane Kukla - One of the world's most exciting talents. Commonwealth's could be just a taster of what to expect for years to come.
3. Victoria Poon - Third at Pan Pacs in 24.74. Beat Kukla in the final that day.

Marieke Guehrer - Strong Pan Pacs performance (24.99). Guehrer has a tendency to perform well in 50m finals at major competitions.

100m Free
1. Fran Halsall - Won European's untapered in 53.38. Has a real shot of ending the year as the World No.1
2.Yolane Kukla - Kukla had a strong showing at Pan Pacs and at such a young age is capable of big drops in time.
3. Emily Seebohm- Second at Pan Pacs with 53.96. Has the potential to medal in all 8 of her events.

Amy Smith - Having a great 2010. Was on good form at Europeans with a 54.48 and is still improving.

200m Free
1. Rebecca Adlington - Will mark the first time Adlington has swum 200m Free individual at a major meet. In what promises to be a very tight race, Adlington's finishing ability might just win it for the 800m specialist.
2. Blair Evans - Strong showing at Pan Pacs (3rd - 1:57.27) puts her very much in the frame for Delhi.
3. Bronte Barratt - Outstanding result from Aussie Nationals back in March (1:57.46), could see her drop into the 1:56s.

Jo Jackson & Caitlin McClatchey - Loughborough training partners Jackson and McClatchey will be competing for England and Scotland respectively. Jackson would have been red hot favourite for this event had she not had a troubled year with illness. McClatchey is the defending champion and will have to get down to the times of 4 years ago if she will have any chance here. However, the quality is there, 4 years ago she won in 1:57.25, beating a certain Libby Lenton.

400m Free
1. Rebecca Adlington - Defending Olympic Champion added the European title in Budapest in 4:04.55. Expect the competition to be tougher in Delhi, but Adlington at her best should be good enough to win this.
2. Jazmin Carlin - Carlin burst onto the scene at the GBR vs GER duel back in February beating Adlington and Jo Jackson. Was unfortunate to miss out on the final at European's.
3. Bronte Barratt - Assuming Barratt improves upon Australian Nationals she can play a major role in this race. 4:05.50 was the world's leading time when she swam it back in March.

Katie Goldman & Wendy Trott - Goldman was the silver medallist at Pan Pacs finishing as the top Australian in 4:05.84. Trott had a successful season for the University of Georgia in the US. She will get a chance to showcase her Long Course metre talents.

800m Free
1. Rebecca Adlington - I'm picking Adlington for a third individual Gold medal. The 800m Free is her pet event and despite a disappointing European's, she is still ranked No.1 in the world. For Adlington the challenge will be a mental one. Having a bigger schedule than she is used to I believe will help her.
2. Katie Goldman - Goldman could get close to Adlington after showing tremendous early season form in the 800m (8:22.83 back in March). She was a little off that at Pan Pacs, but then so was Adlington at Europeans.
3.Wendy Trott - This could be Wendy Trott's breakout international competition. The South African has the advantage of training alongside Allison Schmitt in Georgia.

Sasha Matthews - Positive reports from the English holding camp in Doha about Matthew's performances. Trains at Nova Centurion alongside Adlington and has the potential to drop lots of time in the 800m.

Commonwealth Games Swimming Preview - Men's Freestyle

50m Free
1. Brent Hayden - Been in great form all year. If he can improve from Pan Pacs the 50m and 100m Free should be his.
2. Roland Schoeman - Defending champion getting back to his best? Has been training in France, swam 22.04 back in April.
3. Ashley Callus - Showed tremendous speed earlier in the year. Will be hoping for sub-22 with a full taper.

Adam Brown & Gideon Louw - The Auburn team mates showed they were on the same level as the likes of Nathan Adrian and Josh Schneider in SCY. Louw was in good form at Pan Pacs (22.08) whilst Adam Brown, at his first fully tapered LC meet this year, could be on the verge of a breakout competition.

100m Free
1. Brent Hayden - 3rd in the world this year. Has been superb over 100m and has a chance to be the only man sub-48 seconds this year.
2. Eamon Sullivan - Will need to have improved from Pan Pacs (48.84) to challenge Hayden. No shortage of talent though.
3. Kyle Richardson - Swam 48.69 in the heats at Pan Pacs. Just 178cm tall. Must be hoping it doesn't come down to the touch against 193cm Brent Hayden.

Graeme Moore - Louw and Brown apply here once again, however it was Moore who was the top ranked Commonwealth athlete at the final of Pan Pacs (5th in 48.76).

200m Free
1. Kenrick Monk - 5th at Worlds last year after a dismal Olympics. Multiple relay medal winner. Time for him to step up and win an individual LC medal.
2. Jean Basson - 4th in Beijing, 6th in Rome. Should be in contention at the finish.
3. Robbie Renwick - 5th at Europeans untapered. A swimmer who seems to be benefiting from the new suit rules.

Shaune Fraser & Thomas Fraser-Holmes - Watch out for the Frasers. Fraser-Holmes is the top ranked Commonwealth swimmer in the world this year after getting the better of Monk and Basson at Pan Pacs. Shaune Fraser has had a great collegiate career representing the University of Florida. He is 1.3 seconds faster than Basson in SCY this year.

400m Free
1. Ryan Cochrane - Class of the Commonwealth over 400m. Top form after his 2nd placed 3:46.78 at Pan Pacs.
2. Robert Hurley - Was in great early season form after 3:47.67 at Aussie Nationals in March. Well off Cochrane's pace at Pan Pacs but likely to be the Canadian's biggest challenge.
3. Robbie Renwick -3:49.13 at Europeans. Will be looking to drop another chunk of time with a full taper.

David Carry & Jean Basson - Carry is defending champion and seems to raise his game for Commonwealths. Over 500 yards in US college swimming, Basson was in top form. Still waiting to see him replicate it in LC metres.

1500m Free
1. Ryan Cochrane - As close to a sure thing at these Commonwealths. 14:49 this year is head and shoulders above the rest of the field. Sun Yang has apparently swum faster than Cochrane this year, but I would bet on Cochrane against any other 1500m swimmer in the world.
2. Robert Hurley - 15:00.96 this year. Looks the choice for silver in Delhi.
3. Heerden Herman - Impressive 15:06 at SA Nationals back in April

David Davies - A difficult year for defending champion Davies, however at his best he can challenge Cochrane. This competition may be the deciding time for Davies' schedule for London 2012.