Monday, 8 November 2010

2010 - The Year of the Comeback

What is it with comebacks in 2010? There are still two months of the year left, and already there have been a number of high profile returns to the sport. Why is it happening this year? Is it linked to the new suit laws? Increased professionalism in the sport? Burning desire to get back into competition in time for London 2012?

Here's a rundown of the major comebacks so far this year...

Janet Evans - Easily the biggest shock comeback so far. Many doubts still remain as to the level Evans can come back to, but it has certainly captured the swimming world's imagination. Some people think her comeback will be more Mark Spitz than Dara Torres (I'm sitting comfortably on the fence). Like Torres, she is starting with Masters competitions and seeing where it goes from there.

Geoff Huegill - Janet Evans can try all she wants, Geoff Huegill still takes the prize for swimming's best comeback of 2010. In fact, you'd do well to convince me that its not the greatest swimming comeback of all-time. His 100m Fly victory in Delhi was the feel-good swim of the year.

Libby Trickett - Staying in Australia, Trickett recently announced that she was making a comeback after a year out of the water. It has come at a good time for the Australian women's relays.

Laure Manaudou - Another recent comeback. Although Manaudou hasn't been out of competition all that long (competed in Beijing), mentally she seemed to check out years ago. The swimming world hopes to see the form she showed earlier in her career when it looked like she would go down as one of the all-time greats of the sport. If the comeback is a success, she still might...

Ed Moses - Spurred on by the lack of top American breaststrokers, Moses confirmed to Swimming World's Garrett McCaffrey that he was gearing up for a comeback. He's got a big money bet with Ryan Lochte about what time/rankings he can get back too. I, for one, would definitely like to know more details of that bet. The comeback could see him training alongside Kitajima with Dave Salo in California. Moses was an excellent LC Breaststroker (silver at 2000 Olympics), but was on a different planet when it came to SCM. If you don't remember Moses, check out his performances from the 2002 SC World Cup Series.

Natalie Coughlin - Less of a comeback than the others on the list after only short time out of the water, but she came straight back at world leading level this year.

Amanda Beard - Beard's silver at US Nationals was sensational. Few gave Beard much chance, she was coming out of retirement and less than a year after giving birth. But she showed her class at US Nationals and then again at Pan Pacs (5th in the final). She's currently tied for 7th in the world this year on 2:24.30. London calling.

Dara Torres - I've lost count of which comeback this is, but Torres confirmed that she is back in training for London 2012, and will probably make it.

Vote above on who you would like to see announce a comeback in time for 2012. Ian Thorpe is streaking away with the vote currently (I still stick by my earlier comments, Thorpe's coming back). If there is anyone else not on the list that you think should be, add your suggestion in the comments section.


  1. I was gutted that Ian did all of the training (well, that's what he said) but didn't swim in the Olympics. It seemed like a waste. Maybe he was afraid of losing but as a fan, I wouldn't have cared - I just wanted to see him swim.

    I'm glad Libby Trickett is coming back and Laure Manaudou, too, although I have doubts that Laure will be able to get to the top again?

    Natalie and Dara I never knew had 'retired', so they don't count as comebacks for me - I always thought they were going to swim at London 2012.

    Geoff Huegill - love him and happy to see him back.

  2. Yeah, that 100 fly was awesome. He has serious medal potential in London, in the 100 fly and certainly on the 400 medley relay.

    Agree with Anonymous, both Natalie and Dara (this time) took breaks. Natalie had said she would be back in the water in time for this summer all along, and Dara we knew was a possibility, but not for this year.

    Interesting stuff about Moses. My current coach swam with him in college at Virginia (along with Fran Crippen). He has known about the comeback all along, and he knows what the bet is. He won't tell me, so I don't think we'll know until after the fact. It is about Summer Nationals next summer, and most likely a time goal for the 100 breast, which will apparently (not surprisingly) be his main focus, though he will also swim the 200. From what I hear, he is already training at USC with Salo and Kitajima. That incredibly detailed plan he laid out on Split Time has already begun.

  3. Great insight into Ed Moses. Always liked him as a swimmer and a character. I'll be following his comeback closely. Try and tap up your coach for some info.

    I also have my doubts about Manaudou although I truly hope for the best. Unbelievably talented swimmer.

    Coughlin and Torres didn't retire but certainly in Coughlin's case had an extended break from the sport with her dancing show. Torres made her 'comeback' announcement on a TV show (making an event out of it), that's why they made the list...

    Over/under on a Thorpe comeback announcement? I say early 2011.

  4. Haha you just won't give up hope for Thorpe! Love to see it, but it's a bit late at this point I'd think. If you followed Dara on Twitter, her comeback would be no surprise. She had made it obvious haha. Manaudou's supposedly focused on the 100 back now, where she would be able to get back to her best much more quickly. Chance at a medal, perhaps not, but she could make a final, which would be major for her, or maybe play a role in any of France's relays.

  5. David is right about Torres on Twitter - she has always made it obvious, ever since Beijing, that she wants to swim at the next Olympics and that that is her goal. She talks a lot about her physical condition and what she is doing to get there (coaching, operations, training).

    The TV thing is probably just a 'confirmation' more for the wider public and as a promotional opportunity as you hinted. Torres is Very Good at promoting!

  6. I am really excited about Manaudou coming back, Although i see her struggling to be top dog when she returns, Pellegrini on 200m to Adlington on 800m and all the others, the likes of Ziegler and Jackson who would be top dogs in any other era will make it really hard for Laure, and on Back, Seebohm,Simmonds,Spofforth and the American girls, I do see Laure being very good again though.

  7. Going back to Dara for one second. I remember a Morning Swim Show interview with her coach Michael Lohberg before the Austin Grand Prix in 2009 (her first meet post-Beijing. She was uncertain of her future post-Rome at that point. When asked if Dara would be in London, he said something along the lines of "I would put some money on it."

  8. Off topic, I have to say i am excited about what Halsall can do in 2011/2012, just heard her ankle was soo bad this year she needs surgery and it affected her Free!
    53.58 with bad balance and a weaker kick bodes extremely well, what do you think?

  9. She is probably the most talented swimmer the GB team have right now. She's been a winner from an early age (she dominated the European Junior Champs in 2006). To find out her freestyle was unbalanced all year because of the ankle injury bodes extremely well for the next few years, as you rightly point out.

    I agree with what Bill Sweetenham had to say about her, taken from his interview with The Daily Telegraph (

    Sweetenham on...

    Fran Halsall

    Exceptional, outstanding and extraordinary. However she hasn't yet got the build for the 50 and 100m freestyle. She is a mentally mature giant in a physically undeveloped body but she will have the build in London I assure you. She is a driven, focused young lady. A gladiator of the pool. Confidence without arrogance. Ability without false hopes. A champion in the making. I think we might be looking back at her in several years time and view Halsall as one of the trend-setters for our generation and one of the swimmers of the decade.

  10. I have heard some details regarding the bet between Ed and Lochte. My understanding is that Lochte will compete in 100 breastroke at nationals. It will be a straight up bet where the winner takes all the money. Apparently there is talk of the guys both brining a bag full of $5,000.00 up to the blocks and the winner gets to take both bags home with them.