Thursday, 25 February 2010

What to expect in 2010: Men 50 meter LC Freestyle

Of all the Olympic swimming events, one race moved forward further than all others in the techsuit era, the Men's 50 LC meter Freestyle. Since the introduction of techsuits in February 2008 the world record in the event dropped from 21.64 (Alex Popov, 2000) to 20.91 (Cesar Cielo, 2009), a drop of 3.37%. I have previously looked at world record percentage changes by event pre/post techsuits, but I wanted to take this one step further. The world record analysis only looked at one swimmer's time. I wanted to go back further and look at a wider sample of swimmers.

I've taken the Top 5 and Top 25 times in the world per year over the last decade and looked at how the averages shape up. As the data shows, in the years 99-07 the average time for the top 5 fluctuated by no more than 0.31 secs (2003 and 2007) and the average time for a top 25 time by no more than 0.30 secs (2002 and 2007). Then the techsuits arrived and we saw the average time for a top 5 50m Freestyler in 2009 improve by 1.04 secs (4.95%) and a top 25 swimmer by 0.92secs (4.11%). The techsuit led to an unnatural progression in the event and I have tried to look at what the Top 5 and Top 25 times in the world will look like in 2010.

There was consistent improvement between the times set in 1999 and the average times from the years 2004 and 2007 in the 50 Free. However, times in 2007 could still be set wearing full bodysuits/leg suits which we no longer have. I therefore predict that times in 2010 will be a shade slower than in 2007, but faster than in most other years between 99 and 06.

To make top 5 in the world this year I predict you will need to swim around 21.88.
To make top 25 in the world this year I predict you will need to swim around 22.18.

Popov's fastest ever textile mark sits at 21.64. I expect the top guys in the world to get very close to that this year.


Mens 50m FreeTop5AvgTime%age changeTop25AvgTime%age change


since 1999since 1999
























Avg 1999-200721.9940.279%22.2950.577%


Avg 2004-200721.9240.601%22.2040.982%


2010 Prediction21.880.798%22.181.088%

Monday, 22 February 2010

200m Freestyle: Biedermann vs Phelps

You can find my race-by-race recap of the Great Britain Vs. Germay duel day one here and day two here. Full results (without splits) are here.

Biedermann vs Phelps

Great to see Paul Biedermann back in action at the GBR Vs. GER duel. He looked in tremendous physical condition. He mentioned that he'd lost 1.5kg and that he still had more a bit more to lose. His modesty shone through after the race too when the inevitable questions about Phelps came up. He dealt with them admirably calling Phelps the "greatest swimmer in the world" and that he hopes to face him later in the year either at the Monaco leg of the Mare Nostrum series in June or at the World Shortcourse Champs in Dubai in December.

Why Phelps vs Biedermann is so intriguing is the fact that Phelps' famous last 50m speed, where he has won so many races, is less effective against Biedermann. Normally if Phelps goes into the final turn level or just behind a swimmer, you still expect him to win. However, take a look back at the 200m Final in Rome last year and see Biedermann's final 50m. This is the first time I can remember seeing anyone pulling away from Phelps on a final 50m. 9 minute version here with full build up and post-race analysis.

This is the way Biedermann swims and I believe he's strong enough to match Phelps on the final 50m of a 200m Free. Phelps may need to change his approach to the 200m and take the race out (possibly sub-50 seconds) if he wants to beat Biedermann.

The one criticism I have of Biedermann is his starts. He loses out everytime on them and his starting weakness was evident again this weekend. The worrying aspect for his rivals is that this is something that can be improved upon.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Great Britain v Germany Duel - This Weekend

The schedule and teams have been named for this weekend's Duel between Great Britain and Germany.

Highlights include:-

Paul Biedermann's return to action... in a 2010 suit.

Elizabeth Simmonds in the 200m Back after getting close to Kristina Egerszegi's textile best mark of 2:06.62 last weekend.
(The full list of textile best times can be found here.)

Seeing which team has adapted best to the US style format at the second attempt.


Matthew Clay, Ross Davenport, David Davies, Daniel Fogg, Jazmin Carlin, Thomas Haffield, Ian Hulme, Andrew Hunter, Antony James, Michael Jamieson, Robbie Renwick, Joseph Roebuck, Daniel Sliwinski, Lewis Smith, Liam Tancock, Charles Turner, Grant Turner, Chris Walker-Hebborn

Rebecca Adlington, Charlotte Barnes, Anne Bochmann, Georgia Davies, Jessica Dickons, Francesca Halsall, Georgia Holderness, Joanne Jackson, Caitlin McClatchey, Louise Pate, Elizabeth Simmonds, Amy Smith, Emma Smithurst, Jessica Sylvester, Lowri Tynan, Aimee Willmott, Katherine Wyld

Paul Biedermann, Dimitri Colupaev, Steffen Deibler, Johannes Dietrich, Toni Embacher, Hendrik Feldwehr, Christoph Fildebrandt, Lucien Haßdenteufel, Marco Koch, Christian Kubusch, Yannick Lebherz, Johannes Neumann, Tim Wallburger, Felix Wolf, Jan Wolfgarten, Benjamin Starke

Dorothea Brandt, Jaana Ehmcke, Isabell Härle, Franziska Hentke, Franziska Jansen, Lena Kalla, Silke Lippok, Jenny Mensing, Theresa Michalak, Caroline Ruhnau, Janne Schäfer, Nina Schiffer, Daniela Schreiber, Kerstin Vogel, Alexandra Wenk


Saturday Afternoon Session
50m Back
400m IM
50m Breast
100m Free
200m Back
100m Fly
200m Breast
400m Free
400m Medley Relay

Sunday Morning Session
50m Fly
800m Free (Women only)
1500m Free (Men only)
50m Free
100m Back
200m Free
100m Breast
200m Fly
200m IM
400m Free Relay

Both teams are fielding strong teams although there are some notable absences:-
For Germany - Britta Steffen, Helge Meeuw, Daniela Samulski, Annika Mehlhorn.
For Great Britain - James Goddard, Michael Rock, Hannah Miley (UK based swimmers) Gemma Spofforth, Adam Brown, Ellen Gandy, Jemma Lowe, Marco Loughran (based abroad)

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Textile Best Times Rattled at British Universities Long Course Champs

In a break from traditional at this year's British University LC Champs, non-student members of the British Swimming team have been allowed to compete in the heats of this competition to get some much needed LC racing under their belts.

Despite only being able to swim in heats, some stunning times have been recorded. Elizabeth Simmonds led the way with a scorching 2:06.90 in the 200m Back. This just missed Kristina Egerszegi's 2:06.62, the fastest time ever set in a textile suit back in 1991. Simmonds recorded splits of 30.40, 1:02.31 (31.91), 1:34.67 (32.36), 2:06.90 (32.23). Simmonds swam the 200m Back time shortly after 2pm after having already swam the 200m Free and 50m Back in the morning session. Her 50m Back time was also quick, 28.58, only half a second behind Li Yang's 28.09 from the textile era. Simmonds' day started early as she raced to a highly respectable 2:01.68 in the 200m Free heats at 10am.

Fran Halsall continued her assault on world class Fly swimming setting the fastest time in the world this year in the 100m Fly with 58.71. (0.02 seconds faster than Felicity Galvez's effort at the NSW State Open Champs just hours earlier - comparing splits Halsall went out in 27.12 to Galvez's 27.53). Halsall backed this up in the afternoon session blazing a 50m Free in 24.94, 0.04seconds faster than Therese Alshammar's swim from the NSW State Open Champs. Halsall was a swimmer whose times improved massively during the techsuit era, however her relatively slight build and impressive early season form suggests she won't suffer too much with the 2010 regulations.

With the non-students not swimming finals, it was left to Loughborough Uni's Liam Tancock to shine in the final of the 50m Back. Tancock posted 25.01 and missed out on Thomas Rupprath's textile best time by just 0.21 secs. It was a full 1.03 slower than his own WR set at last year's worlds and whilst that time might take some beating, Tancock should dip well below Rupprath's previous time with a full taper.

Full results can be found here. Remember to check both the heats and finals.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Fast Times Downunder Part II - New non-tech suit fastest time for Seebohm!

The NSW State Open Championships continued to produce some excellent swims on day 2 of the 3 day meet.

Emily Seebohm impressed in both heats and finals dipping below the 1:00 mark both times. Her heat time was an impressive 59.89, but she backed this up with an incredible 59.25 in the final. In what I hope to be a Speed Endurance exclusive, I can reveal that Seebohm's 59.25 has broken Natalie Coughlin's previous WR of 59.44 set at the World Champs in 2007. The significance of Coughlin's mark is that this was the last WR in the Women's 100m back to be set in the non-techsuit era, making Seebohm the fastest women ever in the 100m Back wearing a 100% textile suit. Still just 17 years of age, Seebohm is one of swimming's brightest talents. A potentially epic duel awaits in the 100m Back at the Commonwealth Games later this year between Seebohm and current WR holder and World Champion Gemma Spofforth.

Notable performances came from Tae Hwan Park, winning his 3rd event at the meet with 1:46.98 in the 200m Free, Geoff Huegill going 2nd in the world rankings this year with 23.83 in the 50m Fly and an impressive 2:26.14 from Leisel Jones in the 200m Breast.

Other winners from day 2 were Therese Alshammar (50m Free - 24.98),Felicity Galvez (100m Fly - 58.73), Leith Brodie (200m IM), Brenton Rickard (100m Breast - 1:02.01), Bronte Barratt(400m Free - 4:09.28) and Daniel Arnamnart (200m Back - 2:01.75).

Friday, 12 February 2010

Fast Times Downunder

Whilst the Missouri Open is just getting underway, The NSW State Open Champs has already completed its first day.

Some very fast swims already (full results can be found here )

Tae Hwan Park's 3:45.03 in the 400m Free stands out as the swim of the night. It would have been good enough for 8th in the world in suited 2009. Park backed this swim up with victory in the 100 Free with 49.45.

Leisel Jones also impressed with a speedy 1:05.85 in the 100m Breast (good enough for 10th in the world last year). Jones is showing that after a quiet 2009 Soni, Hardy, Pierse, Jukic et al will have a tough time toppling Lethal Leisel.

Therese Alshammar was on top form in the 50m Fly winning in a lightning fast 25.60.

The first night also saw victories for Nick D'Arcy (200m Fly), Brenton Rickard (50m Breast), Emily Seebohm (100m Free), Belinda Hocking (200m Back), Daniel Arnamnart (50m Back) and Stephanie Rice (400m IM).

Monday, 8 February 2010

Missouri Open Grand Prix - Races to look forward to

Men's 200m Free
Contenders - M. Phelps, R. Lochte, S. Burnett, B. Hayden, O. Mellouli

Whilst this race should be about who finishes 2nd behind Phelps, it is stacked with enough talent to cause a potential upset. The real race should be between Phelps and Lochte, however I'm looking forward to see what sort of form Simon Burnett is in. Burnett hasn't been at his best since 2006, when he set the still standing U.S. Open 200yd Free record of 1:31.20. It would be great to see him back to that kind of form and with the Commonwealth Games coming up this year, he has a great chance to set himself up for London 2012 (the Olympic pool will be less than 40 miles away from where he grew up and trained in the UK). Hayden and Mellouli's performances will also be interesting, Hayden stepping up in distance and Mellouli coming down.

*Update* - Snow has caused the withdrawal of the entire NBAC squad including Michael Phelps. A real shame for the competition, hopefully no more swimmers have to withdraw.... on the plus side, this 200m Free just got a whole lot more open. Burnett's big chance to cause an upset?

Men's 100m/200m Breaststroke

Contenders - K. Kitajima, E. Shanteau

Its great that Kitajima is racing over in the US for a few months because we get to see great contests like this. It was a joy to see him go head to head with Mike Alexandrov at Long Beach, but this should be even better. Kitajima looked sharp last month at the SCY meet so has to go in as favourite for both races here. However, Shanteau was on fire last year at World's and amazingly now has a faster time over 200m than Kitajima. How much this was due to the suits will be discovered over the next few months, however its worth noting that Men's breaststroke WRs had the least percentage change from the suit era of all the strokes. If Kitajima and Shanteau are on form, expect both men's breaststroke races to be very close.... and hopefully very fast.

Womens 400m Free
Contenders - C. Sutton, T. Hunks, S. King, M. Klaren

I am particularly looking forward to seeing Chloe Sutton swim in the 400m Free (and 200m/800m/1500m Free for that matter). At the Long Beach SCY meet I was blown away by Sutton's 500yd Free race with Katie Hoff. Hoff destroyed Sutton on the turns, but Sutton was noticeably quicker between the walls. How that plays out with only 7 turns and a lot more swimming between the walls will be fascinating. Sutton had only just turned pro when Long Beach came around and dealt with the added exposure that brought admirably. I'm hoping that Sutton's gruelling schedule of 7 events at this meet doesn't affect some potential world leading swims. 2010 world leading times - 4:12.66 in the 400, 8:31.14 in the 800 Free and 16:41.39 in the 1500m Free.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Top 20 Swimmers of the 2000s - No.6 - Aaron Peirsol

Performance 2000-2009

Olympics - 3 Gold, 2 Silver
Worlds - 7 Gold, 1 Silver
WRs - 100 Back (2004-2009) (2009-2010), 200 Breast (2002-2007) (2008) (2009-2010)
World Swimmer of the Year - None

Losing out to Kitajima by the narrowest of margins is Aaron Peirsol. They are so close in my mind that they really could have been 5a and 5b. Peirsol has dominated men's backstroke over the last decade. Taking over from Lenny Krazelburg as the world's best backstroker, he became the fastest ever over 200m in 2002 and the fastest at 100m in 2004. Despite briefly losing both of his world records to other swimmers (Aschwin Wildeboer in the 100m and Ryan Lochte in the 200m), Peirsol showed what a tremendous athlete he was by regaining both records in 2009. Peirsol has had the added pleasure of being not only the first man under 53 seconds, but also the first man under 52 seconds in the 100 back and in the 200m Back he broke the 1:55, 1:53 and 1:52 barriers. He has done more than any man in the last decade to move men's backstroke onto what it is now.

Winning his first Olympic medal aged 17 in Sydney in the 200m Back, Peirsol was a prodigous talent. Ranking 20th in the world at 200m Back in 1998 at the age of just 15 with 2:01.39, he then moved up to 10th in 1999, aged 16, with 1:59.75.

Peirsol swept both the 100m and 200m Backstroke's at the 2004 Olympics and 2003 and 2005 Worlds. In Beijing, Peirsol won Gold in the 100m Back only for Ryan Lochte to thwart his efforts to win both backstroke events at back-to-back Olympics. With the return to textile suits, Peirsol must be considered favourite for both events again at London 2012.

Despite swimming at the highest level for a decade, Peirsol is still only 26 years of age and, worryingly for his rivals, has many good years ahead of him.

Having lost his 200m Back Olympic crown and World Record to Ryan Lochte in 2008, here is Peirsol's stunning reply from Rome 2009.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Top 20 Swimmers of the 2000s - No.5 - Kosuke Kitajima

Performance 2000-2009

Olympics - 4 Gold
Worlds - 3 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze
WRs - 100 Breast (2003-2004) (2008-2009), 200 Breast (2002-2003) (2003-2004) (2008-2009)
World Swimmer of the Year - None

Rounding out the Top 5 is the Japanese Breaststroke superstar Kosuke Kitajima. Kitajima may not have been the most obvious choice for 5th spot but he merits this position due to his incredible dominance on swimming's greatest stage, the Olympic Games. He became the first man to ever win the 100m and 200m Breast at back-to-back Olympics. Only Domenico Fiorvanti had ever won both Breaststroke events in a single Olympics before. Interestingly Kitajima qualified for the final fastest only once in those 4 Gold medal events. (2008, 200m Breast). He also appeared in the 2000 Olympics finishing 4th in the 100m Breast 2 days before his 18th birthday.

A star in his native Japan he has had to deal with huge expectations on his shoulders. A testament to his influence in Japan came in the run-up to Beijing where he announced that he would wear a Speedo LZR, despite the Japanese Swimming Federation being under contract with sponsor Mizuno. As a result of Kitajima's demands, he and his teammates were able to level the suit playing field to the rest of the world.

Kitajima had a great rivalry with Brendan Hansen throughout the last decade. This served to bring both men, and male breaststroke, even more attention. Despite Hansen winning more World Championship Golds and holding the Breaststroke WRs for longer, Kitajima will go down as the greatest breaststroker in history due to his ability to rise to the occasion at the Olympics.

Enjoy Kitijima's 100m Breast final from Beijing. Stunning turn and second 50m.