Saturday, 31 December 2011

Top 51 Swimmers of 2011 - 21 to 11

As another year of great swimming comes to a close, here is a rundown of the Top 51 Swimmers of 2011. There is no set criteria, but clearly the World Championships in Shanghai carried a big weight in the decision making process. That being said, outstanding achievements away from Shanghai were still acknowledged.

Thanks for reading Speed Endurance this year. Next year should be something a bit special!

Here is the rundown from 21 to 11.

21. Zhao Jing – 2011 Highlight – Winning one of the most exciting races at Worlds, the 100m Back, in 59.05

Zhao Jing produced her best swim of the year at exactly the right time. She added the world title to her Asian Games gold from 2010 and has topped the world rankings in each of the last two years. She beat Zueva by the slimmest of margins, but goes into 2012 with a great couple of years behind her. The world now waits to see the impact Missy Franklin will have on the event.

20. Daniel Gyurta – 2011 Highlight – Making up a deficit of half a second on the last 50m to win the 200m Breast in Shanghai (2:08.41)

Gyurta once again was under the radar for most of the year before producing the goods when it mattered the most. Trailing Kosuke Kitajima at 150m, he used his trademark strong finish to win gold. He ended the year with a textile best time and 3rd fastest swim in history in the short course 200m Breast (2:02.37) at Euro SC. He couldn’t produce the same time a week later when he raced Brendan Hansen at Duel in the Pool, but that doesn’t change how strong a year Gyurta had.

19. Jiao Liuyang – 2011 Highlight – Hanging on to win the 200m Fly in Shanghai in a time of 2:05.55, with a winning margin of just 0.04

Jiao Liuyang was involved in the two best 200m Fly races of 2011. At Chinese Nationals she finished second in an incredible time of 2:04.44, just 0.04 behind Liu Zige. However, Jiao Liuyang turned the tables on her team mate in Shanghai winning the world title with Liu Zige back in 3rd. As we enter the Olympic year, the Chinese-British battle for the 200m Fly title should be great. After a dominant 2010 and a world title in 2011, the favourite at this stage has to be Jiao Liuyang.

Top 51 Swimmers of 2011 - 31 to 22

As another year of great swimming comes to a close, here is a rundown of the Top 50 Swimmers of 2011. There is no set criteria, but clearly the World Championships in Shanghai carried a big weight in the decision making process. That being said, outstanding achievements away from Shanghai were still acknowledged.

Here is the rundown from 31 to 22.

31. Natalie Coughlin – 2011 Highlight – Leading off the US 4 x 100 Medley relay at Duel in the Pool in an American record 55.97, setting up the US team to break the world record.

Coughlin’s year was highlighted more by her contribution to a historically good US women’s medley relay (both long course and short course) than her individual exploits. Things were almost different when she came close to winning the 100m Back final finishing 0.10 shy of gold. Having led the entire race, she eventually had to settle for bronze. A solid lead-off for the US silver medal freestyle relay gave Coughlin the role of team player in 2011.

30. Yulia Efimova – 2011 Highlight – Reaching new heights in the 200m Breast, taking silver in 2:22.22.

Efimova emerged in 2011 as possibly the only swimmer that can challenge Rebecca Soni in the 200m Breast. Efimova split 1.2 seconds faster than Soni on the second 100m of the final and continues to learn how to swim the event after focusing for years on the 100m. The speed is still there, as evidenced by her silver in the 50m Breast and 4th place in the 100m Breast (missing a medal by 0.04).

29. Ryosuke Irie – 2011 Highlight – Winning silver in the 200m Back in Shanghai (1:54.08).

There is no more consistent swimmer than Ryosuke Irie. He owns an incredible 6 of the fastest 7 swims this year in the 200m Back. Unfortunately he has to race a certain Ryan Lochte, but swimming his fastest time of the year in the world final was a step forward. He also owns 8 of the top 14 times in the 100m Back and picked up a bronze in Shanghai.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Top 51 Swimmers of 2011 - 41 to 32

As another year of great swimming comes to a close, here is a rundown of the Top 50 Swimmers of 2011. There is no set criteria, but clearly the World Championships in Shanghai carried a big weight in the decision making process. That being said, outstanding achievements away from Shanghai were still acknowledged.

Here is the rundown from 40 to 31.

41. Brendan Hansen – 2011 Highlight – Beating world champion Daniel Gyurta at the Duel in the Pool.

Hansen makes the list not so much for his performances, which still put him in the world top 10, but for the fact that of all the comebacks during the last two years, his has been by far the most successful. To be under 2:10 in the 200m Breast at this stage of Hansen’s return is scary. Hansen v Kitajima v Gyurta should be a classic, Tomita, von Lehm and Shanteau will all try to crash the party.

40. Camille Muffat – 2011 Highlight – Missing out on two silver medals in Shanghai by a combined 0.10 seconds.

This selection may raise a few eyebrows, especially considering that Kylie Palmer who finished ahead of Muffat in the 200 Free in Shanghai missed out on the Top 50. Muffat’s inclusion was based on her impressive last 12 months. The Nice trained swimmer is a model of consistency in middle distance Freestyle. In the last year she has registered 7 of the top 25 performances in the 200m Free and 6 in the 400 Free (including 3 of the top 7). Her 4:03.23 400 Free effort at French nationals puts her in elite company with Federica Pellegrini and Rebecca Adlington.

39. Paul Biedermann – 2011 Highlight – Silencing some of his critics by taking two bronze medals in Shanghai in two of the deepest events on the men’s side.

Biedermann, like Muffat, came back from Shanghai with two bronze medals, but when you consider the swimmers he beat on his way to those medals, his place in the Top 50 should become clearer: Park Tae-Hwan, Yannick Agnel, Nikita Lobintsev, Ous Mellouli, Peter Vanderkaay, Ryan Cochrane. It is also worth remembering that Michael Phelps beat Biedermann by just 0.09 in the 200m Free. His time of 1:44.88 moved him ahead of Pieter van den Hoogenband to 4th 5th on the all-time textile ranking list.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Top 51 Swimmers of 2011 - 51 to 42

As another year of great swimming comes to a close, here is a rundown of the Top 50 Swimmers of 2011. There is no set criteria, but clearly the World Championships in Shanghai carried a big weight in the decision making process. That being said, outstanding achievements away from Shanghai were still acknowledged (looking at you number 44).

Thanks for reading Speed Endurance this year. Next year should be something a bit special!

Today we start with numbers 51 through to 42.

51. Miriea Belmonte Garcia – 2011 Highlight – Getting the better of Lotte Friis over 800m Free in December, where her time of 8:22.78 moved her to 3rd in the world rankings.

The breakthrough in the 800 puts her at the head of the chase for Friis and Rebecca Adlington. Belmonte also continued her dominance of the short course pool with European titles in the 400m Free, 200m Fly, 200m IM and 400m IM. Had an outstanding year, marred only by her failure to medal in Shanghai.

50. Brent Hayden – 2011 Highlight – Winning silver behind James Magnussen in the 100m Free in Shanghai (47.95). 

It is hard to know what to make of Hayden’s year, having pre-qualified for Worlds he showed his true hand only once during 2011. He is the only man to have been sub-48 seconds in both 2010 and 2011, and that consistency makes him a dangerous player in an unpredictable race like the 100m Free.

49. Yannick Agnel – 2011 Highlight – His 3:43.85 in the 400m Free at French Nationals.

The swim back in March showed what might have been in Shanghai had he not fallen ill during a vital part of his training cycle. Despite the illness the young Frenchman was still able to break the 1:45 barrier in the 200m Free in Shanghai, which sets up a fascinating 2012 for Agnel.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Duel In The Pool 2011 - Women's Predictions

This year’s Duel in the Pool takes place December 16-17 at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, Atlanta.

The European roster has been strengthened since 2009’s version of this event by allowing more countries to participate this time around, although it is a long way away from a full-strength European team. Among the notable absentees on the women's side: Rebecca Adlington, Federica Pellegrini, Sarah Sjostrom, Therese Alshammar, Camille Muffat, Mireia Belmonte, Britta Steffen, Anastasia Zueva, Hannah Miley, Femke Heemskerk.

US Team: Amanda Beard, Elizabeth Beisel, Elaine Breeden, Natalie Coughlin, Missy Franklin, Katy Freeman, Jessica Hardy, Kathleen Hersey, Katie Hoff, Dagny Knutson, Kaitlin Leverenz, Elizabeth Pelton, Julia Smit, Rebecca Soni, Ashley Steenvorden, Chloe Sutton, Dana Vollmer, Amanda Weir, Kate Ziegler.

European Team: Lotte Friis, Fran Halsall, Anna Martina Granstroem, Aliaksandra Herasimenia, Katinka Hosszu, Zsuzsanna Jakabos, Anja Klinar, Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Rikke Molle Pedersen, Grainne Murphy, Moniek Nijhuis, Jeanette Ottesen, Elizabeth Simmonds, Gemma Spofforth, Marleen Veldhuis, Evelin Verraszto, Sharon van Rouwendaal, Barbora Zavadova, Daryna Zevina.

Prediction Time

50m Free - Kromowidjojo, Halsall, Veldhuis vs Hardy, Weir, Coughlin

Having a Dutch contingent on the team is going to give the Europeans a huge boost in the sprint events. This has the potential to be a clean sweep, although Hardy has a habit of getting in the top 3 in the sprints.

Prediction - 1. Kromowidjojo, 2. Halsall, 3. Hardy

100m Free - Kromowidjojo, Ottesen, Herasimenia vs Coughlin, Weir, Franklin

You could make an argument for Halsall to swim this event, but it's hard to not pick the reigning world champions in both long and short course. This is an event Coughlin excels in, with Missy Franklin also posting blazing times this year. This should be an intriguing contest, but it is hard to look past last year's world champion who was so dominant in the event.

Prediction - 1. Kromowidjojo, 2. Franklin, 3. Ottesen

200m Free - Hosszu, Verraszto, van Rouwendaal vs. Vollmer, Hoff, Franklin

The Europeans could have done with having Sarah Sjostrom or Femke Heemskerk on the team, especially on the 200m Free... saying that, it may still not have been enough to win. US clean sweep.

Prediction - 1. Franklin, 2. Hoff, 3. Vollmer

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Duel in the Pool 2011 - Men’s Predictions

This year’s Duel in the Pool takes place December 16-17 at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, Atlanta.

The European roster has been strengthened since 2009’s version of this event by allowing more countries to participate this time around, although it is a long way away from a full-strength European team. Among the notable absentees on the men’s side: Lacourt, Bousquet, Gilot, Bernard, Stravius, Biedermann, Agnel, Dale Oen, Donets, Dotto, Fesikov, Lobintsev, Scozzoli, Tancock, Goddard, Wildeboer.
The US are bringing a close to full strength team, however they will have to compete with some important pieces missing. No Michael Phelps, no Nathan Adrian, no Chad LaTourette.


Europe - Bernek, Biczo, Brown, Cseh, Czerniak, Glaesner, Gyurta, Heersbrandt, Joensen, Jukic, Kawecki, Kis, Korzeniowski, Loughran, Meichtry, Morozov, Renwick, Rogan, Takacs, Titenis, Verraszto, vom Lehn – 22 swimmers

USA – Alexandrov, Berens, Brunelli, Clary, Dwyer, Gangloff, Grevers, Feigen, Hansen, Klueh, Lochte, McGill, McLean, Tarwater, Thoman, Shanteau, Vanderkaay, Weber-Gale – 18 swimmers

Prediction time. Assuming the format remains the same, swimmers can compete in four individual swims. Point scoring is as follows: Relay – 7 points to winner, nothing for second place. Individual events, 1st – 5 points, 2nd – 3 points, 3rd – 1 point.

Predictions (Race line-ups haven’t been announced yet)

50m Free – Czerniak, Brown, Takacs vs. Feigen, Brunelli, Weber-Gale
No Nathan Adrian hurts the US team here, but Feigen is not a bad replacement. Despite this, Czerniak goes in as favourite after his Euro SC performance. Morozov, who has been faster in SCY this year than Feigen, might also get a swim here.
Prediction – 1. Czerniak, 2. Feigen, 3. Brown

100m Free – Brown, Takacs, Morozov vs. Feigen, Weber-Gale, Grevers
This event highlights what the event could have been with a full strength European team (no Russians, no French). Vlad Morozov has been in great form in US college swimming and could cause an upset in this one if given the individual swim.
Prediction – 1. Morozov, 2. Feigen 3. Grevers

200m Free - Meichtry, Korzeniowski, Renwick vs. Berens, Dwyer, Lochte
Europe will miss Biedermann, Agnel and the Russians in this race. Meichtry and Korzeniowski have an advantage of having just raced at Euro SC, but that might not be enough against a top US line-up. If Lochte swims this event it will be USA’s best chance for a sweep.
Prediction – 1. Lochte, 2. Berens, 3. Dwyer

Monday, 14 November 2011

Evaluating Ian Thorpe's Return

Ian Thorpe's first attempt back in the world of competitive swimming is in the books. As the dust settles, let's evaluate how it went.


- Thorpe was considerably faster in the Tokyo World Cup leg than he was in Singapore and Beijing.
- In Tokyo he was able to hold on much better in the second half of races showing that his 'race fitness' was improving. In theory, the more competitions he does, the better this will become.
- Thorpe, his coach Gennadi Touretski and Australian head coach Leigh Nugent were making all the right noises at each world cup stop, stating that the comeback was still on course.
- His freestyle stroke still looks more suited to the 200m Free, which we are yet to see. At this stage his best bet at Olympic qualification looks to be the 4 x 200m Free relay.
- We've just seen Thorpe at his rustiest and he was still only half a second down on established guys like Alain Bernard in heats. For all we know, Thorpe could have dropped another second in the 100m Free final had he qualified.
- Thorpe still has 4 long months of training ahead of him before Australian Trials.


- Thorpe only has 4 short months of training ahead of him before Australian Trials.
- Thorpe still has A LONG way to go. He failed to final in his two best swims, Tokyo's 100m Free and 100m Fly. In the 100m Free he was a full 2 seconds behind the eventual winner Kyle Richardson's time.
- Richardson sums up his problem. There might not be a more difficult relay team to make than the reigning world champion Aussie 4 x 100m Free team.
- He's going to need to work even harder on his starts and turns. 4 months might will not be long enough to catch up on these technical aspects. All he can do now is mitigate his losses in these areas. Nugent believes that he is trying to stay under water too long on his turns.
- One comment that Thorpe made stuck out like a sore thumb - "This week has been challenging, I wish I could have done it with no-one watching - but that's unfortunately not the case." This is the same guy that retired from the sport because of the intense media scrutiny he was under. Hopefully the same demons that haunted him in previous years aren't resurfacing before the comeback has really taken shape.

Thorpedo's Times (best times and splits in bold)


100m IM (Heat) - 56.74 (26.14 / 30.60)
100m IM (Final) - 56.33 (25.14 / 31.19)
100m Fly (Heat) - 54.09 (25.27 / 28.82)


100m Free (Heat) - 50.21 (24.00 / 26.21)
100m IM (Heat) - 56.70 (26.22 / 30.48)
100m Fly (Heat) -54.35 (25.29 / 29.06)


100m Free (Heat) - 49.45 (24.08 / 25.37)
100m Fly (Heats) - 53.59 (25.11 / 28.48)

Monday, 7 November 2011

Ian Thorpe Down To Race 100m Freestyle In Beijing

After a less than stellar comeback meet in Singapore (and some outrageously ambitious predictions), Ian Thorpe is down to race a more familiar race in Beijing, the 100m Freestyle (entry time 49.41).

His participation is not 100% confirmed as he may still scratch the race, but his entry means he is a step closer than he was in Singapore to racing freestyle again.

Side note : It will be good to see the Water Cube in action again.

UPDATE -  Thorpe finished 15th after the heats of the 100m Freestyle in a time of 50.21. Splits of 24.00 / 26.21.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Ian Thorpe's Return Imminent: 5 Things to Watch & Predictions

Australian legend Ian Thorpe will return to the competition pool on Friday for the first time since 2006. Choosing to swim the 100m Fly and 100m IM, Thorpe will give us just 25 tantalising metres to judge his Freestyle in Singapore.

5 Things to Watch Out For

1) New Freestyle technique - Watch out for a new technique with higher elbows and increased hip rotation.
2) Butterfly speed - Geoff Huegill is nervous about racing Thorpe in the 100 Fly, highlighting Gennadi Touretski's love of training his swimmers with an emphasis on butterfly.  For more, read David Rieder's article.
3) Physique - Thorpe has never had a typical swimmers physique and always had a big frame, not that you could ever see it in his black suit. In Singapore we will see what kind of physical shape Thorpe is in.
4) Technical aspects - Potentially the X Factor that will determine if his comeback will be a success. The world has moved on since 2006 on starts, turns and underwaters. Thorpe will need to catch up quickly to be competitive on the biggest stage.
5) Mentality - Thorpe fell out of love with swimming but has recently spoke of his love for the sport returning. Touretski wants him swimming with freedom in Singapore, so look for Thorpe to be enjoying racing again.


100m Fly - 51.95
100m IM - 53.50

Heats starts at 9am Singapore time (1am London time). Finals begin at 5:30pm Singapore time (9:30am London time).

Live Video Here or Here
Start Lists & Results

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

British Stars Get Their Season Underway

A group of top British swimmers got their Olympic seasons underway in a low-key manner at last weekend's Lincoln Vulcans Open Meet (long course metres). Despite being in heavy training, Elizabeth Simmonds and Fran Halsall managed to put together a world class duel in the 100m Backstroke.

Notable performances

Elizabeth Simmonds - 100m Back - 1:00.70 (split 29.61)
Francesca Halsall - 100m Back - 1:01.15 (split 29.76)
Francesca Halsall - 50m Free - 25.13
Francesca Halsall - 100m Fly - 59.63
Liam Tancock - 100m Breast - 1:04.18 (split 30.25)
Rebecca Adlington - 200m IM - 2:18.70
Rebecca Adlington - 200m Back - 2:15.71
Jo Jackson - 100m Free - 56.51

Full results

Monday, 17 October 2011

Cesar Cielo 47.84 100m Freestyle, 47.07 Relay Split (With Video)

Apparently 2011 still has more fast long course swimming to offer. At the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Cesar Cielo posted a smoking 47.84 in the 100m Freestyle. If the time looks familiar it is because Cielo equalled Pieter Van den Hoogenband's previous long standing world record (and former textile best time).

Cielo remains 0.35 seconds shy of James Magnussen's 47.49 relay lead-off leg from Shanghai, but his swim serves as a reminder that he will be a major force in London after a disappointing 4th place at the World Championships.

It seems like Magnussen's way of the racing the event (conserving energy on the first 50 and blowing past the competition on the 2nd 50m) has changed the way Cielo is swimming the race. In Shanghai Cielo went out in 22.63 and came back in 25.38. In Guadalajara he turned in 22.84 and came back in 25.00. It's a smart move from the Brazilian. Magnussen currently enjoys a mental edge over the competition, knowing that he can catch and pass the field. When you can see that you are catching and passing other swimmers it gives you a huge lift, a "second wind" if you like. Think of how many races you see seemingly unsurmountable leads overcome with a stunning last 50m split. If Cielo is able to limit the rate at which the Australian catches him, we're yet to see how it will affect Magnussen's sprint to the wall.

Cielo's relay split of 47.07 further highlights this new race pace. He turned in 22.54 (with the aid of a relay start this probably converts to a 23.0/23.1 from a flat start), before turning on the jets on the second 50m with a split of 24.53. If you watch the video below (starting at 7:25) you can clearly see Cielo increase his stroke rate and leg kick at 45m going into the wall, before going all-out on the second 50m. Reports coming out of Brazil are that Cielo is doing a lot more metres in his training than he did at Auburn. This seems to be paying off with his new found endurance on the second 50m of races.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

British Olympic Trials Ticketing Update

From British Swimming:

British Swimming has appointed leading ticket agency Ticketmaster as its new ticket vendor for the British Gas Swimming Championships 2012 (Selection Trials) and arranged new dates for people to buy tickets.
Preregistered customers can now buy tickets for the event from 10am on Tuesday 1 November. This is the start of an exclusive three day purchasing period for the 3-10 March competition that closes 10am on Friday 4 November. Tickets will then go on general release.
Following issues experienced with online and phone ticketing systems last week, British Swimming concluded that its original vendor was unable to provide the level of service required for this event.
Customers who have already purchased tickets for the event can be assured these tickets remain valid and will be delivered on time.
There are still tickets available for all sessions, no sessions have sold out and pre-registered customers will still have the first opportunity to purchase tickets.
Preregistered customers will be sent a unique passcode and link to the Ticketmaster website to purchase tickets and will also have the chance to buy over the phone, again quoting their passcode.

This Week In Swimming

FINA Swimming World Cup - Stockholm - Oct 15-16

Results & Start Lists

Live Video

Pan American Games - Guadalajara, Mexico - Oct 15-21

Results & Start Lists

British National County Team Championships - Ponds Forge, Sheffield - Oct 16

Division 1 - Results & Start Lists
Division 2 - Results & Start Lists

Lincoln Vulcan Open Meet - Ponds Forge, Sheffield - Oct 15

Start Lists

International Swimming Festival - Aachen - Oct 14-16

Start Lists

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Olympic Trials Ticket Website Crashes

The demand for British Swimming Olympic Trials tickets has caused TheTicketSellers website to go down.

Frustratingly you could select your seats, but when it came to going to the Checkout page the website timed out. The site should be back up later on today to try all over again. As always there are winners and losers:

Winners - Nobody

Losers - British Swimming, British Gas, The Ticket Sellers, Everybody else

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Is Pieter Van den Hoogenband Insane or Brilliant?

Craig Lord at Swimnews has published Pieter Van den Hoogenband's 10-point plan, which the Dutch former superstar believes will revolutionise the sport of swimming. Check out the list below and then give your opinion in the comments section below... there are some shocking, interesting and downright outrageous suggestions.

The List

1. Abolish the existing world records set in high-tech suits.

2. Remove the 800m and 1500m events from the pool swimming programme to avoid losing the audience's attention.

3. Get rid of the 50m Fly, Back and Breast events from the World Championships to bring it in line with the Olympics.

4. Give swimmers more power in the upper echelons of FINA. He cites the opportunity Alex Popov has to influence FINA, which still falls short of the power former track and field athletes Seb Coe and Sergey Bubka wield.

5. Change the timing system to three decimal points to avoid ties for gold medals (such as the Men's 100m Back and Women's 100m Free in Shanghai).

6. Cut down medal presentations to just medal plus anthem to keep the flow of the finals session moving in the right direction.

7. Let every nation have it's own colour swim cap to make it easier for the audience to tell which swimmer is which, as well as keeping (and improving) the sliding door entry of finalists that we saw in Shanghai.

8. Improve the advertising that we see from major swim brands. He describes the Phelps and Lochte Speedo ad as childish compared to the slick Puma adverts that Usain Bolt appears in.

9. Have swimmers express themselves post-race in a better way, as well as listening to them on technical improvements that can be made (he cites Aaron Peirsol's suggestion to improve the backstroke starting block).

10. Introduce a more rigid, universal calendar where Olympic qualification takes place in the same week around the world to avoid discrepancies in the world rankings, as well as removing the World Cup Series and instead having a Diamond League-esque series of competitions immediately after the World Championships.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Sun Yang Can Swim 48-Low For 100m Freestyle

According to Sun Yang's part-time coach Dennis Cotterell, the Chinese star can swim 48 seconds low for the 100m Freestyle. If that is the case, and Cotterall doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would misstate these kind of facts, the fall-out is intriguing.

• Firstly, he would become the new Chinese (and Asian record holder) for the 100m Freestyle. The current Chinese national record stands at 48.73, held by Chen Zuo's 2009 effort. The Asian record of 48.49 is held by Japan's Takuro Fujii.

• He would make the Chinese 4 x 100 Freestyle team into potential finalists, although they are still a good few pieces away from challenging for the medals.

• This kind of 100m speed makes Sun Yang not just a contender for a 200m Free medal in London, it sets him up as one of the favourites for gold. Cotterell believes he can break 1:44 in the 200m Free, a feat acheived by only 3 men (Paul Biedermann, Michael Phelps & Danila Izotov) and by only Phelps in a textile suit (1:43.86 in 2007).

The closest anyone has come to breaking 1:44 since the ban of tech suits was Ryan Lochte's gold medal winning effort in Shanghai of 1:44.42. Cotterell backs up his claim by pointing out that Sun Yang's 25.95 homecoming split in the 1500 final at Worlds was faster than both Lochte and Phelps' final 50m in the 200m Free final. For Sun Yang it is simply a case of harnessing his speed and trusting himself to go out fast. The type of confidence breaking a 10 year-old world record gives you...

• The Olympic schedule is friendly for a 200-400-1500m Free treble next year. It would see Sun Yang swimming the following:

Day One - 400m Free heats and final

Day Two - 200m Free heats and semis on (with the possibility of a 4 x 100m Freestyle relay if China qualifies)

Day Three - 200m Free final

Day Four - 4 x 200m Free heats and final

Day Five - Rest

Day Six - Rest

Day Seven - 1500m Free heats

Day Eight - 1500m Free final

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Geoff Huegill Opens Up About Drug Use And Partying While Retired

Below is an extract from Geoff Huegill's new book Be Your Best. It shines a light on the oft-overlooked struggle that elite athletes face when they go from being one of the best in the world in their chosen sport, to being just another person trying to make a living.

"I made the final in Athens on talent alone, and people were justifiably upset with me. I just didn't know where to go at the time. I carried a fear of failure that prevented me from giving my all. It had been too hard to refocus after Sydney, and I was only going through the motions in the lead-up to Athens.

Competitive swimming was still in my blood, but I was clearly losing motivation and was completely unable to make the transition to a productive life outside the pool.

Pretty soon after Athens everything seemed to fall apart, and that next year, 2005, would be a total waste of time.

If I was going to stay in swimming and move from Queensland, the only two coaches I wanted to work with were Grant Stoelwinder and Jim Fowlie, but neither of them was available . . . this added to my uncertainty, but I decided to come down to Sydney anyway.

In Sydney, there was a lot of partying going on and swimming wasn’t my main priority. I’d train for two or three weeks, often with the guys at Sydney University, then I’d have a month off. I couldn’t go on like that. The writing was on the wall and I finally called it quits . . . I was 26.

Sun Yang Posts A Jaw Dropping 3:40.29 at Chinese Nationals

"I believe I can break the 400m world record sooner or later. I believe I can win over Park Tae Hwan in 400m next time when we meet. I believe I can be better and faster in London."
At Chinese Nationals, Sun Yang has become the third fastest man ever in the 400m Freestyle. His time of 3:40.29 missed Paul Biedermann's world record by just 0.22 seconds (and Ian Thorpe's textile best time by 0.21 seconds).

That is an astonishing time. To get so close to the world record at this stage of the season is remarkable. It also reaffirms the fact that there really is no way of knowing just how fast Sun Yang can be in the future. The scariest thing for his competitors is that he doesn't seem to be close to reaching his full potential yet.

There is now just one question mark hanging over Sun Yang's head, and that is whether he can handle the pressures of a major championship final when he has a race on his hands. He didn't fare so well at Worlds when he came up against Park Tae Hwan in the 400 Free final. We won't know the answer to that question until London 2012 rolls around.

Here is what Sun Yang had to say after the race:

"I planned to break the Asian record and I tried my best during the race. But my target for this meet is not to rewrite the record, but to get ready for next year's Olympic Games. This meet is not important at all. My biggest disappointment in Shanghai words was that I lost to Park Tae Hwan of South Korea in the 400m because I lacked experience. I want to prove to myself that I can swim faster than that. I was too eager to show myself that I forgot to keep my own pace, especially as it was the first day of the swimming competition in Shanghai. I've learned a lesson from the defeat in worlds.

The Asian record is a new beginning for me. I believe I can improve myself through the following training. I plan to to train at altitude after this meet, then go to Australia on December for at least eight weeks.

My form remains at a relatively high level. I guess it's because I've been trained for many years under my coach Zhu Zhigen. I have not swum up-and-down in recent years. I want to be as stable as possible.

I believe I can break the 400m world record sooner or later. I believe I can win over Park Tae Hwan in 400m next time when we meet. I believe I can be better and faster in London."

Video clip of the race and the post-race interview

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Janet Evans Comeback Update Part II

Janet Evans Comeback Update: Presented by Dodge Speed Endurance Swimming Blog

Here are 3 new Janet Evans videos for those keeping track of her return to the sport. They kind of get you thinking.. What will constitute a successful return for Evans? Qualifying for the US Olympic trials? Making the 800 Free final at trials? Making the US Olympic Team?

The Comeback

Monday, 19 September 2011

USA's Clark Burckle Is A Real Storyteller

I could be mistaken, but I'm 99% sure that the guy in the video below is USA National team member Clark Burckle. His story telling is electric.

Is it him? Burckle attends the University of Arizona, the video was from Fox Phoenix... the "reality hits you hard bro" line... just way too much of a coincedence.

You be the judge (he's the guy sitting behind Mike Alexandrov's left shoulder in the video below).

Upcoming Dates in the 2011 Swimming Calendar

It's been a relatively quiet time since the World Championships finished back in late July, but the year still has a lot of offer. Here is a rundown of what swimming fans have to look forward to for the rest of the year.


Oct 7 - Nov 13 - World Cup Series (Dubai, Stockholm, Moscow, Berlin, Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo) (SCM)
Oct 15 - Oct 22 - Pan American Games (LCM)
Oct 18 - Oct 19 - Michael Phelps swimming at the Moscow World Cup meet (SCM)
Oct 31 - Nov 1 - Trofeo Internazionale di Nuoto "Nico Sapio", Genoa, Italy. Feat: Laure Manaudou & Natalie Coughlin (SCM)


Nov 4 - Nov 5 - Ian Thorpe's return to competitive swimming at the Singapore World Cup meet (SCM)
Nov 11- Nov 13 - Minneapolis Grand Prix (LCM)


Dec 1 - Dec 3 - US Winter Nationals (LCM)
Dec 8 - Dec 12 - European Short Course Championships (SCM)
Dec 8 - Dec 10 - US Short Course Junior Nationals (SCY)
Dec 16 - Dec 17 - Duel in the Pool (SCM)

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Filippo Magnini Gets Beaten By A Dolphin... Lets Down Swimmers Everywhere

It's been a pretty quiet few weeks for Filippo Magnini since Shanghai. He's just had the usual "getting caught hooking up with Federica Pellegrini, relationship destroying, friendship destroying love triangle tabloid feeding frenzy" couple of weeks.

Today Magnini had a chance to redeem himself as he represented all of mankind in a race against two dolphins. When I heard about the race, my first thought was that it was clearly unfair. I mean sure, dolphins have talent, but from what I've seen they are lazy... they don't put the work in, they splash about during training just doing flips all day long, plus they are all about "garbage yardage". Swimming has moved on, its all about cross training now... just no way Magnini loses this race.

Well, Magnini lost

Not only did he lose, he got lapped. Good job Filippo, way to represent swimmers all over the world.

PS. Is it just me, or does Ryan Lochte not lose this race?

Monday, 5 September 2011

Qualifying Times Announced for British Olympic Trials

Next year's British Olympic Trials represent the best chance for 99% of the British public to see inside the London Aquatics Centre in 2012. With Olympic Swimming tickets being worth more than their weight in gold, the trials offer a great chance to get a taste of the Olympic experience either as a swimmer or spectator. If you intend on swimming at the trials though, it will not be an easy task. The Open qualifying times for most events require you to be in the top 30 in last year's British rankings.

As an Olympic test event, the trials will also be open to foreign swimmers. They will not be able to compete in the main finals, but instead will have their own finals at the end of each evening session.

Qualifying Times
Event Schedule
Ticket Information

This Week in Swimming

10th All Africa Games, Maputo, Mozambique, Sep 5 - 10

(Feat. Kirsty Coventry, Cameron Van der Burgh, Roland Schoeman, Chad Le Clos, Darian Townsend, Graeme Moore, Suzaan van Biljon, Wendy Trott)


Commonwealth Youth Games, Isle of Man, Sep 7 - 13 (Open to Ages 14-18)

(Feat. Kotuku Ngawati, Ieuan Lloyd, Matthew Johnson,  Sycerika McMahon, Molly Renshaw, Leah Neale, Te Haumi Maxwell, Rachael Kelly, Georgia Hohmann, Elena Sheridan, Sophie Smith)


Marseille Aquatic Show, Marseilles, Sep 10

(Feat. Laure Manaudou, Fred Bousquet, Camille Lacourt, Fabien Gilot, William Meynard)


Friday, 2 September 2011

Brett Hawke Writes Off Fred Bousquet's Chances in the 50 Free

Tomorrow's Morning Swim Show features Auburn Head Coach Brett Hawke.  As always with Hawke it is an interesting 10 minute interview, but one thing stood out. At 6:15 the discussion moves on to the 50 Free:
Peter Busch: "On the 50 side, can you see anyone touching Cielo right now?"
Brett Hawke: "No. Not really. If I'm going to be honest, Cesar is built for that race and he loves that race, and to win that race with all the nonsense that was going on in the lead up to the World Championships... I was really proud to see him win that..."
Peter Busch: "Do you ever miss training him?"
Brett Hawke: "Absolutely, it was a great time in my life training him."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Hawke currently training Cielo's arch rival Fred Bousquet? The fastest man ever in a textile suit. I don't know what the decision making process was for Hawke in making this statement.... but I can't imagine Bousquet is going to be happy when he watches this clip.

FYI - I honestly believe that if Bousquet had not had the disastrous heat swim that he did in Shanghai, the 50 Free final was his for the taking.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

If Ever There Was An Advert For Learning to Swim... And Paying Attention In Class...

... This is it.

PS. Funniest line of the entire video comes at the beginning: Dude 1 - "How is that possible?" Dude 2 - "It's the army, bro".

PPS. I know these guys are doing a hugely brave task in difficult circumstances... but driving a truck through 10 feet deep water was never going to end well.

PPS. As soon as there are some meaningful swimming competitions taking place again, I promise this blog will get back to actual performance swimming content!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Quick, Watch This Before USA Swimming Take It Down

 I don't know what just happened. I was going about my Sunday evening when I happened upon a link that pretty much changed the way I watch swimming forever. No joke. Like Neo in The Matrix, next time I watch a 400m IM, I won't see water and swimmers, I will see streaming green computer code.

The link below is a guide to using various race stats to help swimmers. Brilliantly, it uses Katie Hoff's 400 IM and Rebecca Soni's 200 Breast as case studies. It is stat-heavy, but well worth sticking with if you are swim-geek-inclined. Distance Per Cycle, Turn Time, Tempo Trainer, Cadence, Cycle Count.... there is no going back.

QUICK: There is no way USA Swimming should be handing this stuff out for free. If you are a coach/swimmer/fan... watch this.

This is how the best do it. As anyone who sat in the back of class knows, if you can see what the smartest kid is doing.... COPY IT!

PS. Anyone even thinking of getting into the anti-clockwise Freestyle Fast Lane lane when I go to my next public session... watch out. I am going to be distance-per-cycle-tempo-dougieing-streamline-lengthing all over the place.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Janet Evans Comeback Update (With Video)

We haven't checked in on the Janet Evans comeback story for a while, so here is a treat for you... a video from her recent 800m race at the Southern Pacific Masters meet in California.

Three things I love about this video:

1) The camera angle. We are watching this race as if we are sitting at the end of her lane. Talk about getting up close and personal to the action.
2) She is still sporting her famous windmill style stroke. Hey, it took19 years for someone to break her world record and she still has the 3rd fastest 800m Free time of all-time, why change?
3) The commentator. He manages to make Janet Evans older with every passing comment. She apparently won gold at the 1972 Olympics and was an age grouper in the sixties?!

British Swimming Finds a New Star

Express and Star Water baby Caitlin Morris has caused a sensational splash by swimming unaided across the nine-metre width of a pool – at the age of just two. Caitlin, from Stourport, could swim before she could walk and her doggy-paddle style stroke got her across the width in 47 seconds.

YES! We've done it! Britain has found their very own 'wonderkid'! Step aside Michael Phelps, Ian Thorpe, Missy Franklin etc... Caitlin Morris will soon make you all look like Eric Moussambani. Here is a serious question: Will London 2012 come too soon for Caitlin Morris?

Did anyone else shed a tear when they read 'Caitlin could swim before she could walk'? This is exactly what we should be doing here in Britain. For the record, I 100% agree with this new trend of water-dwelling athletes. It is the future of our sport.

If a major sports agency is not actively trying to sign up Caitlin, then they need to find a new profession. Why? Because Caitlin Morris IS 'Straight Cash, Homey'.

(Thanks to Swimmer's Daily for the video)

Monday, 22 August 2011

Image Quiz: The new London Aquatics Centre or Screenshots from the Michael Phelps swimming game?

Are these images of the new London Aquatics Centre or screenshots from the Michael Phelps swimming game?

Whichever one it is, it looks stunning.

Ian Thorpe Aiming To Improve His 'Perfect Stroke'

It's been a while since the last Ian Thorpe update, so here is your Thorpedo fix. The Aussie superstar and his coach Gennadi Touretski have changed his 'perfect' technique, according to The Australian's Nicole Jeffrey.

Key points:

• Touretski is changing Thorpe's technique to that of a sprinter as opposed to his previous style, which was "perfect for the 400m" according to the Russian coach.

• His technique now looks like a hybrid of his old stroke and that of god the sprint tsar Alex Popov (see below).

• The technical changes - more hip rotation, higher elbows.

• Thorpe is swimming 50km a week as well as doing dry land sessions for strength and conditioning. In a new development, Thorpe will also play tennis twice a week to help Australia's shaky tennis team improve his co-ordination.

• He will swim at November's world cup meets in Singapore, Beijing and Tokyo. He will swim Freestyle races in Singapore and then experiment with other events in Bejing and Tokyo. The move away from Freestyle in Beijing in Tokyo is aimed at racing with freedom and also not to show all his cards too early.

• According to Touretski "I think potentially, with his power and talent, there's no limit on how fast he can swim."

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

London 2012 Marathon Swimming Test Event - Eyewitness Report (Pulitzer Edition)

The things I do for this blog. Last Saturday I should have been chilling out, recovering creatively ahead of another hard week of swim blogging... instead I braved London transport on a weekend and headed down to Hyde Park for the London 2012 Marathon Swimming Test Event. Here is what I learnt, heard and saw (in picture form)

What I learnt

- Melissa Gorman (AUS) is kind of tall...

- Eva Fabian (USA) is kind of short...

- If a swimmer was ever to replace Chuck Norris as the world's toughest guy, Thomas Lurz (GER) is probably your guy on looks alone...

- The setting for this race is incredible. It doesn't get much better than Hyde Park on a normal summer's day, but with the added Olympic buzz thrown in it will be electric...

- You can walk alongside the swimmers for most of the course... or there is seating/standing with commentary and a big video screen. I kind of preferred walking...

- You can't rent a pedalo while the race is happening...

What I heard

I didn't make it into the post-race press conference, so I went in gonzo-style. This was overheard on the walk to the drug testing room with men's winner Richard Weinberger, his coach, two drug testers and a swim blogger walking just a little too close to them to be considered normal:

- Water temperature was great...
- He tries to swim 80k every week...
- The best way to put on weight is to drink McDonald's milkshakes, which are full of protein and calcium...

What I saw

The Setting

Pulitzer Prize Entry 1

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

When Your Reflexes Are Too Fast For Your Own Good

I kind of feel bad for the guy, no way was this his fault, the starter held them way too long.

World Junior Swimming Championships Watchlist

It doesn't matter what sport you follow, there is always one constant. There is nothing quite like seeing new talent coming through. It is human nature to take one performance from a youngster and optimistically project their future development... which is hugely unfair on the kid, but also a lot of fun. We'll get a great chance to do just that during this week's World Junior Swimming Championships (it starts today Start List / Results).

A host of stars have emerged from the first two times this competition took place in 2008 and 2009: including Tyler Clary, Mireia Belmonte, Anastasia Zueva, Camille Muffat, Jemma Lowe, Luca Dotto, Danila Izotov, Elizabeth Pelton and Dagny Knutson.

World Junior Swimming Championships Watchlist

Matthew Johnson is arguably the brightest prospect to come from Britain on the men's side for a generation. He has completely rewritten the British Junior record books since the age of 13 and now gets a chance to challenge himself against the world's best juniors, albeit most of them being a year or two older than him. He is already ranked in the Top 10 in Britain for 400 IM (4:20.87, 7th) and 200 Fly (2:00.46, 9th).

• Australia's Bronte Campbell, USA's Lia Neal and Canada's Chantal Van Landeghem are split by just 0.2 on the girls 100 Free start list. Watch out particularly for Van Landeghem who blasted an incredible 53.76 relay split in Shanghai. Sidenote: How did Dutch swimming let someone with the name Van Landeghem slip from their grasp?

Friday, 12 August 2011

Federica Pellegrini Names Her New Coach

As expected, Federica Pellegrini has named Federico Bonifacenti as her new coach. Bonifacenti was the assistant to Pellegrini's former coach Alberto Castagnetti before he passed away. She will be based in Verona. This marks her third coaching change in the last two years.

Translated (badly) - The technical project that begins today with Bonifacenti is a logical choice. # Thanks to (Philippe) Lucas for the work together. Hello everyone! :-)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Wait... Stanford has TWO 50m pools next to each other?!

This must be photoshopped, right? I mean there is no way that the United Kingdom (pop: 62,000,000) has a grand total of thirty five 50m pools (6 Olympic size), yet Stanford University (15,000 students, 64,000 Palo Alto residents) has two right next to each other....

... don't even get me started on the Music Rehearsal Facility next door.

A look inside the London Aquatics Centre

Nice view from the top of the London Aquatics Centre, not so great if you're afraid of heights.

PS. 0:02 and 0:32 into the video, is that how all Aussies pronounce 'aquatics'?

(Hat tip to The Daily Telegraph and Hollandswimming for the video)

Monday, 8 August 2011

Wanted: A New Coach for Federica Pellegrini

C'est fini. The relationship between Federica Pellegrini and Phillipe Lucas has ended.

The double-double World champion has stated that she will be based at her home in Verona once again, but hasn't decided on who will coach her.

If she stays in Verona then an Italian coach will be the likely candidate - Federico Bonifacenti is the favourite (?...yep, me neither). That all seems a bit too boring, without scandal predictable for Pellegrini. Let's rundown some of the more interesting options for a  temporary or permanent base:

Gennadi Touretski - Swiss National Training Centre, Tenero, Switzerland

Training Partner: Ian Thorpe

This option has the advantage of being close(ish - 270km) to home. Training alongside Thorpe will generate huge amounts of media interest, however the focus on sprint training might not work with her goal of swimming the 800m Free in London. It wouldn't do her chances in the 100/200 Free any harm though...

Michael Bohl - St Peters Western, Brisbane, Australia

Training Partners: Stephanie Rice, Tae Hwan Park, Kenrick Monk, Bronte Barratt, Yolane Kukla, Meagan Nay, Ryan Napoleon.

Pellegrini would walk into a great middle distance Freestyle programme but would have some adapting to do to coexist with so many other major stars. They do love their swimming in Australia though so she wouldn't have any issues with a lack of media interest/commercial possibilities.

Dennis Cotterell - Miami Swimming Club, Gold Coast, Australia

Training Partners: Sun Yang, Jade Neilsen, Thomas Fraser-Holmes, Katie Goldman

If this did happen, what odds would you get on Pellegrini winning the 800 Free in London? Cotterell, the distance maestro, coached both Grant Hackett and Sun Yang to their 1500 Free world records. Jade Neilsen (1:57.20 - 200 Free) represents an ideal training partner for Pellegrini... quick enough to challenge her in training, but not an immediate threat to her 200 Free crown.

Dave Salo - Trojan Swim Club, Southern California, USA

Training Partners: Katinka Hosszu, Yuliya Efimova, Ous Mellouli, Rebecca Soni, Jessica Hardy, Kosuke Kitajima, Markus Rogan, David Walters, Ricky Berens, Eric Shanteau, Dominik Meichtry, Thiago Pereira, Otylia Jedrzejcak

Why not? Every other major name in swimming that is looking for a new coach seems to gravitate towards Salo. Middle distance Freestyle is one of the few areas that this Trojan squad are lacking in is so maybe Pellegrini is the missing piece of the puzzle. There are also a number of Europeans in the training group, and they have a good stable of male middle distance and distance freestylers. The more I think about this, the more it makes sense. Slightly disappointing results from Shanghai for some of the big stars may be a cause for concern.

Romain Barnier - Cercle des Nageurs de Marseille, France

Training Partners: Femke Heemskerk, Inge Dekker, Camille Lacourt, Fabien Gilot, Florent Manaudou (Laure Manaudou and Fred Bousquet - when they are not training in Auburn)

This move makes a lot of sense on the surface. It is becoming a new hub for excellence in Europe, they have no problems taking in non-French swimmers and she can train day in, day out with 200 Free rival Femke Heemskerk. One potentially huge stumbling block is the name Manaudou. This is Laure Manaudou and Fred Bousquet's club when they are back in France and her brother also trains there full-time. Then again, who would have imagined Pellegrini joining forces with Phillippe Lucas?

Fabrice Pellerin - Olympic Nice Natation, France

Training Partners: Yannick Agnel, Camille Muffat, Charlotte Bonnet

Ideal freestyle programme that spans from 100m to 800m, with Agnel and Muffat specialising in the 200 and 400 Free. It's also based in a great location. The south of France shouldn't be a hard sell for Pellegrini. The main issue would be the fact that Muffat has emerged as one of Pellegrini's closest rivals. Would they be able to co-exist, and would they want to?

Friday, 5 August 2011

New Vote: What was your favourite race from the 2011 World Swimming Championships?

Vote above for your favourite race of the World Swimming Championships. If clicking 'Vote' just isn't enough, make your case for your favourite race in the comment section. If your favourite isn't on the list... the comment section also awaits.

Men's 200m Freestyle - Battle royale between swimming's superpowers. The significance of the race increased as it acted as a baton change between the former owner and newest incumbent of the title 'World's Best Swimmer'.

Women's 800m Freestyle - A definite contender for the head-to-head race of the competition. Rebecca Adlington and Lotte Friis were the clear pre-race favourites, and very little separated the pair for all 800 metres.

Men's 1500m Free - A truly historic race. The only men's world record to survive the tech-suit era went down almost exactly 10 years after it was originally set. Sun Yang broke the record with one of the most incredible final 50 metres you will ever witness.

Women's 200m Backstroke - In years to come this race might be remembered as the first of many, many individual World golds for Missy Franklin. She also came closer than any other woman to breaking an individual WR in Shanghai.

Men's 100m Breaststroke - After the tragedy that hit Norway, Alexander Dale Oen was swimming for more than just himself. A poignant example of an athlete channeling extreme emotions to achieve greatness.

Men's 200m IM - Phelps v Lochte. World Record. Best times for both men. Great, great race.

Women's 200m IM - A lot was expected from this race and it lived up to the hype. We had lead changes, a top three split by just 0.22 seconds and a storming freestyle leg from Ye Shiwen that took her from 5th to first in the space of 29.42 seconds.

Men's 4 x 100m Free Relay - The race started with James Magnussen setting a new textile best time, and ended up with a hard charging Fabien Gilot just falling short of giving France a much sought after win. It also saw a full strength US team finish third, a changing of the guard?

Women's 4 x 100m Free Relay - On paper the pre-race favourites won the race, so why did this race make the list? Well, because for 300m this race was getting away from the Dutch and it took a stunning 52.46 from Femke Heemskerk to overhaul the Americans.

Other - The races above were my personal favourites, but if there is another race you feel deserves to make this list then add it in the comments.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Relive Sun Yang Breaking Grant Hackett's Historic World Record

If you missed Sun Yang's historic 1500m Freestyle yesterday, don't worry. Relive the closing moments in the video below. To gauge how other swimming fans felt during the race, you can also read the transcript from the chat room as the record edged closer and finally fell.

Chat Transcript

Speed Endurance: 

splitting almost identically to Hackett... needs to find 2.7 seconds towards the end 

12:02 [Comment From GuestGuest: ] 

wonder what hacketts thinking 


"should i make a comeback" 

12:02 aswimfan: 

sun yang normally negative splitting 

12:03 chris: 

picking it up a little 

12:03 [Comment From GuestGuest: ] 

hes throwing in the odd double breath 

12:03 aswimfan: 

well it works for him 

12:04 chris: 

everyone is just...waiting 

12:05 aswimfan: 

was it 7:47? 

12:05 chris: 

yeah looks like sun yang's going to get it 

12:05 Speed Endurance: 


12:05 aswimfan: 

he can still do it 

12:06 hagger: 

three seconds behind, you sure? I'd love to see it 

Michael Phelps: A Fitting Swansong

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this is surely an example of it. Standing on a World Championships podium for the 33rd and final time, the look on Michael Phelps’ face was, well, content.

It is fitting that Phelps’ final swansong was a gold medal effort. It is fitting that it came in a relay, the only events that seemed to bring out the emotions that showed us the ‘real Phelps’. It is fitting that Phelps’ Butterfly leg was a second faster than the rest of the relay, essentially winning the relay for the US team that had a margin of victory of just 0.20 seconds.

As is so often the case with swimming, words come a distant second to the thrill of racing. So I leave you with the race that I consider Phelps’ greatest moment at the World Championships. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

World Record Watch - Women's 4 x 200 Freestyle Relay

One noticeable feature of the World Championships this year has been the lack of World Records. Tomorrow, that might be set to change...

Ryan Lochte (and Michael Phelps to a lesser extent) has a chance in the 200 IM final and Rebecca Soni gets a shot at the 200 Breaststroke mark in the semi final... I have a feeling both marks will be shaken, but ultimately not stirred.

For those desperate to see the first world mark tumble, cast your eyes over the Women's 4 x 200 Freestyle relay.

China currently hold the mark at 7:42.08 - which equals 1:55.52 per swimmer, not an easy task... but not impossible either. It should be a cracking race, be sure to watch it live here tomorrow and chat about the results. Here are the three main contenders:


Anchored by Kylie Palmer, the silver medalist in the individual event, the Aussies have the best chance of cracking this mark. Palmer swam 1:56.09 in the individual final, but has been as fast as 1:55.73 this year. Compatriot Bronte Barratt has been 1:55.74 this year, although managed just 1:56.90 in the tonight's final. Their hopes of breaking the WR will be directly linked to Barratt being at her best.

The other contenders for the team are Jade Neilsen (1:57.20 this year), Angie Bainbridge (1:57.36) and Blair Evans (1:57.59). Those five swimmers alone would have a legitimate shot at the record, but Australia could also call upon the red-hot Alicia Coutts (1:57.72 this year, but swimming out of her skin in Shanghai) and Steph Rice (1:58.55 this year, but swam a good 200 IM and has relay experience).


Their individual swimmers were less than stellar in the individual 200 Free, but China come into this meet as defending champions. They also have a knack for raising their performances to unforeseen levels in the relay events. The team will be led by individual swimmers Yi Tang (1:57.91 in the 200 Free semi final) and Qianwei Zhu (1:59.22), but it is their alternatives that make this team interesting. If Olympic bronze medalist Pang Jiayang swims, and is in good form, she has the potential to post a time in the 1:55-1:56 range. Another more left-field possibility is the inclusion of 200 IM winner, Ye Shiwen. Not known for her 200 Free, her closing 50m Free on the IM was a blazing 29.42, notably the same last 50 split as Federica Pellegrini and Kylie Palmer in the 200 Free final.

Liu Jing (1:58.35), Wenyan Song (1:58.47) and Qian Chen (1:58.24) add valuable depth to the Chinese ranks.


The US team might be somewhat of a wounded animal in this event after losing out to the Dutch in the 4 x100 Free relay and a disappointing 6th place finish for Allison Schmitt (1:56.66 in the 200 heats). Morgan Scroggy (1:59.22 in heats) looked out of sorts in the 200 heats and will need to prove herself in the relay prelims. There are, however, rays of hope. Missy Franklin (1:57.66 this year untapered) looks poised for a monster swim after a blazing 52.99 relay split in the 100 Free. Dana Vollmer (1:56.47) is also in good form and should be able to be counted on for a strong 200 Free.

Assuming Scroggy isn't able to get back down to her best, Dagny Knutson looks set to be called upon. She swam 1:56.9 in a time trial in Shanghai. Katie Hoff (1:57.97 untapered) and Jasmine Tosky (1:58.34 last year) give the USA some depth, and if they want to throw in a curveball, they could swim either Ariana Kukors or Natalie Coughlin.