Monday, 4 April 2011
Australia's Strength in Depth - Women's 200m Freestyle
The 200 Free world rankings have a green and gold tinge to them today after two stunning 1:55.7 efforts from Kylie Palmer and Bronte Barratt at the Australian Championships.
Palmer and Barratt's efforts are the two fastest times ever by Australians, they move to 10th and 11th respectively on the all-time list and 5th and 6th on the all-time textile list. The threat level posed by both women has just moved up from potential finalists/possible contenders for medals, to gold medal challengers. As it currently stands the top tier in the 200 Free looks like this: Federica Pellegrini, Kylie Palmer, Bronte Barratt, Camille Muffat & Allison Schmitt.
There was another storyline from the 200 Free final - The sixth placed finisher in the 200 Free, Alicia Coutts, swam 1:57.72. That is an entire relay squad who would have ranked in the Top 15 in the world last year. I don't think there is another swimming nation that can boast the kind of depth Australia has in the event. The USA could get close and China has a strong team, but neither country looks to have six swimmers right now on those kind of times. To put this level of depth into context, last year's top time in the 4 x 200 Free relay came from USA in 7:51.21. The combined times of the top four Aussies (with 0.5 seconds taken off for the three relay take-overs) is 7:44.53. The seemingly untouchable world record in the event, China's 7:42.08, is suddenly within reach.
The luxury of having six elite swimmers for the relay is two-fold; a) you can afford to rest your two big guns in the heats, and b) there is cover should any of the top four have an off-meet in Shanghai.
Early prediction for the 4 x 200 Free relay in Shanghai. 1) Australia, 2) China, 3) USA.