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.


  1. Great times but i have to confess i think the US squad will steal gold in Shanghai, i think Vollmer could match Barratt off the blocks and then the middle legs would be key, for me if the USA can get Scmitt off on anchor within 0.5secs of Palmer (Presumably) i think she will hunt her down, Palmer is historically a great relay swimmer but Schmitt was so good chasing Pang down on Rome, nearly got there but not quite.
    Also how do you rate the Hungarian squads shout, Mutina,Verraszto,Hosszu and a new freestyle boost from Jakabos? sub 7.50 team?
    And Britain, poor times at Nationals but Adlingtons time shows a 1.56 high in the tank, Carlin never fails in the relays, normally produces a 1.56, If Jackson can get into shape again by Shanghai she could go 1.56/57ish so it would leave just one leg, Who would get the nod?

  2. I'm backing the Australians. Those times today were stunning. I think Palmer and Barratt > Vollmer and Schmitt. The other two legs (Neilsen/Bainbridge/Evans/Coutts vs Hoff/Scroggy/Knutson/Franklin) are similar. Going to be a great race! China won't be easy to beat on their own turf although their 200 Free times today weren't too scary.

    I like Hungary's team and I agree Jakabos replacing Eszter Dara should give them a boost, but I can't see them getting past Aus, USA or CHN.

    Britain look like they've been left behind slightly in this event, atleast this year. I think our problem is that Adlington and Carlin are both 800 swimmers, the 200 is too short to compete with the top girls who are moving the event forward. Same goes for Keri-Anne Payne. Jackson is our best 200 swimmer and the team needs a big swim from her. Then who else can get down to the 1:56/1:57 range needed? Rebecca Jackson is improving but that seems like a big ask, Caitlin McClatchey's not in that sort of form right now, things didn't go too well for us when Fran Halsall swum in Beijing.

    I think the best option fourth option for us is Hannah Miley.

  3. What about Ellen Gandy? She swam 2.00 in 2007! Has she got any plans on returning to the event? We could see what Maughan does when she tapers for the Age groups and Euro Jnr because i dont think she tapered for nationals like last year, she tapered for Age groups instead, a big ask this year but she is a clear talent and i would not be suprised to see a Lippok like drop in 2012, definately has the talent.

  4. The most mental thing to come out of the Australian Nationals so far is that 4 women went under the FINA 'A' time for the 200m breaststroke and NONE of them are going to Shanghai. Looking at the current world rankings that leaves only 11 other eligible women who have been under the 'A' time so far this year! And only about 30 if you include the 'B' time as well. Do you think they'll bother with semi-finals?

  5. Hmm... it seems that Swimming Australia have extended their criteria now.