Monday, 18 July 2011
Laure Manaudou Saves Her Best Swim For The Final Day
Laure Manaudou's comeback had already gone exceedingly well going into the last night of finals, but then it got even better.
Considering it was the final night of her first competition back for three years, you might have expected a drop in form. Instead, Manaudou crushed a 2:10.20 in the final of the 200 Back. Here are the stats that jump off the page: 20th in the world this year and the 2nd fastest Frenchwoman behind Alexianne Castel (2:09.17).
What's more impressive is how she swum the race:
30.96 / 32.71 (1:03.67) / 33.47 (1:37.14) / 33.06 (2:10.20)
Look at her final 150m. All three 50m splits were within 0.76 of each other, with a strong final 50m that was considerably quicker than her third 50m. This is not a swimmer short of fitness.
The 200m Back has been an event overlooked by many on Manaudou's return, including me. It was thought that she would focus primarily on the 200m Free and 100m Back, two events she has had considerable success with in the past. However, the 200m Back makes a lot of sense. It represents some 'unfinished business' for Manaudou. With the exception of a European Championship Gold in 2008, she has not had international success in the event, despite the fact she is the 7th fastest swimmer of all-time in the event. Her 2:06.64 at French Nationals in 2008 had her going into the Beijing Olympics as a strong medal contender, before ending the first part of her career in disappointing fashion at the competition.
A look at her competition shows where Manaudou will need to improve. The textile record holder in this event, China's Zhao Jing, swam one of the most remarkable final 50m splits ever on her way to a 2:06.46 at the Asian Games. She went out in a modest 1:03.13, before coming back in a stunning 30.45. Probably not the best swimmer for a comparison.
Instead, Britain's Elizabeth Simmonds fits the mould. Simmonds often gets out fast in this event, gains a big enough lead before finishing strongly enough to hold off any challenges. Manaudou might look to swim the event in a similar way. Here are how Simmonds 2010 and Manaudou 2011 match up, as well as Manaudou's 2008 effort.
Simmonds 2010 29.92 / 31.72 (1:01.64) / 32.72 (1:34.36) / 32.43 (2:06.79)
Manaudou 2011 30.96 / 32.71 (1:03.67) / 33.47 (1:37.14) / 33.06 (2:10.20)
Manadou 2008 29.97 / 31.44 (1:01.41) / 32.12 (1:33.53) / 33.11 (2:06.64)
One final startling stat to end with - Manaudou, on her comeback this weekend, came back faster than her 2:06.64 effort in2008.