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.

18. Therese Alshammar – Winning gold in the 50m Free in Shanghai (24.14)

The Swedish sprint queen became the oldest woman to win an individual world title this year and did it in style. Her time of 24.14 was the 14th fastest in the history of the event and missed Inge de Bruijn’s textile best time by just 0.01. She appeared to be an absolute lock to win the 50m Fly as well but ended up with silver in Shanghai. In June she swam the 4th fastest time ever in the event and broke her own textile best time. She also finished the year with 6 of the world’s top 8 times in the 50m Fly.

16= Camille Lacourt – 2011 Highlight – Winning gold alongside team mate Jeremy Stravius in the 100m Back.

Lacourt did not have a great competition in Shanghai, despite winning gold in the 100m Back and silver in the 50m Back. He was down on his times from French Nationals in March which still top the world rankings (24.36 and 52.44). Despite the shared gold, Lacourt remains a considerable margin ahead of the rest of the world in the 100m Back. A real shame France missed the 4 x 100 medley relay final to give Lacourt another chance at putting down a quick time in Shanghai.

16= Jeremy Stravius – 2011 Highlight - Winning gold alongside team mate Camille Lacourt in the 100m Back.

Stravius was a model of consistency in Shanghai, matching his semi final time in the final exactly. He also came through for the French freestyle relays in a big way. His splits of 47.78 and 1:45.40 contributed hugely to the France winning two silvers in those races. A strong candidate for breakthrough swimmer of 2011.

15. Park Tae-Hwan – 2011 Highlight – Winning a loaded 400m Free final in Shanghai (3:42.04)

Park Tae-Hwan chose a good time to come up with his fastest 400m Free of 2011. Facing the heavily favoured Sun Yang, he led from the gun and controlled the entire race. The victory gave Park his second world title in the 400m Free to go alongside his Olympic victory from 2008. He just missed out on a medal in the 200m Free (0.04 behind Paul Biedermann) and reached the semi final of the 100m Free. He was slightly down on his stellar times from 2010 and will likely need to be able to break the world record in London if he wants to beat Sun Yang.

14. Elizabeth Beisel – 2011 Highlight – Blowing away the field in the 400m IM final in a new textile best time of 4:31.78.

Beisel has single handedly raised the bar in the 400m IM with her textile best time. She now owns the 10th fastest swim of all time in the event and broke Katie Hoff’s textile record by over a second. Strong on all strokes, she has a world class backstroke that can either catch or break the field. There is no shortage of talent in the 400m IM, but Beisel stands above them all right now.

13. Lotte Friis – 2011 Highlight – Missing the short course world record in the 800m Free by just 0.24 seconds. Her time was 8:04.77.

In 2011 Friis confirmed her status as the second best distance Freestyler in the world. She led the 800m Free in Shanghai for 750m, before seeing Rebecca Adlington go past her. She then followed that up with victory in the 1500m Free. She also finished 5th in the 400m Free final. Her short course season was spectacular with a 3:58.02 400m Free to go alongside her 8:04.77. Her continued improvement and strong finish to the year will make all British swimming fans nervous. Friis is a very real threat to spoil the British party.

12. Cesar Cielo – 2011 Highlight – Dominating the 50m Free final in Shanghai, winning in 21.52.

What a year for Cielo. After all the trials and tribulations pre-Shanghai, it was to his credit that he was able to produce the goods. He returned home with gold in the 50m Free and 50m Fly and a 4th place finish in the 100m Free (missing bronze by 0.01). If the 100m Free final was a disappointment, he made up for it at the Pan American Games with a 47.84 effort. He has some work to do to catch James Magnussen, but he appears to be the guy best placed to do it.

11. Ye Shiwen – 2011 Highlight – Her stunning last 50m to win the 200 IM on home soil (2:08.90).

Ye Shiwen is still only 15 years old, but has proven to be a big time swimmer in major competitions so far. Her victory in the 200m IM was sensational. Turning fifth at 150m, she was the only swimmer in the field to break 30 seconds on the way home with a 29.42 split. To beat a field including Ariana Kukors, Alicia Coutts, Steph Rice, Katinka Hosszu, Hannah Miley and Caitlin Leverenz is no mean feat. She finished fifth in the 400m IM final, but has since moved up to second in the world rankings with a 4:33.66 effort in October. If she is close at the final turn of either the 200m IM or 400m IM in London, you would have to favour her for the win.


  1. stravius was a true revelation this year!

  2. I know it's still way too early, but I predict Friis to upset Adlington in London.

  3. And let me guess the top ten :D

    Lochte, Yang, Phelps, Franklin, Soni, Magnussen, Pellegrini, Adlington, Dale-Oen, Vollmer.

  4. 1-10 ;-)

    01: Yang - Amazing WR in 1500m and many other great swims in 2011

    02: Dale Oen - We all know what the plastic era did to the breastroke records, and Alex was so close to get it. Amazing 100m considering what was going on back home in Norway. He looked so strong all year. He will get the WR in London.

    03: Magnussen - 100m free gold was awesome, and the 4x100 free, huge. Cielo will NOT win in London if this guy is there ;)

    04: Lochte - was 1% off what I expected from him.
    05: Phelps - On his way back. Will beat Lochte in London
    06: Soni - Did very well in Shanghai considering how the rest of the Trojan team did :/
    07: Adlington - Great 800m in Shanghai. The only GB swimmer with a gold medal chance in London, I think
    08: Pellegrini - Did what was expected, but needs to step up in order to get gold in London
    09: Volmer - Surprised me in Shanghai.
    10: Franklin - She looks to be the next US superstar, and the timing is perfect. London will be her playground. Next time we do this list, she will top it.

  5. Actually, I am more impressed with Yang's 3:40.29 than his 14:34.14
    That was HUGE 400 from him. But he needs to reproduce that kind of time when it counts.
    I was a little bit disappointed with his 1,500 time, I thought he could have gone 14:30 or under, which I think he will do in London.

    Also, I'd put Lochte at least equal #1 with Sun Yang, and Franklin a little bit above :)

    Surprisingly, the top 10 is an easy pick this year and pretty clear cut, although the level below is very very close and competitive (as evidenced in the previous posts discussion.

  6. Top 10:

    This my personal choice, some hae already been placed outside the top 10

    1. Ryan Lochte - Stole the show in Shanghai and i cant see him getting beaten in many events in London.

    2. Sun Yang - A revelation this year. Has the potential from 200-1500 in London and in the 800 relay for China.

    3. Missy Franklin - The sports next superstar, no doubt about it.

    4. Michael Phelps - Bad year. Still showed class in all of his races.

    5. Alexander Dale Oen - Pounded everybody in the 100br final, looks to be in a great position for Olympic gold.

    6. Alicia Coutts - No doubt in my mind she is the most underhyped women out there, yet she continues to improve and win medals. If even the slighest margins are improved on for London she could be in for a big haul of Golds.

    7. James Magnussen - Will have his hands full with Cielo in London but looks 100% the favourite for gold.

    8. Federica Pellegrini - Proved herself as the worlds best 200/400 freestyler once and for all, the 400fr looks her best shot in 2012. She might struggle against Sjostroem and Franklin in the 200m.

    9. Rebecca Adlington - I cant see her losing in London. Friis is swimming extremely well but i doubt she has the weapons to take Adlington and thousands of screaming fans in London.

    10. Therese Alshammar - This is my 'popularity pick' as i am aware Vollmer and Soni were probably better. However, Therese is for me a constant in swimming in that she always delivers somehow, even if it is not the way people expected her to and i dont think she gets the redognition she deserves.

    A few watch outs in London........#

    1.Boglarka Kapas - Dropping huge amounts of time in her freestyle races in 2011, and she is very small so has room to improve. I expect her to be sub 8.20 in London and leading the charge which will likely be behind Friis and Adlington.

    2. Aussie 400fr relay....the Women - Campbell-Coutts-Schlanger-Guehrer are the fastest in the world in 2011 combined in a team that has 3 53. swimmers.

    3.Fran Halsall - Times in 2011 have been superb, just not at the right time, and all this in a season blighted by injury and surgery. She could be in for a HUGE summer. She will definately be faster in 2012. Many people forget she has good back and fly strokes aswell at 25.8 & 57.4 and 1.01.15 in 2011.

    Essay over!

  7. In my opinion, Friis had a much better year than Adlington. I think we could all agree that she did much better relative to expectation than Adlington did. Additionally she was off off by about a second in the 800, and her 1500 swim was by far better than any of Adlington's swims. Lets not forget that Friis was only .67 off Adlington in the 400m final.

  8. 1. ryan lochte (I feel that he may drop as much time from '11 to '12 as he did '10 to '11, but that much not be enough. I have noticed that in the 200im, Lochte has a pretty lame finish by pulling his head up, his finishing time shouldve been in the 153.8s)

    2. sun yang (the biggest thing he has to work on is mentally pushing himself to go out hard. I believe he could be a 143/338/14.2x swimmer by next year if he, quoting Cotterell "toughs" it like Hackett. He has a chance to break the conversation of phelps v lochte, if he does what we know he can do).

    3. missy franklin (I first believe she would've been #1 had US selection meet had been this year, her relay split indicated that she would've likely won the 100m free, which would give her 6 golds, 1 silver and 1 bronze. hmmm)

    4. michael phelps (I was underwhelmed by all of his swims this year apart from the 200im. It's hard for me to see Lochte is going to keep up with Phelps' improvement curve)

    5. federica pellegrini. (This girl is a warrior. I wasn't overly impressed by her time in the 200m free, but was by her composure and ability to swim her own race).

    6. James Magnussen (whens the last time some got up from spending 2 weeks in bed and beats everyone by half a second in the most hotly contested 2 lap event? What would he has swam? What could he swim next year?)

    7. rebecca soni (her position on this list is mostly owing to her consistency. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't that impressed by her times in Shanghai, I just think its a case of the breaststroke events not being very deep, and a lack of challenge. As I've mentioned earlier, she has yet to separate her times from Leisel Jones' 5 years ago, which makes her dominance vulnerable to if Jones makes a full comeback)

    8. Lotte Friis (Ive said enough about her already)

    9. Alexander Dale Oen (he'd probably be top 3 if this is a list of top 10 performers, that was a gutsy swim that very clearly was fueled by adrenaline. Somehow I have a hard time seeing he duplicating that swim next year. He couldn't replicate his first 50split in the individual 50breast, which makes me think that adrenaline played a big part in the 58.7)

    10. rebecca adlington (her 402.8 earlier in the year helped her case against someone like dana vollmer).

  9. I disagree John! Adlington might have not been as good relative to expectation but she ended the year faster than Friss from 200-800m, all the events they go head to head in and defeated Friis everytime they swam against one and other.

    If Adlington learn's how to turn she can go 8.14 next year, she lost .1 or 2 on every turn against Friis.

  10. No arguments but some quick points.

    Friis did a superb & taxing 1500 BEFORE (not after ) the 800. That is a tough double anytime but the 1500 being prior would have taken some sting out. She also did a 1.56.9 200 relay split. Ican see an 8.15 for both Friis & Adlington.

    Halsall's back & 100 im have improved hugely. Interesting to see if is a key to faster free & Fly or a sideways expansion. Similar to Emily Seebohm 's 2010 journey. Ditto Yolane Kukla who recently did a 61.7 back though her free /fly are mid season minus 1.2 secs.

    This reminds me -remember when Janet Evans unexpectedly ripped off a 400 im gold on top of her 400/800 s. Or am I dreaming-?

  11. I agree Adlington and Friis will both be faster next year. Adlington had a 'bad' meet only swimming 1.59 & 4.04 in her other events which indicate's she has time to drop. And Friis had an extremely taxing schedule like you said. These girls wont be far off the world record.

    Also Halsall has always been a good back/IM'er and she has not drastically improved. She was a 2.15 200IMer in 2007 as a 16 year old and a 61.5 100bk swimmer in 2008.

  12. Where is 1'st 10 my friend? Do you agree with comments?

  13. Yes Tom, where's the top 10?
    I've been checking this site daily....

  14. Check again now, the top 10 is up.