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.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Watch The Best Races of the 2011 World Swimming Championships

Here's is my rundown of the best races so far from Shanghai:

1. Men's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay

This relay proved once again that when it comes to drama, no event does it better than the Men's 4 x 100 Free relay.

2. Women's 200m IM

The most anticipated event on the women's schedule did not disappoint. An Allstar line-up gave us an Allstar race.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Watch World Swimming Championships Live Video and Chat

In a Speed Endurance first, we will not only be showing the live racing but also hosting a live chat throughout the World Swimming Championships. Use the chat to get those burning issues off your chest before, during or after racing.

UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who has taken part in the World Championships Chat. We've had over 10,000 comments since day one. It's been a fantastic way to watch the swimming and I hope everyone enjoyed it. Let's do it all over again for the next big competition.

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Thursday, 21 July 2011

Cesar Cielo Cleared to Race in Shanghai - Swimmer's Reactions

According to Swimming World, Cesar Cielo has been cleared to swim in Shanghai. Without inside knowledge of the case, I won't sit here and say whether this decision is right or wrong. Naively or not, I'll put my faith in the court of arbitration chaired by three guys from Australia, Switzerland and USA.

There has already been an immediate reaction from the swimming world:

Watch Eamon Sullivan on Masterchef Australia

With the start of the World Championships a tantalising three days away, its important to find things to fill the time before the swimming starts. Here is soon-to-be cafe owner (and Olympic silver medalist) Eamon Sullivan competing on yesterday's episode of Masterchef Australia. If James Magnussen is still suffering from suspected pneumonia, a few of Sullivan's Chocolate Delices should put him right...

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Poll Results: Which Women's Event Are You Most Looking Forward to in Shanghai?

Photo Finish

100m Free - 59 votes (25.1%) - Nothing could split the traditional blue ribbon event (100m Free) and the 'All Star' newcomer (200m IM). Interestingly the 100 Free is the most anticipated race on both the men's and women's schedule.

200m IM - 59 votes (25.1%) - Stacked with star names from the swimming world's superpowers: Rice, Coutts, Kukors, Ye Shiwen, Belmonte, Miley, Hosszu, Coventry. In terms of glitz and glamour, this is the women's equivalent of the men's 200m Free.

Big Draws

400m Free - 25 votes (10.6%) - An intriguing race that was shaping up to be a head-to-head duel between Rebecca Adlington and Federica Pellegrini, before Camille Muffat, Chloe Sutton, Katie Hoff and Kylie Palmer all staked their claim for the title in the last year.

4 x 100 Free relay - 16 votes (6.8%) - I would imagine most of the votes cast for this race came from the Netherlands. The race between NED, USA, AUS and CHN should be closer than people think, but with two potential medalists in the 100 Free individual event, the Dutch women should have enough firepower to get the job done.

400m IM - 13 votes (5.5%) - Think of this as the 200m IM-lite. With the exception of Arianna Kukors and Alicia Coutts, the other contenders for the 200 IM go in this event.

100m Back - 12 votes (5.1%) - A good chance for a Chinese victory in this race with Zhao Jing, however, she will have to overcome a seriously talented field including Natalie Coughlin, Gemma Spofforth, Aya Terakawa and Anastasia Zueva. Watch out for Holland's Femke Heemskerk (1:00.03 this year, trains with Camille Lacourt) for an upset. The one name missing is Missy Franklin, who only qualified for the 200m Back.

200m Breast - 11 votes (4.7%) - One for the world record hunters. There isn't much debate on who the favourite for this event is, the big question is how close Rebecca Soni can get to Annamay Pierse's world record.

Breaking News: Yannick Agnel WILL Swim the 400m Free in Shanghai

According to the French Swimming Federation's official press dossier, their hottest new star, Yannick Agnel WILL be competing in the 400m Free in Shanghai. 

His participation was in doubt after he came down with a lung infection back in May, but his performance at the Paris Open (3:45.31) showed that he was in the kind of form necessary to compete for a spot on the podium.

Agnel will also be competing in the 4 x 100 Freestyle relay, which was the other event in doubt on the Frenchman's schedule, as well as the 200 Free and 4 x 200 Free relay.

Other interesting notes from the dossier:

• Camille Muffat will have a busy schedule. She is down to swim the 100, 200, 400 & 800 Free as well as the 4 x 100 Medley relay and the 4 x 200 Free relay.

• Fred Bousquet will swim the Butterfly leg on the 4 x 100 Medley relay.

•  This one might test the limits of the term 'interesting', but here are the heights of the Men's French team: Agnel 2.01m, Lacourt 1.97m, Bernard 1.96m, Mallet 1.96m, Gilot 1.93m, Meynard 1.92m, Duboscq 1.91m, Stravius 1.90m, Bousquet 1.88m, Stasiulis 1.86m, Rouault 1.82m. An average of 1.92m (6 ft 3in) per swimmer.

UPDATE 20/7: Fred Bousquet will not swim in the 4 x 100 Free relay. Yannick Agnel is the only swimmer with a place in the final secure. The heats team will be led off by Alain Bernard who will be joined by William Meynard, Jeremy Stravius and Fabien Gilot. The fastest three men from the heats will make up the final team alongside Agnel.

Keri-Anne Payne Wins 10km Open Water in Shanghai Doing Backstroke

Such a gutsy move, swimming the 10km Open Water race backstroke. Just proves once again that when it comes to race tactics, Keri-anne Payne is playing chess, while the rest of the world plays checkers.

Congratulations to Keri-anne, winning back-to-back world titles. Hopefully this is the first, but not the last swimming gold for Britain in Shanghai.

PS. The photo above is just the turn at the buoy. She swam the rest of the race freestyle.

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.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

World, Watch Out. Laure Manaudou Is Back And Means Business

Laure Manaudou took 3 years out of the sport and in that time gave birth to a baby daughter. Now competing in her first meet back she's already broken the 2 minute barrier in the 200m Free.... An incredible comeback, and one that looks like it will go from strength to strength in the run up to London next year.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Laure Manaudou Comeback Meet Starts Tomorrow

 This week Laure Manaudou will be competing in her first competition since returning to the sport.   Competing at the world's longest event name '2011 Speedo Champions Series Eastern Section of the Southern Zone', the French Olympic champion is down the swim the 50m Free (entry time 28.00), 100m Free (59.00), 200m Free (2:08.00), 100m Back (1:04.50) and 200m Back (2:22.00).

Psych Sheet
Live Results

UPDATE: Manaudou swam a new personal best time of 25.93 in this morning's 50 Free heats. Nice start to the comeback!

UPDATE 2: Manaudou has just set her second best time of the day with a 25.84 in the 50 Free final. What a comeback, and on Bastille Day!

UPDATE 3: This comeback meets keeps getting better and better for the Frenchwoman. In this morning's prelims she swims 2:01.99. Qualifies 2nd for tonight's final. 100 Back prelim up next. I consider that 200 Free swim even more impressive than the 50 Free PB she set last night. The French 4 x 200 Free team just got their 4th member back!

UPDATE 4: Another prelim swim, another great time. This time Manaudou swims 1:01.90 in the 100 Back. Would have placed her 2nd in this year's French Championship. Well inside the Top 100 in the world this year.

Shanghai World Championships - Underrated All Stars

World Championship predictions are coming in thick and fast from around the swimming community. The various predictions differ on certain events and agree on others. What is becoming clear is that a lot of top swimmers are coming into this event under the radar. As a result, I decided to go through each event with David 'The Swim Geek' Rieder to come up with our own Underrated All Star rosters.

MENTom WilldridgeDavid Rieder

50 FreeAdam BrownAlain Bernard
100 FreeMarco DiCarliJason Lezak/Eamon Sullivan*
200 FreePaul BiedermannDanila Izotov
400 FreePeter VanderkaayPaul Biedermann
800 FreePal JoensenChad LaTourette
1500 FreeChad LaTouretteOus Mellouli
50 BackLiam TancockLiam Tancock
100 BackDavid PlummerDavid Plummer
200 BackBenjamin StasiulisJames Goddard
50 BreastDamir DugonjicFabio Scozolli
100 BreastChristian SprengerMark Gangloff
200 BreastEric ShanteauEric Shanteau
50 FlyMilorad CavicAndrii Govorov
100 FlyJason DunfordTyler McGill
200 FlyMichael RockTyler Clary
200 IMMarkus RoganMarkus Rogan
400 IMChengxiang WangDavid Verraszto
4 x 100 FreeBrazilGermany
4 x 200 FreeFranceAustralia
4 x 100 MedleyJapanRussia

* - If James Magnussen withdraws, Eamon Sullivan takes his place in the 100 Free.

WOMENTom WilldridgeDavid Rieder

50 FreeArianna Vanderpool-WallaceArianna Vanderpool-Wallace
100 FreeArianna Vanderpool-WallaceBritta Steffen
200 FreeSarah SjostromAllison Schmitt
400 FreeChloe SuttonKatie Hoff
800 FreeKate ZieglerKate Ziegler
1500 FreeGrainne MurphyKeri-Anne Payne
50 BackGeorgia DaviesEmily Seebohm
100 BackGemma Spofforth/Femke HeemskerkElizabeth Pelton
200 BackKirsty CoventryAnastasia Zueva/Elizabeth Beisel
50 BreastLeisel JonesRebecca Soni
100 BreastJi LipingJillian Tyler
200 BreastNadja HiglAmanda Beard
50 FlyLi TaoMarieke Guehrer
100 FlyChristine MagnusonChristine Magnuson
200 FlyJessica SchipperJessica Schipper
200 IMKatinka HosszuKatinka Hosszu
400 IMCaitlin LeverenzKatinka Hosszu/Kirsty Coventry
4 x 100 FreeSwedenGermany
4 x 200 FreeGreat BritainGreat Britain
4 x 100 MedleyNetherlandsSweden

Thursday, 7 July 2011

World Swimming Championships Predictions - Men

Men's World Championships Predictions - Version 1.1

    50 Free
1    Bousquet
2    Cielo
3    Adrian

Before Cielo's recent failed test for a masking agent, I had him doing the 50 and 100 Free double. His biggest advantage has been his incredible mental strength, and the impact this had on his competitors. Cielo has always had a mental edge over Fred Bousquet especially, now I think the tables have turned. I see Bousquet sensing a chink in the Brazilian's armour and taking advantage of it.    
    100 Free
1    Cielo
2    Adrian
3    Hayden

As the Cielo saga unfolds this choice could change, but he did look on incredible form at the Paris Open. Nathan Adrian has not shown his hand in 2011, but should be a force to be reckoned with after a full taper. Brent Hayden might be the most under rated 100 Freestyler on the planet, the only man to break 48 seconds last year and yet still most people see bronze at best for the Canadian.    
    200 Free (Changing my mind on a daily basis)
1    Park
2    Phelps
3   Lochte

Easily the hardest event to predict in world swimming. Park is my choice for the top spot based on three factors a) he is an Olympic champion, that can never be underestimated, b) he was a full half second faster than the rest of the world last year, and c) he looked in great shape at the Santa Clara meet. Lochte is Lochte and Phelps is Phelps. At this stage its a coin flip between the two of them. I still refuse to rule out Paul Biedermann and he will have a serious point to prove in Shanghai.And then there's the improving Yannick Agnel.... my head is starting to hurt again.

World Swimming Championships Predictions - Women

Women's World Championships Predictions - Version 1.1

    50 Free
1    Kromowidjojo
2    Alshammar
3    Hardy

I'm banking on a return to form for the world's best sprinter last year, Kromowidjojo. Her performances in Dubai last year was so head and shoulders ahead of the world, I'm looking at a repeat in the long pool. Hardy has a scheduling conflict with the 50 Breast, but I think she can step up twice in the same session.  
    100 Free
1    Kromowidjojo
2    Halsall
3    Heemskerk

This was a real head over heart decision. For Worlds, I've gone for Kromowidjojo for the same reasons highlighted above. I believe Halsall will take silver in Shanghai before turning it into gold in London next year. Coughlin, Steffen, Coutts and Yi Tang have all entered my intrapersonal conversation for the bronze spot.   
    200 Free
1    Pellegrini
2    Muffat
3    Palmer

Without trying to spoil the surprise, I see a repeat of Beijing happening for Pellegrini - a disappointing 400 Free followed by a stunning 200 Free. At the Paris Open, Camille Muffat looked like she is poised for a huge breakthrough meet. Kylie Palmer seems to be more consistent than compatriot Bronte Barratt. The obvious name missing here is Allison Schmitt. She has been in my Top 3 all year, but I just couldn't find a place for her. Toughest event to predict on the schedule.  
    400 Free
1    Adlington
2    Muffat
3    Pellegrini

Pellegrini has been in every spot of this Top 3 in the lead up to Worlds. Adlington has been in supreme form in this event for the last two years and has had a big training cycle since her 4:02.8 in March. Muffat's 400 in Paris was spectacular and I think she can drop down to 4:02. Should Pellegrini have a poor swim in the 400 (not out of the question going by the previous few years) and drop out of the medals, my money is on Chloe Sutton for the bronze spot.   

Monday, 4 July 2011

European Junior Swimming Championships, July 6-10

July has finally arrived in the swimming world. This year's highlight, the World Championships in Shanghai, are just three weeks away. What better way to get into the competitive spirit than by following the world's premier Junior competition. Think of it as the start of your own swimming spectator's taper.

What makes this competition so important?

That question is easily answered when you look at some of the previous winners during the last 10 years of this competition. The list includes Olympic Champions (Rebecca Adlington, Laure Manaudou, Diana Mocanu), World Champions (Paul Biedermann, Daniel Gyurta, Yulia Efimova, Katinka Hosszu, Gemma Spofforth, Mateusz Sawrymowicz, Laszlo Cseh, Milorad Cavic, Hanna-Maria Seppala) and World Record Holders (Anastasia Zueva, Rafael Munoz Perez, Aschwin Wildeboer Faber, Liam Tancock). When you cast the net out wider and include medalists at the European Juniors you find the likes of Federica Pellegrini, Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Larissa Ilchenko, Keri-Anne Payne and Amaury Leveaux.

You don't need to be a historian of the sport to realise that this competition is a tremendous springboard towards future success.

Who will be this year's star attraction?

On paper that accolade goes to my pick for Olympic silver next year, Bence Biczo. The Hungarian comes into this competition ranked second in the world in the 200m Fly and will be looking to get a solid swim in before mounting a push for the podium in Shanghai.

Biczo, the 200m Fly victor last year, is not the only returning champion.Maxym Shemberyev, ranked 17th in the world this year in the 400m IM will look to make it back-to-back wins in that event.  Turkey's US-based Ediz Yildirimer will be defending his 800m Free crown, while Ukraine's Nadiya Koba will be looking to improve on her impressive 25.46 from last year's 50m Free final.

One of the many great things about this competition is its unpredictable nature. Swimmers (and for those who are geographically challenged, some countries) you've never heard of  have a habit of making a name for themselves on this stage. It serves as the perfect breakthrough meet for many top junior swimmers as they look to establish themselves in the senior ranks.

2011's Breakout Candidates

Velimir Stjepanovic - SRB, Iuean Lloyd - GBR, Christian Scheruebl - AUT, Arseni Kukharau - BLR,  Gregorio Paltrinieri - ITA, Fabio Laugeni - ITA, Panagiotis Samilidis - GRE

Charlotte Bonnet - FRA, Amelia Maughan - GBR, Sycerika McMahon - IRE, Donata Kilijanska - POL, Mie Nielsen - DAN, Hazal Sarikaya - TUR, Molly Renshaw - GBR, Irina Novikova - RUS, Siobhan O'Connor - GBR, Liliana Szilagyi - HUN

Entry List
Live Video