Monday, 19 March 2012

James Magnussen Shakes The 100m Free World Record (With Video and Post Race Comments)

"There's a missile heading to London and it's set to explode in the Olympic pool!"

UPDATE: Here's the extended post race interview from Magnussen.

Here it is. The swim of 2012 so far. A swim that Australian's will watch with joy, and Magnussen's competitor's will look at with dread.

The Missile split 22.68 to his feet and came back in 24.42. His homecoming split virtually matched that of his previous textile best time from Shanghai (24.39). The area where Magnussen has improved is the speed at which he hits the first wall (22.68 compared to 23.10 in Shanghai).

The power that Magnussen generates in his stroke is off the charts. His stroke rate is noticeably slower than his competitors on the first 50m (except James Roberts in lane 3) but he gets to the wall well ahead of them.

Where we stand now is that Magnussen is going out in the same blazing speed that Cesar Cielo did in Shanghai, but is also bringing it home in the same other wordly time that he did at Worlds. There wasn't much doubt before, but the Australian confirmed today that his talent in the 100m Free is unique.

Make no mistake, taking into account the benefit that the techsuits gave this is the greatest 100m Freestyle we've ever seen.

Huge thanks to 101stutube for the video.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Ian Thorpe's 2012 Olympic Dream Is Over

This morning's heats in Adelaide marked the end of the 2012 Olympic dream for Ian Thorpe. He finished 21st in the 100m Free heats with a time of 50.35. Splitting 24.24 and 26.11, his inability to bring his races home strongly enough struck once again.

Thorpe's comeback will now be heavily scrutinised, but the Australian legend should be commended for his bravery in making this competitive comeback. It has also sparked a reinvigorated interest in swimming, both in Australia and the rest of the world, that no other swimmer alive could manage. It's a huge shame that he won't be swimming in London (although I'm sure the BBC will offer him enough incentives to come over as a TV pundit for the competition).

The big question now is 'what's next?'

Thorpe seems to be enjoying his life in Switzerland and mentioned prior to the championships that this comeback was not just for the short term, but that idea may be challenged after not making the Olympic team. It was seeing the Olympic site in London that originally inspired this comeback.

Hopefully this won't be the last time we see Ian Thorpe swim. Watching the first 100m of his 200m Free semi final brought home just how great a middle distance freestyler he was... and hopefully will be again.

I for one want to see these incredible times Milorad Cavic talks about:

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Fran Halsall Equals Inge de Bruijn's Textile Best Time in the 50m Freestyle

(I may be in the minority here, but the footage from the side of the pool between 2:55 and 3:03 is a work of art)

Fran Halsall saved her best swimming for the last day of the British Olympic Trials with a stunning 24.13 50m Free effort. The time equals Inge de Bruijn's textile best time set all the way back at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. 

Halsall was just 0.02 away from her British record set in a techsuit in 2009. Getting that close to her suited best is a good sign for her 100m Free where she will likely need to get close to her techsuit best of 52.87 if she is going to be in contention for gold in London.

Sidenote 1 - Halsall's swim got me thinking, is Inge de Bruijn's 24.13 a better swim than Britta Steffen's 23.73?

- Britta Steffen - 23.73, world record, in a techsuit, to win the 2009 World Championship.

- Inge de Bruijn - 24.13, in the first version of Speedo's fastskin, in the semi final of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

De Bruijn's swim was a decade ahead of the rest of the world, but was done in the less pressured environment of a semi final. Steffen had the benefit of a techsuit, but is a full 0.15 seconds faster than any other swimmer in history, and was set in a world championship final. Tough one.

Sidenote 2  - Definitely advantage Arena Powerskin Carbon Pro vs Speedo Fastskin 3. Hannah Miley, Fran Halsall and Sarah Sjostrom all wore the new Arena suit and threw down the most impressive swims of the competition.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Breaking Down Sarah Sjöström's 1:55.23 200m Freestyle

Sarah Sjöström ended her time in London on a high after an impressive 1:55.23 effort in the 200m Free guest final. Dominating the field from the start she split 26.71 / 29.38 / 29.45 / 29.69.

What makes this swim so impressive is the comparison to her 200m Free final in Shanghai. For the first 100m it was a mirror image of tonight's swim, in Shanghai she split 26.77 / 29.36 before coming back over a second slower in 30.31 / 29.97.

Sjöström has had a tremendous finish to 2011 and start to 2012, and her ability to bring races home has been one of the key reasons behind her success. With a full taper ahead of her, it will be fascinating to see where she can drop even more time in this event.

As a comparison, here are some of the main competitors in the 200m Freestyle and their splits (in bold the fastest split of the group)

Sjöström ---- 26.71 / 29.38 / 29.45 / 29.69 - 1:55.23
Franklin ----- 27.09 / 29.35 / 29.38 / 29.24 - 1:55.06
Heemskerk - 26.90 / 28.66 / 29.71 / 30.27 - 1:55.54
Pellegrini ---- 27.62 / 29.42 / 29.14 / 29.40 - 1:55.58
Palmer ------ 27.65 / 29.20 / 29.33 / 29.55 - 1:55.73
Barratt ------ 27.66 / 29.27 / 29.46 / 29.35 - 1:55.74

If you add in the likes of Camille Muffat and Allison Schmitt when the Olympics roll around, it is going to be a wild final.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Taking A Closer Look at Hannah Miley's 4:32.67 400m IM

Day One of the British Olympic trials saw Hannah Miley set a new textile lifetime best in the 400m IM and moved herself to the top of this year's world rankings.

Her time of 4:32.67 was 1.55 seconds faster than her silver medal winning performance at the World Championships and brings her to within a second of Elizabeth Beisel's textile best time from Shanghai.

As one of the comments on this site pointed out, Miley's 300m split was actually faster than Beisel's. So where has Miley made improvements since Shanghai?

Miley Shanghai - Fly - 30.3/1:03.97 - Back - 35.6/1:10.64 - Breast - 38.3/1:16.98 - Free - 32.2/1:02.63
Miley London - Fly - 29.8/1:03.10 - Back - 34.7/1:09.36 - Breast - 37.9/1:16.77 - Free - 32.2/1:03.44

Miley's improved her splits on every stroke up until 300m with the biggest improvements on her Backstroke and Butterfly. A notoriously slow starter, being closer to the field over the first 200m should serve Miley well.

Elizabeth Beisel established herself as the clear world number one in this event, here is how her Shanghai splits match up to those of the Scot (with overall lead in brackets). In a virtual head-to-head the lead changes with every stroke:

Beisel Shanghai - Fly - 29.6/1:03.32 (+0.22 behind Miley) - Back - 34.7/1:08.64 (-0.50 in front) - Breast - 38.5/1:17.84 (+0.57) - Free - 31.2/1:01.98 (-0.89)

Miley's greatest weapon in the Medley continues to be her Breaststroke. Among the world's top IMers only Caitlin Leverenz has a better Breaststroke leg and until now the American hasn't been able to match Miley's Backstroke or Freestyle. The biggest step forward that Miley made yesterday was on her Backstroke, getting within 0.7 seconds of Beisel's world class Backstroke.

The challenge now for Miley (and her coach who happens to be her father) is to make sure that she can drop even more time at the Olympics. It was something she had failed to do in 2008 and 2009, but has dropped time in both of the last two major championships, boding well for London.

The only negative from yesterday's swim was the freestyle leg. It was a full 0.8 seconds slower than Miley's closing 100 at Worlds and nearly 1.5 seconds slower than Beisel's Shanghai closing speed. Given that Miley is a more than competent freestyler, this comes as a slight surprise. Both women's freestyle times are similar, in 2011 Beisel swam 1:59.17 and 4:08.57 in the 200m and 400m Free, compared to Miley's 1:59.34 and 4:09.59.

At the Olympics with the home crowd cheering on Miley and potentially being at the head of the field, it may be enough to get Great Britain off to a golden start.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Ellen Gandy Will Not Wear The New Speedo Suit At Trials

Ellen Gandy will be competing in the closest race at trials, the women's 100m Fly, and she will be doing it a supposedly inferior suit. The below is taken from Gandy's column in The Guardian.

All the talk on the circuit right now is about the new Speedo suits, which launched last December. Speedo say it is their fastest ever. People were trying them out in NSW and will be again at the trials. I've decided I'm not going to wear one in the trials. I've been thinking about it a lot and there is no way I would change any other aspect of my swimming, like my start or my turn, a week before an important competition. I just don't need that kind of distraction. Everyone expects me to wear the latest thing, but I love my old Speedo suit and I reckon that if you're comfortable in what you are wearing it doesn't really matter. I believe I can achieve whatever I'm in.
Choosing which suit to wear depends so much on the individual, on body shape and what you feel comfortable in. So some people absolutely love Speedo's new suit, and some people don't. I know one girl who wore it for one race, took it off and it ripped. If I win selection for the Olympics then I will definitely try it out, but right now I'm sticking with what works for me.

Looks like we are back talking about suits again.

British Olympic Trials - Predictions

The BBC's Karen Pickering and Steve Parry have made their picks ahead of the British Olympic Trials, which start tomorrow.

I've added my picks to the list. Use the comment section to make your picks, agree, disagree, troll... all comments are welcome!