Saturday, 25 February 2012

Breaking News: Aleksandra Herasimenia Denies Elbowing Alicia Coutts

There has been a lot of speculation surrounding 'Elbow Gate', the allegations from Alicia Coutts that she was elbowed in the head and spat at before the 100m Freestyle final at the World Championships in Shanghai. 

Coutts still has not revealed the name of the alleged culprit, but did say that it was one of the European finalists in the race. Since the story broke last week we have seen Ranomi Kromowidjojo cleared by Coutts herself on Twitter as well as a denial from Femke Heemskerk. Fran Halsall saw the incident, heard the apology and forgot who was involved describing the incident as 'a non entity'.

In a Speed Endurance exclusive we can now add another denial to that list. Joint gold medal winner Aleksandra Herasimenia.

I caught up with Herasimenia and in a strongly worded denial she told me that the allegations were 'stupid' and questioned the authenticity of the claims. 'I know that I did not do it, and Jeanette (Ottesen) too, I spoke to her. Nor could she do that!', she said. 'I did not see anything and so I think all this is fiction!'

Friday, 24 February 2012

Ian Thorpe Will Swim 400m Free This Weekend

This weekend in Zurich will see the return of Ian Thorpe to an event he dominated for the best part of a generation, the 400m Freestyle. In his last competition before the Australian Olympic Trials, Thorpedo will compete in both the 100m and 400m Freestyle.


While this development is being put forward as simply an experiment for racing, it does raise some interesting questions.

Could Thorpe make the Australia team on the 400m Free?

As strange as it sounds given his focus on sprinting, the 400m Free might turn out to offer Thorpe a slim remote surprise chance at making it to London 2012. Australia's top two last year were Ryan Napoleon (3:45.16, 6th in the world last year) and Thomas Fraser-Holmes (3:46.54, 10th in the world last year). To get down to 3:45 will likely prove too much for Thorpe, but it should be remembered that those times are over 5 seconds down on his best time.

It is also worth mentioning that Leigh Nugent didn't 100% rule out the move up to 400m. "The 400m is more about experimenting with his racing, not so much about what he would be intending to do at trials... It's pretty much off the agenda (for the trials). But he's been going pretty well. He has been pretty happy with his progress."

'Pretty much off the agenda' does not equal 'Off the agenda'.

Would Thorpe have a chance to win the 400m Free in London?


Sun Yang, Park Tae-Hwan, Yannick Agnel and Paul Biedermann are too good for that to happen.

What will the 400 Free tell us about his 200 Free?

So far Thorpe has been struggling at the end of his races, whether they be over 100m or 200m. Seeing him race a 400m Free should give us some clues to his conditioning in his last competition before Olympic Trials.

Unless the entire comeback has been a smoke and mirror show, Thorpe needs to show increased endurance at the end of his races. Chances are if he struggles in the 400m Free in Zurich, he is going to struggle in the 200m Free at Trials, his best chance at making the Olympic team.

What should we make of Leigh Nugent's optimism?

The last time we saw a story about Thorpe and Nugent, it focused on Thorpedo's lack of fitness, motivation and confidence. Now, less than four weeks on, everything is smelling of roses?

Thorpe's been going 'pretty well, he has been pretty happy with his progress'.

Well, I will still be pretty surprised if he makes the Aussie Olympic team. I hope I'm wrong there though.

Why hasn't there been a vote on this blog for such a long time?

Good point. New vote launched. Will Ian Thorpe make the Australian Olympic Team. Yes/No? You decide.

(Hat tip to The Swimmers Daily for the Thorpe story)

Monday, 20 February 2012

British Olympic Trials Draft Programme Released

This is the moment that the adrenaline will really start to kick in for the British swimmers. Nothing brings home the fact that a big competition is approaching like scanning through the draft programme.

2012 Olympic Trials Draft Programme

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Elbow Gate - Who Targeted Alicia Coutts in the Shanghai Call Room?

In one of the strangest stories to come out in recent years, Alicia Coutts has claimed that she was elbowed in the head multiple times by a competitor in the call room before going out for the 100m Freestyle final at the World Championships. The unnamed European assailant then allegedly turned round and spat at Coutts while they were walking up a flight of stairs to the pool.

Why would an unnamed European target Coutts? 

She was certainly a threat in the final, but was by no means the favourite. Fran Halsall was the fastest qualifier, Femke Heemskerk was in sparkling form, Coutts had an outside chance.

What constitutes an elbow?

The call room is a busy area, swimmers are stretching and swinging limbs at a tremendous rate. Could this have been accidental? Or could the assailant have deliberately warmed up near Coutts, knowing that she would hit Coutts?

The suspects

The European finalists were Ranomi Kromowidjojo (lane 2), Fran Halsall (lane 4), Femke Heemskerk (lane 5), Jeanette Ottesen (lane 6), Aleksandra Herasimenia (lane 8). Coutts swam in lane 5.

In Shanghai the finalists came out in reverse spearhead formation, so lane 8 first, then lane 1, lane 7, lane 2, lane 6, lane 3 (Coutts), lane 5 and finally lane 4. The finalists might have walked up the stairs in question in the order that they came out out of the race, or in lane order... or none of the above. Coutts emerges at 36 seconds in the video below, she doesn't look too happy.

Friday, 10 February 2012

This Weekend's Racing

British University Championships(Feat. Rebecca Adlington, Fran Halsall, Joanne Jackson, Lizzie Simmonds, Amy Smith, Liam Tancock, David Davies, Ross Davenport, Ieuan Lloyd)

Looks like Becky Adlington (white hat in the middle) might be wearing the new Speedo suit/goggle/hat combo.


UPDATE: Becky Adlington just swam 8:22.96 (last year she swam 8:23.85 at the same meet). She was just a shade off her Shanghai splits up until 600m, where she just 1.3 seconds slower. Without having Lotte Friis to chase down she closed in 2:06.40, instead of the 2:02.28 at Worlds. Great start to 2012!

UPDATE 2: Loughborough's 4 x 100m Free relay (consisting of Amy Smith 55.0, Fran Halsall 53.36!, Emma Wilkins 55.0 and Caitlin McClatchey 55.0) swam 3:38.49. Halsall's time matched her split from Shanghai heats, where GB finished 9th in 3:39.74.

1er Meeting de la Mediterranée Open - Marseille, Feb 10-12

(Feat. Camille Lacourt, Femke Heemskerk, Inge Dekker, Fabien Gilot, William Meynard, Florent Manaudou, Gregory Mallet, Steffen Diebler)

Start Lists

NSW State Championships, Feb 10-12
(Feat. James Magnussen, Libby Trickett, Park Tae-Hwan, Steph Rice, Michael Klim, Marieke Guehrer, Yolane Kukla, Ellen Gandy, Nick D'Arcy, Leisel Jones, Emily Seebohm, Belinda Hocking, Meagen Nay, Therese Alshammar)


Missourah Missouri Grand Prix, Feb 10-12
(Feat. Laure Manaudou, Fred Bousquet, Chloe Sutton, Cesar Cielo, Kosuke Kitajima, Eric Shanteau, Christine Magnuson, Tyler McGill, Matt Grevers, Thiago Pereira, Markus Rogan, Sinead Russell)

Watch out for Bousquet vs Cielo in the 50 Free.

Live Video
Psych Sheet

Typical Divers

While swimmers are busy training hard, the divers are dancing about on a beach. Typical.

(Good effort on the video though)