Saturday, 19 May 2012

Video of Missy Franklin Doing The Worm. Wait, what?

(Video via Nick Zaccardi)

Some solid moves on display from Missy Franklin, but she still has some way to go before she reaches the level of skill shown by the British swimmers in 2008.

2012's Leading Underwater Bubble Rings: Dominik Meichtry

(video courtesy of GoSwim)

Dominik Meichtry just changed the underwater bubble ring game forever. Perfect form, no breakage in the ring before hitting the surface... and the final two rings are a circus act. I would happily to pay to watch that.

It just reaffirms my belief that underwater bubble rings are quite simply the most underrated, unheralded and uncelebrated aspect of competitive swimming.

PS. If this doesn't vault Meichtry into the 200m Free leading contenders discussion, I don't know what will.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Charlotte UltraSwim

May 10 - 13

Psych Sheet
Live Video

The US prove once again that when it comes to domestic meets, nobody comes close. Just a few of the star names competing... Phelps, Lochte, Manaudou, Bousquet, Coughlin, Hoff, Vollmer, Mellouli, Sutton, Rogan, Berens, Wu Peng, Soni, Hardy, Hansen, Shanteau, Spofforth, Vyatchanin, Cavic, Targett, Beisel, Leverenz, Weber-Gale, Ervin, Bovell, Kukors, Schoeman... and breathe.

Heats start at 9am EDT (2pm BST). Finals start at 6pm EDT (11pm BST). Thursday finals start at 4pm EDT (9pm BST)

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

German Olympic Trials

(Interesting finishing technique from Marco di Carli, video courtesy of DMS - Deutsche Mannschaftsmeisterschaften im Schwimmen)

May 10 -14. This week sees the best Germany has to offer in the swimming pool step up to try and claim a spot at London 2012. Most attention will fall on Paul Biedermann, Britta Steffen and Christian vom Lehn, but don't snooze on the following swimmers:

Marco di Carli - Di Carli led the world rankings in the 100m Free heading into Shanghai last year with his 48.24 from German Nationals. Look for another fast swim on home soil in the 100m Free and improvement on the global stage. He's a potential Olympic finalist, with an outside medal chance if he can impove on his 2011 form.

Ben Starke - Like di Carli, last year Starke underperformed at Worlds after a strong showing at German Nationals. If he repeats his time of 51.65 from last year, he would move him to number 1 in this year's world rankings. Watch out also for Philip Heintz, European Junior Bronze medalist in 2009, who has taken a big step forward this year with his 52.38 in March, as well as 50m specialist Steffen Deibler.

Helge Meeuw - World silver medalist back in 2009, Meeuw marked his return to the international stage with a 7th placed finish in the 100m Back in Shanghai. He swam 53.28 in the final and 53.22 in the heats of the 4 x 100 Medley relay. The medal spots look wide open in the 100m Back this year and Meeuw has the talent to be in that mix.

Men's 4 x 100 Medley Team - Bronze medalists in Shanghai, but often overlooked in discussions for the medley relay. The German team lost out to the eventual winners USA by just 0.54 seconds, while seeing Helge Meeuw swim 0.3 seconds slower than his relay heat swim and Ben Starke split 51.83, down on his 51.65 flat start from German Nationals. The US team should be stronger with the addition of Brendan Hansen and Matt Grevers this year, but Germany are contenders and have potential Olympic finalists in all 4 disciplines.

Daniela Schreiber - Schreiber finished last year down in 33rd in the 100m Free world rankings with 54.74, but that did not tell the whole story. Schreiber played a huge part in the German team's 4 x 100 Free bronze medal with her impressive 53.12 anchor leg. That relay split was the 3rd fastest in the entire race behind Femke Heemskerk, Missy Franklin and tied with Yi Tang. Her split was faster than the likes of Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Dana Vollmer, Jeanette Ottesen and Alicia Coutts. In March she swam 54.45 and she should give Britta Steffen a solid challenge.

Women's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay - Steffen and Schreiber make a punchy 1-2 combo, and the German team also have decent strength in depth from the likes of Silke Lippok, Lisa Vitting and Dorothea Brandt. If Lippok, who at 18 years old is at a good age for a further breakthrough, can take a step forward then the German quartet will have a good chance of repeating their bronze medal from Shanghai.

Start List
Live Timing

Heats start at 9:30 CEST (8:30 BST). Finals start at 19:00 CEST (18:00 BST).

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Where does Team USA stand heading into London 2012? Butterfly Edition

We have now seen Olympic Trials in the majority of leading swimming nations, with Germany's  trials still to come May 9 - 14. There will be some noteworthy swimming events coming up over the next couple of months, but in terms of Olympic selection the attention will soon shift firmly to the US trials in Omaha in late June.

As hard as it is to say as a non-American, I can't help but feel like the Olympic trials so far in the other nations have been a support act for the main headliner... and in true rock star style, they are making us wait.

Here is a breakdown of where I see the US standing in each event, and how their stock has risen U+2191.svg/taken a fall U+2193.svg or stayed the same since Shanghai. This time we take a look at the Butterfly events.

100m Butterfly

Men U+2191.svg Big win so far for the Americans in the 100m Fly this year. Michael Phelps was always likely to head to London as the favourite, but the rest of the world haven't shown any kind of form that will scare Phelps. World silver medalist Konrad Czerniak, 52.07 this year, hasn't been able to get close to his 2011 best of 51.15. Milorad Cavic, who might still represent the biggest threat to Phelps, swam 52.21 as a guest at the Olympic pool in March. Australia's Christopher Wright leads the world in 2012 with 51.67. At 23 years old Wright stands a decent chance of dropping more time in London, but it will be tough for him to get down to the 50-point it will require to get close to Phelps. Tyler McGill, or whoever else takes the second US spot, has a strong chance of making the 100m Fly a US 1-2, or at least repeating the 1-3 from Shanghai.

Women = The status of the women's 100m Fly has stayed largely the same for the US. After her 56.47 textile best time in Shanghai, Dana Vollmer became the heavy favourite for gold in London and that has not changed. What has changed is that one of Vollmer's main competitors Sarah Sjostrom has closed the gap with her 56.79 swim this year. Britain's Ellen Gandy (57.25 this year) and Fran Halsall (57.56) have opposite strengths with Halsall's searing early speed and Gandy's stamina, but if both get their races right they have a chance. Alicia Coutts is slower at this point of the year than last year which is slightly worrying for Australia, but she has shown over the last few years that she can rise to the occasion at major competitions. Lu Ying is also down on her best time from last year but is safely in the mid-57 range. The second US spot looks likely to be heading to one of Natalie Coughlin, Christine Magnuson or Claire Donahue.

200m Butterfly

Men U+2191.svgAnother positive event so far this year for the US men. A number of darkhorses haven't shown the development expected from them so far in 2012. Hungary's Bence Biczo, a 1:54.79 swimmer last year hasn't cracked the 1:56 barrier yet. Chad Le Clos has swum 1:55.30 this year but will likely still need to find a second and a half to be in contention for a medal. Takeshi Matsuda remains the biggest threat to Phelps and he matched his best time in 2011 of 1:54.01 at Japanese trials. The only other man to have broken 1:55 this year is Nick D'Arcy who will certainly be in the medal hunt, but it would take a brave man to bet on him (or anyone) beating Phelps in his pet event. The stage could be set for a second American to get on the podium, whether that is Tyler Clary, Bobby Bollier or A.N.Other.

Women = The US have been boosted by the emergence of Camille Adams and her 2:06.76 untapered swim in January. It remains to be seen what level of improvement Adams can progress to, but it gives the US women a much needed shot in the arm in this event. Despite having two swimmers in the semi-final at Worlds, the US failed to get a swimmer into the final. The job isn't getting any easier either with the leap forward Japan's Natsumi Hoshi has made this year, taking her time down to 2:04.69 and joining Liu Zige and Jiao Liuyang on textile 2:04s. Ellen Gandy and Jemma Lowe are safely qualified and will have the home crowd support. Other threats will come from Zsu Jakabos, Mireia Belmonte, Jess Schipper and Katinka Hosszu. It still looks like an uphill battle for USA to medal in this one.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Celebrating Alexander Dale Oen's Contribution To The World Of Swimming

It is still hard to believe that swimming fans won't have the privilege of seeing Alexander Dale Oen competing again.

Rather than look for answers or explanations at this stage, this post aims to celebrate what Dale Oen gave to the swimming world.

Swimming's Emotional Highlight of 2011

He did not break the world record, but Alexander Dale Oen's 58.71 in Shanghai last year was the greatest 100m Breaststroke we've ever seen.

The video below shows the view from the stands and in my opinion shows the dominance he had over his competitors better than the TV footage did (as well as his poor start ... Dale Oen is in lane 4 with the blue shorts).


Norwegian swimmer Sander Smordal's obituary for his friend - Incredibly moving words from a close personal friend and team-mate. (Non-Norwegian speakers will need to use google translate).

Dale Oen, happy and at ease

Like all great champions, he didn't need to put on an act.

Alexander Dale Oen: "I am one of the luckiest humans alive."

In His Own Words

The Tribute For His Countrymen

Doing more through sport than anyone else could for the Norwegian people suffering through their own traumatic loss last July.

The Final Interview

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

RIP Alexander Dale Oen 1985-2012

Horrible, horrible news. Reports from Norway say that Alexander Dale Oen died yesterday at a training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona at the age of 26. BBC News have confirmed the report.

Just a tragic day for swimming. Rest in peace, Alex.

The last tweet Dale Oen sent yesterday: