Monday, 30 July 2012

Ye Shiwen's Homecoming 100m Split - A Different View

So, if you haven't heard, Ye Shiwen is faster than Ryan Lochte. 

I mean Lochte beat her time by over 23 seconds in the 400 IM on day one, but because she had a closing 50m faster than Lochte she is cheating doping superhuman clearly faster than Lochte. It couldn't be down to the fact that Lochte absolutely flew on the first 300m and hung on out on his own, while Ye Shiwen had a race plan based on conserving energy for 300m, blasting her freestyle and had someone to chase down?

No, it can't be. I mean Lochte flips tyres and does strongman workouts, Florida runs "Stadiums". Do they even train in China?

As Gina Heyn points out on twitter, guess who had a faster closing 50m than both Ye Shiwen and Ryan Lochte.... Rebecca Adlington. In the 800 free final in Shanghai last year Adlington had a final 50 split of 28.91, two hundredths of a second faster than Ye Shiwen's closing split. Nobody questioned Adlington after her swim or how she was able to swim a "man's" split at the end of a gruelling 800 free, nor should they.

I had hoped after China's strong performance in Shanghai that we wouldn't be immediately reverting back to the doping argument after every great Chinese swim, but I guess we still do.

At least Google Chrome tries to protect you against it...

Insecure content. One way to put it.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Olympic Swimming Predictions

Male Relays
Female Relays

Speed Endurance Olympic Swimming Predictions - Female Relays

The time has finally arrived, it is Olympic prediction time! Odds to win also included. It is well worth checking out the odds to finish in the top 3 too, some good value there. Make it rain!


4x100 Free
1. Netherlands (evens)
2. Australia (13/2)
3. USA (9/4)

Netherlands should be too strong in this with their star studded line-up. Australia have fantastic strength in depth, they just need to have a swimmer or two capable of 52 high/53 low before they get to the Dutch level. USA has great depth too, but like Australia lack the star power, maybe Missy Frankin can deliver that but I can't see it being enough.

4x200 Free
1. USA (4/6)
2. Australia (11/4)
3. France (25/1)

USA and Australia wil be a great tussle and before Allison Schmitt's rapid times at US Trials I would have given the slight edge to the Aussies. As it currently stands, Schmitt and Franklin together on the same team should be enough for gold. France have good depth and Camille Muffat to lead the team.

4x100 Medley
1. USA (2/11)
2. Australia (14/1)
3. China (15/2)

USA all the way in this one and the world record will be under threat. Australia and China will have their own battle, with AUS just shading it. Japan will also be in the mix alongside Russia.

Speed Endurance Olympic Swimming Predictions - Male Relays

The time has finally arrived, it is Olympic prediction time! Odds to win also included. It is well worth checking out the odds to finish in the top 3 too, some good value there. Make it rain!


4x100 Free
1. Australia (8/11)
2. France (11/2)
3. USA (10/3)

Sorry America, if Magnussen, Roberts, Agnel and Gilot are at 100%, I'm ruling you out for the top two spots. Phelps pulling out of the 200 free helps, but can he really get down to the 47 low that is likely needed to stay in contention? I might even be tempted to swim Adrian first and have Phelps try to chase down someone with a superhuman feat.

4x200 Free
1. USA (4/11)
2. France (4/1)
3. Germany (30/1)

USA and France will be well clear in this one, and it could be closer than a lot of people expect. The power of Lochte and Phelps on the same team should see the stars and stripes being hoisted high, but not without a fight. If Biedermann is in form, the Germans have the depth to see them through for bronze with China, Australia and Russia close behind.

4x100 Medley
1. USA (1/2)
2. Australia (11/2)
3. Japan (7/1)

The top two spots look secure, USA are stronger than last year with Grevers and Hansen at the front and Australia have also become faster. Bronze will likely come down to Japan, France, Germany and Russia. Japan's first two legs can match anyone in the world, they just need to hang on.

Speed Endurance Olympic Swimming Predictions - Medley

The time has finally arrived, it is Olympic prediction time! Odds to win also included. It is well worth checking out the odds to finish in the top 3 too, some good value there. Make it rain!


200 IM
1. Michael Phelps (10/11)
2. Ryan Lochte (6/5)
3. James Goddard (100/1)

Two big calls to make for this pick, one was Phelps over Lochte. It is incredibly close between the two men, but I think Phelps just has the upper hand when both men are at their best, add to that the fact that Lochte also has the 200 back final to contend with earlier in the night. I'm also taking Goddard over Cseh, Pereira and Deibler. Definitely a touch of the old British-tinted glasses, but Goddard has trained exclusively for this race and has the mentality to come good on big occasions.

400 IM
1. Ryan Lochte (3/4)
2. Michael Phelps (5/4)
3. Kosuke Hagino (50/1)

I just can't see Phelps getting past Lochte in this event, perhaps I will be proven wrong, but two things work against Phelps, a) the lack of training he put in for a few years between Olympics and b) his shift of focus to the sprint events. Hagino's my pick for bronze after his 4:10.26 earlier this year.


200 IM
1. Caitlin Leverenz (7/1)
2. Ariana Kukors (13/2)
3. Ye Shiwen (3/1)

What a race this could be. Leverenz and Kukors are not common picks, but I'm backing them for London. Ye Shiwen, Steph Rice and Alicia Coutts will all be there or there abouts, and Mireia Belmonte, Hannah Miley and Katinka Hosszu should make up the final.

400 IM
1. Elizabeth Beisel (11/10)
2. Katinka Hosszu  (10/1)
3. Hannah Miley (5/1)

Beisel is the one to beat and I think there is still more to come from her US Trials swim. Katinka Hosszu has had a busy year racing but has yet to show us what she can do fully tapered. Hannah Miley has a chance to win the entire race, but I have her pegged in for bronze in a tight battle with Steph Rice, Mireia Belmonte and Caitlin Leverenz.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Speed Endurance Olympic Swimming Predictions - Breaststroke

The time has finally arrived, it is Olympic prediction time! Odds to win also included. It is well worth checking out the odds to finish in the top 3 too, some good value there (eg. Fran Halsall 9/5 to finish top 3 in the 100 Free). Make it rain!


100 breast
1. Kosuke Kitajima (8/11)
2. Cameron van der Burgh (11/1)
3. Fabio Scozzoli (9/1)

I feel it's right to take a moment to remember Alexander Dale Oen at this point. He almost certainly would have been the favourite for gold were it not for his tragic passing. Hopefully he will appropriately remembered during the Olympics.

Kitajima has to be the pick here given how far ahead of the rest of the world he is this year. Van der Burgh is my pick for silver after his world bronze last year, with no 50 breast to focus on he should be in top shape for the 100. Scozzoli just edges Brendan Hansen and Ryo Tateishi, even though we haven't seen much of him in 2012.

200 breast
1. Kosuke Kitajima (15/8)
2. Daniel Gyurta (2/1)
3. Ryo Tateishi (4/1)

Kitajima and Gyurta could go either way, but as a rule I do not bet against Kitajima when the Olympics. Ryo Tateishi is the somewhat shaky pick for bronze. Tateishi has had fast in season swims before and failed to back them up on the global stage, still you can't argue with his 2:08.17. Watch out for world bronze medalist Christian vom Lehn who has crept under the radar as well as compatriot Marco Koch, Andrew Willis and Americans Scott Weltz and Clark Burckle.


100 breast
1. Rebecca Soni (5/11)
2. Yulia Efimova (20/1)
3. Satomi Suzuki (11/1)

I don't think Soni is the sure fire cert that many others do, but I also won't bet against her in these picks. Soni showed her vulnerable side at US trials, but she has dominated women's breaststroke for the last 3 years. Efimova looks to be her strongest challenger. I've picked Suzuki for bronze, but you could easily replace her with Leisel Jones, Li Jiping, Breeja Larson or Leiston Pickett. I'm also expecting a good showing from Jennie Johansson and Daria Deeva. London has probably come slightly too soon for Ruta Meilutyte but she could also be a factor.

200 breast
1. Rebecca Soni (2/7)
2. Yulia Efimova (12/1)
3. Micah Lawrence (25/1)

Soni is a slam dunk pick, right? Probably, but Efimova showed huge improvement in Shanghai and could get close. Micah Lawrence is the pick for a tight battle for bronze with Satomi Suzuki and Kanako Watanabe.

Speed Endurance Olympic Swimming Predictions - Backstroke

The time has finally arrived, it is Olympic prediction time! Odds to win also included. It is well worth checking out the odds to finish in the top 3 too, some good value there (eg. Fran Halsall 9/5 to finish top 3 in the 100 Free). Make it rain!


100 back
1. Matt Grevers (5/4)
2. Camille Lacourt (2/1)
3. Ryosuke Irie (8/1)

Grevers vs Lacourt has the potential to be an epic slugfest between the two giants of backstroke. Lacourt is down on his 2010 time so Grevers is the pick here. Irie might just have enough to hold off Liam Tancock and Nick Thoman.

200 back
1. Ryan Lochte (1/2)
2. Ryosuke Irie (3/1)
3. Tyler Clary (10/1)

I've been hoping Irie would take the next step from his ultra consistent level for a number of years, but he hasn't managed to up until now. If Irie remains in the 1:54.0 range, this race is Lochte's. Clary probably has the edge of Radoslaw Kawecki, Benjamin Stasiulis and Jan-Philip Glania.


100 back
1. Missy Franklin (7/4)
2. Anastasia Zueva (3/1)
3. Aya Terakawa (10/1)

Missy Franklin will certainly have a challenge on her hands, but her 58.85 in Omaha sets her up for an even faster time in London. Anastasia Zueva is having a tremendous year so far and Aya Terakawa is her usual consistent self. My thoughts are that Zhao Jing might not enjoy the same success in London as she did on home soil last year. Emily Seebohm and Rachel Bootsma won't be far behind.

200 back
1. Missy Franklin (4/9)
2. Belinda Hocking (13/2)
3. Anastasia Zueva (7/1)

This seems to have world record written all over it for Franklin and I could see a repeat of the Shanghai top two happening, with Hocking being dragged along for a quick time. Zueva just gets the nod ahead of Lizzie Simmonds with Elizabeth Beisel, Sharon van Rouwendal, Daryna Zevina, Laure Manaudoud and Meagan Nay all in the picture.

Speed Endurance Olympic Swimming Predictions - Butterfly

The time has finally arrived, it is Olympic prediction time! Odds to win also included. It is well worth checking out the odds to finish in the top 3 too, some good value there. Make it rain!


100 fly
1. Michael Phelps (1/2)
2. Tyler McGill (11)
3. Milorad Cavic (7)

It would be great to see a 100% Cavic challenging Phelps, but it is probably wishful thinking given the serious injury Cavic has come back from. Tyler McGill gave Phelps a great race at US Trials and could just hold off Cavic for a US 1-2. Phelps should have this one in the bag though.

200 fly
1. Michael Phelps (1/4)
2. Takeshi Matsuda (11/2)
3. Bence Biczo (100/1)

Talking of having a race in the bag, it would take a brave man to best against Phelps. Matsuda isn't without a chance though and has been an impressive 1:54.0 this year. Bronze is wide open with Nick D'Arcy, Wu Peng, Tyler Clary and Chad Le Clos all challenging, but I'm going for a Hungarian upset with Bence Biczo coming of age to take a medal.


100 fly
1. Dana Vollmer (5/4)
2. Sarah Sjoestrem (9/2)
3. Alicia Coutts (6/1)

I was close to picking Sjoestroem ahead of Vollmer. The American has proven to be the fastest 100 fly swimmer in the world, but she has now been slower from semis to finals in the past two major competitions. She no longer has a big enough buffer over the competition to do that again in London. Coutts comes to London slightly under the radar, but she has proven herself on the big stage for the last two years.

200 fly
1. Jiao Liuyang (7/2)
2. Ellen Gandy (8/1)
3. Natsumi Hoshi (11/4)

This race is wide open. Gandy looks to be the strongest Brit and will hopefully get a boost from the home crowd, Jiao Liuyang gets the nod though for her Olympic silver and World gold medals. Camille Adams is an american on a charge and I was tempted to slot her in for bronze, but Hoshi has been too strong for over a year now. One of the most open races on the swimming schedule.

Speed Endurance Olympic Swimming Predictions - Freestyle

The time has finally arrived, it is Olympic prediction time! Odds to win also included. It is well worth checking out the odds to finish in the top 3 too, some good value there (eg. Fran Halsall 9/5 to finish top 3 in the 100 Free). Make it rain!


50 free
1. Cesar Cielo (8/13)
2. James Magnussen (17/2)
3. Bruno Fratus (14/1)

After Cielo the 50 free becomes a lottery. Anthony Ervin and Cullen Jones posted great times in Omaha, but I'm basing this on a red hot Magnussen and an improving Fratus.

100 free
1. James Magnussen (4/9)
2. James Roberts (15/2)
3. Cesar Cielo (8/1)

Tough to overlook the consistency of Brent Hayden and the talent of Fabien Gilot or Yannick Agnel. For anyone doubting James Roberts' chances, if Magnussen wasn't around I would suggest he'd be seen as the red hot favourite.

200 free
1. Ryan Lochte (13/10)
2. Yannick Agnel (5/2)
3. Sun Yang (10/1)

I was briefly tempted to pick Agnel in this one, and I could definitely see him upsetting Lochte, however, Lochte's track record over the last few years just gives him the edge. Sun Yang, Park Tae Hwan and Paul Biedermann should all be tightly bunched for the bronze. 

400 free
1. Sun Yang (evens)
2. Park Tae Hwan (13/8)
3. Paul Biedermann (16/1)

This prediction assumes Sun Yang has learnt from Shanghai where he got his race plan all kinds of wrong. If it is a straight shoot-out then Sun Yang and Park Tae Hwan should be well clear, however if it is a cagey affair watch out for a fast finishing Biedermann.

1500 free
1. Sun Yang (1/4)
2. Park Tae Hwan (12/1)
3. Gregorio Paltrinieri (33/1)

Park is down to swim so I assume he will race this, and if he has trained for it I think he has too much talent for the rest of the field. I've taken a flier on Paltrinieri for bronze who has youth on his side over the more proven commodities of Ryan Cochrane and Ous Mellouli.


50 free
1. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (11/5)
2. Fran Halsall (7/2)
3. Britta Steffen (10/1)

Had Therese Alshammar been at 100% going into London she would have been in the top 3, but her pinched nerve plays against her. This will likely be Halsall's best chance for gold, but I'll go with the consistency of Kromowidjojo. Marleen Veldhuis should be close and for a major outsider take a look at Arianna Vanderpool Wallace.

100 free
1. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (7/5)
2. Sarah Sjoestroem (11/2)
3. Fran Halsall (12/1)

Britta Steffen could certainly challenge for a medal here, but I see Kromowidjojo and Sjoestroem as Tier 1 and Halsall as Tier 1a. As Shanghai proved, this event has the potential to throw up some big shocks. I wonder how Alicia Coutts will be received in the call room after her allegations of foul play. A great bet would be Femke Heemskerk to medal at 16/1, don't sleep on the fact that she had the fastest split of anyone in the 4x100 free relay in Shanghai.

200 free
1. Camille Muffat (4/1)
2. Allison Schmitt (9/2)
3. Sarah Sjoestroem (12/1)

This has the potential to be the race of the games. Allison Schmitt's textile best time was an eye opener, but Muffat has been ultra consistent this year and has posted stunning times without being fully tapered. I give Muffat the slight edge. Sjoestroem for bronze will come as a surprise, and it feels wrong to bet against Federica Pellegrini, but I have a sneaky feeling Sjoestroem will have some special swims in London. Missy Franklin shouldn't be overlooked either despite being a long way back at US Trials.

400 free
1. Camille Muffat (8/11)
2. Federica Pellegrini (9/2)
3. Rebecca Adlington (4/1)

Muffat this year has shown that she has several race plans up her sleeve. If the first 200m is slow, she came back in 1:58.5 at the Canet leg of the Mare Nostrum and she has the speed in the 100m/200m free to go with early speed. Pellegrini, Adlington, Schmitt and Kylie Palmer are all in contention for silver and bronze but I will go with the reigning World and Olympic champions.

800 free
1. Rebecca Adlington (8/15)
2. Lotte Friis (10/3)
3. Katie Ledecky (10/1)

Friis has had a quiet year so far and sits 3.5 seconds back of Adlington in the world rankings, but she should be much closer when the final gets here. Ledecky is the ultimate wild card, at her age she could drop another chunk of time from her 8:19 at US Trials. Despite a couple of stern challengers, I still believe Rebecca Adlington has enough quality to take this.

USA Olympic Swimming Team - Call Me Maybe

Important takeaways from the video: Missy Franklin looks in top form. Natalie Coughlin is back to her best. Underwater roboting is the new dougie (1:52-1:56).

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Olympic Swimming Starts in 39 Hours

The pool is looking great. Ryan Lochte is holding hands with Blair Evans. The Olympics are less than a day and a half away. Can't wait.

Be sure to check in when the swimming starts at 10am Saturday morning for live video and chat.

via Inge Dekker

Monday, 2 July 2012

Michael Phelps Will Not Swim 200 Freestyle at the London Olympics

"It's all coming together nicely", Yannick Agnel has taken his first victim in the 200 freestyle and the race hasn't even started yet.

Michael Phelps and his coach Bob Bowman have decided to drop the 200 free from their London schedule to allow Phelps to concentrate on the 4 x 100 freestyle relay.

The move comes as a surprise given how important the 200 free has been to Phelps over the years, and the strong chance Phelps had to medal. One of his greatest ever swims came at Worlds in 2006 when he broke Ian Thorpe's then world record with a stunning 1:43.86... a time that has not been touched since in a textile suit, at least not yet.

This decisions really shakes up both the 200 free individual and the 4 x 100 free relay events:

200 free

Yannick Agnel and Ryan Lochte become the clear favourites now, with Paul Biedermann, Park Tae Hwan and Sun Yang close behind. Phelps' withdrawal also offers an intriguing opportunity for Ricky Berens who now has his moment in the spotlight (for sporting reasons rather than suit malfunctions).

I can't help but think this news gives a real shot in the arm to the non-US challengers. If you had asked them who they would rather face between Phelps and Lochte, my money would have been on them saying Lochte. Even though Lochte has been better over the last few years, Phelps at his best is still 0.6 seconds faster than any of the current crop of freestylers have ever been before in textile. I would also suggest that the fear factor they had facing up to the American challenge has just been halved. Fear factor down = Belief level up.

Current Prediction - 1) Lochte 2) Agnel 3) Sun Yang

4 x 100 free relay

Phelps now has a completely clear second day in London with just the relay coming at the very end of the day (he may also be required to swim the prelims). This undoubtedly helps the US team's cause, but by how much?

Australia will still go in as overwhelming favourites in the relay. How much faster will this extra rest make Phelps? Assuming he leads off, could we see him get down to the 47.5-47.7 range? He swam 48.0 to lead off in Shanghai and I can see him improving on that time, but not to the extent that could a) challenge Magnussen, or b) make up the deficit to Australia. Looking at the race with heavily tinted US spectacles, you might argue that if the US can stay closer to the Australians they could reel them in on the last legs... but I wouldn't agree.

Whatever the end result of this intriguing decision is, it absolutely shows how much importance the US are putting on the men's 4 x 100 free relay.

Current Prediction - 1) Australia 2) USA 3) France