Friday, July 31, 2009

Roma 09: Day 6 Finals

Even though six world records were set today, it was actually a relatively slow session!

- Both 200 breasts were completely random! Weird finishes, no world records, the world record-holders (from semis) not winning, etc.

- Some swim from Peirsol! That, with or without the X-Glide, was impressive. Very impressive.

- Russia had a bunch of chances to win the relay tonight but didn't take advantage of any of them! Actually, the only American that had a really good swim was Berens (2nd fastest split in history), with his 1:44.1, while Lochte was ok, considering he was coming off the 200 back, Walters was out waaaaay too fast, while Phelps was too tired. For the Russians, Lobinsev was perfect, while the middle guys kind of faltered (Izotov was slower than his individual bronze swim), and Sukhorukov was ok. Interesting race for sure.

- 50 free's gonna be a dogfight tomorrow. When a meet record is set in a swim-off for eight place, something's up! Anyone of the eight guys could (theoretically) win it. I'd love to see either of the Americans win it; both would be great stories.

Tomorrow's prelims:

Women's 50 free: Look for six girls to battle it out in the women's splash and dash. First is Britta Steffen, who looks to complete a wrap of both sprints at Worlds and the Olympics. Libby Trickett took second to Steffen in the 100 and is the two-time defending champ. Marleen Veldhuis holds the world record, and she had a great swim in the semis of the 50 fly, so she could be ready to pop off a good one. Therese Alshammar, the world record-holder in the 50 fly, will always be a threat in this event, as she took silvers both in Sydney in 2000, as well as in Melbourne two years ago. Don't count out the oldest and youngest swimmers in the field. On one end of the age spectrum is 17 year old Cate Campbell, the Olympic bronze medalist, who appears ready for a nice drop, while 42 year old Dara Torres, who finished just 0.01 behind Steffen in Beijing, tries to rebound from disappointing swims earlier in the 4x100 free relay and the 50 fly.

Women's 50 breast: The breaststrokes have been crapshoot events so far, and expect that to continue. The top three appear to be the Russian duo of Yuliya Efimova and Valentina Artemyeva and Canadian world record-holder Amanda Reason. Ironically, both Russians have swam faster than Reason. Look for the first sub-30 swim from one of these ladies. Also, watch for Americans Rebecca Soni and Kasey Carlson, and Canada's Annamay Pierse, all of whom have had great success in breaststroke events this week, and Aussies Sarah Katsoulis and Tarnee White, both of whom have amazing speed.

Men's 50 back: In the absence of world record-holder Randall Bal, the favorite appears to be the Japanese speedster who greatly benefited from Aaron Peirsol's absence in the 100 back. Junya Koga, always a better 50 swimmer, who is the second fastest swimmer ever, will be tough to beat. One man who can possibly do it, though, is Brit Liam Tancock, the bronze medalist in Melbourne and the third-fastest man in history. Other possibilities include Spain's Aschwin Wildeboer, the bronze medalist in the 100; Germans Thomas Rupprath, who held the world record for five years, and Helge Meeuw, the silver medalist in the 100, as well as Japanese swimmer Ryosuke Irie, who took silver in the 200 back. In addition, don't forget about defending world champ Gerhard Zandberg, even though he has not posted any top time this year. Americans Matt Grevers and Peirsol both have chances, but Peirsol will likely scratch at some point (in Melbourne, after qualifying 10th in prelims) to concentrate on the medley relay coming up.

Women's 4x100 medley relay: The rivalry between the Americans and the Aussies continues in this event. These two countries were the only two to have finalists in all four 100 stroke events, and this race looks to be even closer than last summer, with Leisel Jones, the only Aussie who beat her American counterpart, absent from Rome. The Aussies have medalists in the 100 back (Emily Seebohm, bronze), 100 fly (Jessicah Schipper, silver), and 100 free (Libby Trickett, bronze), while American Rebecca Soni won the 100 breast, and Amanda Weir and Dana Vollmer were fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 100 free and 100 fly. On paper, it shapes up to be a close on, with Australia just slightly ahead. The top two contenders for the bronze both have three great swimmers, but weak breaststrokers. Great Britain is led by Gemma Spofforth, who won gold in the 100 back, and Fran Halsall, the silver medalist in the 100 free, while China has Zhao Jing, the gold medalist in the 50 back, and Jiao Liuyang, the silver medalist in the 100 fly. No other country appears to have the speed to come close to these four.

Expected line-ups:
Australia prelims: Belinda Hocking, Tarnee White, Felicity Galvez, Marieke Guehrer
Australia finals: Emily Seebohm, Sarah Katsoulis, Jessicah Schipper, Libby Trickett
USA prelims: Liz Pelton, Kasey Carlson, Christine Magnuson, Julia Smit*
USA finals: Hayley McGregory, Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer, Amanda Weir

*With the coaches likely resting Vollmer, Smit could swim the free leg, or Magnuson could take free with Mary Descenza swimming fly.

Men's 1,500 free: The top swimmers in the men's mile appear to be the ones who took home hardware in the 800 free: Zhang Lin of China, Ous Mellouli of Tunisia, and Ryan Cochrane of Canada. What order they finish in is anyone's guess at this point. Look for them to challenge the once-unbeatable world record of the great Grant Hackett. Zhang knocked six and a half seconds off Hackett's world record in the 800, but Mellouli and Cochrane have better track records in this event, having finished 1-3 around Hackett in this event in Beijing. Other swimmers to keep an eye on include Russia's Yuri Prilukov, the 2007 silver medalist, and Great Britain's David Davies, who took bronze at the last two world champs, as well as Korea's Park Tae Hwan, the Olympic gold medalist in the 400, coming off a very disappointing week; hometown favorite Federico Colbertaldo, who was tenth in Beijing; as well as Zhang's teammate, Sun Yang, eighth in this event in Beijing. Australia has long been a power in this race, but with the retirements of Grant Hackett and Craig Stevens, both swimmers (Robert Hurley and Ryan Napolean) have outside chances to final, at best. On the American side, Larsen Jensen and Erik Vendt have both retired, Peter Vanderkaay has passed on the event, and Chad LaTourette, who could be the next great American distance swimmer, is not in Rome, having swum in the World University Games. The swimmers representing the red, white, and blue, are Texas sophomore Jackson Wilcox and North Baltimore swimmer (and Katie Hoff's boyfriend) Brendan Morris. Both of them have a long way to go to get into the final.

Roma 09: Day 6 Prelims

Only five more sessions to go at the Foro Italico, so here's my take on today's heats:

- Feel bad for Libby Trickett, missing the semis of the 50 fly, just like she did in 2007. Hopefully she can come back for the 100 free tonight...

- Russia will be a big challenge to the Americans in the 800 free relay tonight. They will bring in Danila Izotov, the 200 free bronze medalist, as well as Nikita Lobinsev, who made that final. On paper, this could be really close...

Not much else to say, pretty uneventful, so here are my finals predix:

W 100 Free:
Gold: Britta Steffen 52.29
Silver: Libby Trickett 52.41
Bronze: Fran Halsall 52.97
*Bronze is COMPLETELY wide open!

M 200 Back:
Gold: Ryosuke Irie 1:52.56 WR
Silver: Aaron Peirsol 1:52.70
Bronze: Ryan Lochte 1:53.09
*Solid tandem for the top 3. Their finishing order is anyone's guess.

W 200 Breast:
Gold: Rebecca Soni 2:19.34 WR
Silver: Annamay Pierse 2:19.87
Bronze: Mirna Jukic 2:21.06
*Look for Soni to re-claim her World Record after completely cruising in the semi-finals.

M 200 Breast:
Gold: Eric Shanteau 2:07.04 WR
Silver: Daniel Gyurta 2:07.29
Bronze: Brenton Rickard 2:07.33
*Don't forget about world record-holder Christian Sprenger!

M 800 Free Relay:
Gold: United States (Phelps, Lochte, Berens, Walters) 6:54.57 WR
Silver: Russia (Lobinsev, Izotov, Polishuk, Sukhorukov) 6:56.21
Bronze: Autralia (Murphy, Monk, Ffrost, D'Orsogna) 7:01.94
*U.S. will battle Russia for the gold, while the Aussies take on Japan for the bronze.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Roma 09: Day 5 Finals

Tonight's finals session was among the more "Where did that come from!" sessions of an already out there meet. Some sentences about tonight:

- Good night for China! Two golds and a silver... I can't believe that predicted that China would medal in the relay, and I didn't, and then China wins! I think the main reasons that happened were: 1) the U.S. leading off with Vollmer (a much better relay swimmer) instead of Schmitt (who had a poor exchange), and 2) Nymeyer going slower than in prelims. Whatever. Women have another chance to win a relay (for a change).

- Who would have thought Christian Sprenger would be the one to break Kitajima's record? Talk about out of nowhere! Remember, the guy went 2:12 in the Aussie Trials in March (in a blueseventy, no less)! Eric Shanteau's in a perfect spot, and I really like Daniel Gyurta as well. It should be a good race in the finals.

- Lochte may have a tough time battling Peirsol and Irie in the 200 back when he's in lane 2. I really hope that it won't be a problem for him. Can't see the medals going to anyone but those three.

- Sad for Mary Descenza missing the podium in the 200 fly, but she has made the breakthrough to the world stage, and hopefully she can keep that momentum going. Not to mention she broke Misty Hyman's legendary American record by more than a second and a half!

- Adam Klein was DQ'ed in the 200 breast in the prelims. Anyone know why and what he would have gone without the DQ?

Tomorrow's prelims - busy day with SIX events:

Men's 50 free: After taking gold in the 100 free today, Brazil's Cesar Cielo, the Olympic champ, looks to be the clear favorite for gold in the shorter distance. His main competition will be his training partner, France's Fred Bousquet, who currently holds the world record. Both men look capable of eclipsing the world record of 20.94 set by Bousquet in March. There will be a big race for the bronze behind the two Auburn men. One of the favorites is American Cullen Jones, who set an American record at Nationals. There is also Bousquet's French teammate Amaury Leveaux, who took silver behind Cielo in Beijing, but Leveaux has not swum well this week. A man who has had a mixed week is American Nathan Adrian, after a relay gold but missing the 100 final. Also watch out for the men who took silver and bronze in 2004, Duje Draganja of Croatia and Roland Schoeman of South Africa.

Women's 50 fly: Three or four women will battle for the title in the sprint fly. Marleen Veldhuis holds the world record, but she has not swam her best this meet, but after several days of rest, look for her to be near her best, 25.33. Therese Alshammar was world champ in Melbourne in 2007 and has had a very good year thus far. Both of these girls are in their 30s, but they are babies compared to the top American, Dara Torres. Torres set an American record of 25.50 at Nationals and is the third fastest woman in history. This may be her best shot at a medal in Rome. Also watch out for Aussies Marieke Guehrer and Libby Trickett, both medal contenders, and American Christine Magnuson, trying to come back from a disappointing swim in the 100 fly, where she missed the final.

Men's 100 fly: This will be a re-match between the men who finished within one one-hundredth of a second of each other in Beijing. Michael Phelps, the world record-holder, who already took gold in the 200 fly, versus Milorad Cavic, who took the 50 fly crown. Both men look capable of breaking the vaunted 50-second barrier, and this race will be just as tight as it was in Beijing. Another swimmer who could challenge for a medal and possibly the 50-second barrier is Spain's Rafael Munoz. Munoz, however, did not have a very good finals swim in the 50 fly, an event in which he holds the world record. His best is 50.46, so he cannot be counted out. Other possibilities include Australia's Andrew Lauterstein, the Beijing bronze medalist, who has a best time 50.93, and World University Games champ, Jason Dunford of Kenya, who has also swam under 51.

Women's 200 back: Coming into the week, this was all Kirsty Coventry. The Olympic champ and world record-holder was expected to run away with this title. However, coming into her best event, she has yet to win a medal. She could still win, but she will be pushed by Great Britain's Gemma Spofforth, who stormed home in the back-half of the 100 back to claim gold. She has a great chance to take double gold. There is also 16-year old American Elizabeth Beisel, who was fifth in Beijing, and she is another medal contender, as one of two women in the field (the other being Coventry) to ever swim sub-2:07. Also watch out for Russia's Anastasia Zueva, who took fourth in Beijing and silver earlier in the 100, Spofforth's teammate Elizabeth Simmons, a finalist in the 100 who is better in the longer distance, American rookie Eilzabeth Pelton, Aussie Belinda Hocking, and France's Alexianne Castel. Italy's Alessia Fillipi will probably pass on the 200 back to concentrate on the 800 free.

Men's 800 free relay: The U.S. men are the favorites in this relay for sure, although they do not look invincible as they had coming into the meet. Four Russian men, Danila Izotov, the 200 free bronze medalist, Nikita Lobinsev, Alexander Sukhorukov, and Evgeni Lagunov, the same four who took silver in Beijing, look to spoil the party. Dave Walters, Peter Vanderkaay, Michael Phelps, Ricky Berens, Ryan Lochte, and Davis Tarwater are the Americans who will try defend the 2 consecutive world and 2 consecutive Olympic crowns the Americans have won in this relay. This race shapes up to be much closer than it was once expected to be, especially after Izotov's bronze in the 200 and Russia's superb performance in the 400 free relay. However, the Americans still look like they have the firepower to get it done. The favorite for bronze now looks to be Australia. With Kenrick Monk, who finalled in the 200 free; Patrick Murphy, who led off the Beijing relay in 1:45.9; Nick Ffrost, who anchored in 1:46-flat; and Tommasso D'Orsongna, who split 47.7 on the 400 free relay, they are in strong position. Italy is missing national record-holder Marco Belotti, but they still have Filippo Magnini, who has the fastest relay split in history. Canada will have Brent Hayden, fourth tonight in the 100 free, and Great Britain also has a solid team.

Women's 800 free: Five women will battle for the crown as the top women's distance swimmer in the world. The favorite is Great Britain's Rebecca Adlington, the Olympic gold medalist and world record-holder, who earlier claimed bronze in the 400 free. She has the potential to crush her mark of 8:14.10. She will be pushed by her teammate, Joanne Jackson, who was second in the 400 free and fourth in the 200 free already. Then there are the three medalists in the 1,500 free, Italy's Alessia Filippi, Denmark's Lotte Friis, and Romania's Camelia Potec. All three can dip well under the once-vaunted 8:20 barrier and give the Brits a run for their money. No one else is expected to challenge, though keep an eye on American Chloe Sutton, who looks to rebound from a disappointing eighth in the 1,500.

Roma 09: Day 5 Prelims

A few notes about prelims, then right into predix:

- Why couldn't Amanda Weir have gone 53.2 on the relay on night 1? She was 1.27 faster today in prelims! If she had led off with that, then Dara would have gone at least another second faster, and the Americans would have medalled!

- Three other semis tonight in the men's 200 back, women's 200 breast, and men's 200 breast. More on those later...

- Women's 800 free relay looks to be a two-country race, as I have said all along. The top four times from the United States and Great Britain separate them by less than a second...


M 200 IM:
Gold: Ryan Lochte 1:53.98 WR
Silver: Laszlo Cseh 1:54.47
Bronze: Eric Shanteau 1:55.64

M 100 Free:
Gold: Alain Bernard 46.92 WR
Silver: Cesar Cielo 46.99
Bronze: Fred Bousquet 47.34
*Bronze appears to be wide open

W 200 Fly:
Gold: Jiao Liuyang 2:03.81 WR
Silver: Jessicah Schipper 2:03.90
Bronze: Mary Descenza 2:04.13 AR
*Also watch Hungary's Katinka Hosszu and China's Liu Zige

W 50 Back:
Gold: Anastasia Zueva 27.29 WR
Silver: Emily Seebohm 27.40
Bronze: Daniela Samulski 27.42
*Another relatively wide open field

W 800 Free Relay:
Gold: United States (Schmitt, Kukors, Nymeyer, Vollmer) 7:41.89
Silver: Great Britain (Jackson, McClatchey, Carlin, Adlington) 7:42.53
Bronze: Italy (Spagnolo, Filippi, Carpenese, Pellegrini) 7:46.87
*Any one of five or six teams could get bronze

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Roma 09: Day 4 Finals

A few notes about tonight:


- Men's 100 free, women's 50 back and women's 200 fly will all be dogfights tomorrow. Almost anyone in all of the field could win medals. More tomorrow morning...

- Great day for the Americans! Finally on top of the medals count. (The Americans have led the gold count for a while, but the Aussies were led all medals until they won zero medals today, to the Americans' four!) Things are starting to get better after a somewhat mediocre start to the meet, especially for the men. The ladies are beginning to asert themselves as a much better all-around team than we saw in Beijing, and they could be on track to win a relay tomorrow, something we didn't see in Beijing.

- Men's 200 IM shapes up to be a big fight between Lochte and Cseh tomorrow, but I thought Cseh looked REALLY tired tonight, while Lochte looked like he had plenty left.

- Women's 200 free: 1:52 out of Pellegrini... beating Schmitt by 2 seconds on her way to becoming the second fastest swimmer in history...

- Men's 800... WOW! I really hope Hackett's 1,500 record lives on, but it's not looking likely right now...

As we look ahead to tomorrow:

Women's 100 Free: Looks like a re-match from Beijing, Steffen vs. Trickett, with Trickett at an obvious disadvantage, after saying she will stick with the LZR for her individual swims. Also watch out for Sarah Sjostrom, coming off her brilliant 100 fly. She should be the favorite for bronze, with Marleen Veldhuis having scratched. Also watch out for Fran Halsall, who swam a 53.02 on her prelim relay lead-off.

Men's 200 Back: The top three backstrokers in history face off in this one: Lochte, Peirsol, Irie. Peirsol and Irie are both trying to bounce back from disappointing swims in the 100 back, while Lochte has not yet swum an individual final. All three could break 1:53...

Women's 200 Breast: Already the world champ in the 100, Rebecca Soni comes in as the clear favorite for the 200, although she will have competition, especially from Annamay Pierse, the 3rd fastest swimmer in history; Mirna Jukic, who was fourth in Beijing; Yuliya Efimova, who blazed the backhalf in the 100 (actually faster than Soni) on her way to silver in that event; and others. Look for the first 2:19 in history!

Men's 200 Breast: The favorite for this event is Eric Shanteau, the second-fastest swimmer in history, who already set an American record in finishing fourth in the 100. Shanteau could very well eclipse Kosuke Kitajima's world record of 2:07.51. His main challengers will come from Australia's Brenton Rickard and France's Hugues Duboscq, who finished 1-2 in the 100 earlier, as well as a 2-3 behind Kitajima in this event in Beijing. Also watch out for Hungary's Daniel Gyurta, the silver medalist in this event in Athens; his 100 time earlier is a sign of a blazing 200 to come. Other contenders include Brazil's Henrique Barbosa and Germany's Marco Koch.

Women's 800 Free Relay: This relay will be a two-country race: the Brits versus the Yanks. Great Britain is led by Rebecca Adlington and Joanne Jackson, who took 2-3 behind Pellegrini in the 400 free, while Americans Allison Schmitt and Dana Vollmer took 2-3 behind Pellegrini in the 200. The race will depend on the 3rd and 4th swimmers. Brits Caitlin McClatchey (9th in the 200) and Jazmin Carlin look to fill those slots, while the Americans will probably turn to 200 IM gold medalist Ariana Kukors and teen phenom Dagny Knutson. Look for those two countries to be well ahead of the field, while a dogfight for bronze unfolds. Contenders include Italy, with Pellegrini and Alessia Filippi; China, with Pang Jiaying and Yang Yu; and France, led by Coralie Balmy. Australia took bronze in this event in Beijing, but they only return 2 of the 4 swimmers from Beijing, and both of those two are off form from last summer. With Meagan Nay out of the meet, they should swim Ellen Fullerton (1:57.4 in the 200 free semis), Stephanie Rice, Bronte Barratt, and Felicity Galvez, with Merindah Dingjan their alternate.

Roma 09: Day 4 Prelims

One main thing to say about prelims: I am SO happy for Mary Descenza. Even if it was a suit-aided world record, I think this may be her break-out onto top of the world stage. After all the disappointments, she has earned this. (This also makes a close battle for the perseverance award with Dana Vollmer!)

Predix for finals:

M 200 Fly:
Gold: Phelps 1:51.37 WR
Silver: Takeshi Matsuda 1:52.58
Bronze: Tyler Clary 1:52.90

W 200 Free:
Gold: Federica Pellegrini 1:53.80
Silver: Dana Vollmer 1:55.02 AR
Bronze: Joanne Jackson 1:55.36

M 50 Breast:
Gold: Cameron van der Burgh 26.68 WR
Silver: Felipe Silva 26.84
Bronze: Brenton Rickard 26.91

M 800 Free:
Gold: Ous Mellouli 7:39.07
Silver: Ryan Cochrane 7:41.23
Bronze: Zhang Lin 7:41.88

World records in the men's 100 free and women's 50 back are toast during semis!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Roma 09: Day 3 Finals

Quick recap of the very lopsided session of finals and then a look at tomorrow:

- Phelps actually had a really good swim today! 1:43.2 is really awesome considering the shape he's in. I think we're looking at a 1:51-low to mid tomorrow in the 200 fly. I think it will take under 1:53 to medal, even without Laszlo Cseh.

- With two races, two golds, and two vaunted world records taken down, Biedermann will swim the 100 free tomorrow. Based on what we've seen so far, I think he actually has a strong chance to make the finals and go under 48.

- Kirsty Coventry dead last in the 100 back? When that happens, you know something's up...

- The 100 back final proved only that Peirsol is still the best backstroker in the world. I think he has a really good chance to win the 200 back at this point, especially with a disappointing swim by Irie tonight. I actually hope the Americans are next to Japan on the medley relay, so Peirsol can swim right next to the world champ and crush him, along with the world record.

- Hopefully that 1-3 in the women's 100 breast is what the Americans need to get the ball rolling!

Tomorrow's prelims:

Women's 50 Back: There are quite a few contenders in this one. The favorite has to be Anastasia Zueva, the owner of the fastest time ever, who already posted a meet record in this on her way to silver in the 100 back. There is also official world record-holder, Germany's Daniela Samulski, the Aussie duo of Sophie Edington and Emily Seebohm, the U.S.'s Hayley McGregory, China's Gao Chang and Zhao Jing, as well as 100 gold medalist Gemma Spofforth.

Men's 100 Free: The clear favorite is Olympic champ Alain Bernard, who is also the only man to ever break 47 in this race. He will be pushed by Brazil's Cesar Cielo, who almost broke the world record leading off the relay on night 1. Bernard's French teammate Fred Bousquet has been 47.15, but had a very disappointing relay swim, but still expect him to be in medal contention. Other contender's for medals include Germany's Biedermann, Australia's Matt Targett, Russia's Andrey Grechin, Sweden's Stefan Nystrand, co-defending champs Filippo Magnini of Italy and Brent Hayden of Canada, and also "Jason Lezak Junior," Nathan Adrian of the U.S., the short course world champ.

Women's 200 Fly: After brilliant times earlier in the 100 fly, China's Jiao Liuyang and Australia's Jessicah Schipper look to be the swimmers to beat, having gone 2-3 in this event in Beijing. Also watch out for Great Britain's Ellen Gandy, the only swimmer under 2:05 this year. China's world record-holder Liu Zige also looms as a threat. Others to watch include Kathleen Hersey of the U.S. and France's Aurore Mongel.

Men's 200 IM: Without 3-time defending champ Phelps, this event appears to be firmly in the hands of Ryan Lochte, who was second to Phelps two years ago in Melbourne. He may be able to track down Phelps' world record of 1:54.23. Competition will come from Hungary's Laszlo Cseh, who took silver in this event in Beijing, but Cseh has been ill as of late and his pre-race fitness is not known. Another to watch is American Eric Shanteau, the third fastest swimmer in history, already fourth in the 100 breast in Rome. Other possibilities to sneak into the equation are South African Darian Townsend, Japan's Ken Takakuwa, Great Britain's James Goddard, and Brazil's Thiago Pereira.

Roma 09: Day 3 Prelims

Prelims this morning were pretty uneventful. Everyone who needs to be in got in. All three semis tonight will be big dogfights for sure. I'm predicting, after what we saw in the prelims, Silva's world record in the 50 breast is history in tonight's semis.

Tonight's finals:

M 200 Free:
Gold: Michael Phelps 1:43.04
Silver: Paul Biedermann 1:43.39
Bronze: Danila Izotov 1:44.93
*Any one of six guys could fight for the bronze

W 100 Back:
Gold: Kirsty Coventry 58.39 WR
Silver: Anastasia Zueva 58.52
Bronze: Gemma Spofforth 58.64

W 1500 Free:
Gold: Alessia Filippi 15:48.72
Silver: Lotte Friis 15:51.56
Bronze: Camelia Potec 15:52.07

M 100 Back:
Gold: Ryosuke Irie 52.06
Silver: Aschwin Wildeboer 52.26
Bronze: Junya Koga 52.49

W 100 Breast:
Gold: Rebecca Soni 1:04.80 WR
Silver: Annamay Pierse 1:04.99
Bronze: Yuliya Efimova 1:05.09

Monday, July 27, 2009

Roma 09: Day 2 Finals

A few notes about tonights finals and a look forward to prelims:

- Swims tonight by both Paul Biedermann and Mike Cavic prove that they will be very tough competition for Phelps throughout the meet. I don't think Rafael Munoz will be as big a factor as we previously thought, especially after his disappointing performance in the 50 fly today. The picture on the right is of Cavic and Munoz right before they dove in. Remind anyone of Phelps and Cavic in Beijing?

- Even though Eric Shanteau was just shut out of the medals today in the 100 breast, I think he is still in a REALLY good position heading into the rest of the week. A trio of medals are all but his. He is he favorite in the 200 breast, where there will be heavy competition from gold and silver medalists in the 100 Brenton Rickard and Hugues Duboscq (who were also 2-3 in the 200 in Beijing), as well as 2004 silver medalist Daniel Gyurta. Based on the incredible 2:08.01 he posted earlier in the year, along with his incredible back-half split today, I think he is the favorite. He is the third fastest man ever in the 200 IM, and with Laszlo Cseh feeling under the weather coming in, he could be able to grab a silver. And then there is the medley relay, where the Americans are practically guarenteed a medal (barring a DQ...), quite possibly gold.

- Especially with Marleen Veldhuis out of the 100 free (to focus on the 50 free and 50 fly), Sarah Sjostrum is definitely one of the favorites now for a medal. Her 56.06 in the 100 fly proves that she may be able to go 52. Right now, Britta Steffen and Libby Trickett are clearly the top 2, but Sjostrum is a looming threat. The superb times posted by Jessicah Schipper and Jiao Liuyang in the 100 fly makes a 2:03 a distinct possibility coming up in the 200 fly.

- My reaction to Ariana Kukors amazing 2:06! - WOW! A bullsuit can only help so much... certainly no more than 2 secs! No matter what people say about the suit helping her out, there is no question that she would have won that race under any suit rules.

Tomorrow's prelims:

M 50 Breast: Look for Cameron van der Burgh, the former world record-holder (in the older Arena suit) to be the favorite, having already posted a pair of meet records in this event as splits in the prelims and semis of the 100 breast. Also, there is world record-holder Felipe Silva (26.89), along with Mark Gangloff, who looks to bounce back from a very disappointing 100. Also watch the Italians, with Alessandro Terrin and 2-time 100 free world champ Filippo Magnini.

M 200 Fly: Michael Phelps, the crystal clear favorite, should cruise into semis. Also watch for Olympic bronze medalist Takeshi Matsuda, his US teammate Tyler Clary, and Olympic finalists Moss Burmester, Nikolai Skvortsov, and Kaio Almeida. Of note, Olympic silver medalist Laszlo Cseh is not swimming the event.

W 200 Free: This looks to be all Federica Pellegrini, the world record-holder and already the 400 free gold medalist. I can't see anyone within a second and a half of her. The Americans, Dana Vollmer and Allison Schmitt, have both looked good in Rome and are medal threats. Also watch Great Britain's Caitlin McClatchey and Joanne Jackson, the silver medalist in the 400. Other contenders are Australia's Stephanie Rice, and Olympic minor medalists Sara Isokovic of Slovenia and Pang Jiaying of China.

M 800 Free: The clear favorite here is "defending champion" Ous Mellouli (he won the title, but it was stripped because of a positive drug test). His main threats are China's 400 free medalist Zhang Lin; Ryan Cochrane of Canada, the 1500 bronze medalist from Beijing; European record-holder Yuri Prilukov; and multi-time 1500 medalist David Davies of Great Britain. Also watch Peter Vanderkaay of the US, who has a strong chance to make finals, and Robert Hurley of Australia.

Tomorrow's finals:

I'll write more about this later, but I really want (no offense to any of them) one of the seven guys besides Matt Grevers to get food poisoning and withdraw so Aaron Peirsol can swim. Also, there is now controversy about the backstroke leg of the medley relay. To see the arguements, click here.

Roma 09: Day 2 Prelims

Some quick thoughts coming out of the second day of heats and then predix for tonight!

- Matt Grevers (16th) and Dave Walters (15th) were way to close to not making it. Hopefully these two put together quality swims tonight to get into finals.

- In the five events contested (W 100 Back, M 200 Free, W 100 Breast, M 100 Back, W 1500 Free), nine out of ten Americans advanced to semi-finals. The only one shut out was Haley Anderson, who finished ninth in the 1500.

- Kitajima's 100 breast world record is toast tonight. (Yeah, I know I said that last night, but I can't see it living past tonight.)


M 100 Breast:
Gold: Brenton Rickard 58.74 WR
Silver: Eric Shanteau 58.79 AR
Bronze: Igor Borysik 58.82
*Anyone of the eight guys in the field could win this thing!

W 100 Fly:
Gold: Sarah Sjostrum 56.50
Silver: Jessicah Schipper 56.79
Bronze: Dana Vollmer 56.99 AR
*Also watch Marleen Veldhuis from lane 8

M 50 Fly:
Gold: Rafael Munoz 22.48 CR
Silver: Milorad Cavic 22.57
Bronze: Jakob Ankajaer 22.91
*Also watch Matt Targett
*Can Ankajaer repeat his 2007 bronze medal from lane 8?

W 200 IM:
Gold: Ariana Kukors 2:07.41
Silver: Stephanie Rice 2:07.81
Bronze: Kirsty Coventry 2:07.92

Of note, Priyant of Behind the Blocks has a 50 euro bet with Andrew Lauterstein that Matt Targett will win the 50 fly!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Roma 09: Day 1 Finals

The first day of finals in Rome featured a good bit of history in terms of World Records, all of which may forever be overshadowed by the suits. Most events ended up with very lopsided results. Without furthur ado, some reaction and some predictions:

Okay, I definitely didn't think that Biedermann would break Thorpe's record. He came pretty much out of nowhere to do it; it was a personal best by nearly seven seconds! Now, to the 200, his best event. I'm honestly thinking he may be able to upset Michael Phelps. Phelps, who confessed tonight that "I did not feel good in the water today, especially the last 25 meters," finished off his American record in the 100 free, clearly lacking the back-end conditioning he is known for. Phelps will be ahead of Biedermann through the 150 in the 200. The question will be if he has enough in the tank to hold off the German.

Okay, so Park Tae Hwan didn't have the best start to his championships. I think he was the guy everyone thought would take down Thorpe's time. He will be able to come back in the 200 free tomorrow morning, and I think he will make the final and possibly take a medal - likely bronze, especially if Dave Walters is still sick. He has also had a GREAT 1,500 already this year, so we will see.

In all three semi-final races that the Americans swam in, the American who finished second (or in Kukors' case, third) advanced to the final, while the top swimmer did not. I think Christine Magnuson saved a little bit too much in the tank for the relay, so she missed the final of the event in which she was one of the favorites. Now, the 100 fly looks a good bit different than it did yesterday. The men's 100 breast has Shanteau as one of the favorites, while Gangloff completely died at the end. Hopefully both of these two will have redemption in their 50 events later. Looks like both men's races will be wide open dog fights tomorrow (more on that in my preview tomorrow morning).

The women's 400 free relay featured an American team without enough fire power that made too many mistakes, and three teams that obliterated the world record. In addition to Britta Steffen's lead-off world record of 52.22, Libby Trickett re-set her Australian record on the lead-off, swimming 52.62. According to Priyant of Behind the Blocks, she violated her contract by wearing a rubber suit not made by Speedo. Those two appear to be far ahead of the competition headed into the individual event. Marleen Veldhuis seemed a little bit flat in all of her swims, so we'll see if she can get it together later on. Notably, Fran Halsall led off Great Britain's prelim relay in 53.02, making her the third fastest swimmer in history.

Okay, this relay was really exciting, and some people did well, while others didn't, so here goes. Russia had a perfect race. Can't imagine them doing any better. For the Americans, Phelps seemed a little bit flat, Grevers was just a touch off his prelim swim, and then Lochte and Adrian were perfect. For France, Gilot did his job with a 47.73, beating Phelps, and then Bernard came back with a 46.4, the second fastest split in history (behind Mr. Lezak). Putting Gregory Mallet on the finals relay was a mistake on the part of the French coaches. Both Amaury Leveaux and William Meynard have swum 47.7 flat start, while Mallet only split 48.3. Cost them probably a second there. And Fred Bousquet has been 47.15 flat start, and he is a GREAT relay swimmer. Brett Hawke thinks he panicked when he saw Adrian beside him. I don't know, but he finished at 47.4.

Looking forward to the 100 free, Cielo is in a really good position after his 47.09, as is Bernard. I think those two will be at the top of the field, and I think both can go under 47. Bousquet is now a big wild card. He should be able to get the bronze (on paper), but don't count out Adrian after what he did tonight. I'm not going to bother listing all the people that split 47s, but I will say that I am very happy for Roland Schoeman. He hasn't swam so well for several years, but he swam a 47.5 split tonight, and I think he may be getting back to his game.

Finally, Meagan Nay is dropping out of the Worlds and returning to Australia after her brother was tragically killed in a car wreck yesterday. She will not be swimming the 200 free, 200 back, or the 800 free relay, while she will receive a bronze medal for her leg in the prelims of the 400 free relay. Along with everyone in the swimming community, I wish Meagan and her family condolences in the difficult time.

Roma 09: Day 1 Prelims

Wow, that was an interesting session. Just some notes from the morning:

- I predicted eight out of twelve Americans would advance - got that right.

- I predicted CRs in 3 out of 8 events, as well as the 100 free lead-off; CRs actually fell in SEVEN events - the only survivor was Ian Thorpe's 400 free from 2001.

- SO HAPPY for Ariana Kukors - knew she had the 2:08 in her! Hopefully, she can hang onto this spot for a while...

- The men's 100 breast is DEEP! 14 guys went under 1:00 - to decide who wins just flip a coin!

- Sarah Sjodin, who set the 100 fly CR: 15 years old, came back FASTER than Inge de Bruijin - not sure anyone has ever done that. People say it was all the suits and whatever, but I think this girl will be a big stud in the future.

- Women's 400 free relay: really hope the Americans can win a medal in this... looks like Christine Magnuson stays, and joining her will be Amanda Weir, Dana Vollmer, and Dara Torres (confirmed via Twitter). Looks like they'll have to beat Germany for the bronze.

- Men's 400 free relay: some of you may be thinking "oh no, the US is in fourth..." when it's completely fine. Brazil and Great Britain both had their top four 100 freestylers, while the US has three or four fresh guys coming in tonight. France had one really good split (Gilot 47.12), but it looks like they may be in trouble with guy no. 4. We shall see.

Predix for finals:

M 400 Free:
Gold: Zhang 3:41.77
Silver: Mellouli 3:42.27
Bronze: Biedermann 3:42.76

W 400 Free:
Gold: Pellegrini 3:59.77 WR
Silver: Adlington 3:59.89
Bronze: Jackson 4:00.16

W 400 Free Relay:
Gold: Netherlands (Heemskerk, Dekker, Kromowidjojo, Veldhuis) 3:32.89 WR
Silver: Germany (Steffen, Samulski, Dallmann, Schreiber) 3:34.16
Bronze: Australia (Galvez, Guehrer, Reese, Trickett) 3:34.29
*Torres has to pull off a 52-flat (at least) split for the Americans to be in the hunt

M 400 Free Relay:
Gold: France (Bernard, Gilot, Leveaux, Bousquet) 3:07.41 WR
Silver: USA (Phelps, Lochte, Walters, Adrian) 3:08.09 AR
Bronze: Russia (Grechin, Lagunov, Izotov, Sukhorukov) 3:09.87

Predic: American records will fall in 5 events

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Roma 09: Final Predictions

After all the hype, all the expectations, the moment is here. Swimming begins in the pool tomorrow in Rome. Check back here throughout the meet for analysis of each session and updated predictions including times. Continue to check my twitter (latest updates on the right) for my thoughts and immediate reaction to the swims. When in Rome...

M 400 Free:
GOLD: Park Tae Hwan (KOR)
SILVER: Ous Mellouli (TUN)
BRONZE: Zhang Lin (CHN)
*Peter Vanderkaay (USA), Ryan Cochrane (CAN), Nikita Lobinsev (RUS)

W 400 Free:
GOLD: Rebecca Adlington (GBR)
SILVER: Federica Pellegrini (ITA)
BRONZE: Joanne Jackson (GBR)

W 4x100 Free Relay:
GOLD: Netherlands (Dekker, Kromowidjojo, Heemskerk, Veldhuis)
SILVER: Australia (Campbell, Guehrer, Galvez, Trickett)
BRONZE: United States (Vollmer, Weir, Magnuson, Torres)

M 4x100 Free Relay:
GOLD: France (Leveaux, Bernard, Meynard, Bousquet)
SILVER: United States (Phelps, Lochte, Weber-Gale, Adrian)
BRONZE: Russia (Grechin, Fesikov, Izotov, Lagunov)

M 100 Breast:
GOLD: Alexander Dale Oen (NOR)
SILVER: Henrique Barbosa (BRA)
BRONZE: Mark Gangloff (USA)
*Ryo Tateishi (JPN), Eric Shanteau (USA), Cameron van der Burgh (RSA), Hendrik Feldwehr (GER), Igor Borysik (UKR)

W 100 Fly:
GOLD: Jessicah Schipper (AUS)
SILVER: Christine Magnuson (USA)
BRONZE: Marleen Veldhuis (NED)
*Tao Li (SIN), Jiao Liuyang (CHN), Dana Vollmer (USA), Felicity Galvez (AUS)

M 50 Fly:
GOLD: Rafael Munoz Perez (ESP)
SILVER: Matt Targett (AUS)
BRONZE: Milorad Cavic (SRB)
*Andrew Lauterstein (AUS), Roland Schoeman (RSA)

W 200 IM:
GOLD: Kirsty Coventry (ZIM)
SILVER: Julia Smit (USA)
BRONZE: Stephanie Rice (AUS)
*Hannah Miley (GBR), Camille Muffat (FRA), Ariana Kukors (USA)

M 200 Free:
GOLD: Michael Phelps (USA)
SILVER: Paul Biedermann (GER)
BRONZE: Park Tae Hwan (KOR)
*Dave Walters (USA)

W 100 Back:
GOLD: Kirsty Coventry (ZIM)
SILVER: Anastasia Zueva (RUS)
BRONZE: Gemma Spofforth (GBR)
*Zhao Jing (CHN), Hayley McGregory (USA), Emily Seebohm & Belinda Hocking (AUS)

W 1,500 Free:
GOLD: Alessia Filippi (ITA)
SILVER: Camelia Potec (ROM)
BRONZE: Lotte Friis (DEN)
*Erika Villaecija (ESP), Chloe Sutton (USA)

M 100 Back:
GOLD: Aaron Peirsol (USA)
SILVER: Ryosuke Irie (JPN)
BRONZE: Aschwin Wildeboer Faber (ESP)
*Matt Grevers (USA), Junya Koga (JPN), Helge Meeuw (GER)

W 100 Breast:
GOLD: Rebecca Soni (USA)
SILVER: Yuliya Efimova (RUS)
BRONZE: Annamay Pierse (CAN)
*Amanda Reason (CAN), Kasey Carlson (USA), Tarnee White & Sarah Katsoulis (AUS)

M 200 Fly:
GOLD: Michael Phelps (USA)
SILVER: Takeshi Matsuda (JPN)
BRONZE: Tyler Clary (USA)
*Moss Burmester (NZL), Kaio Almeida (BRA), Pawel Korzeniowski (POL), Nikolai Skvortsov (RUS)

W 200 Free:
GOLD: Federica Pellegrini (ITA)
SILVER: Dana Vollmer (USA)
BRONZE: Joanne Jackson (GBR)
*Sara Isokovic (SLO), Pang Jiaying (CHN), Allison Schmitt (USA), Stephanie Rice (AUS)

M 50 Breast:
GOLD: Cameron van der Burgh (RSA)
SILVER: Felipe Silva (BRA)
BRONZE: Mark Gangloff (USA)
*Alessandro Terrin (ITA), Joao Luiz (BRA)

M 800 Free:
GOLD: Ous Mellouli (TUN)
SILVER: Ryan Cochrane (CAN)
BRONZE: Zhang Lin (CHN)
*Yuri Prilukov (RUS), Federico Colbertaldo (ITA, Przemyslaw Stanczyk (POL)

M 200 IM:
GOLD: Ryan Lochte (USA)
SILVER: Laszlo Cseh (HUN)
BRONZE: Eric Shanteau (USA)
*Thiago Pereira (BRA), Darian Townsend (RSA), James Goddard (GBR), Ous Mellouli (TUN), Ken Takakuwa (JPN)

M 100 Free:
GOLD: Alain Bernard (FRA)
SILVER: Cesar Cielo (BRA)
BRONZE: Fred Bousquet (FRA)
*Andrey Grechin (RUS), Nathan Adrian (USA), Matt Targett (AUS), Brent Hayden (CAN)

W 200 Fly:
GOLD: Jiao Liuyang (CHN)
SILVER: Ellen Gandy (GBR)
BRONZE: Jessicah Schipper (AUS)
*Liu Zige (CHN), Kathleen Hersey (USA), Aurore Mongel (FRA)

W 50 Back:
GOLD: Anastasia Zueva (RUS)
SILVER: Daniela Samulski (GER)
BRONZE: Hayley McGregory (USA)
*Zhao Jing & Gao Chang (CHN), Aya Terakawa (JPN), Sophie Edington & Emily Seebohm (AUS)

W 4x200 Free Relay:
GOLD: Great Britain (Jackson, McClatchey, Carlin, Adlington)
SILVER: United States (Schmitt, Knutson, Smit, Vollmer)
BRONZE: Australia (Nay, Barratt, Galvez, Rice)

W 100 Free:
GOLD: Libby Trickett (AUS)
SILVER: Britta Steffen (GER)
BRONZE: Marleen Veldhuis (NED)
*Federica Pellegrini (ITA), Malia Metella (FRA)

M 200 Back:
GOLD: Ryosuke Irie (JPN)
SILVER: Aaron Peirsol (USA)
BRONZE: Ryan Lochte (USA)

W 200 Breast:
GOLD: Rebecca Soni (USA)
SILVER: Annamay Pierse (CAN)
BRONZE: Mirna Jukic (AUT)
*Rie Kaneto (JPN)

M 200 Breast:
GOLD: Eric Shanteau (USA)
SILVER: Henrique Barbosa (BRA)
BRONZE: Daniel Gyurta (HUN)
*Igor Borysik (UKR), Yuta Suenaga (JPN), Brenton Rickard (AUS), Marco Koch (GER), Alexander Dale Oen (NOR)

M 4x200 Free Relay:
GOLD: United States (Walters, Vanderkaay, Lochte, Phelps)
SILVER: Russia (Lobinsev, Izotov, Perunin, Sukhorukov)
BRONZE: Italy (Belotti, Maglia, Brembilla, Magnini)

W 50 Fly:
GOLD: Therese Alshammar (SWE)
SILVER: Marleen Veldhuis (NED)
BRONZE: Dara Torres (USA)
*Marieke Guehrer & Libby Trickett (AUS), Christine Magnuson (USA)

M 50 Free:
GOLD: Cesar Cielo (BRA)
SILVER: Fred Bousquet (FRA)
BRONZE: Cullen Jones (USA)
*Amaury Leveaux (FRA), Roland Schoeman (RSA), Nathan Adrian (USA)

W 200 Back:
GOLD: Kirsty Coventry (ZIM)
SILVER: Meagan Nay (AUS)
BRONZE: Elizabeth Beisel (USA)
*Gemma Spofforth (GBR), Alexianne Castel (FRA)

M 100 Fly:
GOLD: Michael Phelps (USA)
SILVER: Milorad Cavic (SRB)
BRONZE: Rafael Munoz Perez (ESP)
*Andrew Lauterstein (AUS), Jason Dunford (KEN)

W 800 Free:
GOLD: Rebecca Adlington (GBR)
SILVER: Joanne Jackson (GBR)
BRONZE: Camelia Potec (ROM)
*Alessia Filippi (ITA), Lotte Friis (DEN), Coralie Balmy (FRA)

W 4x100 Medley Relay:
GOLD: Australia (Seebohm, White, Schipper, Trickett)
SILVER: United States (McGregory, Soni, Magnuson, Weir)
BRONZE: China (Zhao, Qui, Jiao, Pang)

M 50 Back:
GOLD: Liam Tancock (GBR)
SILVER: Junya Koga (JPN)
BRONZE: Aschwin Wildeboer Faber (ESP)
*Thomas Rupprath & Helge Meeuw (GER), Guilherme Guido (BRA), Ashley Delaney (AUS), Matt Grevers & Aaron Peirsol (if he goes onto the finals) (USA)

W 50 Breast:
GOLD: Yuliya Efimova (RUS)
SILVER: Valentina Artemyeva (RUS)
BRONZE: Amanda Reason (CAN)
*Tarnee White & Sarah Katsoulis (AUS), Annamay Pierse (CAN), Rebecca Soni (USA)

M 400 IM:
GOLD: Laszlo Cseh (HUN)
SILVER: Ryan Lochte (USA)
BRONZE: Tyler Clary (USA)
*Luca Marin (ITA), Riaan Schoeman (RSA), Thiago Pereria (BRA)

W 50 Free:
GOLD: Marleen Veldhuis (NED)
SILVER: Britta Steffen (GER)
BRONZE: Libby Trickett (AUS)
*Dara Torres (USA), Cate Campbell (AUS), Therese Alshammar (SWE)

M 1,500 Free:
GOLD: Ous Mellouli (TUN)
SILVER: Ryan Cochrane (CAN)
BRONZE: Zhang Lin (CHN)
*David Davies (GBR), Sun Yang (CHN), Park Tae Hwan (KOR), Yuri Prilukov (RUS)

W 400 IM:
GOLD: Kirsty Coventry (ZIM)
SILVER: Stephanie Rice (AUS)
BRONZE: Hannah Miley (GBR)
*Elizabeth Beisel & Julia Smit (USA), Katinka Hosszu (HUN), Alessia Filippi (ITA)

M 4x100 Medley Relay:
GOLD: United States (Peirsol, Gangloff, Phelps, Adrian)
SILVER: France (Stravius, Duboscq, Lefert, Bernard)
BRONZE: Australia (Delaney, Rickard, Lauterstein, Targett)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Roma 09: Phelps Schedule

With only five days to go until the World Championships begin in the pool in Rome, we get back to Michael Phelps. Even with his reduced program from the Olympics, he still has twelve races (as opposed to the 17 in both Athens and Beijing). He has something unheard of in any major meet in the last seven years: in the middle, a day off! Unless he fails to advance out of an early heat or there is an upset, this should be his program of events.

Sunday, July 26
Morning: Off
Evening: 4x100 Free Relay Final

Monday, July 27
Morning: 200 Free Prelims
Evening: 200 Free Semi-Final

Tuesday, July 28
Morning: 200 Fly Prelims
Evening: 200 Free Final, 200 Fly Semi-Final

Wednesday, July 29
Morning: Off
Evening: 200 Fly Final

Thursday, July 30
Morning: Off
Evening: Off

Friday, July 31
Morning: 100 Fly Prelims
Evening: 100 Fly Semi-Final, 4x200 Free Relay Final

Saturday, August 1
Morning: Off
Evening: 100 Fly Final

Sunday, August 2
Morning: Off
Evening: 4x100 Medley Relay Final

Unlike in Beijing, there are only two sessions where he swims twice. He has the 200 free final and 200 fly semi-final in the same session, but he will have probably an hour and a half between swims, as every event other than the women's 100 breast (including the women's 1,500) is between those two swims.

His other double will be tougher. He only has the semis of the women's 200 back and the final of the men's 200 breast between his 100 fly semi and 4x200 free relay final on July 31. Hopefully, it won't be much of a problem, allowing him to cruise into the fly final and still have enough left to throw down a good 200 free in a relay where the Americans are the heavy favorites.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sentimental Rome Picks

In a lot of events, there are some things I want to happen, but I know they probably won't. With these "predictions" below, I know that they are all big longshots, but I will be rooting for them all the way!

Women's 50 free: Dara Torres

This event is just too deep right now! There are six girls with legitimate shots at medals. Dara, who is currently ranked fourth in the world, might not have quite enough firepower to chase for the gold. She will need to be well under 24 seconds to get it done. She has a lot of room for improvement from her 24.43 at Nationals, but I'm not sure she can drop the six or seven tenths needed. If she could, wouldn't it be awesome to see a 42-year old come back being touched out by 0.01 in Beijing to be World Champ?

Women's 200 free: Dana Vollmer

It is not a stretch to say that Dana Vollmer did not have a very good year last year. After missing the team, she came back strong to win Nationals with a 1:56.20, the second fastest time in the world this year. While Italy's Federica Pellegrini is almost two seconds ahead of her, Vollmer has a legitimate shot at silver. If she can control the first 100 a little bit better, she will be able to eclipse Katie Hoff's American record of 1:55.78 and make a run at a medal. Most of the contenders for this race have not shown all of their cards this year, so it will be deeper than the current world rankings indicate, but this may be Dana Vollmer's year.

Women's 50 back: Hayley McGregory

Note: I want her to win the 100 too, but her chances here are much more realistic. After another heartbreaking summer where she once again finished third in both backstrokes, Hayley McGregory is back once again. After a flip-flop training year where she swam for three different clubs, McGregory won the 100 back at Nationals with a so-so time of 1:00.07. While Kirsty Coventry looms in that distance, the shorter event may have an opening. In fact, the event is wide open. Even though she is not among the seven women who have cracked 28 this year, she has not raced the event in 2009, so expect her to be near the leaders. We don't quite know what she is capable of, but it could be gold.

Women's 50 fly: Dara Torres (if she swims it)

Same reason as the 50 free above. Once again, it is a really competitive field. However, she appears to have a better shot at a medal in this one. She is ranked third in the world this year (and also in history) with a 25.50 from Nationals. In my opinion, the only way she won't get a medal is if she doesn't swim it.

Women's 200 IM: Ariana Kukors

In 2008, out-touched by eight one-hundredths for the second spot in the this event. In 2009, four one-hundredths. However, with the withdrawl of Elizabeth Pelton from this event in Rome, Kukors is back in the medal hunt. While World and Olympic silver medalist Kirsty Coventry is still going strong, world record-holder Stephanie Rice took an extended break after Beijing, and has been feeling under the weather as of late, which may leave an opening in this event. I'm rooting for Kukors to make up for her disappointments and secure a medal in this event. She has the potential of a 2:09-low or even 2:08-high swim. Probably not enough for gold, but a medal could be hers for the taking.

Men's 10k Open Water: Fran Crippen

Fran Crippen, one of many great swimmers in the Crippen family, is on the rebound from a disappointing 2008 of his own. In fact, he was shut out of 2008 before it began. At the open water world championship trials in late 2007 (which would qualify swimmers for worlds, where they could qualify for the Olympics), he came in as one of the favorites, having just won the Pan American Games, but he finished ninth, missing Beijing altogether. He took up a job in Philadelphia, but continued training, and he came back to win this year's world champ trials in the 10k, so he has another chance. And it is a real chance. With three of the four medals from last year's worlds and Olympics (combined) out of the race, his main competition will be German bronze medalist Thomas Lurz, as well as veterans such as Spyridon Gianniotis of Greece and Peter Stoychev of Bulgaria. I'm not sure he can pull it off, but it would be a great end to a great story.

Men's 400 free relay: USA

I admit, the race from Beijing still amazes me. I still get goosebumps every time I watch it. In 2009, once again, the French are the favorites, but, alas, I don't think the US can pull it off. It's simple: we don't have enough firepower, and France does. It would be a much bigger upset if it happened this year than it was last. All of America will be rooting for that foursome, but I don't think it will be enough.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


You can follow updates from the swimming world now on my twitter, david2swim. You can get updates about what is going on right now in the swimming world and predictions from right before a race, as well as my immediate reactions. Check it out tomorrow to see my predictions for Jason Lezak's 100 Free at the Maccabiah Games.

Friday, July 17, 2009

US Relays in Rome

The U.S. will be facing an uphill battle to win gold in four of the six relays in Rome. This is what I think they should do to get the best final time possible out of the relays, while still using a variety of swimmers.

M 4x100 Free:

While we all remember the epic chasedown of France by Jason Lezak in Beijing, this time the French may be too far ahead. Without Lezak on the end, the U.S. has plenty of depth, but lacks the starpower (with the exception) of Michael Phelps to get the job done. While current relay hypotheticals place them almost three seconds behind France and pretty much even with Russia, Michael Phelps joining the team will cut some time, but at least two more swimmers need to be under 48 to be within a second of France and secure at least a solid silver.

1. Garrett Weber-Gale
2. Dave Walters
3. Matt Grevers
4. Cullen Jones

1. Michael Phelps
2. Ryan Lochte
3. Garrett Weber-Gale
4, Nathan Adrian

In my opinion, Phelps, Lochte, and Adrian have proven themselves to be the top three Americans in this event (without Lezak). Walters made the individual spot (with Lochte's withdrawl from the finals in Indy), but I think Weber-Gale has a much faster swim in him. My thoughts are: let Weber-Gale lead off in prelims to be at or near his best time (47.78), which would likely put him in finals. I know Ricky Berens made the team in this relay, but I don't think the U.S. can use him as he is the slowest of eight swimmers selected. (Maybe he'll swim the 50 Fly instead!)

W 4x100 Free:

Now, the Dutch have a really solid team, and they are the clear favorites. The Aussies and the Americans would be about even, except for one small factor: Libby Trickett. One of the favorites for gold in the individual event, Trickett will provide the Aussies a substantial boost. It will take better than solid splits by all of the ladies to make a run at silver or even gold. If they falter, they will be shut out of the medals, with a solid German team led by Britta Steffen looming.

1. Caitlin Geary
2. Christine Magnuson
3. Kate Dwelley
4. Julia Smit

1. Amanda Weir
2. Dana Vollmer
3. Christine Magnuson
4. Dara Torres

Dara didn't attempt to qualify for this event, but I think the coaches will still use her, considering she still has the fastest relay split in history (52.27) from Beijing. Weir needs to lead off in with a time in the 53.8-range, Vollmer needs to be 53-low, and Magnuson 53-mid for the Americans to have a chance.

M 4x200 Free:

The American men are such overwhelming favorites in this one that they can swim the relay with whichever of the six guys they want, in whatever order they want. In fact, I think this is the most certain gold for any person or team in the World Championships.

1. Davis Tarwater
2. Peter Vanderkaay
3. Dan Madwed
4. Ricky Berens

1. Dave Walters
2. Peter Vanderkaay
3. Ryan Lochte
4. Michael Phelps

Why not? Phelps has led off this relay for six straight years. Like I said above, any order will work. I like the idea of using Dan Madwed in the prelims because he proved himself with a 1:47.3 in the prelims at the trials before he pulled out of finals to concentrate on the 200 Fly, and to give Ryan Lochte a rest from his extremely demanding schedule.

W 4x200 Free:

The British team has emerged in the past year to be a legitimate contender in this relay, and they should be the co-favorite in Rome. The other co-favorites is the U.S. Without Katie Hoff, they need to have killer splits to take home gold here.

1. Alyssa Anderson
2. Lacey Nymeyer
3. Dagny Knutson
4. Ariana Kukors

1. Allison Schmitt
2. Dagny Knutson
3. Julia Smit
4. Dana Vollmer

Everything here is pretty much what one would expect, except for putting Julia Smit on the relay. She had a great Nationals, except in this event, where she placed tenth in prelims and pulled out of the B-Final. She swam 1:56.73 in 2008, which can be a big boost here.

M 4x100 Medley:

Before the Nationals, it looked like the Americans would be in serious trouble in this relay, with countries such as Brazil and France emerging onto the scene with fast times in all four 100 events. Now, however, the U.S. is on top of the world in three and has enough in the fourth to be the clear favorites.

Back: Matt Grevers
Breast: Eric Shanteau
Fly: Tyler McGill
Free: Dave Walters

Back: Aaron Peirsol
Breast: Mark Gangloff
Fly: Michael Phelps
Free: Nathan Adrian

Completely straight forward here. Ryan Lochte could be an alternate for both back and free, Adam Klein could be a breaststroke alternate, and Garrett Weber-Gale could be one for free.

W 4x100 Medley:

This one is going to be quite a duel between the U.S. and Australia. The Americans appear to be slightly ahead on the first three strokes, while Australia will make up big ground on freestyle with Libby Trickett.

Back: Elizabeth Pelton
Breast: Kasey Carlson
Fly: Mary Descenza
Free: Amanda Weir

Back: Hayley McGregory
Breast: Rebecca Soni
Fly: Christine Magnuson
Free: Dana Vollmer

No using Dara Torres here if she swims the 50 Fly, since that would give her four races in a day, three in the finals session. If Weir is faster than Vollmer in the 100 Free, then they would switch prelims and finals spots. Vollmer may end up doing one of the fly legs instead, as she is also swimming the 100 Fly individual event. Possible alternates include Elizabeth Beisel (back), Keri Hehn (breast), and Julia Smit (free).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jason Lezak Prepares to Swim in the Maccabiah Games

Jason Lezak swims at the Maccabiah Games this weekend in Israel. He swims the 100 Free final Sunday at 11:20 AM EDT and the 50 Free on Wednesday at 11:45 AM EDT. He is heavily favored in both races, and he has real chances for American Records in both. Click here for full results.

Now up on Swimming World is my preview of the relays for the world championships. Check it out here. Coming soon, check out my blog on how the American relays should be swum in Rome.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Nationals: Day 1 Recap and Day 2 Preview

Instead of my usual rambling about all of the swims, I'll give my one or two-word reaction to each swimmer's race. Note: "Bullsuits" refers to the extremely unnaturally fast swims produced by the Jaked and Arena X-Glide.

Christine Magnuson, W 100 Fly (57.15): Decent...

Dana Vollmer, W 100 Fly (57.32): WOW! (LZR, no bullsuit)

Peter Vanderkaay, M 400 Free (3:45.17): Decent...?

Julia Smit, W 200 IM (2:09.34): Pretty good!

Elizabeth Pelton, W 200 IM (2:11.03): WOW! (dropped 8 secs from 2008, but STILL IN LZR)

Ariana Kukors/Dagny Knutson, W 200 IM (2:11.07/2:11.11): Seen better... (this year, in fact)

Dan Madwed, M 400 Free (3:47.24): BULLSUITS!

Mark Gangloff, M 100 Breast (59.01 AR): BULLSUITS!

Eric Shanteau, M 100 Breast (59.45): BULLSUITS!

Everyone else, M 100 Breast: BULLSUITS!

Allison Schmitt, W 400 Free (4:06.77): Decent... (in a bullsuit, but not that fast)

Chloe Sutton, W 400 Free (4:07.20): Pretty good!

Katie Hoff, W 400 Free (4:12.34): Ugh...

Ryan Lochte, M 400 IM (4:06.40): Pretty good!

Tyler Clary: M 400 IM (4:06.96): BULLSUITS!

(Unlike Mr. Craig Lord,) I am not trying to be disrespectful in any way towards the guys who I have called "BULLSUITS." I am just saying that I don't think they would have been quite as fast in a LZR or FS-Pro. Here's what I see coming tonight:

W 100 Back: McGregory goes 58.89 AR, Beisel 2nd at 59.9.

M 200 Free: Phelps wins, 1:43-mid; Lochte 2nd at 1:44-high, just ahead of Vanderkaay. Berens (4th) and Walters (5th) go 1:45-high, and Tarwater gets sixth.

M 100 Back: Peirsol 52.2 WR, Thoman 52.4 2nd, Grevers 52.6 3rd. LOVE to see Dave Cromwell make it, but I can't see it. NOTE: Randall Bal has gotten sick and is pulling out of the finals. Click here to view the full story on

With Bal's withdrawl, the World Record-holder in the 50 Back won't be swimming in Rome.

W 200 Free: Dana Vollmer wins it in 1:55-high, either an American Record or just off. Schmitt gets second 1:56-mid, just ahead of Dagny Knutson. Ariana Kukors fourth, Katie Hoff bounces back (a little bit) to get fifth, and then Kate Dwelley just beats Lacey Nymeyer for sixth.

M 200 Fly: Phelps doesn't get that WR yet (wait for Rome), but he wins in 1:52-high, as he is still tired coming off the 200 Free. Dan Madwed just edges out Davis Tarwater and Mark Dylla for second. All three 1:55 or better.

M 50 Breast World Record attempt: According to Rowdy Gaines on Twitter, Mark Gangloff, the new American Record-holder in the 100 Breast is doing a World Record attempt tonight in the 50 Breast. I think there is no question he'll get it. The time: 26.73. (You heard it here first.)

A note about Julia Smit: After the brilliant 2:09.34 in the 200 IM, I thought she would be roaring to go for the 200 Free. Instead, she finished at 2:00, ending up tenth. Since she had a spot on the team, she could possibly have still been on the 4x200 Free Relay if she had swam fast enough (1:56 or so - which she's done) in the B-Final. Instead, she pulled out. I understand she wants to save up for other events, but still. She could have made an arguement.

And finally, Caroline Burckle. Returing from an extended break after Beijing, she was 3rd in the 400 Free last night and will swim in the 200 Free C-Final. I actually think she has a chance to make the team in the upcoming 800 Free. With Katie Hoff not at her best, and Kate Ziegler unlikely to swim because of her case of swine flu, Burckle looks like a strong bet to finish in the top two. The favorite in the event would be Chloe Sutton, looking to add the 800 to her World Champs program. While it would be unwise to completely discount Hoff, and there still is the possibility of Ziegler swimming, both scenarios look quite unlikely. This is Burckle's last chance for Rome.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Men's 100 Free and 100 Back Poll Results

Time for the final results of a poll which has been going since December: who will take these titles at Nationals? Over the past month, here's the vote on the winners.

100 Free
Nathan Adrian - 9.1%
Matt Grevers - 0%
Cullen Jones - 13%
Ryan Lochte - 4.5%
Michael Phelps - 72.7%
Garrett Weber-Gale - 4.5%

100 Back
Randall Bal - 4.5%
Aaron Peirsol - 54.5%
Michael Phelps* - 40.9%
Nick Thoman - 4.5%
Matt Grevers, Ryan Lochte, Peter Marshall - 0%

*Phelps has opted out of the event.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wildeboer Breaks Peirsol's 100 Back World Record

As reported on, Spain's Aschwin Wildeboer beat Aaron Peirsol's World Record in the 100 Back on the final day of swimming at the 2009 Mediterranean Games. Wildeboer's time of 52.38 leading off Spain's 4x100 Medley Relay, broke Peirsol's mark set on his way to gold in Beijing last year and also his own European Record set in the 100 Back final earlier in the competition. Wildeboer now throws himself into medal contention for this summer's Worlds, along with whatever two Americans qualify as well as others such as Junya Koga.

In early May, I did a project for high school Spanish class which was a report on Wildeboer. If you are not familiar with his background, here is the rundown:

Aschwin Wildeboer Faber is a Spanish swimmer who was born in Sabadell, Spain on February 14, 1986. He swam in the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics in Athens and Beijing, respectively and, over the past year and a half, has grown into one of the top backstroke swimmers in the world.

He comes from a true swimming family. His father, Paulus Wildeboer, who (like Aschwin’s mother) is from the Netherlands, coached swimming at Club NataciĆ³ Sabadell. His brother, Olaf, who is two and a half years older than Aschwin, is a freestyle swimmer who swam the 200 Freestyle at the Athens games, failing to advance out of the heats on either occasion. Interestingly, Olaf swam for Spain in 2004, but switched to swimming for the Netherlands at the 2006 European championships, and swam under coach Jacco Verhaeran, the coach of Dutch great Pieter van den Hoogenband.

Wildeboer has risen through the ranks over a period of five years. He did swim at the Athens Olympics and the 2005 World Championships in Montreal, but he failed to advance to past prelims in either meet. At the 2006 European championships, he made his first international semi-finals, finishing 14th, 12th, and 16th in the 50m, 100m, and 200m Backstroke, respectively. He also led Spain to a 9th-place finish in the 4x100m medley relay.

After an absence from major meets throughout the winter and spring of 2007, including the 2007 World Championships, Wildeboer returned for the 2007 European Short Course championships in December of that year, where not only did he make his first international finals, he won bronze medals in the 50m and 200m Back, to go along with a pair of fourth-place finishes in the 100m Back and 4x50 Medley Relay. At the Long Course version of the meet three months later, he made finals in four events, finishing 4th in the 100 and 200 Back and 5th in the 50 Back and leading Spain to 8th in the 4x100 Medley relay.

Only five months later, Wildeboer swam in his second Olympics, a meet which turned out vastly different from his first. Swimming his heat with defending champion and world record holder Aaron Peirsol, Wildeboer had a breakthrough swim in the prelims of the 100m Back, dropping his best time to 53.67, a new Spanish record and just 0.02 behind Peirsol, advancing from 16th seed to 4th-ranked going into semi-finals. He remained in fourth after semis, with a 53.51, again a new Spanish record. He matched that time in finals, finishing 7th. He ended up pulling out of the 200m Back.

He was not done. Only four months later, he swam at the European short course championships. On the first day, he qualified for the final of the 200m Back in 7th, but had a great finals swim, chasing down early leader Stanislav Donets of Russia. In the end, the two men shared gold in 1:49.22, Wildeboer’s first gold on an international level. Later that night, he swam a 23.27 as the 50m Back leadoff leg of the 4x50m Medley Relay, in which Spain ended up 7th. That time tied Thomas Rupprath’s European record, a time which a month previously was the World Record.

The next day, he beat his record in the 50m Back semi-finals, with a 23.22, but Lubos Krizko set the new European record, 23.15. He finished second in the finals later that night, just 0.06 behind Donets. The next day, he swam the second fastest time ever in the semi-finals of the 100m Back, 49.66, just 0.03 off American Peter Marshall’s world record. In the finals, he broke the World Record, but finished second to Donets.

Just three weeks later, however, he swam the lead-off leg of a 4x100m Medley relay at the Spanish short course nationals. His backstroke split was 49.20, breaking Donets’ World Record. There has been some controversy regarding the conditions of the race (his brother, who swims for the Netherlands, was on the relay), but it is the fastest time ever.

Wildeboer’s next task was to qualify for this summer’s World Championships in Rome, which he did in great fashion. At the Spanish Cup in early April 2009, he swam the Long Course 100m Back in 52.93, becoming the first man from Europe under 53 seconds and the fourth fastest man all-time (since then, someone has gone faster, so now he is fifth). He also swam a Spanish record and personal best in the 50m Back, 24.84*, which ties for the fourth-fastest time in the world this year.

At the Worlds in Rome, Wildeboer will be a medal favorite in his signature 50m and 100m Backstroke. Both races are relatively wide open and will be very tight. He will face World Record-holder and 2-time Olympic champion Perisol, swimming superstar Michael Phelps, and/or whatever two Americans qualify, as well as strong backstrokers from Japan, France, and Australia. In the 50m Back, he will have American World Record-holder Randall Bal, Great Britain’s Liam Tancock, Japan’s Junya Koga, and several others on his mind.
Wildeboer is one of several stars who have really helped Spanish swimming grow over the past years. There are two other World Record-holders on the team. Mireia Belmonte Garcia set the 400m IM Short Course record in December, while Rafael Munoz Perez smashed the 50m Fly World Record (Long Course) at April’s Spanish Open. Munoz is also second all-time in the Long Course 100m Fly. Along with Wildeboer, he will be in a deep hunt for medals at the World Championships.

*He broke this mark also at the Mediterranean Games, swimming 24.73.