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).

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