Sunday, November 29, 2009

Short Course Nationals

This weekend is short course nationals in Federal Way, Washington. Top swimmers such as Rebecca Soni, Eric Shanteau, and Katie Hoff will be there, along Japan's Kosuke Kitajima, and also several collegiate programs such as Michigan (men) and Cal. There promise to be some interesting races in Washington, but it is not the only big meet next weekend. Most college programs are in action at various invitational meets around the country (all short course yards), the most notable being the Texas Invite. The competition this weekend will give us a good idea where the world's swimmers stand going into not only NCAAs in the spring, but also long course Nationals next summer.

It should be noted that all suits worn this weekend will conform to 2010 standards, as required by both USA Swimming and the NCAA. Thus, times in each event from around the country will be comparable and should clearly tell who is the best. However, various swimmers will be at different stages of their training, so that opens another can of worms...

With all of this said, here are my predictions for Short Course Nationals (no relays):

Women's 500 Free:
1 - Katie Hoff, FAST
2 - Dagny Knutson, A.S.K.
3 - Sara Isokovic, Cal/Slovenia

Men's 500 Free:
1 - Peter Vanderkaay, Club Wolverine
2 - Dan Madwed, Michigan
3 - Charlie Houchin, Michigan

Women's 200 IM:
1 - Ariana Kukors, FAST
2 - Katinka Hosszu, Southern California/Hungary
3 - Katie Hoff, FAST

Men's 200 IM:
1 - Eric Shanteau, Longhorn
2 - Tyler Clary, Michigan
3 - Hidemasa Sano, Trojan Swim Club/Japan

Women's 50 Free:
1 - Amanda Weir, Swim Atlanta
2 - Kara Lynn Joyce, Unattached
3 - Jessica Hardy, Trojan Swim Club

Men's 50 Free:
1 - Nathan Adrian, Cal
2 - Cullen Jones, SwimMAC Carolina
3 - William Copeland, California Aquatics

Women's 400 IM
1 - Dagny Knutson, A.S.K.
2 - Katinka Hosszu, Southern California/Hungary
3 - Katie Hoff, FAST

Men's 400 IM
1 - Tyler Clary, Michigan
2 - Thiago Pereira, Trojan Swim Club/Brazil
3 - Hidemasa Sano, Trojan Swim Club/Japan

Women's 100 Fly
1 - Dana Vollmer, California Aquatics
2 - Amanda Sims, Cal

Men's 100 Fly
1 - Jason Dunford, Unattached/Kenya
2 - Chris Brady, Michigan

Women's 200 Free
1 - Katie Hoff, FAST
2 - Dana Vollmer, California Aquatics
3 - Dagny Knutson, A.S.K.

Men's 200 Free
1 - Peter Vanderkaay, Club Wolverine
2 - Dan Madwed, Michigan
3 - Charlie Houchin, Michigan

Women's 100 Breast
1 - Jessica Hardy, Trojan Swim Club
2 - Rebecca Soni, Trojan Swim Club
3 - Annamay Pierse, UCB Dolphins/Canada
*Also watch Katy Freeman, Kasey Carlson, and 2000 Olympic champ Megan Jendrick.

Men's 100 Breast
1 - Eric Shanteau, Longhorn
2 - Kosuke Kitajima, Trojan Swim Club/Japan
3 - Matthew Lowe, Longhorn

Women's 100 Back
1 - Kate Fesenko, Indiana/Ukraine
2 - Margaret Hoelzer, FAST
3 - Cindy Tran, West Coast Swimming

Men's 100 Back
1 - Nick Thoman, SwimMAC Carolina
2 - David Russell, California Aquatics
3 - Guy Barnea, Cal/Israel

Women's 1,650 Free
1 - Lauren Boyle, Cal
2 - Haley Anderson, Southern California
3 - Jessica White, Indiana

Men's 1,650 Free
1 - William Freeman, Swim Atlanta
2 - Tom Koucheravy, Trojan Swim Club
3 - Adam DeJong, Michigan

Women's 200 Back
1 - Kate Fesenko, Indiana
2 - Margaret Hoelzer, FAST
3 - Katie Hoff, FAST

Men's 200 Back
1 - Tyler Clary, Michigan
2 - David Russell, California Aquatics
3 - Patrick Schirk, Unattached

Women's 100 Free
1 - Dana Vollmer, California Aquatics
2 - Amanda Weir, Swim Atlanta
3 - Dagny Knutson, A.S.K.

Men's 100 Free
1 - Nathan Adrian, Cal
2 - Garrett Weber-Gale, Longhorn
3 - William Copeland, California Aquatics

Women's 200 Breast
1 - Rebecca Soni, Trojan Swim Club
2 - Annamay Pierse, UCB Dolphins/Canada
3 - Megan Jendrick, King

Men's 200 Breast
1 - Eric Shanteau, Longhorn
2 - Kosuke Kitajima, Trojan Swim Club/Japan
3 - Sean Mahoney, California Aquatics

Women's 200 Fly
1 - Katinka Hosszu, Southern California/Hungary
2 - Amanda Sims, Cal
3 - Lyndsay DePaul, Southern California

Men's 200 Fly
1 - Dan Madwed, Michigan
2 - Hidemasa Sano, Trojan Swim Club/Japan

Click here to view the psych sheet for nationals.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Meaning of 24.81

Today at the Eindhoven Cup in the Netherlands, American Randall Bal swam a 24.81 in the 50 back (long course). While the time only ties him for 14th in the world in 2009, under the circumstances, it was an outstanding swim considering one major detail: he wore a 2010-legal suit.

The Eindhoven Cup is notable because, in addition to only allowing suits that will be legal next year, it offers a monetary prize for eclipsing the world record in textile (i.e., whatever the record was on January 1, 2008). For the 50 back, that mark belongs to Thomas Rupprath, a 24.80 from 2003. Thus, Bal has come the closest of any swimmer to eclipsing what is considered at this meet a "world record."

For five years, Rupprath's mark was a magic standard. No one could touch it until the first generation of performance enhancing suits came out, when Liam Tancock obliterated it. The record has changed hands a couple of times since then, and a total of 15 swimmers (including Rupprath himself) have gone under that time. Many credited the suits, but maybe there was more to it.

While Bal's swim would be the male performance of the meet so far, on the women's side, that title would belong to Ranomi Kromowidjojo. She was timed in the 100 free on Friday in 53.95, just off her best time of 53.31 from the worlds when she wore a LZR. With a 53.95 at this point in the season, the 19-year old can certainly eclipse the textile "world record," which officially belongs Britta Steffen (53.30).

The same can be said for Cate Campbell, the 17-year old Aussie who swam a 53.03 on Friday while wearing her Adidas Hydrofoil. The lack of a fast suit will not stop her from getting back down to this time at the next major meet.

The swimming world isn't going to stop without the suits. On the contrary, the suits may have been the momentum to get everyone going again. Once magical standards such as those of Steffen and Rupprath are no longer such. Once a swimmer has gone a time, the clock cannot be turned back. There is the reason world records must not be adjusted.

So what is the meaning of 24.81 (and 53.95)? The swimmers are catching up to the suits, so don't turn back the clock.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Golden Goggles: Should vs. Will

The U.S. National Team has assembled Beverly Hills for the Golden Goggles to recognize the top performances this year. Every year, some awards are given out to the right swimmers, while some are messed up, based on USA Swimming biases. For each award, there is someone who clearly should win, but the eventual winner is not always the same person. Without further ado, here are the categories.

Breakout Performer of the Year:
Kasey Carlson
Tyler Clary
Andrew Gemmell
Eric Shanteau

Should: Clary
Comes from (not really) nowhere to be ranked in the top 5 all-time in 3 events, a silver at the World Champs, and one of the only guys who has ever broken a Phelps record. Duh!

Will: Shanteau
See below.

Perseverance Award:
Fran Crippen
Ariana Kukors
Dana Vollmer
Amanda Weir

Should: Eric Shanteau
Oh come on! He should be nominated for Perseverance, not Breakout! But he won this one last year (because of USA Swimming bias), which I'm sure they not regret! So...

Should: Vollmer
Actually, all of these nominees would be great recipients, all classic cases of perseverance, but Vollmer had the complete bounce-back package, and showed remarkable consistency last year, from Pac-10s to NCAAs to Santa Clara to Nationals to Worlds, never letting up, and the come-back anyone wants to have.

Will: Kukors
She has two thing the others don't: a world title and a world record. People know her name. This one's her's.

Coach of the Year:
Bob Bowman
Sean Hutchison
Eddie Reese
Dave Salo
Gregg Troy

Should: Reese
Was behind the remarkable years of Shanteau, Berens, Walters, and Peirsol, and also got Garrett Weber-Gale and Jackson Wilcox on the team. Wow!

Will: Bowman
He's Phelps' coach. There's the USA Swimming bias kicking in.

Relay Performance of the Year (all from the 2009 World Championships):
Men’s 400 Free Relay (Phelps, Lochte, Grevers, Adrian)
Men’s 800 Free Relay (Phelps, Berens, Walters, Lochte)
Men’s 400 Medley Relay (Peirsol, Shanteau, Phelps, Walters)

Should: 400 Medley
They all were solid swims and showed the complete dominance of the American men, but the medley was all-around the best effort.

Will: 400 Free
They won the re-match with France, but that was mostly because the French flunked.

Female Race of the Year:
Jessica Hardy – 100 Breaststroke (2009 U.S. Open)
Ariana Kukors – 200 Individual Medley (2009 World Championships)
Rebecca Soni – 100 Breaststroke (2009 World Championships)

Should: Kukors 200 IM
Even with her Jaked, if you drop over 2 seconds off a world record and over 4 off your best time. that's a pretty good swim!

Will: Kukors
Even though her semi-final swim was more impressive than her final swim.

Male Race of the Year (all from the 2009 World Championships):
Ryan Lochte – 200 Individual Medley
Aaron Peirsol – 200 Backstroke
Michael Phelps – 100 Butterfly
Michael Phelps – 200 Butterfly

Should: Peirsol 200 Back
1:51? Wasn't his best time 1:54 a month before that? Remember, he never wore anything more than leggings, so you can't give it all to the suit. The awesomest swim this year by a long way. No question.

Will: Phelps 100 Fly
Problem is, everyone's obsessed with Phelps taking down Cavic in the 100 fly. But was anyone actually surprised with the time (49.8)? That's been coming for a long time. Seems like Phelps won a great race with Cavic, but it wasn't nearly as amazing of a swim as Peirsol's. Peirsol's non-attendance (he's at the World Cup in Singapore) may hurt his chances as well.

Female Athlete of the Year:
Ariana Kukors
Rebecca Soni
Dana Vollmer

Should: Soni
All three had great years, but Soni gets the nod I think because of her top times in multiple events. It would be much more clear cut if that 200 had gone a bit better...

Will: Soni
Doubt she loses this one.

Male Athlete of the Year:
Ryan Lochte
Aaron Peirsol
Michael Phelps

Should: Phelps
Six months off, some controversy, and he's still the best swimmer in the world. Any questions?

Will: Phelps
Even though I have heard some whispers that Lochte may get the nod, does anyone actually see Phelps losing this one?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Split Time

If you read my last post, you know what I thought about World Cup this past week: fast and crazy! Sunday was the fastest of all. For the past three seasons, Berlin has consistently been the fastest stop on the World Cup, but 16 world records is something else! After swimming was finished in Berlin, I talked to Garrett McCaffrey at SwimmingWorld.TV to talk about the past week of crazy swimming in Europe on the World Cup. Check out my Split Time!

World Cup concludes this weekend in Singapore, featuring the stars from previous stops of the series, such as Americans Jessica Hardy and Peter Marshall, South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh and Roland Schoeman, and Aussie superstar Leisel Jones, as well as Aaron Peirsol of the U.S., the greatest backstroker of all time, as well as most of the Australian national team.

For any kind of swimming media (blogs, interviews, etc.), check out SwimmingWorld.TV. A lot of discussion right now about some fast swimming without the suits. Good stuff!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

World Cup Berlin

Already six world records have fallen on the first day in Berlin, and there could be many more tomorrow. Some thoughts:

- Today was the first time Leisel Jones ditched her LZR to wear a Jaked. She suddenly dropped seven tenths off her world record. She proved two big points: 1) if everyone's wearing the same suit, she's the best, and 2) the suits have an effect. A big one.

- Same with Brent Hayden. He suddenly dumped his LZR, put on an X-Glide, and took a lot of time off his best in the 100 free.

- The French sprinters: Amaury Leveaux, 48.49, 33rd; Gregory Mallet, 48.55, 34th; Fabien Gilot, 50.00, 71st; William Meynard, 51.31, 87th: These results from today in Berlin are not encouraging. These guys are world-beaters with their suits, but the world record-holder Leveaux can't even manage the top 30 with jammers. Even Phelps did better than that! It's looking more and more like the days of complete French depth in the sprints are waning.

- Biedermann: did anyone see his "streamlines?" Non-existent. Doesn't matter with the suits. 1:38 in the 200 tomorrow. (His current world record is 1:40.83.)

- Phelps: the man's had a total of ONE good swim all week, the 100 IM in Stockholm. That 200 fly today was not good at all. You could mention the suits, which is a reason he's not winning, but he should be going faster than that, plain and simple. He shouldn't be losing the 200 IM and 200 fly by that much (if at all). He definitely should be making the 100 fly finals! Expect him to miss the 200 free (and 200 back) final tomorrow.

- I'm not looking forward to seeing no world records on next year's World Cup, BUT...

- It's sure gonna be nice when we don't have to talk about suits anymore!

I will leave you with evidence of what the Germans think about the Biedermann-Phelps re-match (which most likely won't take place) tomorrow.

Friday, November 13, 2009

2010 NCAA Predictions

I wrote down some predictions about who I think will take home the hardware from NCAAs. Mostly I took into account results from last year and best times. I've only predicted individual events, since relays won't shape up until the conference meets.

500 Free:
Gold: Allison Schmitt, Georgia
Silver: Wendy Trott, Georgia
Bronze: Sara Isokovic, California

200 IM:
Gold: Julia Smit, Stanford
Silver: Katinka Hosszu, Southern California
Bronze: Kathleen Hersey, Texas

50 Free:
Gold: Michelle King, Tennessee
Silver: Anne-Marie Botek, Georgia
Bronze: Triin Aljand, Texas A&M

400 IM:
Gold: Katinka Hosszu, Southern California
Silver: Julia Smit, Stanford
Bronze: Kathleen Hersey, Texas

100 Fly:
Gold: Elaine Breeden, Stanford
Silver: Amanda Sims, California
Bronze: Hannah Wilson, California

200 Free:
Gold: Allison Schmitt, Georgia
Silver: Sara Isokovic, California
Bronze: Morgan Scroggy, Georgia

100 Breast:
Gold: Jillian Tyler, Minnesota
Silver: Ann Chandler, Arizona

100 Back:
Gold: Gemma Spofforth, Florida
Silver: Kate Zubkova, Indiana

1,650 Free:
Gold: Wendy Trott, Georgia
Silver: Emily Brunemann, Michigan

200 Back:
Gold: Gemma Spofforth, Florida
Silver: Teresa Crippen, Florida
Bronze: Kate Zubkova, Indiana

100 Free:
Gold: Julia Smit, Stanford
Silver: Kate Dwelley, Stanford
Bronze: Caitlin Geary, Auburn

200 Breast:
Gold: Alia Atkinson, Texas A&M

200 Fly:
Gold: Kathleen Hersey, Texas
Silver: Katinka Hosszu, Southern California
Bronze: Elaine Breeden, Stanford

Overall Team Winner: Georgia

500 Free:
Gold: Dan Madwed, Michigan
Silver: Matt McLean, Virginia
Bronze: Chad LaTourette, Stanford

200 IM:
Gold: Tyler Clary, Michigan
Silver: Ricky Berens, Texas

50 Free:
Gold: Nathan Adrian, California
Silver: Jimmy Feigen, Texas
Bronze: Gideon Louw, Auburn

400 IM:
Gold: Tyler Clary, Michigan
Silver: Gal Nevo, Georgia Tech
Bronze: Jack Brown, Arizona

100 Fly:
Gold: Austin Staab, Stanford
Silver: Tyler McGill, Auburn
Bronze: Chris Brady, Michigan

200 Free:
Gold: David Walters, Texas
Silver: Shaune Fraser, Florida
Bronze: Ricky Berens, Texas

100 Breast:
Gold: Damir Dugonjic, California
Silver: Scott Spann, Texas
Bronze: Adam Klein, Auburn

100 Back:
Gold: Pascal Wollach, Auburn
Silver: David Russell, California
Bronze: Cole Craigin, Texas

1,650 Free:
Gold: Chad LaTourette, Stanford
Silver: Troy Prinsloo, Georgia
Bronze: Jackson Wilcox, Texas

200 Back:
Gold: Tyler Clary, Michigan

200 Breast:
Gold: Scott Spann, Texas
Silver: Adam Klein, Auburn

200 Fly:
Gold: Mark Dylla, Georgia
Silver: Dan Madwed, Michigan
Bronze: Shaune Fraser, Florida

Overall Team Winner: Texas