Thursday, November 25, 2010

U.S. Short Course World Championships Team - Women

The World Short Course Champs are looming in less than three weeks in Dubai. The U.S. team prospects appear much better than usual, considering this will be the first time since 2004 that USA Swimming has sent a nearly-full team to this Championship meet. Other than Americans and few others, I don't know exactly which swimmers will swim in the short course meet. For example, both Thiago Pereira and Brent Hayden have announced they will bypass the meet, and Australia and Great Britain will both be sending very limited rosters; in fact, only Hannah Miley and Jemma Lowe will swim for Britain in Manchester. With this limited knowledge (and my lack of free time between now and the meet, here's a basic idea of what to expect from Team USA in Dubai, starting with the women's events. The line-ups I assume for non-Olympic events are unofficial; I am merely speculating what would be best for the U.S. under the qualifying procedure.

50 Free - Jessica Hardy, Amanda Weir
Europeans Therese Alshammar, Hinkelien Schreuder, and Ranomi Kromowidjojo enter the meet as slight favorites, but Hardy also has a strong chance to earn a medal, possibly even gold. If she has an oustanding meet, Weir has an outside chance to medal as well.

100 Free - Natalie Coughlin, Dana Vollmer
Based on her outstanding short course abilities, Coughlin has a strong chance to medal and perhaps even win gold, while Vollmer is an outside shot at a medal. Dutch swimmers Kromowidjojo and Femke Heemskerk along with Coughlin, are top contenders.

200 Free - Dana Vollmer, Katie Hoff
Both Vollmer and Hoff have had strong starts to their respective seasons, and both could easily come home with medals. Federica Pellegrini is a strong favorite to win gold easily, while Femke Heemskert, Camille Muffat, and Silke Lippok also could medal.

400 Free - Chloe Sutton, Katie Hoff
Once again, Pellegrini is a strong favorite, and no one should be able to touch her in the field. Sutton and Hoff will battle with French and Australian swimmers in the field for the minor medals, and the two could go 2-3; anyone beating Pellegrini is unconceivable at this point.

800 Free - Kate Ziegler, Chloe Sutton
Coming off an amazing comeback season, Ziegler could be favored to claim the world title which she has twice claimed long course but never short course. Her biggest competition will come from current long course world champion Lotte Friis, while Sutton, along with French swimmers, Australian swimmers, and even Pellegrini, could all medal.

50/100 Back - Natalie Coughlin, Missy Franklin
Based on the meet's attendees, Coughlin has a very strong chance to claim 100 back gold, especially considering her amazing underwater swimming skills. She could also be a factor in the 50 distance, if she chooses to pursue that race. Franklin is an outside medal chance in the 100 back.

200 Back - Missy Franklin, Madison White
With most of this year's world top 200 backstrokers missing the meet, Franklin has a very strong chance for a medal, perhaps even gold, based on the amazing year she has had. On the other side of the spectrum, White merely made the team based on a large number of swimmers declining; in her first major international meet, a final for her would be a remarkable achievement.

50 Breast - Jessica Hardy, Rebecca Soni
Even though swimmers cannot qualify for stroke 50s without first qualifying for the 100 of that stroke, Hardy is already on the team, and she has led the world in this event long course for the past four years, so she would be a strong favorite for gold, if she is allowed to swim. Soni, along with Yuliya Efimova, should round out the medals.

100 Breast - Rebecca Soni, Micah Lawrence
Soni has dominated the breaststroke events since Beijing, and she should be favored ahead of Leisel Jones. Her world record of 1:02.70 could possibly come under threat. Defending champ Hardy would be a much bigger threat than Auburn's Lawrence, but she could make the final with a great performance.

200 Breast - Rebecca Soni, Micah Lawrence
Soni should dominate this race and possibly approach her world record of 2:14.57. Jones and possibly Annamay Pierse should be the only swimmers anywhere close to the Olympic champ. Lawrence has a better chance to final in the longer distance, but a medal would be a long shot for her.

50/100 Fly - Christine Magnuson, Dana Vollmer
Both Magnuson and Vollmer will battle for gold in the 100 fly, along with Therese Alshammar and Felicity Galvez. In the 50, Alshammar will be heavily favored, but Magnuson has a strong chance to end up on the podium.

200 Fly - Mary Descenza Mohler, Kim Vandenberg
Neither has swum especially fast in competition this year, but defending champ Mohler has the potential to step up and repeat her amazing feat from two years ago in Manchester, and Vandenberg is another outside shot.

100 IM - Natalie Coughlin, Ariana Kukors
Though Coughlin has swam no race that would put her in this event via the qualifying procedure, it would be hard to deny a woman that held the world record in this race for seven years and is currently ranked no. 3 in the world. She is a gold medal-threat, but she will face tough competition from Hinkelien Schreuder, among others. For Kukors, this will merely be a bonus event.

200 IM - Ariana Kukors, Missy Franklin
Depending on who shows up, Kukors could add a short course world title to the long course one she picked up in Rome last year; at the very least, Kukors should expect to win a medal in Dubai. Although she is weaker here than in backstroke, Franklin is an amazing swimmer and should make the top eight.

Ariana Kukors 2010 ConocoPhillips National Championships

400 IM - Ariana Kukors, Katie Hoff
Both American swimmers have outside chances for medals, depending greatly on what swimmers show up and choose to focus on this event. Hannah Miley should be heavily favored to win here.

4x100 Free Relay - Natalie Coughlin, Dana Vollmer, Jessica Hardy, Kara Lynn Joyce
The Americans will battle for gold with the Netherlands, who have back much for their team that won Olympic gold in 2008 and the World title in 2009. Although only four swimmers are selected for relays for this meet, both alternates for next summer's worlds (Amanda Weir and Missy Franklin) are on the team and can be used as substitutes. I expect Coughlin, Vollmer, and Hardy to swim in finals, with Joyce and Weir battling for the fourth spot.

4x200 Free Relay - Dana Vollmer, Katie Hoff, Dagny Knutson, Jasmine Tosky
Even without Allison Schmitt, this team will be tough to beat. Vollmer and Hoff are solid veterans, Knutson has show much promise over the past two years, and Tosky is a perpetually-improving young stud. Based on her 1:43.90 at the Minnesota Grand Prix, Missy Franklin would be a great option for this relay, perhaps relegating Tosky to just a prelim swim.

4x100 Medley Relay - Natalie Coughlin, Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer, Jessica Hardy
Alternates: Missy Franklin (back), Hardy/Micah Lawrence (breast), Christine Magnuson/Mary Mohler (fly), Kara Lynn Joyce/Amanda Weir (free)
This team should not struggle to win this race, most likely with ease. The same quartet recorded the fastest long course time in the world this year by nearly two seconds, and no other nation is bringing a strong enough team to challenge them.


  1. Great post. I'm most excited about the Missy Franklin/Natalie Coughlin showdown, and the juxtaposition between their ages.

  2. Doubt Franklin can touch Coughlin short course. Her underwaters still have a good bit to improve (which is scary). That said, with no British backstrokers, a small Australian team (can't get the list to load), and the Asians unlikely to show up, Franklin actually has a chance to win the 200 back, which I realized as I wrote this. Part 2 hopefully coming soon.