As the swimming finals kick off on Saturday night, July 28, we will see the first relay event in the women’s 400 free. Most have picked the Dutch foursome of Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Femke Heemskerk, Inge Dekker, and Marleen Veldhuis to repeat their Olympic gold after adding world titles in the event the past two years. The Americans, who failed to medal at the 2009 World Championships, have put together a deep bunch led by Trials winner Jessica Hardy, while
which did not medal at Worlds last year, has surged behind the efforts of Cate
Campbell, Melanie Schlanger, and Olympic silver medalist Libby Trickett.
The Americans, though, have some more options. Hardy and Missy Franklin will represent the
in the individual event, probably assuring them byes from the prelims. Allison
Schmitt, meanwhile, starts off her tough program in this relay. An under-aggressive
first 50 at Trials left her in last place playing catch-up, but she did manage
a third-place finish. Just three weeks earlier, though, Schmitt had posted a
53.94, faster than Hardy’s winning time of 53.96. I expect Schmitt to swim on
the finals relay.
Natalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer tied for seventh at Worlds last year, each posting swims of 54.05, but they only managed sixth and seventh-place finishes at Trials, respectively. After looking at the meet’s results a bit more closely, you can see overall disappointing performances from the Cal-trained women. Coughlin, Vollmer, and Caitlin Leverenz all swam slower than I expected going into the meet, especially after the first day. I think we will see better in
Vollmer not technically qualifying for this relay, Teri McKeever knows she can
swim far better, and Vollmer could replace Schmitt on the prelims lineup.
All this considered, I can’t tell how the
women will approach this relay. I expect to see Hardy swim either first or
second, and I am fairly confident Franklin
will anchor this relay. Remember, she anchored the medley relay last year in
52.7 less than an hour after setting an American record in the 200 back.
Schmitt looks like a good option for the third leg, since her back half can set
up Franklin really well, and one of
Coughlin, Vollmer, Amanda Weir, and Lia Neal will swim first or second in the
spot opposite Hardy. I expect a very tight race, and I will pick the Dutch to
win, but none of the three favorites has margin for error, with Germany
looming as well.
|Who from this tight field at Olympic Trials will find their way onto the finals relay in London?|
More to come on the preview front over the next couple days with some individual action. I'll write about a handful of events in which what transpired at U.S. Trials really had bearing on the set-up of this race headed into London.