Monday, February 20, 2012

On Easterns

Back from a weekend in Gatineau and the Speedo Eastern Canadian Championships and I wanted to give some thoughts on the weekend.

Firstly.... WOW is the Gatineau pool amazing!  Just a big, beautiful and FAST! 50m pool.  If you placed that facility in Ontario it would instantly become the best long course facility we would have but unfortunately for us in Ontario it's just across the border.   Swim Ontario might have been smart to just put Provincials in Gatineau instead of Nepean anyways, I came away very impressed with the new facility and hope that the Pan AM Games people can look at the Gatineau facility and try to build a pair of pools that are equally well designed and fast.

Unfortunately there's no true warm down pool so you probably won't see Senior Nationals held there but a short course would be well served to come to Gatineau.

As for the swimming, I thought there was some pretty good racing especially given how close we are to Trials.  Less then 40 days out and there are clearly some people swimming very well.

On the women's side
  • Katerine Savard is a beast.  26.55, 58.32, 2:10.01.  She's on top of her game and a definite player come London.
  • NKB's 16-year old Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson is coming along well winning the 100 & 200BR and scoring a big psychological victory in the 200IM over Erica Morningstar
  • Brittany Maclean is consistently very good and looks good heading towards Trials
  • nice victory for hometown hero Karyn Jewell in the 400IM (4:50.42) but it'll be tough for her to work down to the low 4:40s and have a chance at Trials
  • between Seltenreich-Hodgson, Jewell, and Olivia Feschuk (HTAC), Canada's IM future on the women's side is pretty bright heading towards Rio but keep an eye on an emerging 12 year old star from MEGO Mary-Sophie Harvey...
  • 12 years old... 5:06 400IM, 1:03.41 100FL... both Long Course... pretty damn impressive

On the men's side...
  • The men's side was not as deep as the women's meet, with some good eastern Canadian swimmers electing not to participate
  • David Sharpe's (HTAC) performance in the 200FL was pretty sharp (pardon the pun) 2:00.97 was a noteworthy performance
  • Mike Brown came in from Calgary and showed well in the 200BR but struggled mightily in the 100BR
  • Pascal Wolloch showed well winning the 50 & 100BK
  • just not as dynamic a meet on the men's side as it was on the women's side of the meet

Overall the addition of the long course finals in this Olympic year was a good idea as some swimmers really showed well and received a good long course racing opportunity close to Trials.  Most of all I remember this weekend for a fast pool that should put Gatineau on the swimming map as a good place to hold fast meets.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A.E.O.S.S.S. 50FR

For some who like bright lights and shiny things the 50FR is the marquee event in swimming. The 100 yard dash. The Heavyweight Championship. One lap. No turn. Straight to the finish. Who is the fastest man and woman in the world.

Last Thursday I took at a look at the women's 50FR... today... the men.


The logical favourite:  Cesar Cielo (BRA)
Cielo is the world record holder (20.91), defending Olympic gold medalist (21.30), defending World Champion (21.52), and the World Championship result was fast enough in 2011 to be the fast result in the world.  Cielo is a beast and the fastest man on the planet in the 50FR.

With an event so short and where a slight mis-step can open the window for a number of sprinters to crash through and unseat Cielo.  In 2011 there were 8 men who swam under 22 seconds in 2011...

21.76 - Bruno Fratus (BRA)
21.78 - Fred Bosquet (FRA)
21.84 - Nathan Adrian (USA)
21.90 - Luca Dotta (ITA)
21.92 - Alain Bernard (FRA)
21.97 - Krisztian Takacs (HUN)
21.98 - Sergey Fesikov (RUS)

Bosquet and Bernard have held the world record in the 50FR at points in time and could be formidable.  Throw into the mix Aussie Matt Targett who swam 21.98 a week ago and a number of fantastic sprinters capable of breaking through and firstly capturing a spot on their respective Olympic teams and then getting their hand on the wall faster then anyone else.  Considering the FINA 'A' cut is 22.11, there is going to be some dynamic sprinting in London.

Watch out for.. Stefan Nystrand (SWE), George Bovell (TRI), Gideon Louw (RSA), Matt Abood (AUS), James Magnusson (AUS)... and whomever comes out of the US Trials because although Adrian has been the most consistent American sprinter in the last four years it's tough to discount the chances of guys like Jason Lezak, Cullen Jones, Josh Schneider, Garrett Weber-Gale or a guy like Jimmy Feigen making the big leap to international stardom.

Canadian Content:  Brent Hayden is already on the Canadian Olympic team in the 100FR, he's the fastest Canadian sprinter right now but his best 50FR last year was 22.34 so he's sort of on the outside looking in.  Should Hayden stumble at the Canadian Trials, Richard Hortness represented Canada in 2008 while younger faces like Kyle Troskot and Luke Peddie could make a breakthrough and get on the team but all of their best times make them non-factors come London.

For those who love the long shots:  Anthony Ervin (USA)... he's back!  The former 50FR world record holder (SCM) and co-gold medalist in the 50FR at the 2000 Olympic Games is back in the pool and swimming very well.  Ervin is pure sprint talent who is training with Nathan Adrian out in California and he's quite capable of upsetting the party.

Parting shot...  I feel this is one of the stone cold locks of the 2012 Olympics.  Cielo just knows how to get the job done.  In addition to his dominance is the specter of doubt as to whether he's using PEDs.  The anger, resentment, and distraction surrounds Cielo and that just makes him even more difficult to beat.

... next up... the 400IM...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A.E.O.S.S.S. 50FR

For some who like bright lights and shiny things the 50FR is the marquee event in swimming.  The 100 yard dash.  The Heavyweight Championship.  One lap.  No turn.  Straight to the finish.  Who is the fastest man and woman in the world.

I am going to look at the men's and women's fields for the 50FR and assess who the players appear to be before the upcoming gauntlet of Olympic Trials to occur worldwide and the emergence of talented swimmers start to emerge from seemingly nowhere to step into the limelight of the Olympic spotlight.

Please remember, this is VERY early speculation but fun none-the-less!


The logical favourite:  Britta Steffen (GER)
Steffen's double gold in Beijing (50 & 100FR)
Steffen won the gold medal in the 50FR in Beijing, out-touching the ageless Dara Torres by .01, and remains the current world record holder in the 50FR at 23.73.  Now at 28 years old, Steffen is still amongst the best in the world in the 50FR, clocking the 8th fastest time in the world last year (24.67).

The reality of the post-polyurethane suit world is that if someone can get under or near 24.00 they are going to win the ladies 50FR.  It will take under 25 to get into the semifinals and likely around 24.50 to get into the Championship Final.

Steffen is going to have a bunch of competition in this event and like Steffen in 2008, if one of them gets hot they are more then capable of knocking off Steffen.  The fastest woman in the world in 2011 was Therese Alshammar (SWE) who swam a 24.14.   Alshammar is 34 years old, reigning World Champion in the 50FR, a former 50FR (SCM) world record holder, already a 4 time Olympian (96, 00, 04, 08), won silver in the 50FR in Sydney (2000), 4th in 2004, but missed the Final in 2008... she's an icon of sprint freestyle and butterfly and in 2010 was the FINA women's swimmer of the year.  In this era she's definitely a gold medal threat but people will always .

The rest of the elite contenders are an Aussie and a pair of stars from the Netherlands.  2008 Bronze medalist Cate Campbell (AUS) is very much still on the scene, Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) a 21-year old rising star who won the silver medal in the 50FR at the 2011 Worlds, Marleen Veldhuis (NED) has long been around (Olympian in 2004, 2008) and won the bronze medal in the 50FR at Worlds.

Beyond the core group of Steffen, Alshammar, Campbell, Kromowidjojo, and Veldhuis there are few sprinters that could rise up at contend although they should be considered outside the core...

Libby Trickett.. back after a brief retirement, more of a 100 freestyler, and is not even a lock to make the Aussie team in the 50FR
Amanda Weir & Dana Vollmer... the two fastest Americans in the 50FR in 2011, but there will plenty of competition in the US at their Trials to just get to the Olympics and neither can be considered a lock to even get to London

Canadian content:  I'm Canadian, I coach in Canada, have to look at the Canadian slant...  Chantal van Landeghem and Victoria Poon are both fast enough to get to London.  If both qualify they both would need great (but not unreasonable) swims to get to semis, but Finals will take a monumental effort.

For those who love the long-shots:  Yolane Kukla (AUS)... 16 year old Aussie sprint freestyle and butterfly swimmer.  She's good (16th in the world in the 50FR in 2011) but she'll need to be great to win.

Parting shot...  Dara Torres.  She'll be 45, making Alshammar look like a baby and Kromowidjojo like an embryo.  Silver in 2008.  Never say never.

... next blog... All Hail Cesar:  Men's 50FR.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Amazing Early Olympic Swimming Speculation Series

There's nothing the blogosphere loves more then wild and unfounded speculation, so over the coming weeks I'm going to present the A.E.O.S.S.S. (see subject line for the reveal of the intentionally horrible and ineffective acronym) and look at all the Olympic swimming events and who the players are heading into London.

I read that we're just about 25 weeks out from London, that's amazingly soon when it comes to athlete preparation so why not dive in (horrible pun) and speculate.

Coming tomorrow... a look at the 50FR.

... another goal is to write more so I can work out the horrible glee I experience from bad writing, horrible acronyms, and inexcusable puns.  Sorry, I promise to be better!