Saturday, March 31, 2012

Canadian Trials... Day 6 Primer


How moving was it yesterday to see the joy of the MacLean sisters getting on the team?

How amazing was that desperate performance of Alexa Komarnycky in the 800FR and finally getting on the Olympic team in her last chance?

Trials are always amazing and there is just one more day.  Day 6.  The end of the line, a few more events for the road.

Top seed Chantal VanLandeghem showed 50 speed in her 100FR but did not have the staying power to finish the deal in the 100.  Hopefully she can recover and bounce back in the 50FR.  CVL and Victoria Poon are the prohibitive favourites, although watch out for Sandrine Mainville who was out like lightening tonight in the 100FR but couldn't finish the full 100, Mainville might be the spoiler in this equation.
Prediction:  VanLandeghem wins, Poon 2nd, both go to London.

Richard Hortness won this event 4 years ago, put himself on the Olympic team and had been relatively quiet until he exploded earlier in this meet and finished 2nd in the 100FR and earned a spot on the 4x100 team.  I foolishly didn't think Hortness would have the meet he has had, but he was really good in the 100 and he will give Brent Hayden a run in the 50.  The only problem is that the FINA A cut is a seriously fast 22.11 and I don't think two guys are getting under that time.
Prediction:  Hayden wins and will be the lone qualifier for London... but Hortness will be damn close.

This should be Sinead Russell's event, she's on the team now so hopefully the nerves have dampened down a bit although I thought she would do better then she did in the 100FR.  The FINA A cut of 2:10.84 is quite attainable for a few swimmers so I like Canada to send two, one being Russell and the second being a dog fight between Hilary Caldwell, Genevieve Cantin, and Dominique Bouchard... and don't count out Julia Wilkinson either...
Prediction:  Russell gold, Bouchard silver and both go to London.

EVENT 51:  MEN'S 200IM
Splitting the IMs on the first day and the last day was quite the organizational choice, and it's given Andrew Ford far too long to stew over his disappointment in the 400IM.  I like Ford, he's a good guy, and he's the top seed in the 200IM and I hope his 200BK today was just an aberration and he comes out all guns blazing tomorrow and just smokes everyone in the 200IM and earns his spot to London.  Alec Page is already qualified 6th for the 1500FR Final tomorrow, so it will be interesting to see how he plays out balancing the 200IM and 1500FR... Page is ranked 13th in the 200IM in the psych sheets but one has to believe he's ready for a breakout performance in the 200IM but I have zero idea where his priorities lay.
Prediction:  Andrew Ford... I hope I'm right.

EVENT 52:  MEN'S 1500FR
After prelims today the number one seed going into Finals was not Ryan Cochrane it was Californian turned Canadian Eric Hedlin.  Make no mistake, Cochrane is going to smoke through his comfortable 15:28.83 he posted in heats, but don't be surprised if Hedlin chases Cochrane the whole way and both go under 15 minutes in the Final.  This could be an exciting and fantastic end to the Trials.
Prediction:  Cochrane & Hedlin go 1-2 and both will represent Canada in London

I will take some time on Monday to take a full look back through these Trials, they have been amazing like they always are and hopefully will continue to be forever.

Canadian Trials... Day 5

The sprinting ladies finally take to the pool, after 4 days of watching the women's 100FR is today and the 50 tomorrow (odd scheduling to say the least).  Plus a lot of very interesting storylines to watch as events and spots on the Olympic team are running short...

EVENT 36:  MEN'S 100FL
Joe Bartoch remains the gold standard in this event in Canada, he's ready to be done but not until someone steps up to beat him.  No one is in his class right now in this field to chase him down.
Prediction:  Joe Bartoch wins and it won't be close.

Finally the lady sprinters get their shot and we'll see Victoria Poon (PPO) and rising youngster Chantal VanLandeghem (MANTA) race for their spots on the team.  Throw in a fast Julia Wilkinson (IS) and a confident Amanda Reason (ESWIM) and you have a good field.
Prediction:  Chantal VanLandeghem and Victoria Poon grab the two individual spots and Julia Wilkinson, Sinead Russell, and Amanda Reason go for relay spots.
SUDDEN DEVELOPMENT:  I'm writing this after I returned from coaching morning practice and honest to my notes and as I came back to check results, shockingly VanLandeghem fell apart on the 2nd 50 of her prelim swim and finished 13th and will only swim the B-Final.  WOW!

EVENT 38:  MEN'S 200BK
There are four legitimate players in this field -- Tobias Oriwol, Matt Hawes, Matthew Swanston, and Charles Francis.  Francis is more of a 100BK guy and already on the team, so that will leave Swanston trying to pull the upset and get by either Oriwol or Hawes when the conventional thinking is that those two men are going to fight it out to get onto the team.
Prediction:  Tobias Oriwol wins, Matt Hawes swims under the FINA A cut to send 2.

Martha McCabe already has a nomination time from last summer's World Championships so she's set unless two people beat her time from last summer (not going to happen).  So that leaves a scramble for the second spot, including current world record holder in the 200BR Annamay Pierse, Tera Van Beilen (already on the team in the 100BR), Kierra Smith, Ashley McGregor, Tianna Rissling, and Jillian Tyler (already on the team after winning the 100BR).  Holy clusterfuck.  I desperately would like to pick an upstart like McGregor to steal the second spot away from Pierse but I just can't do it...
Prediction:  McCabe & Pierse

After prelims yesterday there emerged an interesting field in the women's 800FR, all the important names are in... Brittany MacLean and Savannah King essentially tied, and later in the field Sherry Liu, Alexa Komarnycky, and a trio of Toronto ladies (UofT and/or TSC) Heather Maitland, Bridget Coley, and Zsofi Balazs.  Good strong field but after their performances in the 400FR I don't think anyone catches up to MacLean and King.
Prediction:  MacLean & King 1-2 and off to London.

Ryan Cochrane pre-nominated.  Keir Maitland (KEYANO), ERIC HEDLIN (IS), and maybe a red-hot Alec Page (IS) will try to pull out a big best time and get under the FINA 'A' 15:11.83, but that will likely have to come in Finals tomorrow night.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Canadian Trials... Day 4 Primer

Like everyone else, I'm bummed that a great citizen of Canadian swimming, Mike Brown, failed to qualify for the Olympics but it was not that hard to see coming.  Mike's a great guy, but the sport of swimming is equal parts fair and unfair and at this point in time it just is not his time.

Onto Day 4... coming down the mountain for the meet, it's ladies day at Trials with three events for the women and one for the men.

Audrey Lacroix is the top seed in the event but Katerine Savard is the favourite to win and be Canada's best swimmer in this event come London.  The FINA A cut is 2:08.95, can Audrey be that fast again, she was not sharp in the 100FL... Or will some of the women who swam very well in the 100FL step up and get on the team in the 200... I'm thinking someone like Mackenzie Downing who showed some life in the 100FL is the best bet to be a threat in the 200FL to grab the second spot behind Savard... or it could be Lacroix or it could be no one...
Prediction:  Savard & Lacroix 1-2 and off to London.

EVENT 30:  MEN'S 100FR
It will be interesting to see what kind of shape Brent Hayden comes to Trials in...  He has a spot on the team, pre-nominated and there's zero chance he gets bumped so Hayden is on the team.  The bigger storyline is can Colin Russell get under the FINA A cut of 48.82 and can a couple other guys step up to the 49ish level so Canada can send a relay?  There are only 3 Canadians entered at Trials with a time under 50, so it does not look good for our chances to send a relay.
Prediction:  Colin Russell wins and Brent Hayden comes in a solid second.  No relay.

The last day and second last event for Alexa Komarnycky, she's ranked 3rd in the 200IM and has a shot although I'm sure she does not want it come down to the 200.  Julia Wilkinson and Erica Morningstar are the stars of this event in Canada but if you have been watching, the Calgary HP guys have not been overly sharp.  If Morningstar stumbles that opens the door for someone to step up and steal that second spot.  Time to watch, that FINA A standard of 2:13.36.  I like the 16-year old upstart from the Nepean Kanata Barracudas to grab the second Olympic spot, watch out for Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson.
Prediction:  Wilkinson & ESH on their way to London.

Komarnycky is ranked 2nd in the 800FR too, close to the FINA A cut.  The good thing for her is that all she needs to do is crack the top 8 and then she can focus on the 200IM tonight and the 800FR final will be tomorrow.  No predictions yet, it will be interesting to see how the final lines up for tomorrow.  Tough not to like Savannah King and Brittany MacLean in this event come tomorrow night, especially after both have already shined in the 400.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Canadian Trials... Day 3 Primer

I'm not batting so well on my predictions thanks to guys like David Sharpe and performances like Stephanie Horner in the 400IM... oh well...  Here's a look at Day 3.

A lot of the same faces that were involved in the fantastic 400FR from Day 1 are back for action in the 200FR.  Barbara Jardin is the top seed but she will be challenged by Brittany MacLean, Sam Cheverton, Julia Wilkinson, Sinead Russell, Lindsay Delmar, and Alexa Komarnycky has another shot at redemption and possibly find a way onto the Olympic team.  Canada is going to send 2 girls to London for this individual event and probably 5 for relay action... should be great!
Prediction:  Jardin & B. MacLean go 1-2 with Wilkinson, Russell, and Cheverton claiming relay spots.
Revision:  Wilkinson a scratch in the 200FR, but Amanda Reason looked real strong in prelims under 2:00

EVENT 21:  MEN'S 400FR
Little drama here.  Ryan Cochrane wins and Chad Bobrosky is the only one with a chance to get under the 3:48.92 FINA 'A' cut to send two to London.
Prediction:  Ryan Cochrane & Chad Bobrosky both go to London

Big time drama here...  Jillian Tyler, Tianna Rissling, Martha McCabe, Annamay Pierse, and Tera Van Beilen highlight the field but someone like Ashley McGregor could also work her way into the busy mix.  There could be 8 girls all capable of being under the FINA 'A' cut but only two get to go...  great drama!
Prediction:  Tyler & Rissling go 1-2 in an Alberta sweep of the 100BR spots.

EVENT 23:  MEN'S 200BR
Moment of truth here for Mike Brown.  He was not all that sharp in the 100BR, but the 200 is where Brown is supposed to shine.  I don't think anyone is getting to the FINA 'A' cut of 2:11.74.  I chose Richard Funk to win the 100BR and he came close but didn't quite get there but I'm going to double down for the Funk to be brought in the breaststroke.
Prediction:  Richard Funk scores the upset win.

It's a big night for the women, up to 7 spots to be filled and I'm guessing they fill them all.  The men could use a few more names written up on the bus, but it's not going to be easy. Here's to hoping there more exciting swimming to come on Thursday!

A Look At The First Two Days Of Canadian Trials

Just finished watching the Finals of Day 2 at the Canadian Olympic Trials and there have been some amazing swims and fascinating story lines...

Firstly, who is on the team?

Brittany MacLean (ESWIM) - 400FR
Savannah King (VAND) - 400FR
Katerine Savard (CSQ) - 100FL
Julia Wilkinson (IS) - 100BK
Sinead Russell (BLUE WAVES) - 100BK
Stephanie Horner (IS) - 400IM
+ Martha McCabe (VAND) 200BR (pre-nominated)

MEN (7)
Alec Page (IS) - 400IM
Scott Dickens (VAND) - 100BR
Blake Worsley (IS) - 200FR
David Sharpe (HTAC) - 200FL
Charles Francis (PPO) - 100BK
+ Brent Hayden (VAND) - 100FR (pre-nominated)
+ Ryan Cochrane (IS) - 1500FR (pre-nominated)


Alec Page has to considered the start of the meet so far, he won the 400IM in a good best times, which positions himself ascend to the status as one of the world's best 400IMers over the next quadrennial.  He may do well in 2012 but watch this kid come 2016.  Page also won a bronze medal in the 200FL and went under 2:00, in 1:59.99.  The kid is strong and is a future cornerstone of Canadian swimming.

Brittany MacLean's 400FR was the single best performance of the meet so far, lowering the Canadian record to 4:06.08.  MacLean will be seen again in the 200 and 800 freestyles... she's good.

Julia Wilkinson's underwater fly kick.  She won that 100BK and broke 60 because her turn was fantastic.  Sinead had Wilkinson but Wilkinson's underwater fly kick was far superior to Sinead's and the race was over but thankfully both were under the FINA 'A' cut and they will live to fight again in London.

Katerine Savard was not as sharp as she has been but she's sooo talented and now officially off to London and Scott Dickens was good enough to get the W.


The failure of the men to qualify a 4x200FR relay...  The two best Canadian 200 freestylers chose to opt out of the 200FR (Brent Hayden and Colin Russell), which means Blake Worsley should buy those gentlemen something very nice as a thank you gift.  In all honesty, the top 4 men were nowhere close to getting to qualifying a team, which is upsetting because the 200FR used to be a very strong event for Canadian men... now... not so much.

SportsNet's broadcast.  Faulds is doing a decent job although he can't pronounce French names to save his life.  Malar is fumbling over names and facts, which is pretty sad because she is the colour commentator is supposed to play the role of the expert.  The camera angles have left a lot of be desired, which was epitomized by the no-camera victory of David Sharpe in the 200FL.  The heavy focus on the favourites have hurt, this sport is not professional wrestling and not everything plays out to script and the focus on Hirniak and Komarnycky was painful to watch tonight, the unpredictability of Trials and the emotion of the results is what makes Trials so great and I feel that SportsNet is missing that point.


Not that it was ugly but I felt for Zack Chetrat tonight... he had that 200FL won tonight at 150, Chetrat is an animal in the training pool and if you would have told him that he'd be only .12 behind Hirniak at 150 and more then .3 ahead of anyone else with 50 to go then Chetrat would probably say he'd win that race 999 times out of 1000... but Sharpe got there in the last 5m.  Wow.

After being seemingly written off by a lot of people, Stephanie Horner stepping up on the day and claiming that 400IM Olympic spot... unbelievable.  Her interview following her race was quite candid, she's bounced around and has not looked very good over the last few years but it was amazing for her to FIND A WAY.


Great words by Brent Hayden tonight in that video montage at the end of the show.  The notion of INVESTING his time in the sport rather then SACRIFICING his time...  Brilliant, a tip of my hat to Brent Hayden.  I hope a lot of young swimmers saw that statement.

Canadian Trials... Day 2 Primer

OK... I swung and missed a few times yesterday with my predictions, but for the most part I was not too bad.  The primary purpose is of course for fun, here's a look at Day 2 action...

Stefan Hirniak (IS) is the man in this event, he's been chased regularly by a pair of young men from Oakville, Zack Chetrat (TSC) and Mack Darragh (OAK) but it will take a breakthrough swim from one of those two boys to get towards the FINA A standard of 1:56.86.  Hirniak will have to swim much better then he did yesterday to get to the FINA A but this is what he's been training for the last 4 years, so he has to be considered the heavy favourite here.
Prediction:  Hirniak (IS)

Sinead Russell all day long!  Russell emerged last summer as a legit elite backstroke talent on the world stage and today she punches her ticket to London.  Island Swimming swam very well yesterday so that makes the girl with the golden smile, Julia Wilkinson, a threat to be the second Canadian woman under 60 but also look for a young lady for North Bay to also be a threat, Dominique Bouchard who has swam very well since heading to the University of Missouri and medaled at NCAAs a couple weeks ago.
Prediction:  Russell (Blue Waves) and Dominique Bouchard steps up and steals the second spot on the team.

EVENT 13:  MEN'S 100BK
A deep field that is looking for someone or two someones to breakthrough and launch themselves onto the world scene 20 years after the 100BK brilliance of Mark Tewksbury.  Unfortunately for Canada, Tewksbury's golden time from 20 years ago 53.98 would enter him faster then anyone else at the 2012 Canadian Trials...  Names to look for are Charles Francis, Matt Hawes, Jake Tapp, Matt Swanston, and Pascal Wollach.
Prediction:  Charles Francis & Matt Hawes go 1-2 under the FINA A of 54.40

After watching her teammates yesterday, this is Alexa Komarnycky's time to shine and get herself on that team to London.  Lots of other ladies will chase her but Komarnycky is the class of the field and I think she will be the only Canadian under the FINA A cut and on her way to London.
Prediction:  Alexa Komarnycky

Good luck to all!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Canadian Trials... Day 1 Primer

Trials begin tomorrow... here's a rundown of what to expect and some predictions meant to entertain and not put anyone down, because in the end I don't know how everyone has been training I just love swimming and find predictions fun and wish EVERYONE good luck in Montreal...

Jordan Hartney (VAND) is the top seed but the perceived battle should be between Andrew Ford (GMAC) and Alec Page (IS).  Out of the picture is long time Canadian medley staple Brian Johns so these leaves this field wide open but the FINA A cut is more then 2 seconds faster then Hartney's entry time and more then 4 seconds faster then the best time's of Ford and Page.  I don't see two men getting under the FINA 'A' cut so it's a winner take only spot situation.
Prediction:  Page (IS)

The top 5 seeds in this race are all very strong and capable of being under the FINA 'A' cut of 4:09.35.  The battle is between Alexa Komarnycky (IS), Barbara Jardin (PPO), Sam Cheverton (PCSC), Brittany MacLean (ESWIM), and Savannah King (VAND).  Anyone who says they know exactly how this one will play out is lying, this should be the most deeply contested event of the first day... may the best woman win, and may the second best be fast enough to also go to London.
Prediction:  Komarnycky (IS) Gold and MacLean (ESWIM) Silver and fast enough to go to London.

No one is entered faster then the FINA 'A' cut, which for my money makes this one of the events that could produce a surprise winner.  The veterans of the field are Scott Dickens (27), Mike Brown (27), Warren Barnes (26), and Paul Kornfeld (24) but the swimmer with the highest upside and who swam an adjusted 1:01.4 at the NCAAs last weekend for Michigan is KEYANO's Richard Funk.  Call me crazy, I'm picking the upstart funk to win and represent Canada but emotionally I will be cheering for Warren Barnes to step up and make the team.  I don't think anyone gets under the FINA 'A' cut so it's a potentially winner take only spot situation like the men's 400IM.
Prediction:  Funk (KEYANO)

One woman race, Katerine Savard is one of the best in the world at this event and she might post the best swim in terms of FINA points for all the women in the meet in this event.  FINA 'A' cut is 58.70, which is faster then any other Canadian woman's entry time but in this case I think someone else is going to get under the A cut and like the 100BR I'm going to take the younger swimmer to get there... I like 16 year old rising flier Noemie Thomas to finish second and get her passport to London stamped.
Prediction:  Savard (PPO) & Thomas (VAND)

The two best Canadian 200 freestylers are not even making an attempt at the 200FR at Trials and thus I don't like what's going on here.  The top seed, Stefan Hirniak should be looking forward to day 2 and the 200FL, but he might be good enough to win the 200 and earn his spot on the team before swimming his best event... Maybe... More likely is that last year's breakthrough freestyle swimmer Chad Bobrosky wins the 200FR.  Will enough swimmers go fast enough to qualify for a Canadian relay team in the 4x200 for London, from what I have been told... no.  Sadly.  I hope that a few people step up and prove the doubters wrong but it will take big swims from guys like Hirniak, Oriwol, and Cochrane who are at Trials to swim other more important events.
Prediction:  Bobrosky (CASC)

I will not profess to being an expert on PARA swimming, so I will recuse myself from making a prediction on the PARA 100BRs tomorrow.  Special good luck wish to my swimmer Malcolm Fairweather!  Go Malcolm!

Canadian Trials... The Best

It all begins tomorrow!

The Canadian Olympic Trials start tomorrow and run through Sunday in Montreal.  I'll be doing all I can to blog (sometimes live blog) and Tweet through the meet.  I have a set of predictions and will provide analysis after each session.

I remember swimming at both the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Trials.  The meet NEVER fails to come through with breakthrough performances and unfortunately heart-wrenching collapses.

Tune in... and if your computer has a dial used for tuning... buy a new computer!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A.E.O.S.S.S. - 400IM

First we took a look at the 50FR, now to switch gears to one of the toughest events in the program, 400IM.  Americans stand as the defending World Champions in the 400IMs, but is there more then meets the eye?


The logical favourite:  Elizabeth Beisel (USA)
At just 19 years old, Beisel is an established member of the US National Team and has been the most prolific female 400IMer on the planet over the last couple of years.  Beisel won gold at the 2010 Pan Pacs and again at the 2011 World Championships.  The only question that probably remains is whether she can step up and get under 4:30, with a personal (and 2011 World) best 4:31.78, given the probable field of swimmers in the 400IM this summer it will likely take under 4:30 to win.

The other contenders in the field include the three medal winners from the 2008 Olympic Games, Stephanie Rice (AUS), Kristy Coventry (ZIM), and Katie Hoff (USA) who claimed gold, silver, and bronze and all possess best times faster then Beisel's.  Britain's Hannah Miley has already stepped up this year and posted a 4:32.67 in the 400IM so she must also be counted as a contender in this field as well.

Canadian content:  Alexa Komarnycky has established herself over the last year or so as the best female Canadian 400IM swimmer out there.  It will take a brilliant effort for another Canadian swimmer to get under the FINA 'A' cut with Komarnycky to send two Canadians to London to race the 400IM.

For those who love the long shots:  Hoff... Such a talent but I would not be surprised if either she won the Olympic gold medal or missed the US Olympic team in this event altogether.  For me, Hoff is must-watch racing and could be a star in 2012.

Parting shot...  It seems as if while Beisel has been dominating the 400IM over the last 24 months that Rice and Coventry having been (relatively) laying low... is this because they are laser focused on the London games or is this a true changing of the guard?



The logical favourite:  Ryan Lochte (USA)
Ryan Lochte has been the best swimmer on the planet following the 2008 Olympics, the most beloved swimmer in North America, and in the 400IM barring injury or a horrible stroke of bad luck Lochte will win the 400IM soundly in London... unless?

The players fighting for the remaining medals include Tyler Clary (USA), Laszlo Cseh (HUN), and Thiago Pereira (BRA).  None of them are going to chase down Lochte.

Canadian content:  FINA 'A' cut is 4:16.46... Two Canadian IMers are chasing down that standard, Alec Page and Andrew Ford.  The separation between these two is razer thin, and knowing how competitive Ford is and how talented Page is, don't be surprised if both swim under the A cut and race in London but neither are true medal threats in 2012, however watch out for Page moving towards Rio.

For those who love the long shots:  Chad Le Clos (RSA)...  The soon-to-be 20 year old rising star is probably more of a threat in the butterfly events but he has gone 4:14.93 already this year, good for the 4th best result of the year so far, and this young man is on the rise.

Parting shot...  He insists that he doesn't swim 400IM any more but the 9th best 400IM time this year was posted by Michael Phelps at the Austin Grand Prix.  If something changes and all of a sudden Phelps decides to swim the 400IM, then he becomes an instant threat to Lochte and the 400IM will be one of the most interesting races of the 2012 games... but if Phelps doesn't race the 400IM at the US Trials then Lochte is a slam dunk gold medalist in this event in London.