Allison Schmitt on Top of 200 Freestyle Prelims at Pan Ams; Chasing Sippy Woodhead

Allison Schmitt, courtesy of USA Swimming

Allison Schmitt, the reigning Olympic champ in the 200 freestyle, grabbed the top seed in that event as the Pan American Games continued. In the final, Schmitt will try to better the 36-year-old meet record of Cynthia Woodhead.

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Allison Schmitt, the reigning Olympic champ in the 200 freestyle, grabbed the top seed in that event as the Pan American Games continued. In the final, Schmitt will try to better the 36-year-old meet record of Cynthia Woodhead.

Comments

Yozhik

What a nice article about Sippy Woodhead and also a nice parallel between her and another supper 200 free swimmer Allison Schmitt. It is so surprising to discover that in the sport where the muscle strength is a decisive factor the psychology of mind is even more important. Sippy was just 20 at Los Angeles Olympic. It is nothing now days, just the beginning of great careers at this distance. But she was already mentally exhausted to perfect.

felix

20 was 7 years past her breaking the wr which is a long time. She also had serious health issues in her teens & is the youngest ever lcm wr holder so keep it in context. A lot of female 200 freestyle greats had their best years well before they turned 20….van Almsick, Gould even Hoff

Yozhik

It looks like 200 free is the trickiest distance in women swimming. Felix, whatever you said sounds very convincing and your reference to historical data leaves no doubts that if someone wants to succeed at this distance it is better to do early than later. But when I see Heemskerk at 28 going easily under 1:55, Pellegrini (27) showing her best, Sjostrom(22) getting stronger and stronger, Franklin(20) saying that she just about to start to amaze fans with her time at this distance, I am getting really confused trying to reconcile your and this statistics. Yeah, we have probably to blame it on climate changes. What possibly else? 

felix

$

gheko

Felix, Sippy maybe the youngest American to hold a WR, but Jenny Turrall of Australia set a world record in the 800m free aged 13 in Jan1974.

Craig Lord

Indeed Gheko … and on 10 August 1965, aged 12 years, 10 months, and 25 days, Karen Muir, of S Africa, took down the 110 yards backstroke WR in 1:08.7 at the ASA National Junior Championships in Blackpool, England – youngest ever swimming world record holder

gheko

Yup that’s right Craig, but I was talking freestyle! lol

Craig Lord

🙂

Wez

Felix hit the nail on the head, so to speak.

Money is definitely a huge factor these days. Professional sponsors, training camps in world class facilities. All these things (and more) would aid in extending the life of a swimmer.

Swimming as a sport used to have a short half life, I am sure most of us can agree on that. As time has gone on, you see that some “old” swimmers are still doing great things.

I am sure we don’t have to name them in bullet fashion here because we should all have seen this marvelous trend. I am very pleased for Allison, this marks a turnaround point for the greatest 200 freestyler ever. (**starts a whole new debate) 😀

gheko

It’s a totally different sport now than in the 70s, but its a double edged sword, sponsors demand results and medals. Well done to Allison, hope she has turned the corner and will be back stronger than ever next year!

Yozhik

Wez, I was trying once to express same opinion of the Allison’s greatness, but was so strongly bombarded by views, facts and statistics from regulars and authorities of this forum that quickly gave up this “battle”. Let me support your statement with some numbers. The distance between Pellegrini’s and Schmitt’s bests is 1.39 sec. Since distribution of best times of leading swimmers is not linear then difference “in greatness” between Allison and Federica times is the same as difference between Pellegrini and someone ranked 100 this season(about 1:59.8). So if Schmitt’s achievement is just a small incremental step in the progress at 200m free then Pelligrini’s time is slow. If to consider Pellegrinni’s time as fast one then Schmitt’s record is something REALLY great.
Does anybody consider Bob Beamon the greatest athlete? I don’t think so, but what he done was so great that 50 years later a lot of people remember his name. The great things are better seen from the distance. I think that the girl who will break Allison’s record hasn’t started swimming yet.

Yozhik

Felix, is it a kind of cynical to simplify the sport life of elite swimmers of being just a money chase?

Yozhik

Wez, I don’t see such pattern or trend as you put it in women’s competitive swimming. We do have some evidences of sport getting younger in general. It happens mostly because of better opportunities and better selection process. But the increase of sport life span is still requires comprehension. Do we have same picture of longevity with men swimming? If it is so I will agree with your point. The life of women in swimming went through significant changes during last decade. The social factor is not that important any more. That allows girls to stay longer in sport. But most important is the dramatic increase of the training load for girls at practice. If Shane Gould was required to swim that much at practice as Ledecky did at her age then she will quit swimming much sooner than she did. And Ledecky’s diligence is becoming a standard.

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