Despite Impressive Credentials, Not All Olympic-Medal Contenders Get Their Due

Daiya Seto on his way to a world title retained in 2015 - by Patrick B. Kraemer
Daiya Seto on his way to a world title retained in 2015 - by Patrick B. Kraemer

Not all Olympic-medal hopefuls are followed by hype in the leadup to the Games, even if their credentials are impressive in nature. Day Seto, Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Kanako Watanabe, Marco Koch and James Guy. What are your picks?

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Comments

beachmouse

Is Maya DiRado too obvious a pick for the Americans? I tend to see her as a sleeper in the IMs.

aswimfan

Whoaa… I didn’t realize Stev Theloke in 2000 was the last time a german won individual Olympics medal.

It’s been a sad, long time for the german men.

Bad Anon

Kirsty Coventry. She has had a below par spell post Rome 2009, and illness and injury wrecked her medal chances in 2012; now on the come back trail and just shy of the top 10 in 100/200back and 200IM think a pleasant surprise from Kirsty may not be so much of a long shot. On paper she’s down and out and “old” and past her peak but for someone putting everything on the line for one more Olympic medal…. Let’s wait and see

Bad Anon

Federica Pellegrini. She happens to be aiming for Olympic glory in an event where Ledecky has stolen the limelight by miles. Add Franklin/Schmitt and Sjostrom, heck even Hosszu and Fed’s medal chances already look diminished. if she swims the 200free to her potential, I have not doubt in my mind Pellegrini will be a podium finisher

Bad Anon

Alicia Coutts. She missed selection for Kazan 2015 owing to illness and injury. Coutts was on the 200I’m podium for every major meet since Commonwealth games in 2010 to 2014 pan pacs; 2015 was an off year. She’s now an after thought in view of the perceived Hosszu invincibility in the IMs and new young stars lurking ; Dirado, Overholt, Watanabe, SMOC etc. Think Alicia will post competitive times at Aussie trials in a few weeks time and deserves to be in the medal discussion

Bad Anon

Tyler Clary. He produced the shock of the London Olympic games by beating out Lochte in the 200back to the gold. 2015 too was an off year for him. But with renewed focus for Olympic glory, I think he’llama be a strong medal contender in the 200back and 400IM if he safely negotiates the grueling USA Olympic trials

Craig Lord

No beachmouse, not too obvious – she’s often ignored in lists of ‘who might….’ I think you’re right…she might…

Bad Anon

Ye Shiwen. The super fast Chinese medley ace who made headlines in London for a freestyle split on the way to 400IM gold in London that matched the one of her male counterparts in their respective final ; she too has battled injuries and is now a pale shadow of her brilliant past. If Ye gets her mojo back, Hosszu will need everything she can muster to hold off the Chinese girl in the IMs

Craig Lord

La Fed hardly fits the bill of “a few individuals whose profile should rate higher”, Bad Anon 🙂 I can barely think of a European swimmer who has commanded more attention and headlines in the past decade, for many a reason, including winning.

Craig Lord

Bad Anon, why don’t you list everyone who ever made a podium, you might hit some targets 🙂

Bad Anon

I’m not far off the target, 2015 rankings and Kazan worlds largely influence Olympic discussion and predictions; I think all my answers are correct 🙂

Bad Anon

How could I forget Lazslo Cseh!!!!!!!
I think he takes the grand prize……

Craig Lord

Speculative with Ye – there are no recent results to suggest she will be anywhere close to being a contender.

Craig Lord

I think Lazslo crops up as a contender in huge numbers of conversations, Bad Anon. “a few individuals whose profile should rate higher”

On this site he has had a constantly high profile – and I think he’s long been considered in that light.

BoetMate

Madison Wilson – time to shine and turn silver into gold. Seebohm as deserved gets all the limelight. Atherton understandably gets the youth/dark horse attention. Wilson just seems to maintain a low profile. A later bloomer, with Michael Bohl behind her, she could be on the top step of the podium in Rio in the 100 and possibly 200 back based on some fast in training early 2016 swims at VIC and NSW comps.

Don’t discount her potential contribution in the 4X100 free relay, having swam a couple of 54 lows for the 100 free (200 free split times) in Jan and Feb this year.

Peter Lee

Sharon van Rouwendaal. Former 200 back world medallist turned 400 free silver and 10km silver medallist. With Ledecky, Carlin, Boyle, Friis and Ashwood in front of her, she rarely is mentioned, but Rio could see her again win medals in open water and the pool – no mean feat!!!

Yozhik

🙂 Too many examples of underapritiation or underestimation. It’s getting boring. Let’s play the opposite game: swimmers who get a lot of attention and will get nothing in Rio or much less than expected. 🙂

p1robi

The Australian team will underperform; as they have at every Olympics since Munich.

Yozhik

For example, the golden drought will continue for Katinka Hosszu and Sarah Sjöström.

Bad Anon

No way Hosszu is going to lose 200IM, she’s 2sec faster her archrival SMOC, who only won bronze in Kazan due to tactical error. SMOC has a PB of 2.08.21 to Hosszu’s 2.06.12…

Craig Lord

The race isn’t over until its over. Lots of examples of “certain winner” but for one reason or another it didn’t happen; rival steps up big time, the day goes down not up, ill-health; love … and even cases where the swimmer didn’t line up at all. There is no such thing as ‘no way’ in Olympic sport, Bad Anon.

ThereaLuigi

no asterisk for Efimova, Craig?

Craig Lord

There is now, ThereaL – thank you

Felix Sanchez

Hosszu isn’t unbeatable. She looks to have a good gap, but sometimes small changes add up. What if she regresses by second, and O’Connor improves by a second or more (hardly impossible for a young swimmer in Olympic year). Two surprises equal a shock.

Yozhik

Bad Anon, that is the thrill of this game. The probability of winning for such swimmers in one particular discipline is high. But there are some other factors that are rarely taken under consideration but can become critical. For instance. Hosszu has a substantial history of not being good at tight races. Hosszu’s thirst for Olympic medals and desire to provie that she IS the athlete of the year can lead to the overloaded program at OG. Plus the similar jump that she did in Kazan can be done by other swimmers for whom this OG is one time life opportunity. The probability that Hosszu won’t get gold is not zero. Well above.
Sjöström can participate in eight (!) events. Quite a feat. All of them are of absolutely different in styles. It can hurt her 100 fly where she can meet a strong opposition. At other events she is not a winner a priori and has to compete with the elite field. So the Phelps like challenge can end up with no golds at all.

Felix Sanchez

Don’t think anyone has swum faster than Ross Murdoch since his Commonwealth win. Missing the 200 at worlds knocked him out of the spotlight a bit, but form was still good.

Felix Sanchez

Is Beisel forgotten now after one bad year?

On a related note, if Zueva has time to come back from pregnancy her best times should put her right up there.

And continuing with Russian backstroke… Rylov took 200 bronze at 18 last year, one second off Larkin.

aswimfan

Yozhik,

I would take loans and mortgage my house to make a bet that Hosszu’s and Sjostrom’s olympics medal drought will end in Rio 🙂

Craig Lord

Good selection, Felix

Craig Lord

You may well be right – but you wouldn’t get your money back – and anyhow, don’t do it, aswimfan 🙂

Felix Sanchez

aswimfan,

I suggest that any odds you could get on that wouldn’t be worth the interest rate!

aswimfan

I agree with Craig: there is no such thing as certainty in Olympics. Shocks of the Olympics:

1984: Jon Sieben won and beat Michael Gross
1988: Duncan Armstrong won and beat Biondi, Holmertz, Gross
1992: Kyoko Iwasaki won w200 breast
1996: Michelle Smith*
2000: MIsty Hyman beat Susie O’Neill in 200 fly
2004: South Africa won m4x100 free
2008: Soni beating Jones in 200 breast (Adlington winning 400 free in close second)
2012: Le Clos beating Phelps in 200 fly.

Craig Lord

Excellent list, aswimfan

for33

I would like to mention Hannah Miley, Ryosuke Irie, Mack Horton, Thomas Fraser-Holmes, Femke Heemskerk. Yes, some of them can perform unsteadily, but they have the potential to dominate. And while at this stage he’s not considered a favorite, I think Mr. Santo Condorelli will surprise more than one of the many attention-receiving sprinters.

commonwombat

Craig probably named most of the names that most obviously came to my mind. Di Rado is probably the next on my list.

At this point of the year, whilst we are starting to get some meaningful times; as yet we haven’t really got a decent read on from around the world who isn’t looking likely/who might’ve been prominent last year but is really “off” this year.

Of those nominated; agree with: Rouwendal, Cseh, Wilson but can’t go there with Coventry. She just hasn’t been anywhere near the times for quite a few years. Much as I’d like to see it happen, I’m just not seeing it as likely

Yozhik

Asf, I was talking about gold medals, not just Olympic medals. If you are going to bet your house for Hosszu’s and Sjöström’s chances for gold medals then I am sure it won’t make your spouse happy (if you are not living alone)

Yozhik

Actually, both games are similar – we are guessing about realization of low probability events, assuming the existence of some circumstances that are not usually taken into account or are hidden. The only difference is in set of data used for expectations. In case of surprise win we are making projection based on successful results that are at least two years old hoping for best time comming back. When we are considering the possibility of unexpected failure we are dealing with most recent data. The second version of this game is tougher but is more dramatic. As some regulars of this club like to repeat – everything goes wrong for leading swimmers at big events. They are ready to provide the impressive statistics in support of such statement 🙂
P.S. The projections in the cases of young swimmers who are under radar yet is completely different animal. It is more like gambling. We just don’t have information. It is the same as guessing about success of the likes of Ledecky and Meilutyte in London.

Bad Anon

Let me remind everyone about the fate of Ms Katie Hoff in Beijing. Wasn’t she the female Phelps expected to win up to 5 gold medals? She won none ,though one silver and 2bronze is respectable ; the US media was not very forgiving… At every games “epic failures” happen like the German team leaving with no medals from London and Pellegrini failing to medal as well in 2012

ThereaLuigi

Well, one of the greatest upsets of swimming history was Biondi being out-touched in the 100 fly by Nesty, in 1988 Seoul.

ThereaLuigi

I think that the words “epic fails” and similar are often used without due care. My feeling is people don’t realize or even care what it takes just to be an Olympian, let alone win medals at the Olympics. The best of the best are there, and to get a medal you have to beat them all or almost all. Victory is not a given, never. For example I hear Magnussen “failed” or “choked” in London, but the truth is, he lost the gold medal by a 1/100 of a second in a 47 seconds race. 1/100 of a second is the smallest of margin even in the 100-meter dash in track&field, which lasts 1/5 of the 100 free. A silver medal at the Olympics is never a failure, even if you went into the meet as the best prospect. The same kind of insults are thrown at Federica in Italy every time she does NOT win, as if it was an obligation and she was not already the most successful Italian swimmer ever, someone to whom we should be grateful forever. People need to respect the significance of sport achievements and stop taking them for granted.

aswimfan

Yozhik,

No, I would not make any bet on the likeliness both Hosszu and Sjostrom winning gold 🙂

It’s particularly shocking that neither Sjostrom nor Hosszu has won ANY olympics medal, considering how both Sjostrom and Hosszu were already world champions in 2009 and how dominating they have been in their events in the past four years, breaking WRs etc.

aswimfan

ThereaLuigi,

Wow. Is it really true La Fede got insulted in Italy whenever she didn’t win?

That’s crazy.

Bad Anon

ThereaLuigi, you make an excellent point that just being an Olympian is an incredible achievement… However, its the Olympic champions who are remembered. I have no clue who finished second behind Krizstina Ergezegi in ’88, ’92 &’96 in her 200back threepeat as a simple example. When Franklin won 6golds @bcn2013, that was a huge standard. Anything less eg Kazan 2015 was seen as a failure ; the same way Hoff, Magnussen etc got a beating from the press from failing to live up to expectations ; that’s the sad reality ; either the gold or you’re an “also-ran”

ThereaLuigi

Maybe “insults” is not the right word, Aswimfan – although there ARE also insults, from the basest part of the internet, as it happens to all famous people – but she is questioned every time, and every time someone comes up with her age, or her training, or her fondness for being under the spotlight (and hence the obvious implication, not training enough), or her tumultuous relationships, and so on and so forth. After London many said she was done. Many inside the swimming federation, too (she is not loved by all; a very outspoken person, she often criticizes the establishment).

Yozhik

Bravo, bravissimo, Luigi! But don’t forget that we are talking about professional sport that is actually not about the win but is mostly about beating somebody. Don’t believe it? Then ask yourself what do spectators prefer: to see the win of favorite, or to watch favorite to be beaten by underdog? How is it different from gladiators fights? Whatever paintings I see about that then thumbs are always down. Italian fans you mentioned just keeping the ancient tradition. Don’t want to see the blood and prefer the pure enjoyment of manifestation of human abilities – go to circus.
“And I said to myself, this is the business we’ve chosen”

beachmouse

While there isn’t much overlap between their events, DiRado reminds me of Coutts at her peak in the sense that you find yourself wondering where she came from only to discover she was already on the road to being pretty nicely there.

Beisel isn’t so much forgotten but a wait and see to find out if she really is past the injuries that plagued her in 2014-15. Would love to see her back at her best form.

aswimfan

Italians should be proud and count their blessings that they have Pellegrini, a legend in swimming, and whom I regard as the greatest female 200 freestyler ever.

And despite her tumultuous romantic relationships, she keep her perseverance in swimming, and didn’t have a meltdown a la Laure Manaudou (who could have been among greatest ever female swimmers…). Pellegrini’s first major individual medal was in 2004 Athens and her last was in 2015 Kazan, a 12 years of top consistency is currently unmatched among female swimmers.

aswimfan

Here’s a name that’s even less talked about than any mentioned so far: Viktoria Gunes. If she can keep her consistency and momentum, she could win 200 breast.

That would not be a complete shock, as she set last year’s fastest 200 breast time, but remember that she has never won a single medal in a senior LCM meet.

Felix Sanchez

It’s a terrifying prospect, but Victoria …. does have a real chance.

I’m sure Turkey would consider it a good ROI. Only two gold medals in London – one subsequently stripped of her medal and banned for life, the other also a foreign import.

Felix Sanchez

Have to agree with Bad Anon. Of course athletes shouldn’t be insulted when they don’t win, but champion athletes tend to be pretty ambitious, and if they have champion credentials will naturally see anything short of that as ‘failure’. If gold is their aim, then anything short of that is failure, and it doesn’t insult them to describe it thus.

John Lohn

Good to have discussion on this topic. The next two on my list were Maya DiRado and Elizabeth Beisel, but I wanted to keep the list at five. Looking forward to seeing how the Olympic picture takes shape.

gheko

Anyone who wins an Olympic medal is not a failure, to even make a final you have to be a great athlete, imagine being in the top three in the world at something! Sure nobody goes to an Olympics to win silver, but its still a great achievement!

Craig Lord

Indeed it is, gheko.

Dee

Most names mentioned, a few more I’d add…

Natsumi Hoshi (Possibly more under-appreciated than overlooked), Radoslaw Kawecki & Caitlin Leverenz.

All very capable of medalling and a little bit forgotten.

aswimfan

I agree that Natsumi Hoshi is under-appreciated.

The thing with Hoshi is the question if she can go any faster (she’s not young, already 25 yo); She seems to have plateaued in 2:05mid, while it will take 2:04low to win it in Rio is my guess.

commonwombat

Re the backlashes against those perceived as “failures”; generalising is dangerous as there can be any number of factors in play. There are cases where certain individuals and/or their coaches/”entourages” have “blown their own trumpets” or trash-talked their opponents. Thankfully, these tend to be a minority of cases but they most certainly occur and outside their own little bubble; there generally tends to be a vibe that they’re “cruising for a bruising” and their fall back to earth IS inevitably bruising.

More often it can be the media and or fans who pile on the unrealistic expectations. In many cases, they seek to put labels on often precocious talents as “the next XYZ” when their physical gifts may differ from those upon whom the comparisons is being made. More importantly, these labels are often attached before their real capacities and peak skill sets are clearly or fully defined.

paolo rubbiani

I think that a strong case is Daiya Seto, double Worlds champion in the 400 im but far behind Hagino and Lochte in predictions of swimming fans for 400 im gold at Rio.
About Pellegrini, I’m Italian and reckon what Luigi has displayed, but I think that haters (in the worst case) or critics (in the best case) are everywhere and the most popular athletes, like Federica but even Valentino Rossi, are obviously in their focus. Anyway, at least the two silver medals of Pellegrini, at Barcelona2013 and Kazan 2015, have had large appreciations.
Interesting to note that Paltrinieri, smart guy :-), for now is off the radars of haters and even critics, and at the end of 2015 Gregorio has won a poll for the Italian athlete of the year in front of Valentino Rossi.

aswimfan

I hope either Paltrinieri or Horton beat Sun Yang in Rio.
Can’t stand his arrogance attitude in light of his doping test result/suspension, and made a mockery of other swimmers in Kazan.

Robbos

To quote CL in another thread;

‘The Olympic form guide will be set in July’.

However if we are having a bit of fun, I will throw in Thomas Fraser Holmes. He easily beat James Guy in 2014 with a very fast low 1.45s, he performed badly last year at the WC, but hopefully can reverse this result.

aswimfan

I reckon Thomas Fraser Holmes needs a Lawrie Lawrence coaching to have a belief he can win Olympics gold.

Yozhik

“… why don’t you list everyone who ever made a podium, you might hit some targets ” Craig Lord
Why nobody is listening to what the Master says? 🙂
There is a very simple reason why all these swimmers mentioned in your comments do not have much attention either from media or from general public or from experts – there are some other swimmers in the field that are stronger. Sure those ‘poor things’ do have chances for success in upcoming Olympic Games, but not under normal circumstances. For them to succeed the leaders should underperform and they have to jump over their heads. The general opinion estimates the probability of such events less than 50%. Then what is the reason to talk about something that most likely won’t happen.
I see only two reasons: sweet dreams, or just unstoppable addictive desire to talk (I’m not an exception) 🙂
What Craig meant, I think, starting this discussion was the attempt to discover cases when public opinion with media are wrong and expert at this site can reveal some ‘cinderellas’ who will shine in Rio.
Despite nothing like that was said I found this discussion interesting and learned many interesting stories of unfulfilled dreams.

Craig Lord

Yes, that’s about what I meant, Yozhik – we know who might well step up fro a medal … but who could step up to that and even the ultimate prize but is generally not considered in that light out there in the wide world, is what John’s getting at. As you suggested, all but impossible to predict Ruta and Katie in 2012 – that they could get into a final and show terrific promise, yes, podium at a stretch … gold rattling ER pace was something only those closest to those 15-year-olds could know (and even then, the coaches spoke in terms of performances beyond expectation… which happens with 15-years olds, Leisel J back to Shane G and many others down the years…). Beyond the course and curve of a long career is the more troubling zone for me – and history tells us why. Beyond the hefty block of trials looming, we’ll be able to see a few more cinderellas and ascertain where some of those longer-term contenders find themselves, I’d imagine.

Dee

Possible, Robbo…

Worth remembering Guy was only 18 in 2014 though, too – People tended to forget he was still a teenager in Kazan.

gheko

Mark Spitz in 1968 was going to win six gold medals in Mexico, he ended up with 2 relay golds only, Then came back in 72 and won 7 golds

beachmouse

One thing the Americans tend to do is hide the up and comers in the totally plain sight of the short course yards pool. Okay, we know that when it actually comes to numbers, the ‘conversion charts’ between SCY and LCM are really only useful when you’re trying to set up the right intervals for a practice set done in both formats. But, for athletes who do not have Cindy Tran-like walls that put them relatively so far ahead in the little pool, good SCY times can signal that there’s the potential for a very nice time drop come LCM season, especially if we’re talking a junior (Kate Ledecky in late 2011-early 2012 when she was rattling some Sippy Woodhead 13-14 records) or someone who has had injury/illness problems during long course season (Kelsi Worrell in 2013-14 before a breakthrough in the 100 fly in 2015)

I do not think she’s podium this time around because the women’s sprints are just so stacked right now, but I do think that Abby Wentzel is showing signs that her long course is finally catching up a bit with her short course, and she seems to be poised to have some folks do the ‘where did she come from?’ when she’s finally rested and shaved.

Yozhik

@beachmouse: I don’t know if Weitzeil was rested for the race in Austin in January but I was impressed with her challenging Sjostrom. Opposit to Franklin who swam just regular training race, Abbey came there to beat the foreign star and wasn’t afraid to start very fast. I like this ambition and strong motivation. She got off gas at the very end and failed not only to Sjostrom but to Ledecky as well. That was twice as disappointing to her. And what she does next in a month – she takes 0.23 sec off her recent personal best shown in Austin swimming even faster first 50 at the speed of Cate Campbell. I like this bravery. Was it a desire to be ranked #1 among American sprinters or she was just in the mood for fast race. Hard to say. But all these strange splits and dropping of almost a half of second from personal best at the beginning of the season make the predictions of her prospects very polarised. That makes her the perfect candidate for Craig’s ‘surprize’ list. In eyes of many she is still promising youngster with the great career ahead. But she is only four months junior of Manuel, four months older than Ledecky, just one year younger of Franklin and two years senior of Franklin’s spectacular time. All these girls have already substantial history in competitive swimming. Abby is long due. I hope that her training environment and training staff are up to challenge to make her performance in this Olympic Year jaw-dropping.

Yozhik

Very strong field with big names. No sweat 53.12 from Sjostrom. Shocking leap into American sprinters elite by Ledecky. And fearless competitiveness from Weitzeil.
https://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=-imrDeyj9jw

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