Katie Meili Leads Upstarts At Front Of Packed USA Contenders List in 100 Breast

Katie Meili by Peter Bick
Katie Meili by Peter Bick

Katie Meili stands at the front of the 100 breaststroke five months shy of the United States Olympic Trials, but the event is a tight-packed affair between upstarts and veterans.

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Comments

Bad Anon

Katie Meili is in a very good place. He perfomance at trials will give an indication of what she’ll do in Rio. For now getting her technique tweaked and focussing on the goals at hand is the way to go

Yozhik

The US Olympic Trials are promising to be the fiercest meet of the year. The OG can be the only one stronger than that. I cannot picture any of US swimmers who can allow themselves to look at this meet as just another intermediate excersise before Olympic starts. I don’t know anybody who won’t be specially prepared for this meet by being partially or fully tapered. After Ledecky making this unexpected leap into American sprinting elite ( she got #4 ranking ever in textile era) the competition at 100 can be very intense. Serious extra efforts will be needed to achieve desired goals for anybody entering this race. I think that Phelps is no exception neither.
I’m looking forward for your articles John.

Bad Anon

*her perfomance rather. Indeed, USA trials a rite of passage .No wild card bye. Truly a cut throat meet. Athletes like Elizabeth Pelton 12, 08 and Kukors 08 know what a near miss is

Yozhik

Nicely put, Bad Anon. You can add to your list Ledecky 12. It was a miss at trials at 400. By what was shown in London she definitely could compete with Muffat and Schmitt.

Craig Lord

KL 100: USA No5 in textile, Yozhik (Manuel, Franklin, Coughlin and Weir, then KL – and in shiny, add Vollmer and KL is at No6)

Bad Anon

To put KL’s 53.75 in season effort in perspective ; it was faster than Coughlin’s 53.83 shaved and tapered swim from Pan Ams, Coughlin who is now a ‘pure sprinter’ … In Omaha we can expect a very competetive meet, just making 100free final will be a major achievement, 75% chance of making the team if top 6 are considered. Pretty good odds. Katie Meili is also a decent 100free swimmer… 54.2 to make final 54.00 for a top 6 finish

Craig Lord

53.7 is terrific, of course, for KL but perspective also tells us, Bad Anon, that her effort (not peak race condition, perhaps, but not far off and certainly not unrested either, according to KL herself) is in the same zone over 100m all-time in textile as Mel Wright is over 200m, and Sarah Koehler is over 800m free; as Hayley Baker is in the 200m back; as Blair Evans is in the 400IM… and so on (just beyond top 25) … mentioning that because I see a lot of comment out there suggesting an imminent attack in the realm of Steffen, Campbell, Sjostrom, Kromowidjojo and Co… something I don’t see.

Bad Anon

Indeed CL, while KL continues in make gains in the the margin of seconds over distance freestyle a gain say from 53.75 to 52.75 over 100 free would be unprecedented. Anything faster than 53.50 at trials in Omaha would be truly exceptional, even a 53.45 for argument sake, the time Herasimenia and Ottesen (I think ) shared for gold in Shanghai 2011 world championships

Yozhik

CL, I thought that Weir’s major achievements happened in 2009 ( 53.02). I haven’t looked that far in 2006 to find 53.58 at some local meet. Is it what you meant?
It is hard to make any predictions about Ledecky’s 100 race, but in Austin she made very strong impression that it wasn’t just one lucky race and she will be under 54 sec again. BTW, the penetration into 52 realm happened just recently and been considered extraordinary achievement.

Yozhik

14yo – 56.86
15yo – 56.71
16yo – 56.00
17yo – 54.96
18yo – 54.55
18 yrs 10 months – 53.75.
Whoever looks at this accelerating progress of young swimmer and doesn’t look at names will definitely make some far going prediction. Then why are we so shy in case of Katie Ledecky. It is our prejudice. If a swimmer holds world records in 1500 and 800 we call her/him long distance swimmer. If a swimmer is the world champion at 400 and 200 we call her/him a middle distance swimmer. If a swimmer swims at world class time 100 we call her/him …. Not so fast 🙂 We call sprinters not those who swim fast, but those who cannot swim anything else beyond 100. So Ledecky is definitely not sprinter. And not sprinter cannot succeed in sprinting races. That’s simple.

Craig Lord

Yes, Yozhik… but not some local meet – USA Nationals in Irvine.

Craig Lord

Yes, that simple, though the definition of success is to be found within each swimmer. At 53 flat, KL’s speed would be a resounding success and mean a great deal to other things (as does 53.7) – but it wouldn’t win anything in world-class, global, peak-form 100m waters these days, Yozhik 🙂 I think she is what she says she is: a freestyler.

aswimfan

CL,
There should be an asterisk after Jessica Hardy’s name, as your tradition in swimvortex for any swimmer that has tested positive to banned substances and served suspension. Or are we over that already?

Craig Lord

No, we’re not, aswimfan 🙂 John’s post, not mine, but thanks for noting. The explanation is now attached.

aswimfan

I agree with Bad Anon, I think Ledecky can go 53.50 in the trials but not 53low. I will be astounded if she goes 53low.

The last time a non-sprinter won 100 free medal in major championships was Thorpe in 2004 Athens. Ledecky may win a major 100 medal one day, but maybe not this year.

aswimfan

Yozhik,

I disagree with your definition of sprinter:
“We call sprinters not those who swim fast, but those who cannot swim anything else beyond 100”

There have been many major medal-winning sprinters (in 100, which is their main event) who were also very very good in 200:
McEvoy, Klim, VDH, Trickett, Thompson etc etc.

or are they not sprinters?

Gori

Aswimfan

I personnally think this definition of sprinter is not so bad.
VDH was not a pure sprinter (look at his time on 50), as were/are swimmers like Popov, Jager, Manaudou, Filho, Bousquet, Schoeman etc

Yozhik

Aswimfan, this article is not about Ledecky, but about young American breaststrokers who show some measurable progress at sprint distance. That’s why I see some relevance with case of Ledecky’s 100 and possibility of her further progress to the level when her appearance on blocks makes her opponents nervous. I trust your expertise and agree that my definition of sprinter is unscientific to say the least, but widely accepted – go to schools, colleges and similar institutions and check who call themselves a sprinter 🙂 But to get back to be serious – what is your definition of sprinter and if we can to say that girls mention in the article above posses some physical abilities that make them comparable to Meilutyte for instance. Why Ledecky is non-sprinter? I found Craig’s explanations that resonate with my feelings, too romantic. I thought that that is her style that limits her further progress at this area, but ThereaLuigi expertly said that it is not the case. I thought that her physique (body size, muscles volume, strength etc) is not what is needed for the release of huge amount of power in short period of time – she always well behind after first 25m. But it is also not a case. She is tall, she is strong, her muscle reflex is good. Yes, she shows some superiority at last 15 meters, but we can see same strategy in many great 100 racers. Look at Magnussen, for example.
So why do we think that she is not a sprinter and why do you believe that her possible success at this distance at trials will be an embarrassment to other American sprinters.

aswimfan

My definition of sprinter is those whose main event is either 50 or 100.
Yes, Ledecky is not a sprinter, but it doesn’t mean she can’t swim fast in 100, as we have all witnessed.
Thorpe was not a sprinter despite winning 100 free bronze at bot world championships and Olympics.
Thorpe was also not a distance swimmer despite winning 800 gold and broke the WR twice.

Swimmers like Thorpe and Ledecky are extremely rare, they could swim across multiple distances FAST.

Yes, Ledecky is tall (taller than many previous 100 free WR holder like Trickett or Henry), and she has awfully great start and turns, beating many sprinters. And she’s strong and just doesn’t seem to get tired.
I am just not sure that the training and preparation still for 400 and 800 impact positively on her sprinting ability to come down to 53low at the trials.
But then again, she has endlessly surprised everyone in the past 3 years, so she may surprise again..

Yozhik

@asf. Thanks.

beachmouse

I think that Ledecky has as good of a chance at a major meet medal in the 100 free as Hanna-Maria Seppala ever did. Seems like it’s an event that’s more about who is healthy and has their head in the game that week than who might have the 100% best form on paper. And Ledecky has a wonderful head for the game, so if the semifinals times are quick enough that Ledecky’s superior endurance and recovery time becomes a factor, then who knows?

Yozhik

While big guns from Australia and Netherland are about to say their word at the beginning of this Olympic season I would like to echo beachmouse’s comment. Yes, Ledecky is not a sprinter like many who was given this fast swimming ability from early age. But as beachmouse noticed those naturally born sprinters are like a well-tuned racing car that needs special conditions to amaze. One step aside and the magic disappears. What also is typical for them is the ‘bouncing’ effect.
Sarah Sjostrom, from 18yo to 22yo: 53.05-53.29-52.87-52.67-52.70
Cate Campbell, from 19yo to 23yo: 53.82-53.84-52.33-52.62-52.69
Missy Franklin, from 16yo to 20yo: 53.63-53.52-53.36-53.43-53.68
Only Heemskerk is something that still needs to be explained.
Ledecky on the other hand doesn’t look like she was given such speeding abilities. Her progress shown in my previous comment presents her like a person who pushes herself through the resistance of high speed water. It is a fight, not a flight. Who knows how much of this moving inertia she has and where this progress will slow down. But as beachmouse mentioned such swimmers are more predictable of being in the game than those bright stars whose talents are needed to be carefully handled and conditioned.
To me whatever is going on with the USA women swimming especially in breast stroke is very similar to Ledecky’s situation at 100. Not being called a star they have good chances to be successful at Olympic Games in Rio.

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