U.S. Olympic Trials: Changing Of Guard Has Olivia Smoliga (59.02) Atop 100 Backstroke

Georgia Olympian Olivia Smoliga took the 100 freestyle to cap off her home invitational meet - [www.georgiadogs.com]
Georgia Olympian Olivia Smoliga took the 100 freestyle to cap off her home invitational meet - [www.georgiadogs.com]

Olivia Smoliga generated a personal best of 59.02 to win the 100 backstroke in what was a changing of the guard in the event.

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commonwombat

Certainly a changing of the guard in this event but not entirely unexpected. Whilst Franklin is still a good chance to make the team via 200back & 4×200, its looking increasingly unlikely for Coughlin. Both have been class acts and are hopefully remembered as such.

Major kudos warranted for Smoliga who has been the form US swimmer in this event. As for her Rio prospects; she’s certainly putting herself around finals country although still around 0.5sec off the likely medal pace.

Can she close THAT gap ….. whilst I can see her cutting a few more tenths, I’m sceptical she can bridge the entire gap. However, some of those notionally ahead of her may not swim to their best. I’d summarise her medal chances as a “possible” rather than a probable or likely one.

As for the US medley relay; whilst clearly not a return to the Franklin levels of 2012/2013, it is clearly a significant step up from the 2015 deficits.

kevin roose

You would think from a mental and historic point of view Emilly Seebohm right now is feeling a little releived in not having to face Missy in Rio in the 100 Back.
While the Americans will provide some test as will some other girls Emiily chances of gold went up a notch ….

aswimfan

Kevin,
Why would Emily’s chances of gold went up a notch? We all have established since Kazan heat unless Franklin returns to 2012 form, she wasn’t in the conversation. Nothing has changed since last year.

In fact, based on this trials, Missy’s form is actually worse than last year. This year it’s not just her start. Her swimming is also worse. Her strokes have always been choppy, but in this trials it’s looking spinny and more choppy than usual. Based on this 100, she may not even get the 200 back. We’ll see.

commonwombat

Yes, Kevin, but Em still has to go out there and “do the business”. Her 2016 times, whilst very presentable, haven’t exactly sent the message “I own this event” to her competitors.

Whilst she clearly deserves favouritism for the 100back; Neilsen & Hosszu are very real threats. IF Wilson can rediscover her 2015 form, she could be very much in the picture. Barring illness or injury, Seebohm has to be seen as a highly probable medal in this one but the gold … not sure its as secure a bet as some others

commonwombat

Largely agree, ASF. Over the past 2 years, Em has clearly buried any Missy “bogeys” that may once have existed.

Kazan certainly DID strike home that Missy’s issues we saw at 2014 PPs were more than just short term.

Missy’s route to qualification in the 200back does look a much “softer” passage than the 100. I’m struggling to locate another likely sub 2.07 swimmer.

As for the international equation for the 200back; should she (or any other American) not be sub 2.06 then this event is really “game on” and somewhat of a lottery to predict. Seebohm is reigning WC but got rolled at AUS Trials. Hocking has never broken 2.06 and folded at the last Olympics. How will Hosszu’s race schedule impact her in this event ?

Plenty of question to which as yet we have no clear answers.

kevin roose

Of course it has changed until last night we had no idea how Missy was going to perform now we have real data ………
The fact is she is not in Rio 100 back thus Emiily chances have improoved ……..

Eugene Chc

aswimfan, after Santa Clara 2015 I did not expect great result from Franklin. After 2015 WC i wrote that she must withdraw from Schmitz, But she stay with him.

kevin roose

Aswimfan i refer back to a article posted June 26 on Swim Vortex re ” Missy Frankiln ” prospects American Trials….
You stated she will qualify for Rio 100/200 back 200 free ??????????
Well so far you are 0/3 ………….

Robbos

I’m with you Kevin, no doubt. Missy not in 2012/2013 form.
Emily is now not only favourite for 100, but 200.
In the 100, she has proved to be the best 2 backstrokers in the world for the last 4 years, with Franklin the other. With Franklin out, Em is clear favourite, remembering Em was beaten only by a superstar!!!
In the 200, not as clear cut, but a slight favourite, with Hocking, Hosszu & not discounting Franklin just yet.

Remember at trials, she knew what the 3rd best Australian backstroker swimmer could do (training partner). She did not have to taper or to be at her best to qualify.

I like you am very confident of her in the 100 & quietly confident doing the double.

aswimfan

kevin,
I did not state Missy “will qualify”
This is what I wrote:

I think Missy can qualify in the individual events: 100/200 back and 200 free.

That was before Missy swam her first swim at this trials.
I didn’t realize how worse her swimming is even compared to last year.
It is baffling. She returned to her home, trained under Todd, did nothing but training and sponsors obligations. And yet her technique got worse.

Eugene Chc

At 2015 it was with 3 months with crazy stupid Schmitz training, now its 15 months.

Bad Anon

Failing to qualify for 100 back will see Franklin missing out on the 400medley relay so this is a devastating blow considering she had gold medals from 100back and medley relay in 2012… I think she didn’t come into this meet fully tapered… She under estimated her rivals and over estimated her own ability to perform in my own opinion… However her 1.57.33 clocking in the 200free semi is a good sign for a top 4 finish in the final…. 200 back is not in the bag yet. She may struggle to crack 2.08 at these trials but I think top2 is within her reach… Will expect her to be 2.06 in Rio on full taper that’s IF she makes 200back team

Robbos

Bad Anon, swimming 1.00.24 & coming 7th is not under estimating her rivals, this is a problem that she has been unable to rectify for a couple of years now.

easyspeed

Bad Anon makes a good point. Missy went public in an interview prior to trials stating she would not do a full taper for the meet. As myself and others have noted, Missy is a taper swimmer. So that’s a big problem. But what else is she going to do? Do a full taper and then do terribly at the games?

Of course, that is not the only thing going on with Missy, as Robbos and others have noted. Exactly what is anyone’s guess. Hope she can still make the team in something, but right now it’s looking like relays are her best bet.

aswimfan

I just feel sad that such talent deteriorate that fast. Hope it’s just a glitch.

And think how many dozens of millions of dollars she has foregone since 2011 from money prizes, sponsorships, products endorsements, appearances etc that she has foregone just so she could swim in NCAA?

Bad Anon

She’s just 21! She probably thought her form from 2012/13 would carry through to trials and obviously Rio. In 2012 she was on a roll… She WASNT fully tapered in Omaha 2012 and still made the team and went on to improve her times in London by leaps and bounds breaking a WR in the process. Fast forward 4 years and she’s in serious danger of not making an individual team… Her confidence is shattered. She has to overcome this confidence crisis……
fast…..!

Eugene Chc

aswimfan, i hope she never will be coached by Schmitz again, or her career is over.
and it need 2-3 years to fix Schmitz mistake, maybe more.

aswimfan

Eugene,
It is obvious Missy needs experienced coach who is well-versed in biomechanics and swimming techniques, because her techniques need improvement. When she was 15-16 yo, her ideal height and power to weight ratio helped her to get the wins.
As she matures and her body changes, she needs to improve her technique and cannot rely on her power as much as before.

I don’t know who should ideally coach her. Salo? Marsh?

KeithM

I certainly don’t see Franlin as a given in the 200 back. I think DiRado and Baker could really make it a difficult proposition for her. This is the first time in Missy’s career that I can ever remember her going slower than her “in season” times at a major swim meet. She was 59.8 in Orlando. So clearly if the speed isn’t there then she hasn’t been “ready when she needed to be ready.” Her confidence can’t be high right now whatever positive outlook she tries to project. Maybe getting a a relay berth on the team tomorrow will ease the pressure.

aswimfan

I can’t envy how Missy must feel right now and how much pressure she must be experiencing. This is the full year after she’s gone pro. American media and US swimming has been putting her face in every swimming and olympics-related media materials and events. And to fail to qualify in her first event as defending Olympics champion must be crushing. I hope she recovers well and quickly for her next races.

Eugene Chc

aswimfan, i wtote about her freestyle in 2011-2012 years. And I assumed that Shcmitz did the same with her backstroke. What happened.
She swam great 200 yard free(1,39,1) at 20 years, her 200 back also was very good.

I think its many coach who can coach her, not ideally but she can win several gold medals at 2020. But its not Bownam or stanford coachs.

She planned to continue her studies at CAL after RIO, train will be there likely. But with what coach.

Eugene Chc

aswimfan, she also very overtrained,and poorly restored between races now. Missy herself even said in some interview that too many training.

aswimfan

Would it be possible to train with Dave Durden’s grad squad?
Durden certainly knows how to train a backstroker or two.

Barnabas Mandi

I think Missy won’t be anywhere. Perhaps in the relay. Perhaps. Depands on the others, and mainly BB.
I don’t know what had been gone wrong, but the is awful. Slow start, wrong turns, no technique, on the rope, no finish. The only moments for her at this Trials are the NBC commercials.
Seebohm will win both. No Americans will be on the podium in 200. And max one in 100.

Barnabas Mandi

The-this

aswimfan

Barnabas,
Who is BB?
I am still hoping Missy can get an individual ticket in 200 back. But if she does, it’s not because she’s swimming 2:06 or faster, it’s because – thankfully – for the lack of depth in US w200 back.
4×200 now represent her biggest chance to qualify. She should get it for sure, and I don’t know what to think if she somehow finishes a slower than 6th place, because the competition for that 100 free relay alternate is even more stiff (Ledecky, Manuel, Weitzeil, Vollmer, Kennedy, Smoliga, Bilquist, Coughlin)

Barnabas Mandi

Bob Bowman (not Brigitte Bardot). Holy cow, he is younger than me. Yes, the 200back is not so tough. Dirado and who? I don’t offend Missy, but I don’t see anything promising. 100 relay, no way. I think Margalis will be faster in 200 and then she is 5th. Border-line. And I don’t remember US ever bought more than 5 tickets for relays.

aswimfan

Bob Bowman is the men’s head coach. David Marsh is the women’s head coach, so it will depend on DM.
USA always brought all 6 place finishers for relays. This year could be different, though. Thanks to the relay only swimmers obligatory swim rule.

Barnabas Mandi

Thanks. Always learning.

Barnabas Mandi

aswimfan,
you’re American, weren’t you?
Can the two head coaches tell whom to choose for relays?
I would be interested in it.

Eugene Chc

almost no chance for 400 free relay. 200 back depends on Baker and Bilquist, if one of them sub 2.08, then Missy without individual swim.

Barnabas Mandi

Eugene. I think the same.

aswimfan

Barnabas,
I’m not American, I am Indonesian living in Jakarta,
And I don’t know exactly how the US head coaches work this year, based on past Olympics, the men’s head coach will get the final say for men’s relays (HELLO Michael’s relay swims!) and the women’s head coach will do the same for women’s relays. But as I understand it, all team coaches can contribute.

aswimfan

In 2004 Athens, Eddie Reese who was the men’s head coach received a lot of criticism especially from Hall Jr for selecting Ian Crocker to lead off men’s 4×100 free final. Crocker who was a bit ill at that time swam a horrendous 50.05.

But what else ER could have done? Crocker finished top 2 at US trials. In hindsight, ER probably didn’t realize that Crocker was that affected, although it’s weird because ER was Crocker’s coach.
That’s why I said Bob Bowman will be in a difficult situation come Rio. If he put Phelps in the free relays while Phelps does not register any 100/200 free at this trials, many people will accuse BB of favoritism. It will be ok and BB will be forgiven if Phelps split 1:45 and sub 48.00 in the relays, but he swim slower and the US gets beaten, you can bet many will ask for BB’s head.

Eugene Chc

Maybe, of course if she on team, her relay split will be good.

Ger

It’s hard to see where Phelps fits in in the 4×200 given that he has not put up any significant times and has been unhappy with his stroke (he is not swimming the 100m either which would at least have given indicators of his form). With 3 1:45’s and a 1:46 from Lochte, he needs to show his hand in freestyle. He hasn’t. Lochte’s 1:46 without injury issues and without a 400im behind him is worth a 1:45. Who do you leave out, and why?

aswimfan

Ger,
That’s what I’ve been saying since the 200 free final. Bowman will be in a very difficult situation in selecting the relays line ups.
Before his 200 free swim at Texas invitational 3 weeks ago, Phelps had said he wanted to post fast time for relay consideration so he doesn’t have to swim 100 and 200 free at the trials. But his free swims were slow. He got beaten by three or four Texans.
I just think he hasn’t recovered his confidence yet in free.
There is high chance Phelps will not swim both free relays in Rio.

aswimfan

The solution is:
Put Phelps to swim in the 4×200 prelims with Bentz, Smith and Lochte.
But unless Phelps swim much faster than the other 3, BB can select the fastest of the other 3 for the final to swim with Haas, Dwyer and Conger.
This way he will satisfy everyone and Phelps can win gold as part of the prelims relay.

Eugene Chc

Haas has great drop in 200 yard between conference and NCAA. about 3 seconds.
What will be in RIO.

Ger

What were Haas’s and Conger’s best 200m times coming into this meet?

@asf, your solution seems the only one.

Blah Blah

Young or not, Missy is past her prime. I’ve speculated it to be the case for her mediocre performances the past few years and I think at this point it is the most likely explanation for her performance. It’s not about technique, turns, starts, coaching, yards, etc. Some women peak very young, it happens.

Felix Sanchez

I have to agree that it will be fascinating to watch Bowman’s decisions on this.

In 2004 I didn’t think Gry Hall Jr had a strong case to complain. His time in the heats was simply not good enough to dislodge the markers Crocker and Phelps had put down earlier in the year. This would be different. We haven’t seen any good enough freestyle marker from Phelps for a long time, and while of course many other people will still have faith in him, Bowman’s position does feel like a conflict of interest.

aswimfan’s heat swim solution works, but I imagine the last thing Bowman wants is to weigh Phelps down with an extra race. His comments seem to suggest that good swimming in general will justify him in selecting Phelps. I doubt everyone will agree with that, but I suppose he would argue that he’s in the best place to judge. I look forward to the show.

aswimfan

Now that Lochte scratch, BB will not have any freedom to put Phelps in 4×100 free ahead of Lochte.

Well-played by Lochte I’d say!!!!

Anon

i doubt phelps would swim prelims at rio – if he didn’t swim it here, why would he swim it in rio? the whole point of not swimming it was to rest him for his other events. i think if phelps is in form, BB will (rightly or wrongly) select him despite not going faster than 1:46 since 2012

easyspeed

Bowman will put Phelps on the relay if Phelps is having a good meet in Rio. The reasoning is that if MP is swimming well, he will do well across the board. No need to subject the Goat to a silly energy wasting time trial (or prelim swim) to prove himself, his resume speaks for itself.

There will be a lot of complaining about that, similar to the Crocker/Reese situation, but Bowman will remind everyone that MP has more gold than King Midas and you want a vet on the relay over a rookie.

Felix Sanchez

But one of the relays will be before we have any idea how well Phelps is swimming in Rio, and it still may be unclear by the next.

And the added complication that in the 200 it’s Lochte in 4th place.

aswimfan

easyspeed,
m4x1 will be on the second day, when MP’s toes are still dry.
And m4x2 will be on the fourth day, the same night as 200fly final.

It seem getting more likley that the only possibility of MP getting a free relay swim at all is the 4×200 prelims.

easyspeed

I was referring to the 4×2. Don’t know about the 4×1.

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