Which Champions Will Keep Their Crowns In Kazan? The Form Guide: Women’s Medley

Medley muscle: can Katinka Hosszu hold off those seeking her crowns?

In our series looking ahead to the World Championships, we’ve started to consider which titles will be defended and how the holder is shaping up. After the men’, we turn to the women, starting with medley

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In our series looking ahead to the World Championships, we’ve started to consider which titles will be defended and how the holder is shaping up. After the men’, we turn to the women, starting with medley

Comments

Wesley

Thanks for the article Craig

Something that i find quite interesting (forgive my bias for Katinka, i should probably do this for Miss Belmonte as well as Elizabeth Beisel).

The first two swims of the season for GBR come from their national champs, where i would imagine both swimmers where rested up quite nicely.

Both times are superb and we cannot take anything away from them, however, Katinka’s time, i would imagine would come unrested.

A simple percentage based calculation would reveal a consistent drop from her WC splits from 2013, with a larger than usual drop off on the backstroke leg (4.9%) vs the average 2-3% per 50. (and a 2.6% gain on the last 50).

Also, compared with her evening splits, the same sort of graph would be applicable.

Consistent. I think the 400 medley is going to reveal a sub 4:30 swim in Kazan.

Craig Lord

Wesley, I think you’re half right on the rested/unrested 🙂 Miley started her taper after winning the 200 fly in 2:08 in London 🙂 so that would be a sort of taper but hardly peak taper – I’d put money on her having more; Willmott, too, is in a state of settling in to her new place in London at the aquatics centre and I’m sure has more to deliver. And we mustn’t be blinded by season bests in championship conditions: before London nationals, the unrested season bests of the top two Brits were:
4:35.48 Miley
4:35.74 Willmott
I think they, along with others have a sub-4:30 in them. Saying much easier than doing, of course 🙂

Craig Lord

Roy, the freestyle split was not fast it was extraordinary and off-the-chart in nature. On backstroke, it may have looked like that but it is highly likely that Ye was putting in a great deal of effort, at least that’s what all the available evidence suggests, including the backstroke splits:

1:08.18 Beisel (london 2012) – best 200 back in 2012: 2:06.18
1:08.28 Hosszu (Barcelona 13) – best 200 back in 2013: 2:08.93
1:09.54 Ye (London 2012) best 200 back in 2012: 2:11.18 (she swam 2:09s in 2013 and 2015)

That does not suggest she was holding back in the London 2012 final on backstroke. Looking at the videos of several of her races, slower or fastest, she swims the backstroke with very similar technique

Bad Anon

I think Kirsty Coventry will be in the mix in the, 200IM . She is coming back to form and we’ll see her at peak in Kazan. 2.08 to medal, 200IM and 4.31 in the 400. that’s standard

Wesley

@Craig,

Again, I say [I am] biased, however I do agree that Miley will also threaten that mark too.
As would MB, seeing as they trained together.

We cannot write any of the top competitors off, all I was suggesting was that comparatively, I would put Hosszu’s performance down as one (graphically speaking) that has potential to be under 4:30 come race day.

One thing I have noticed though, through all of these articles (and just in general) is the range of all the swims are tightening quite nicely. We are going to have quite a spectacle come August.

Rafael

I did not think Ye back was easy.. looking the race her breaststroke was smooth, for every 3 pulls the field did she only took 2..

Bad Anon

Hosszu going sub 4.30 is in keeping with her formline, she will have to close with 1.01 on freestyle. The 4.30 barrier is really a product of a “perfect” swim. Even 2009 failed to see a sub 4.30, Rice and Coventry on 4.29 in Beijing in 50% poly suits of the kind now banned. Still those efforts remain historic, 4years on it took to see the next 4.30 and we may not see another sub 4.30 until rio

Danjohnrob

In the nearly 7 years since that women’s 400 IM race at US Olympic Trials (see video above), Elizabeth Beisel, who came in second, has been unable to improve the 1.75 seconds that would have been necessary to beat Katie Hoff that day! In a sense, her career since then has been an attempt to catch-up/beat Katie’s time. I would really love to see her do that and break the American Record before she retires!

Since Ye zipped past her in the London final, Beisel has re-dedicated herself with an emphasis on improving her freestyle times to prevent the same thing from happening again! She was starting to show significant progress in her 200-800 free times. Unfortunately, Elizabeth developed a groin injury which has limited her training. I’m not sure what to expect from her in Kazan. 🙁

Craig Lord

Danjohnrob: that 1.75 sec etc is not the real deal on Miss Beisel. For that you have to look to her textile times since 2010 for a genuine view of her timeline:

…. all but 2010 inside Katie’s textile world record of 4:32
4:31.99 2014
4:31.69 2013
4:31.27 2012
4:31.78 2011
4:34.04 2010

Bad Anon

You can always count on Beisel and Miley to go (at least) 4.31 at peak. In kazan it will be hard for anyone to go 4.29 with 400IM coming at the end of the schedule, a 2.07 200IM will be more likely has semis will be on day 1 and finals on day 2.

Danjohnrob

Mr Lord: You are absolutely right! I am not giving Miss Beisel enough credit!

Bad Anon

Irie is very skinny but has beaten the likes of Ryan Lochte. Coventry is also very skinny but has been 4.29 but the muscular iron lady is still to swim 4.29. It comes to strength, endurance, technique and training

Craig Lord

Thanks Bad Anon – I have asked Roy to place that comment where it belongs and in gender context. The tallness of women etc is rather irrelevant to Hagino and what makes him fast.

Craig Lord

Yes, she is, Roy: 200IM and 200 back focus so far in racing. Both 2:12s unrested, which is pretty encouraging… her textile best 200IM is a 2:10.51, her text’ 200 back 2:06.83.

for33

It’s incredibly difficult to predict the winners in these medley races. Common sense suggest that the more physically stronger swimmers: Ms. Hosszu, Ms. Belmonte-Garcia, Ms. Ye, and Ms. Beisel have the advantage. I just hope that everything works out well for Ms. Miley, and that she prevails in the longer race. I also hope for Ms. McMaster to have a great performance. Progress from Ms. Dirado would also be very welcome. It’s even harder to predict the shorter race. But Ms. Alicia Coutts will be sorely missed.

MP

Wesley – Katinka is never swimming unrested and that’s why she wins the WC legs and all of them for many months

Rob

Interesting picture of Hosszu, had not realised she had such a powerful upper body. Given her constant testing in World Cups etc., and Hungary’s great history of amazing medley swimmers will give her the benefit of the doubt, but Hungary has had its share of problems in athletics throws with drug test failures.

Danjohnrob

@Rob: In my experience, when somebody is very lean they look more muscular in a photo than they seem when you’re standing next to them. According to Wiki, Katinka is 5’7″ and 123#. While I’ve never met her, and the info on Wiki can certainly be inaccurate, I feel pretty certain that she’s “ripped”, not muscular.

Josh

Beisel would likely have gotten that American record last year if not for the genius of scheduling Pan Pacs outdoors during the rain and wind of the Australian winter. As it was, she won by nearly four seconds, pretty much the model of consistency at the international level in this event.

Unpopular opinion though it may be, I believe Katinka needs to drop the 400 IM after Kazan and focus on the 200 IM and whichever backstroke race (this is where I believe she has the most untapped potential) doesn’t interfere with the 200 IM. As you pointed out, history is not kind to older swimmers in the 400 IM.

Bad Anon

Quite so Josh, two 400IM swims about 8-10hrs apart are hard to handle for older swimmers. 200IM overlaps with 100back with both worlds and Olympics schedules. I recall she (hosszu ) went 59.4 in 100back prelims before scratching to focus on the 2IM final which clearly paid off with a textile PB for her (2.07.92). No doubt Hosszu is a great backstroke swimmer. to her credit she holds 200back wr scm and the the first and only one to do so in under 2mins. She probably could be 2.05/2.06 lcm or around 58high if she focussed on backstroke lcm

aswimfan

Sjoestrom is the only female swimmer who has sub 53, sub 57 and sub 1:00
Coupled that with her 1:55 and 4:05
And if she has sub 1:10 in her she would be extremely deadly in 200 IM

Torchbearer

And don’t forget the Olympic final may be at 1AM in the morning just to make things a bit tougher!

aswimfan

And I agree with everyone who thinks Hosszu should drop 400IM. O
Not only the competition, but the training required for 400 IM would increase the chance for shoulder injury.

Hosszu may now be at the peak of her 400 IM, but next year is a different story.

aswimfan

Sjostrom has swum 200 fly LCM exactly three times in the past 5 years:

2:12.77 (May, 2011)

2:14.29 (March, 2012)

2:16.85 (March, 2012)

beachmouse

Missy Franklin has a pretty weak breaststroke by international standards. She can turn in an excellent SCY or SCM 200 IM because the extra turn lets her hide that weakness but long course swimming is another story.

Danjohnrob

For Beisel’s sake I would love it if Hosszu dropped the 400 IM, but that will not happen. The 400 IM is the first day of the Olympics! If she gets a medal in it, the pressure will be off and the rest of her Olympic meet will be fantastic. Plus, in all honesty, that and the 200 IM are her best chances for gold. Her strength is in her versatility; she is competitive in almost every race, but she’s the BEST only in the IM’s. All of this “Ironwoman”, I can swim every event at every meet is physical and mental preparation specifically for the Olympic 400!

aswimfan

I have just watched women 400 IM London Olympics final and realized again how crazy big the talent of all 8 finalists are.

http://youtu.be/ArKGCqlVbLQ

Bad Anon

Aswimfan, suggest you watch 200IM final as well, that final at London Olympics was simply star studded, 2.10.93 to make that final. absolute thriller of a race

aswimfan

Bad Anon,

I actually have watched all London races many many times. I watched all London races live (had to wake myself up at 1 am every night and participated in the live chat of another swimming forum) and yes the 200 IM final was also outstanding.

I think the talent pool of London’s 200 and 400 IM have not been surpassed by Barcelona’s 200/400 IM, and I don’t think they will be surpassed by Kazan either.

aswimfan

I followed Stephanie Rice’s twitter in the months to London, and it struck me that she looked a bit too thin in London and may have impacted her strength. Probably due to all her natural diet, raw food, and “no toxin” diet .

Here’s the 200 IM London final:

https://youtu.be/VGjsbtPOB_M

Bad Anon

Yes, I recall Rice was having a diet of beans and vegetable based, she looked a pale shadow of her Beijing peak, she was devastated and quit the sport

Torchbearer

Rice was recovering from surgery too in London, not at her best, and still finished middle of the pack in two finals. Amazing racer, but a sad end.

Jay

An unpopular opinion, but I feel Beisel has reached per potential in the 400 IM. She’s been a model of consistency at 4:31 for 2011, 12, 13, and 14, but has shown no improvement. Another commenter mentioned the bad weather at Pan Pacs, but let’s not forget what Ledecky did in that weather. Plus with Beisel’s recent physical setback, it’s not looking promising for her to return to top form. Maybe I’ll eat my words, and I hope I do. But I’m thinking that if she can’t show more promise by training camp for Worlds, that she should relinquish her spot in the 400IM and 200Back and let someone else take them. Having a selection meet a year ahead opens up the possibility that someone will not be at their best when the true test is to be made.

beachmouse

There are two American women from the 2006 Pan Pacs team on the 2015 WC team: Jessica Hardy and Elizabeth Beisel, who was making her senior international debut as a 13 year old 200 backstroke specialist. While Hardy has disappointed in a couple different ways over the years, Beisel, also youngest member of the American squad for Beijing at 15, has been a very solid contributor to UN international squads for so long at this point, it’s kind of surprising that she’s still only 22.

Craig Lord

Jay, Australian colleagues told me last year (when I wrote something similar about the weather not stopping Katie Ledecky) that the weather did change and was much improved when KL swam her best efforts (they were all rather impressive, of course 🙂 … but apparently, not all sessions were affected by weather and those that were were significantly affected … that’s what I was told by folk there on the ground and in the stands. If EB is deemed fit to swim, she earned her spot, of course, and not in the nature of the competitor to step down, especially given that (at a time when her in-training efforts have been fine of late) she has a 6sec leeway over the 3rd best American in 2014, that 3rd time one that Beisel has swum almost 30 times in her career, heats and finals in training and rested. She may not feel inclined to given up her spot unless medical advice tells her to.

Josh

Jay, if you’re considering her swims in Mesa as some sort of harbinger of bad form, you should know that she was about a week back into training after taking a break to go with her boyfriend to Europe for some sightseeing right after he finished swimming at NCAAs. Let’s not forget that she went a 4:36 in January, which was considerably faster than she was going in january of 2014, and she also went a 4:10 in the 400 free in February while in the midst of injury rehab.

Sometimes it’s to the detriment of the college team, but if there’s anything Florida does well, it’s getting swimmers ready for the Olympic Trials, and for big international competitions. Lochte had a groin pull before 2010 Nationals and came back better than ever. When the big lights are on, I have no doubt she’ll be ready to swim fast.

Luke

Double the 58.6 that Ye Shiwen split and its equal to her 200m time of 1.57.17. Her final 100m of her best 200m would likely have been slower.

This is very suspicious of the drug Sun Yang tested positive for that is used for angina. Trimetazidine improves the heart’s ability to use glucose and helps the heart to meet its oxygen demands under stress. It also protects the heart from the damage associated with speed endurance/lactate tolerance training. They’d be able to do unheard of things in training.

Jay

Craig – in re-reading my original post about EB, it was out of line and if I could I’d remove it. Anyone who earned a spot on a team under the selection rules fully deserves it. I think I was put off by how far ahead that selection meet was, and how much I wish she would all of a sudden crash through that 4:31 barrier. Her injury is extremely unfortunate and hopefully she’ll be back in top form when it counts the most.

Craig Lord

Jay, if you feel uncomfortable with it, I am happy to edit the reference out. Comments are not here to hurt … if anyone ever wishes to remove a comment they feel uneasy with, they can send a quick note to editorial@swimvortex.com with their request.

Yozhik

Mr. Lord, Katie Ledecky swam almost each day last year at Pan Pacs. Can you recall if possible what exact best efforts of Ledecky were not affected by weather according to your Australian colleagues? I’m particular interested in 800m freestyle relay. Thank you.

Jay

Craig – thanks for offer, but I guess leave it since it’s been commented on and I’ve gone back on it. I just need to “think before I click ‘submit comment’. I appreciate your commentary and all that you do here to make this site engaging and informative.

Craig Lord

Thanks Jay. I share your thoughts on teams selected a year out – there are bound to be folk left home who would otherwise have made their worlds debut etc (i understand, too, the arguments related to cycles, blocks of work, making folk hungrier etc…even so …)

beachmouse

I’ve also thought that Ye 2012 has some suspicious similarities to what got Sun in trouble.

I don’t think we’ll ever see her swim like that again. But she is both talented and hard working and I think she does have the ability for a 4:34 prelims/ 4:31 finals on ‘water, oats, and hay’ as the old time horse racing fans would say and those are podium contender numbers for this summer.

aswimfan

When I think about it, Sun Yang closed his 1,500 faster than Thorpe ever did in his 200 or 400, and Thorpe was world championships and Olympics medalist in 100 free.

At the time when Sun Yang did it, I along with many celebrated it with gusto. Now, eh..

Rafael

Well.. the way Sun Closed his 1500 was faster than closing his 400…

Danjohnrob

@beachmouse and @aswimfan: I completely agree! When Ye swam the way she did, I was one of those who thought it seemed too good to be true; but I remember many people, rightly, reminded me there was no proof she cheated, and there still is no proof. In fact, even if Sun (or Ye) used that drug to win in London it wasn’t illegal to do so at the time.

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