Spirit of Gould, Babashoff, Evans: Katie Ledecky Eyes 100Fr/400IM, U.S. Olympic Trials

Katie Ledecky going the distance - by Patrick B. Kraemer

Katie Ledecky may add the 100m freestyle and 400m medley to her Olympic targets at U.S. trials in Omaha, Nebraska, next June 26 to July 3. NBC – the folk forcing midnight finals in Rio in an act of Olympic colonialism – reports “No U.S. woman has ever swum the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles at one Olympics”. False: Shirley Babashoff, 1976.

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Katie Ledecky may add the 100m freestyle and 400m medley to her Olympic targets at U.S. trials in Omaha, Nebraska, next June 26 to July 3. NBC – the folk forcing midnight finals in Rio in an act of Olympic colonialism – reports “No U.S. woman has ever swum the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles at one Olympics”. False: Shirley Babashoff, 1976.



Probably most expected she would add the 100 free if only for the relay. It’s a weak event though for the U.S. and with enough work she could possibly even make the top two. With a best of 54.55 done in season; compare that to 53.96 that won the trials in 2012; Simone Manuel 53.93 and Missy Franklin 54.00 in Kazan.
Whether she’s interested in the individual event is another question.
The 400IM I would look beyond Rio rather than towards it.


Would concur with Ger on this.

Very conceivable that she may want “in” on the 4×100 relay. Realistically she’s highly unlikely to be the “gamechanger” (or one of the gamechangers) they require but it’s conceivable that she’s capable of breaking 54 (flat start) and a 53low relay split which is as good as anyone they have at the moment.

400IM is a “killer” and would see this as a move for post Rio where a re-assessment of her program may well be on the cards.


Well, Ledecky can easily get a top 6 spot.. and she won´t have any other race on day 1 at Rio… but don´t know if that will even get US a medal..

With Savard out of Canada team and Taylor in, Canada will get at least 1 second faster, Penny also might even put Michelle out of the team, and Sweden need a 54 sprinter.. before thinking of Australia, US now has a higher risk of being beaten by Sweden and Canada at Rio..

paolo rubbiani

Never seen a swimmer like Ledecky: she swims, swims and swims and she repeats that she enjoys work hard and improve herself and her times.
She’s always in challange with herself, before the other swimmers.
Phelps was far more unquiet in his swimming career, a certain swimming’s boredom already visible in the winter after Athens 2004.
Ledecky, until now, is a unique case in swimming scenario for her will to work hard and set the bar of her times higher and higher: a monolyte apparently indestructible.

But swimming is a highly competitive sport, and Ledecky’s attempt to extend her schedule has a very few chances to succeed in a Ledecky way, i.e. with golds or at least medals.

No chances that she become a 100 freer to race with the best in the Worlds.
She may swim a 53 high flat-start (the times swam this year by 15 years old Steenbergen and Ruck) and a 53mid relay start (it will be difficult for Ledecky swimming in the waves of a 4×100 relay), but this doesn’t change a lot things for Usa women 4×100 free relay ( always in trouble against Australia, Nederlands and also other teams).

About 400 im Ledecky has a great endurance and ability in free ok (she’s the one who can swim like YeShiwen the last 100), but she has to improve a lot in many things (transitions from a style to another, knowledge of the race..), and above all in the breaststroke leg, but also in the backstroke leg.
So, also here absolutely no chance to be competitive with the best swimmers in the world and tiny chances to be in the first two at the next trials if Beisel will be healthy next season and Di Rado will go on with her great improvements showed in Kazan.

Lennart van Haaften

“I still have a lot to work on for my turns. Those are important things during short races.”

Actually, the start is more important in short races, while turns are more important in long races.

On average:
50m: 1 start and 0 turns per lap
100m: 0.5 starts and 0.5 turns per lap
200m: 0.25 starts and 0.75 turns per lap
800m: 0.06 starts and 0.94 turns per lap

Craig Lord

I think you are agreeing with her and she with you, lennart … quote reads on:
“I still have a lot to work on for my turns. Those are important things during short races. That would be helpful. And they add up a lot in the longer races… “


I think Ledecky has something else in mind that has been tried already and promises the improvement of her performance. The “turn” talks is just to say something to keep public excited with anticipation of upcoming great races. Should I be Ledecky I would forget about those 100m relay that will add nothing to her pure gold medal collection and I would not mess with 400IM. But I will target 200m world record. The feat that is as challenging as 400IM gold. With that I will take 4 Olympic golds in four incredible world records (I hope that Allison will offer a hand to go under 7:40). Such exceptional Olympic achievement with WR from 200 to 1500 will value much more for many than adding some very questionable win in 4x100m free or 400IM.

Felix Sanchez

Does anyone have any info on her ability over 200fly? Obviously it often quite suits the distance/middle distance freestylers, and her technique looks like someone with a good fly.

I do remember seeing Bruce Gemmell’s presentation when he said her non-freestyle strokes weren’t great. It wouldn’t be surprising if she had a serviceable fly and backstroke, but the breaststroke is always the question for the non-specialist.

Craig’s take on the value of ‘pretty good’ has to be correct. With a busy a schedule already on the plate, anything short of a good gold opportunity doesn’t seem worth it. Besides, one of the most impressive things about Ledecky is that she’s won a good number of major titles now, but we’ve still never seen her beaten on the international stage. It’s an aura worth having.

Ledecky may not be interested in open water right now, but it is an intriguing notion. If she was comfortable in the open water it would be hard to imagine anyone tiring her out, and then obviously her finish will always be the strongest. Would be good for her at an Olympic Games too where the open comes second week and thus couldn’t compromise ether pool schedule.


I can understand her being tempted by the 100 free. Everyone wants to be on that relay … surely a much more exciting race than the 4×200 relay, which I personally find slightly boring and would not mind taken out of the program in favor of something else.

Craig Lord

2:19.06 when she was 16 Felix and nothing inside 2:15 since, as far as I can see…if anyone has anything faster, point me to it…


She appears on the 200m SCY age group top 100 with a 2:00:61 for position No. 45 in the 13-14 group and 1:55:88 for position No. 13 in the 15-16 group. (Mary T. still top 1:52:99).

Felix Sanchez



@Yozhik: I hope everybody in Russia was proud of their World Junior Championship athletes! What an impressive job they did! What I liked to see most was their obvious team spirit (evident when the Russian anthem was being played) and the way they rose to the challenge on relays! 🙂

Regarding Ledecky: I don’t doubt she does plenty of IM work in her training and could improve her pb in the 400 IM significantly if she set her mind to it (4:37?), but I’m sure she’s only suggesting swimming that race at Trials to get in the pool and relieve some of her nerves prior to the 400 free on day 2. She’s well aware that she has a lot of work to do to among the very best in the world in the LCM 400 IM. Also, while at Stanford, Katie may be called upon to swim the 400 IM at times, so it might be a good idea for her to try to get an updated time prior to starting college.

However, Katie LOVES being in relays, and if she could finish top 6 in the 100 free at Trials I think she would be thrilled! With more focus on speed than endurance (because there is no 1500 free in Rio), perhaps she could go under 54. I doubt ANY US women will go under 53, but it would be nice if all 6 went sub 54 (with 3-4 under 53.5?) so the US could at least have a tiny chance of bronze in the 4×100.

Personally, I doubt Katie can qualify for an individual 100 swim, but even if she does I hope she will give up her spot in the race because she certainly has no chance to reach the podium! Actually, I also hope that if Missy Franklin qualifies for the individual 100 free (she was the fastest US woman this season) she will give up the race to focus on the 200 back. Let Simone Manuel (+ Geer/Weitzel/?) waste their time/energy chasing the Aussies, Dutch and Sjostrom in the 50/100; it’s a hopeless cause right now!

paolo rubbiani

@Rafael: About canadian 4×100 free relay two changes: Ruck and Oleksiak in, Savard and Williams out.
Van Landeghem, Ruck, Oleksiak and Mainville, young and very promising team, perhaps already in Rio.
@ThereaLuigi: In my opinion, 4×200 relay can be really exciting, even more exciting than 4×100 free because there are many possible turnovers.
In general, I find often more exciting longer races as regards short races… Certain 50s with Manaudou at the start gaining a lot and closing the race with his power are very boring. On the contrary, there are ( and there have been) certain 400, 800 and 1500 really interesting for the development of the race.

paolo rubbiani

I think that Ledecky and his coach (and Usa’s director Frank Busch as well), instead of launching the usual message of an american swimmer trying what never was done before, should have great attention at Sjostrom’s choices about 200 free.

Because, after what happened in Kazan, I think that Jenner, Sjostrom’s coach, should rethinking his decision not to swim 200 free in main events.
Without 50 fly and with an extremely difficult 50 free, the best schedule for Sjostrom in Rio is 100 fly, 200 free and 100 free (and the relays).
And if Sjostrom choose to race in the 200 free, she’s the favourite and Ledecky, at Rio2016, could gather “only” two individual golds and a third gold with the 4×200 free.


I agree about the two relay changes in Canada, and I wonder how far will go.I don’t know if they will be capable to beat the top 3 nations to earn a medal, but I think they will be a lot faster than their 3:36.4 from this year.

About 50s:It is all over again.One swimmer rules the scene(like Cesar Cielo did and now Florent Manaudou) with his powerful start till injury takes over.And Florent is already with some back problems…
I agree with your perspective about Sarah 50free, but all depends with the program.Think about it:In current state of the things, it is EASY to Sarah to qualify for 50 free final.But it is VERY HARD to earn gold medal in 50 free.The problem with 200 free:She will have two hard rounds to qualify for final, but a greater chance(but not a sure one) to win a gold at 200free.


ThereaLuigi or Luigi (whatever you prefer) let me first flatter you a little bit. I like your comments at swimming forums. Nice wordings, style, substance and sense of humor. But of course we are all humans and sometimes things happen and there would be an exception from the general rule. I agree with you that watching swimming competition is a boring thing to do. It is true, unless one understands the internal drama and what actually is happening in the pool. It is not like T&F or soccer when spectators know better than player what right thing to do is. In order to appreciate swimming races one either has to have swimming competitive experience or has to be related strongly to someone who actually competes. I think should Italy have strong 800m relay team you would love this competition very much. I agree with DJR that 50m is very strange race. One cannot see anything because of white water of splashes. PA doesn’t have time even to announce who is racing and at what lanes. Boom-boom!!, bum-bum!!! BUTS!!!! And someone wings by inches. Very weird, unless you know what is behind of all this noise and a difference of a few hundreds of a second. Or it should be your favorite who won. Having Allison Schmitt, Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky swimming together at their best is like witnessing a solar eclipse. Nothing special of course besides it is very unusual to see the Sun disappear and it happens so-so rarely. I am looking forward for Rio’s 4×200 relay (men and women) with a lot of excitement.

Francene Same

I find anyone so confidently saying that Sjostrom will be the favorite in the 200 free quite odd. Ledecky not only swam that race incredibly tired at Worlds, she will be another year into what is an extremely new venture for her.

People are now predicting 8:04/8:05 for her 800 in Rio (which I’ve been saying for a couple of year, btw), but for some reason don’t see as much improvement for her in the 200.

I’m not saying Ledecky is the favorite, but I cannot agree that Sjostrom is either.

I just wouldn’t bet against Ledecky in any event she really wants.


It couldn’t be said better Francence Same. It can be shocking but there is not much difference in how supper sprinter Sjostrom and super long distance swimmer Ledecky approach 200m race. Amazing resemblance in tactic. Ledecky’s last 100 matched Sjostrom’s race. She lost to her of course at the start but this is the area where she is focusing on improvement. When Ledecky touched the wall at 200m race In Kazan she being pleased with the win was obviously dissatisfied with the time. If not that almost disastrous semi-final day she would be definitely under 1:55. Sjostrom on the other hand regressed from 2014 at this distance and unless she will do a special training for this race it is not clear where she can find extra resources to be the dominant winner.


@ Danjohnrob. Thank you for trying to cheer me up but I have very little to do with “everybody in Russia”. I emigrated actually from the Soviet Union from the place that is North-Eastern Ukraine now. It is just one more generation but whenever I visit graves of my parents I feel myself a stranger at the place of my youth. But I share your love of the enthusiasm of young swimmers regardless their nationality. They believe that everything nice is ahead and after this success comes another.

Felix Sanchez

Things were a bit tougher at worlds, but it would be amazing if Sjostrom didn’t swim the 200free next year. The schedule could have been written for her:

100fly on the first two days, 200free the next two, 100free the next two, then 50free, with no over-lap. So strongest event completely uncompromised, and a progress from strongest to weakest prospect.


Disagree with your rankings, Felix.

Whilst the 100fly is the one event where she appears, in betting talk, “a short-priced favourite”; the 200fs is by far the least certain of her races when it comes to “medal talk”.

In the 50/100fs; she COULD walk away with the gold in either or both but these races look to be very tight tussles with both Campbell sisters & Kromowidjojo & potentially Halsall entering the picture with the 50. I would rate her a very very strong medal chance in both (esp 100).

Whilst she COULD win the 200, this race is so open that she could just as easily walk away with no medal. She’s be just one of at least 5 very strong contenders. I would give the same verdict to any of the other contenders for this race …… there IS no clear/overwhelming favourite & that includes Ledecky.

Craig Lord

Felix S, yes but … a reminder of what’s been said… Sweden will field relays in all three events… Sarah S will race in all of them, the final at least, assuming Sweden make it through … and these are the arguments from coach and swimmer, stating why they don’t think it feasible (we will have to wait to see if that changes…):


I knew that my comment on the 4×200 relay would stir a couple replies 🙂

Paolo: I did not say that I don’t like longer races. I like the 800 and the 1500 free for example. I just don’t particularly like the 4×200. I would rather have a 4×50. I know it may sound illogical, but it is what it is.

Yozhik: thank you for your kind words, but I am very surprised that you assume that I am bored by swimming as opposed to soccer. I mean, really? I am on a swimming forum after all! And a few days ago I advised Craig not to read the Gazzetta dello Sport because there is too much soccer in it. In fact, I am one of the very few Italians who have less interest in soccer than in other sports, swimming in particular.
FYI, we have had some very competitive (male) 4×200 squads over the years, particularly when Giorgio Lamberti in the 80s/90s first, and Max Rosolino in the 90s/2000s, were in the mix. And our current female 4×200 is not bad either.
But I still believe it’s too long a relay, whoever is in it.

As for the 50 free: it is “splash and dash” with some swimmers who rely on strength, or on the dive, I will give you that. But with some other swimmers, it’s the triumph of stroke technique. Look at Anthony Ervin, Gkolomeev, or Matt Biondi back in the day to name a few, they are virtuosos of the stroke.

If it was for me, there would be no dive in swimming. All swimmers would start at water level, with just a push off the wall. This way, swimming would be about swimming, not diving. But I do not make the rules and that is why we have swimmers who have already half-won the race upon the dive.


ps I have swam and played waterpolo in my early youth. I gave up during my teens when I realized I didn’t have enough talent to go on. I did share the pool with some kids who went on to become Olympic-level athletes. Today I swim in a masters team for my own pleasure.

paolo rubbiani

Sorry Commonwombat but I disagree with your comment about 200 free, while I agree a lot with DDias.
Things change and now Sjostrom is very far from the swimmer that suffered a lot the three rounds of 200 at Worlds2011 and Olympics2012 (but failed also in 100 fly in those occasions).
I’ve perfectly understood why Jenner has chosen to not swim 200 free at European in Berlin and Worlds in Kazan, and I wrote even here to not count Sjostrom for “golden race” of 200 free in Kazan, but now all is pretty clear: in my opinion Sjostrom is the strong favorite for 200 free in Rio, also considering the two hard rounds to qualify for final wrote in the great DDias’ post.
But heats and semi of 200 in Kazan were really so hard?
To enter in semifinal was enough the 1.58.68 swum by Lyrio (en passant, very promising young swimmer the brazilian 14 years old Raurich, DDias), to enter in the final the 1.56.95 swum by McKeon (en passant, pretty disappointing her performance in Kazan, Commonwombat).
These are times that Sara Sjostrom swims easily also in season.., so I’ don’t think that for the present Sjostrom who, as regards 2011/12, has gained a lot of endurance also without specific training for 200 free .

And most of us knows (but “the swimming politically correct” forces us to repeat the usual things: “is different swim one race in relay and 3 rounds of 200”, “the nerves of an individual final with great names at the start” and so on) that Sjostrom in Kazan would have won 200 free, because she had all to win it (perhaps also easily), like she showed in that lead-off of 4×200 free: easy at 100 m in 55.4-55.5 (while Ledecky can’t do better than 56 low in the first 100, and Heemskerk was completely off, and Franklin was far from an ideal shape, and Pellegrini was too cautious to turn at 100 under 56″) and then two 50s around 29-4-29.5.

For Sjostrom, with her characteristics (she’s a 100 freer capable of 52.7, but 100 free is almost too short for her, in fact her stroke looks better, much longer in the 200 free) swimming 1.54 low is a certainty.
And she can only improve with a bit of specific training.

The final of 200 free in Kazan was won by Ledecky in 1.55.16, and Ledecky could swim only that time because she hasn’t got the ideal characteristics for 200 free that Sjostrom had already in Kazan.

Ledecky is like Sun Yang at London 2012, a tremendous specialist of 400 and 1500 free, but not a 200 free specialist, Sjostrom is a lot more similar at Agnel. All know how 200 free in London finished, and I think that if Sjostrom’s coach will decide to entry (and training for) the 200 free in Rio, Sjostrom will be the great favourite for 200 free next year.

P.S. True Craig, there is the “problem” of relay, also more serious because in Kazan Sara raced both heats and finals (and in one day she swam two 200, heats and final of 4×200 free, and two100, heat and semifinal of individual race, and that best time in 200 was her last swim..).
But would be really silly not to swim a race that is, aside the 100 fly, the best chance of gold for Sjostrom.

paolo rubbiani

Edit: so I’ don’t think that for the present Sjostrom who, as regards 2011/12, has gained a lot of endurance also without specific training for 200 free, heats and semifinal of 200 in Kazan would have been really hard .


Paolo, my point re the 200 does not relate to times (I did not make one single mention of 200fs times) or the fatigue factors but merely the fact that the 200fs remains the most doubtful proposition for her due to the depth of the fields.

She’s a prohibitive favourite for the 100fly. She may not win the 100fs but she has to be considered an extraordinarily strong medal bet given the gap she & the Campbell sisters have on the current competition. The 50fs is slightly more open but she still must be regarded as one of the lead candidates & a solid medal bet.

I DO agree that the 200fs in Rio is likely to be a good deal faster than the slow race in Kazan but these can never be accurately predicted. I just see this race as by far the most open/competitive race of the four & the riskiest bet as regards “return on investment” for Sjostrom.


Therea; I am very curious as to how you would manage relay change-overs under your “no-dive” regime. It would certainly make for a very congested swimming lane with the next swimmer already in the water.

Paolo; I do not doubt the sincerity of your opinions, and I give them due respect as such, but the fact that you or I may strongly BELEIVE something does not make that a FACT unless/until there is clear proof of this bring so.

You lower her chances in the 100fs ….. I feel she’s as strong a contender as either Campbell. Likewise with the 50fs where her PBs are equal to the elder Campbell & significantly faster than the current World Champ … and I suspect THIS will be a much faster race in Rio

TBH, I see the W200fs in Rio as being what the Americans call a “crapshoot’ which relates to their “game of chance” which involves betting on the outcomes of rolling 2 dice.

If Sjostrom does enter, she most certainly is a VERY serious contender but the depth of competition is likely to be far greater than her other races.

This IS Ledecky’s most “vulnerable” event, I do agree.

Will Franklin be back to her best ? We will have to wait and see but if she is there then she has to be respected.

Could Schmitt be back to top form & have replaced either Franklin or Ledecky ?

Pellegrini still has to be respected & feared. Heemskerk’s record in the biggest events has been “doubtful” but those best times do say that she has to be considered a potential threat.

I’m not going to tell Ms Sjostrom or her coach what they must do. IF they choose to enter the 200fs then I wish them well and they would have decided this after “thinking it through”. If they choose not to, I can understand their reasons why and respect that.

And, BTW, whilst my nickname may be Wombat; I’m as much South African as I am Australian and I’m just as likely to be critical of a poor/substandard AUS performance as I would be of a swimmer from ANY other country.

Felix Sanchez

There is a reasonable case there that the 100free is a more secure medal prospect for Sjostrom, but it’s not as a good a gold prospect. In the freestyle sprints even she doubts herself a bit, and there’s a good chance that if she performs to her best, that the Campbells or Kromowidjojo will still beat her. In the 200 free she is more in control (of herself). It’s a deep field, but there are question marks over all of them, and while it should be faster than this year’s world final, Schmidt’s 2012 time seems quite far off.


Felix, I can agree there are question marks that apply to the other 200fs contenders …… and Schmitt at this stage is only a maybe … but the very same doubts must also apply to Sjostrom who has less international “form” over this distance than they do.

Re the 100, Kromowidjojo hasn’t been down to the sub53’s for a few years and whilst it’s possible she could get back there; that appears a less likely outcome than Sjostrom or the Campbells. At this point, Kromowidjojo looks more of a threat over 50 than the 100.

Both Campbells have 100fs world titles to their name …. but only one individual Olympic final to either of their names (and C1 has been to 2 Olympics).

Neither of them can be considered the “prohibitive”/secure bets that Ledecky is over 400/800; Sjostrom in 100fly or AUS W4X100/USA w4x200


Commonwombat: I should have added “except for relays” 😀

Felix Sanchez

Oh yes, agree on those points. Kromowidjojo mainly as a 50 threat, and neither Campbell a prohibitive favourite.

Despite their limited Olympic experience, one does expect the Campbells to turn up, though, as opposed to the doubts about several 200 contenders. It’s certainly an event to look forward to, but hard to agree that it’s a ‘crapshoot’. Most observers will be confident that Ledecky will perform and be faster next year, while expecting little of Hemskeerk. No doubt by the time the race arrives we’ll have a good idea what sort of shape Franklin and Pellegrini are in, and then certainly Franklin’s performance level will be probably be reliable and predictable.

Maybe we’re splitting hairs a bit, as there’s probably not much in it. The main thing is that none of the events over-lap (at least relays are at the end of the session!), and Sjostrom gets a clear run at the 100 fly – surely if she does secure that first Olympic title everything else will feel like a bonus anyway.


Luigi, thank you for not getting angry with me. I selfishly provoked you to get longer than two sentences posting from you. (I like you here) 🙂
The 200m free race is a very special one that requires not only great sprinter technique, not only endurance and not only very strong will to win, but all these factors perfectly blended together. That explains (as commonwombat noticed) such a strange variety of contenders where nobody swim this distance alike – Sjostrom, Hosszu, Heemskerk, Franklin, Ledecky, Pellegrini, Schmitt. Unbelievable. They are strong with one or two points, but not with all three at the same time. And new names are coming soon to make this ikebana even brighter.
The 4×200 relay multiplies this uncertainty by four times. I agree it can be boring if the leader and outsider are known a priori. But look at Franklin’s and Ledecky’s wins from the far behind in Barcelona and Gold Coast. Look at Sjostrom-Pellegrini swing in Berlin or Pellegrinni’s finish in Kazan. Where can you find a similar excitement? I’m almost positive that should Sjostrom swim for the win third or fourth leg but not for the personal best at first leg she would be much better because of the will factor.

paolo rubbiani

@ThereaLuigi: Gkolomeev’s name surprised me a lot…
No, seriously, I appreciated your posts and it’s always pleasant discuss about swimming with another Italian who has less interest in soccer than in other sports, swimming in particular.

@Commonwombat: if you are both Australian and South African you are the perfect supporter of Cate and Bronte Campbell..
I like doing swimming’s preview, but I know that in swimming things can change quickly: yongsters fastly improving and other swimmers, still young, rapidly fading.
And obviously nobody wants to tell Ms Sjostrom or her coach what they must do. I’m just a swimming fan and tell my opinion (in a very poor english) in this site, only that..

@Yozhik: As written above, I think that only Sjostrom, among your 200 free contenders, has a unique blend: she’s a 52.7 100 freer and has a very good endurance (she swam a 400 free in 4.06 in-season).
About the will of win…I don’t know, but I think that she has a great, great time in her, if she trains for 200.


Paolo, despite of being a fan of Katie Ledecky, I have to admit that Sarah Sjostrom is the most unique swimmer that makes her incomparable to Sisters, to Ledecky and to Hosszu. The swimmer that by her natural tremendous gifts is the most suitable to race 200m free. Most suitable if not to count Schmitt’s Olympic race. But if it ever happens that Ledecky beats Sjostrom in the same race it will happen because and only because Katie wants it so badly and IS ready and IS trained to go to the end of her abilities for the sake of win.
Have you ever seen the grimace of pain on Sarah’s face at the end of the race? Was she ever been that much emptied as Ledecky was after Kazan’s semi-final? No. Even after her breathless world record at 50 fly she was widely smiling in a minute like it was nothing but a walking in the park. I am sure that if she gets strongly determined she will win 200m free in Rio. But that is a big “IF”. And it is not because she has a weak character. It would be naïve to suggest that she and her coach made a decision of not racing 200m free without thorough analysis of such possibility. Something didn’t get right with those tests and what that was I can only guess.


What surprised you, Paolo, about Gkolomeev’s name?

My take on Sjostrom: she is the female version of sprint male legends such as Matt Biondi or PVDH, the Flying Dutch. Elite-level across 50, 100 and 200 free (plus in sprint fly, in this resembling Biondi). It does not happen often in nowadays swimming, where you need to be iper-specialized and sometimes if you are swimming a strong 50, your 100 will suffer and viceversa.

paolo rubbiani

@Yozhik: I agree with you.
Just one point. I think that for European 2012 and Worlds 2013 the focus of Sjostrom and, above all, her coach (I think that Jenner has the ultimate word) was trying to maximize Sjostrom’s chances to win many races as possible: so no 200 free because too early in the schedule and the fatigue of 3 rounds of 200 free could affect Sjostrom’s chances in the following races: 100 free, 50 fly and 50 free.
But next year, with no 50 fly and the experience of what happened in Kazan (gold in 100 free and particularly 50 free not easy, and clearly the best time in 200 free by Sjostrom) , I think that all could change and the 200 free could enter in Sjostrom’s schedule of races. We’ll see..

@ThereaLuigi: Gkolomeev as virtuoso of free stroke surprised me a bit…
But I don’t disagree, I have only to pay more attention about him and his stroke..
Completely agree about iperspecialization of modern swimming (Manaudou is clearly the greatest 50-specialist in free, fly and very good also in 50 back and breast, but in 100 races suffers in every stroke, plus or minus, but there are a lot of cases)


Paolo, see the links below. The first is an amateur Youtube video of Gkolomeev taken when he was a teen, still living in Greece, before going to the US and swimming in NCAA, and still very, very raw.

The second is a video with comments of his coaches in Alabama the first year he arrived.




I would not call Manadou the best 50 flyer yet, he is the best on 50 free for sure but Cielo still holds the textile best with 22,76.

paolo rubbiani

Thanks for the videos ThereaLuigi.

I’ve become a fan of Kristian Gkolomeev after seen not only his stroke (nice, continuos stroke, I agree with you), but above all the incredible 2014 Ncaa final of 50 yd, which I have never seen before.
Really incredible how Gkolomeev won that race after a very slow start (Tandy was more than a meter in front after the dive) and a low-average turn.
But in the water he was clearly the quickest.

In 50 metres LC Gkolomeev could swim great times, that’s for sure.

@Rafael: Manaudou won 50 fly at recent Worlds, so now he’s the best 50 flyer. Not the best in history, I agree.


Yes, Paolo, exactly my thoughts (and surely the thoughts of a lot of swimming fans): you simply don’t catch up lost ground in the 50 yard with that ugly dive and with mediocre underwaters. It’s something that just does not happen. Unless you are a monster in the swimming part of the race.


It can be difficult to train for the 100 200 400 and 800m, Shane Gould and Ian Thorpe managed to medal in all at Olympics and worlds although the distance work tends to slow the sprint times a bit! Would be surprised if Katie can swim a 52.9!

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