How The Tide Has Turned In World-Class Waters

A Viking Cry fit for gold in its own right - Sarah Sjostrom's joy captured by Patrick B Kraemer

As one season comes to a close on the cusp of a World Junior Championships that will whet our appetite with the spray of the next wave, reflects on events at the 15th FINA World Championships in Barcelona. John Lohn hands out grades to the top nations, while Craig Lord considers the shifting tiding of world swimming, including an interim glance at our 2013 Swim League of Nations

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As one season comes to a close on the cusp of a World Junior Championships that will whet our appetite with the spray of the next wave, reflects on events at the 15th FINA World Championships in Barcelona. John Lohn hands out grades to the top nations, while Craig Lord considers the shifting tiding of world swimming, including an interim glance at our 2013 Swim League of Nations



Great article! But just to be picky, Sun’s relay leg is only the 2nd fastest in history – Biedermann’s leadoff leg in ’09 was a 1.42.86.

Fastest in textile though 🙂

Craig Lord

Yes, textile… thanks Ben 🙂


Can’t believe that Sarah Sjöström didn’t get scream of the meet for that primal scream! I’m sure they could hear it all the way to Stockholm.

But thanks for a great article and summing up what was a fantastic championship for a post-Olympic year.

mister clive

Terrific article. Probably need to emphasise the last few paragraphs some more as I doubt that the powers that be will read that far.

Craig Lord

Her scream was joyous rather that wild … otherwise, certain gold 🙂


Wow, what an article! Thanks so much! The point system for the contenders in the finals is brilliant; it certainly brings to light the nations’ trends over this decade. The Scary Screamer award as well … inside out – a most unique podium rarely given press.

Generally, I would humbly suggest a run through the spell checker for each article that comes hot off the laptop. The passion for the sport and the quality of the well refined content reflected in this article deserve grammatical perfection. (I am glad for the spell check right here in the comment box!)

I hope that this article and/or portions of it are repeated many times in publications worldwide as Swim Vortex rises in internet search engine standings as one of the cream of the crop for so reliably representing and reporting on our beloved aquatic sport. Thank you again, Craig!

Craig Lord

Very kind Nance. I’ll try to give the spell check a close check (though that’s often wrong too, English/US English wise)… and my biggest problem right now is the ‘e’ not registering on the keyboard … post-holidays this week, off to the genius bar for a new ‘e’! All the best, Craig


The Pinnacle of the Meet: men’s 4×100 freestyle relay. I’ve never seen four countries battling it out in this way. In the last lap of the relay all of them had a chance to make it. More like this and I may learn to like relays, even though they are normally boring.

The Best Performance of the Meet: Katie Ledecky’s 400-metres freestyle. Surely it wasn’t a world record but Pellegrini’s world records are among the toughest on the Women’s side. Pellegrini was, and still is, a sheer middle-distance freestyler in an excellent shape when she delivered her world-record performances with the help of home crowd. Ledecky indicated they are reachable.

The Best Untrained Performance: Federica Pellegrini’s 200-metres freestyle. My pseudo-scientific exploration of swimmers’ twitter accounts reveals that it’s Pellegrini who trained worst, unless heavy partying is regarded as a training, among all the athletes prior to the World Championships. Given her training her silver in the Women’s 200m freestyle is a remarkable achievement and justifies this title.

The Most Beautiful Technique: Camille Muffat. RMP’s technique is just majestic but I’ve been so long a champion of Muffat’s smoothness and effortlessness that I’m not going to reject her now. I hope she recovers quicly from her obvious disappointments (she was after claiming something shinier than a bronze) and strike herself back into the gold battle.

The Moment of Madness: Katinka Hosszu entering far too many events.
The wisest Decision of the Meet: Katinka Hosszu scratching 100m back after preliminaries.

The Nerves of Steel: James Magnussen delivering, intentionally, a subpar performance in the semis to get some clear water and distance from Adrian and the wash in the final. 🙂 Maggie possesses good prospects of achieving outstanding triple crown in the marquee event in 2015, Kazan.

The Best Moment of the Meet: Of course Finnish Matti Mattsson medaling in the Men’s 200m breastroke. Nordic women were good competitors to him in this regard.

Breakthrough Star: Cameron McEvoy’s sub-48-seconds performance in the final of a marquee event is noteworthy for a guy still 19 years of age. This is also about nerves in a situation when many more experienced athletes have collapsed.

A Class Act of the Meet: Cate Campbell comforting Alicia Coutts after her anchor leg that ended in the second place in the Women’s relay. Cate’s understanding of Alicia’s feelings and the response to it was immediate. Owing to her supportive words about her older teammate in an interview with the Australian team on Eurosport, she just outstripped Adrian and Grevers and claimed this title. And my goodness she is fast!


Great article! I love coming to your site and reading up on news and your views on races of swimming history.
Great mix.
Oh, the wooden spoon for Germany … it is sad to hear Britta Steffen being content with reaching a final. Though the German fans from the DSV summer camp deserve a title for most engaged fans (i.e. that were not Spanish) even if medal chances were slim.


Did not want to advertise, sorry about that! 🙂 I cannot edit my comment.

Craig Lord

No problem. I have deleted the reference that troubled you Isabel. Thanks for your comment. regards, C

Bill Bell

Let’s face it. Apartfrom USA, a few Aussies, One Chinaman, two Russians, a as we’re, aDane, a trio of South Africans, Hoszu of Hungary sand Cielo Nd Pereira and a coupl of Japanese men, the rest o the world STINKS.

And come Rio when Phelps is back, Corded is older, wiser, mas experienced and faster, Aroan s at the top of his game, Ryan Murph is a double wr -holder, Ledecky now hs 300 free plus 400 , 800 an mile, Nissy’s got 100 free – back wars, the rest of the world wll beg for MERCY.

Oh and don.t forget Soni and Breeja Larson, wr setters BOTH @ Kazan in dos Amos.

It’ll be worse than Custer @ the Little Big Horn!

Meilutyte my foot. – one-event wonder and Larson’ll take care of her at Kan.

We have kids nobody’s ever herd of who’ll kick butt bad take no pioneers com Rio, mark my words, folks


Bill Bell,

Meillutyte a one event wonder?She is only sixteen…and have tits even in her name!(Okay, bad joke…)There is nothing to appoint she is not going to improve.
Young US generation is very impressive, but so is the ones around the World in Australia,Russia,England…
There is no doubt US Team will be a monster team in Rio, but there is a lot of people knocking around the door.

Craig Lord

I recommend yoga and perhaps the odd nap in a dark, cool room at lunchtime, Bill 🙂


I think Bill is just attempting to create a bit electricity in the air that may be only desirable for the world of swimming. Our problem is how to transform that excitement to the awareness of big audience. It’s also desirable that medalists are coming from several, not only a handful of countries. We have chance of making this a truly global sport in which no one nation dominates.

The USA is bleeding medals now and for the foreseeable future. Especially when it comes to breastroke I can see parched General Custer walking in desert looking for the oasis of medals but all he finds are winning smiles of several European breastrokers with golds hanging around their necks. Cordes picked the wrong stroke. 😉


Didn’t you miss out the bit where Mattson is going to ‘smash Cordes like a guitar’, my fine Finnish friend? 🙂


I was about to mention it but I though it would deprive the likes of RMP, Meilutyte and Guyrta of their well-earned attention for mopping the floor with their American opponents in Barcelona.



I thought you’d be familiar with Bill Bell by now 🙂

He is of the famous keeper of swimming records and exaggerationer extraordinaire of swimmingworld/swiminfo.


By the way, Craig, you missed including Sun Yang’s lead off from 4×200 free final in your ranking list.


Once they get the illegal dolphin kicking under control (everybody does or doesn’t) the USA will once again be competitive. They are being too honest to be competitive right not.

Craig Lord

I don’t think that’s the reason why thy are not matching Gyurta and Co…

Craig Lord

From Barcelona? He swam last leg in the final… (let me know if I’ve missed your point…)


ah…its him!I have his ranking sheet…
Sun Yang close the relay.

Gyurta dont have an awesome dolphin kick.He is consistent during all race.There is no excuse.But i think Cordes can be a big breast star, if americans dont try to compare yards with meters.Its another league.

Talking about rankings:
In 2012 old swimnews ranking, Marcelo Chieriguini was listed as 22.34 in 50 free.He wasnt even shaved when he made this time.He shaved for 100free(where he made 48.79-his best that year), and later, swam Pinheiros 4x50free where he opened in 22.03.That is his best of 2012.For some unknow reasons, CBDA dont release the names of relay openings(Even with official times) in the past.That changed this year.(If you have doubts, talk with your friend Alex Pussieldi).


@Craig Lord

Unrelated, but I’ve recently located the live streams for every full session @London Aquatics Centre, thanks to this great playlist courtesy of Jarnchock:

Wholeheartedly recommend saving every individual link. Some quite hard to find, and this list mightn’t be up indefinitely. Cheers 🙂


Oh, and here’s one for athletics too……


On a personal note, I was saddened to see Soni’s record go. Having been in Aquatics Centre for Day 6 Finals, the noise when her 2:19 came up on the scoreboard was absolutely deafening. Electrifying. Really geed the crowd up for rest of the evening!

Hoped it might stay around till at least Rio, but alas RMP (and Efimova) had other ideas…

Still a historic moment, but with a little of the sheen taken off of it, sadly :((


Aaaahhh.. my bad.. for some reason I kept thinking Yang was leading while in fact he was closing, and overhauling the french.

Craig Lord

Many thanks … will look up that split.


Thanks for those full sessions for the London Games.

I have a vivid recollection of seeing, when I watched a broadcast during the Olympics, Charlize Theron cheering wildly for Chad le Clos either after Clos’ winning swim or when they were walking around the pool after the distribution of the prizes for Men’s 200-metres butterfly. I replayed those parts of the sessions and couldn’t find the occasion :(. I can’t believe I’ve got it wrong.



That for me is the best thing about these full vids; seeing all the euphoric walkarounds/medal ceremonies, many of which my native BBC chose to cut away from at every possible moment for incessant, inane punditry. FAIL ;(

*Special mentions to Day 1/Day 3 Finals featuring Lochte’s 400IM and Franklin’s 100 Back, both of which had their audio/commentarys removed in Olympic’s ‘official’ YT replays. Funny how when I left clear instructions for accessing the live streams on both vids, they got removed in a matter of hours….. (*Cough* NBC blackout *Cough*)



Another 2012 post, if you’ll forgive the indulgence. My Flickr Day 6 photoset for anyone even vaguely interested:

Phelps, Lochte, Franklin, Soni… Jamie Oliver cooking for NBC Today… Gary Lineker in BBC Box… and LINFORD ****ING CHRISTIE !!! What a day! 🙂

Bill Bell

Just believe the exact of almost everything I post and you’ll becloseto my true feelings

Meilutyte really is ama9ng. just got done putting women’s50/100 nreaststrokes on my all-time list and am still shaking my head over how Efimova beat herin50″

The way she (Ruta) powers that first 5
Of her 100– a lot of men could learn some lessons

I think Van Der Burgh must have been trying to emulate her technique un his 100 final as he was out in sa rip-roaring 26’6 compared to Sprenger’s more nodesr 27’36, And he (VDV) aid the price Hoo as Sprenger dusted hi. Fir win.
And at the ripe od age of27 Sprenger event’soldest winner ALlL-time.

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