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

Katie Ledecky and Janet Evans - one pace in the pantheon of greats sealed, the other in the making - Photo by Peter Bick

In our series looking ahead to the World Championships, we’ve been considering which titles will be defended and how the holder is shaping up. After the men, we turned to the women. Today, we conclude the trawl of solo events with women’s freestyle

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In our series looking ahead to the World Championships, we’ve been considering which titles will be defended and how the holder is shaping up. After the men, we turned to the women. Today, we conclude the trawl of solo events with women’s freestyle



50 If Campbell Cate, gets good start, look out world.
100 It’s Campbell’s to lose, Cate again.
200 to open to call, I think Ledecky, only issue to me her volume of work.
400, 800, 1500, put your house on Ledecky.


Ledecky work amount may backfire her on 200..

And she is not the fastest come from behind swimmer.. Sjostrom is..

If Sjostrom is near the leaders at 100, it is her game..

50 free I would bet on Halsall, but Cate and Sjostrom are on the game too, Ramoni also, she has the nerves to deliver when most needed.

100 free is Cate game, 200 we may see any winner from the top girls, no favorite.

400/800/1500 is Ledecky unless a surprise or a big underperform by her

Craig Lord

Your note on Sjostrom/Ledecky finishing speed, Rafael, has yet to be proved. We haven’t seen a race in which Sarah is up with the pace of Missy at 100; nor a race in which Katie is chasing a world-class field. And the last lap speed of both Sarah and Katie are practically identical on their best splits. As I said, go out too fast, KL is a threat; go out too slow; she’s a threat, too. It could hang on a knife’s edge 🙂

Patrick S

Just a small correction: Sweden´s last podium in the 200 free wasn´t in 1973, Josefin Lillhage took a bronze medal in 2005.


I love love love women freestyle events so I may post a bunch of comments here… LOL.. forgive me beforehand


50 free.

I agree with Robbos, it all depends on Cate’s start. If she has good and improved start (her RT was shockingly the SLOWEST among all semifinalists in 2013 Barcelona), she should take this.

I truly feel she has always underswum the 50 free in the past few years. This is a girl who swam 24.5 as a 14 year old in TEXTILE. This is a girl who won Olympics bronze in 50 free as a 15 turning 16. This is a girl who split 24.9 ON THE FEET in her 100.

I feel she has 23.7 in her which she may unleash this year or next.


In 2011/2012, I thought on the women’s side, Missy was the Phelps equivalent for competitiveness.

But in the past two years, I feel that Ledecky has that most extreme competitiveness, albeit in a much softer way than Phelps’ in your face competitiveness.

And yes, that means women 200 free final in Kazan will be, if all turns out as expected, the most explosive race, men or women, since London.


Ok.. That means I can’t decide between Ledecky, Missy or Heemskerk to win 200.

I can’t comment on Sjostrom in 200 because I don’t even know if she swims it. I hope she will, as it would make it “race of the century”. Allright, exaggeration, but not so much.

Craig Lord

Many thanks Patrick. A sneaky joint bronze 🙂 Missed a column! Tweaked.


50m – Campbell should win it unless she has a horrible start
100m – Campbell
200m – tipping heemskerk – ledecky Franklin and sjostrom all have huge schedules so might be at their fastest anyway
400-1500 – ledecky

Bad Anon

Hemskerk will be deadly in the 200free, watchout for her… Missy may surprise us too, you cant count her out


In the 50m: Cate Campbell, Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Sarah Jostrom

In the 100m
Cate Campbell, Bronte Campbell, Sarah Sjostrom

In the 200m
Sarah Sjostrom, Katie Ledecky, Emma McKeon

In the rest I expect Ms. Ledecky will dominate, though it would be wonderful if Ms. Boyle and Ms. Carlin could challenge Ms. Ledecky.


50-if Cate Campbell is healthy, it’s she’s the favorite. Sjostrom could beat her though

100- Again, Cate Campbell the favorite, but bronte Campbell, sjostrom, heemskerk are all threats.

200m- too close to call. Franklin, Sjostrom, Ledecky, Heemskerk could result in one of the best races ever. I’ll say franklin to venture a guess, sjostrom for silver, and Ledecky for bronze.

400/800/1500 everyone is racing for 2nd behind ledecky.


Ledecky showed some pretty incredible come from behind speed at pan pacs last year. And she was still a pretty poor sprinter at that point. This year she had been 54.5 in 100, and can probably got sub 54 on taper. He sprinting is improving tremendously. If she takes it out with the sjostrom, franklin, and heemskerk, she will most likely blow them away on the back end. The only other contender would be sjostrom.


@PVDH I agree ledecky is improving her speed, but the schedule might play against her. She will only have the 200 free finals, the problem is the semifinal after the 1500.. if she gets too tired at 200 free semis she be out of final due to that.. It might take a 1:56 low to be on final


I have a few comments:

1. That was an extremely thorough article! Thank you, Mr Lord!

2. Is Kromowidjojo also recovering from an injury? I haven’t read about that prior to today.

3. I don’t know why everybody keeps assuming Sjostrom will swim the 200 free! Just last year in Berlin she chose not to swim it because her schedule was so busy, yet still lost the 100 fly to Ottesen because of fatigue. Her goal is clearly to win as many medals/golds as possible; she is not going to risk making the podium in other races by swimming three rounds of the 200 free against such tough competition. I don’t doubt she’ll have a great split in the 4×200 relay though.

4. IMHO many of you are underestimating Franklin. She injured her back, and like pretty much the entire US Team she had an “off” year because of USS’s crazy selection process in 2014 and less than ideal conditions at Pan Pac’s. She will be well prepared for Kazan to battle Heemskerk for the title.

5. Although she’s unlikely to be able to keep up with Ledecky, I think Friis is still a legitimate podium contender in the 800/1500 free. She has been working hard in a program that has been successful preparing swimmers for distance freestyle events. She was sick at European Championships in 2014, but her 2013 season performances were wonderful.


Who is Friis training with these days?
AFAIK, she left Bowman, right?


I think Missy’s freestyle at CAL has actually improved, even if her back has not. That’s why I expect some explosive 200 free race, it will be hard and fast from the get go.

On form, Heemskerk seems unstoppable, but I don’t know if she’s still improving considering her age or whether her Enidhoven cup swims will prove to be her best ever.


@aswimfan: I don’t know what AFIAK (and from all I know?) stands for, but Friis is still training with Schmitt (who is rebounding), Runge (home from Cal, great in 2014), Mann (recent US 10K Champ), etc. Bowman may have failed with Agnel, but I contend that picking up his training was a lot different than that of a distance swimmer like Friis.


@asswimfan At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised of C1’s start is what it’s going to be. A surprising number of elite athletes seem to have one or two noteworthy flaws where you do ‘it’s another two tenths if they fixed that’ but it never really gets fixed.

And yet a healthy and mentally with it C1 is such a force of nature even with a ‘bad’ start that the alleged flaw doesn’t seem to matter much on the results sheet.

As for Ledecky’s tight 200/1500 turnaround, the teenage years when recovery is often quick and relatively easy are the time to try such a schedule. Few like the Iron Lady can pull it off at 24-25. Ledecky has done tight turnarounds at many smaller meets. Common with her high school team to do a 500 free than have about a 5-7 minute gap before she’s back in the water for the 4×50 free relay. Of course the stakes are much higher here but there’s a comfortable process in place and she knows how that kind of thing feels.


50: Kromowidjojo will win. She always delivers when the pressure is on.
100: Heemskerk will surprise. I think her 100 is even better than her 200.
200: Ledecky.
400: Ledecky.
800: Ledecky.
1500: Ledecky.

Patrick S

@roy: Sweden don´t just have Sjöström in the 200 free. Michelle Coleman is top 10 in the world this year (1.56.7) and Louise Hansson is a very reliable relay swimmer. The problem is that we don´t have fourth swimmer that´s anywhere near good enough to challenge for a relay medal.

I don´t know if Sarah will swim the 200 free at these championships, but she really couldn´t ask for a better schedule. Her “main” event, the 100 fly is on day 1 & 2, and if she should win this then the championship is already a success for her, so then she might just as well try to do something special and win five individual medals (also: the 200 free is on day 3 & 4, when she´s got no other individual races, so she should be able to swim it without having it messing up the rest of her championship (i also have this feeling that if she´s gonna skip one race, then it will be the 100 free)).

Craig Lord

Yes, Patrick, I share those thoughts on Sarah’s schedule (not like Berlin … and not the same as Rio but good for the moment in Kazan)


Personally, I feel that Sjostrom’s chances in the 200free are significantly stronger than the 50free. Her relay split the 1:53.6 is a step up from any textile 200free swim apart from Schmitt’s Olympic victory, this suggests she is capable of swimming under 1:54.5, which should be enough for the win- at the very least a very solid medal winner.

She is swimming in the most crowded 50free final in recent history, and being one of 5 girls capable of swimming within a tenth of one another is by no means a medal guarantee when you have the largest medal of the bunch. Her Euro schedule proved that she was unlikely to maintain the sharpness to go sub24 at the end of her schedule, whereas the 200free is probably an even easier road than the 100free for significant hardware.


Sjoestrom should swim 50 Fly, 100 Free & 100 Fly.

Her 50 Free isn’t going to win gold. For me, her 23.9 was in ideal outdoor conditions and we saw numerous PBs over 50m that week in the same pool. 24.1 is where I expect to see her maxing out – Compare that with Ranomi who always shows up, Campbell who I always expect 24.0 from and Halsall who has already been 24.3 (faster than 2014 pre-Glasgow) after a winter plagued by a shoulder injury and bad preparation for nationals.

In the 200, the field is stacked – She’ll have to fly to make the final as we have Heemskerk, Franklin, Ledecky, Pellegrini, McKeon and O’Connor who have all swam 1.55 in the past 12months.

She needs a streamlined schedule focussed on her big individual chances and the three relays where Sweden are outside chances in all 3 events.


Despite Mr. Lord made a very nice recap of Katie Ledecky’s achievements it is still hard to predict what should we expect from her in Kazan and how her performance will be evaluated. It will be a disappointment for instance has she win let say 400m by over 5 seconds but not gotten the WR. So it seems expectations have caught up to reality, and too quickly.  There isn’t enough amazement at the fact that this child is so dominant.  Now she’s only 18 but that’s not quite young enough to be amazing due only to youth, and since she’s the best swimmer in the world, the fact that she is winning and by so much, is also less exciting because it is expected.  It also doesn’t help that the old world records were set in the suit era, because it makes he records seem more incremental than they really are.  No one is even close to her now and there is no good reason to expect that the next generation will be a quantum leap from this one.  Not to mention in 10 years she’s only 28, she might still be setting them.  In this sense, I think she is more spectacular than someone like Phelps.  His claim to fame is that he was the best at a lot of things, but he wasn’t the best at anything by a huge margin.  I doubt that there will be any standing Phelps records in 5-10 years.
Anyway, I do wish such talent got more recognition because it would be fun to hear smart analysis of her swimming and her significance.  Unfortunately, most media covering swimming are too insecure about the sport not being sufficiently interesting and focus too much on stupid personal narratives.  It’s really pretty shameful, especially in a sport like swimming in which the athletes work so hard (as opposed to more popular sports like basketball, football, etc.. where I guarantee you they do not push themselves as close to their physical limits as swimmers do).  I mean the real story is that this girl who is 18 has worked so diligently as a child that she is now the best ever in the world.  And unlike almost any top male swimmer that is clearly super gifted physically, you would not pick Ledecky out of a crowd for athletic ability.  There is all this stuff they can write about.


I’m more interested on the 200free. This is like the race of the century. You know Hoogie vs Thorpe vs Phelps in Athens but this time with more contenders! Bring it on!


@roy: Ledecky has no rivals in the distance frees b/c she’s that good.

For those who doubt Ledecky in the 200 semis, I suspect she could do the last 200 of the 1500 almost fast enough to qualify, so I’m doubting that will be an issue.

And with Day 4 only being the 200 for Ledecky, she will feel energized. Don’t know if she’ll win, but betting against her seems foolish.

And no one will likely even challenge her beyond the 200. The only reason Carlin is remotely close in the 800 is because Ledecky has yet to have an ideal situation to swim the 800 in since London. She’ll be tired again this year as well, but probably not tired enough to be challenged. At the Olympics without a 1500 she’ll really blow people away in the 800 though.

I expect some WRs from Ledecky. Rumor has it she has flirted with WRs in some workouts this year.


If to forget for a moment about names and titles of main contenders at 200 and just consider the current performance then a few of us will put on Ledecky. The competition will split in three groups: 1.Heemskerk, Sjostrom; 2. Franklin; 3. Pellegrinni, McKeon. So why is there an opinion that the long distance specialist Ledecky can disturb any of mentioned above groups?
Firstly, she has the best pace of improvement at 100m.
Secondly, as Franklin noted, nobody knows how to race Ledecky. The right racing strategy at this uneasy distance can be the main key to success at this championships.
And thirdly, Ledecky competes fiercely. The following fact surprisingly hasn’t found any reflection at any article about her. At 4×200 relay at Pam Pacs Ledecky swam first 50 just next to her personal best at this distance shown three months earlier. What would be expected left in tank after swimming first 50 at almost maximum speed. Should be nothing. She swam next 150 faster than any of 23 participants in this race. The swimmer with such determination can surprise.


Roy, so you are sure that 200 belongs to sprinters. I’m not an expert in history of competition of this event, but I have some strange feeling that you maybe not right with that. It would be nice to hear someone else’s opinion on this topic.

Craig Lord

The list world world champions, Yozhik, points to the 200-400 folk above the 100-200 folk so far in history: Rothhammer, Babashoff, Woodhead (Verstappen), Friedrich, Lewis [Van Almsick – 100 and 400 gold medals in continental waters], Poll, (Rooney), (Popchanka), Figues, Manaudou, Pellegrini (Franklin). All had a decent 100 but most also had a mean 400, nine of them winning gold in that event at Olympic, world and/or Continental levels. At Olympic level, the balance is also at least a touch in favour of the 200-400 balance, including the latest two winners, Pellegrini and Schmitt.


“Phelps had competition”…lol no. Outside of the 100 fly, he dusted everyone in every race. Check out 200 fly, 200 free, 200 im, and 400 im in 2007 worlds and 2008 Olympics. To insinuate that ledecky is only winning because the other swimmers arent trying that hard? Are you kidding me? She broke one a supersuit record in an event that nobody thought would be broken for a long time in the 400 free

Craig Lord

Quite so, pvdh 🙂

Craig Lord

Roy, Katie Ledecky doesn’t need a 52.6 to go 1:54.5 or so. She was already on a 1:55 flat last summer. The potential for a 1:54 plus is very obvious if she arrives in Kazan fit and set to go: she just won’t swim it quite like the speedier sprinters will (or at least that’s what they better hope 🙂 The explanation as to why the 200-400 folk have had the advantage over 200 when it comes to winning down the years is in the article. Look at the splits as we know them so far. To make sure they beat Ledecky at her best, the ‘sprinters’ have to be looking at a time closer to Schmitt’s London 2012 effort, not Franklin in 2013. The schedule is the bigger friend of the 100-200 folk…


Good analysis in this article and in the comments. I’ve got Ledecky wining the 200 free. If she doesn’t, she is still going to put up a time that is really going to ratchet up the hype about three individual golds in Rio. I think some were disappointed with her 200 free SCY this year; however, I think she was only partially tapered for that race and, barring illness or injury, she is really going to be on point this summer.


Anyone who thinks that the distance frees are weak now outside of Ledecky is not a true student of the sport.

WC winning times-

400- 4:06 Stockbauer
800- 8:23 Stockbauer
1500- 16:00 Stockbauer

400- 4:06 Laure
800- 8:25 Kate Ziegler
1500M- 16:00 Ziegler

400- 4:02 Laure (bronze was a 4:06)
800- 8:18 Ziegler out touches Laure in a classic, bronze in 8:26
1500- Ziegler 15:53

2009- skipping this one for CL’s sake

400- 4:01 F. Ped, bronze to Muffat in 4:04
800- 8:17 Adlington, bronze to Ziegler in 8:23
1500- 15:49 Friis, bronze in 15:59

400- 3:59 La Belle Ledecky, Boyle gets bronze in 4:03. You had to swim faster than Laure’s 2005 winning time to even make the final
800- 8:13 Ledecky, Boyle another bronze in 8:18. Ziegler’s winning time from 2005 is only 6th best in this field
1500- 15:36 Ledecky Takes 16:05 to qualify for the final when in 2005, a 16:04 was good for silver

We are in a golden age of women’s distance swimming and would be even if Ledecky had ended up on a soccer field instead of a pool. Enjoy it for now because these things often go in cycles, and it may be a while before we see this kind of field quality again.

A woman failing to break 15:50 is not pathetic. It’s something only two women in history had ever managed to do until a very short time ago. Show some respect for the great talents we’re currently seeing.


Great stats- not to mention the 200M where wasn’t so long ago a sub 2:00 would make a major final- London the top 16 were in 1:58 and finalists in 1:57.

Craig Lord

Indeed Beachmouse (and thank you for sparing me ’09 🙂


I think it’s a backhanded comment to Ledecky that people thinks her competition is weak. She is just so far ahead of the rest of the world.

Craig Lord

Yes, robbos. KL’s opposition is not in any sense weak. She is swimming ahead of the curve of excellence


Womens freestyle events boast so much talent and swill be among the most exciting finals in Kazan.

50m Free:
Campbell has to be favourite (Cate) – her start often her hinderance to dominating the 1 lap event as she does in the 100m. The 50m has no room for error, and if she slips up Halsall, Bronte Campbell, Sjostroem and Kromowidjojo will be there to take gold. I would of course love to see Halsall take gold, she is a deserved world champion. Prediction:

1. Cate Campbell (AUS)
2. Fran Halsall (GBR)
3. Sarah Sjostroem (SWE)

100m free:
Cate Campbell’s proved over the past couple of years she is the standout competitor over the two lap event. Defending champion status and several sub 53’s mark her as favourite for gold in Russia, but once again her sister Bronte Campbell and Sjostroem will be tough competition and are both more than capable of sub 53 in Kazan. Add into the mix Femke Heemskerke, finally reaching the potential she has shown for a long time but yet to do it on the biggest stages. Prediction:

1. Cate Campbell (AUS)
2. Sarah Sjoestroem (SWE)
3. Bronte Campbell (AUS)

200m free:
One of the standout races to look forward to. defending champion Missy Franklin, Sjostroem Heemskerke, Pellegrini and Ledecky are all capable of gold in my opinion – Pellegrini possibly seen to be past it but should never be discarded in a 200m free. Ledecky, capable of gold but uncertain to swim the event and if she does will have to produce her very best form. Personally, I think it may be a stretch. I think Sjostroem will take it, but Franklin has shown she is back to form over short course in the US this year. Prediction:

1. Sarah Sjostroem (SWE)
2. Missy Franklin (USA)
3. Femke Heemskerke (NED)

400m/800m/1500m free:
I have combined the 3 distance freestyles as Ledecky stands as overwhelming favourite in them all. She leads the way for Team USA into Kazan and her own world records are always on the line. Additionally, I combined the 3 as the medal contenders beyond Ledecky are contenders across the board. Lauren Boyle, Jazz Carlin, Sharon Van Rouwendaal and Belmonte-Garcia, lead a charge of European challengers. Watch out too for Australia’s Jessica Ashwood, and a brace of young Chinese swimmers. Predictions:

400m free:
1. Katie Ledecky (USA)
2. Lauren Boyle (NZ)
3. Jazz Carlin (GBR)

800m free:
1. Katie Ledecky (USA)
2. Jazz Carlin (GBR)
3. Jessica Ashwood (AUS)

1500m free:
1. Katie Ledecky (USA)
2. Lauren Boyle (NZ)
3. Sharon Van Rouwendaal (NED)

USA: 3 Gold, 1 Silver
AUS: 2 Gold, 2 Bronze
SWE: 1 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze
GBR: 2 Silver, 1 Bronze
NZ: 2 Silver
NED: 2 Bronze

Note: This is assuming all these swimmers race the given events – ie. Sjostroem will have a big schedule adding the 50m/100mfly and relays and may therefore bypass the 50m or 200m.



“AFAIK” means As Far As I know.

Now my cover his been exposed, using this kind of ancient Internet expression 😀

BTW, I was among the first users of Netscape.



You were wrong when saying that “Phelps claim to fame is that he was the best at a lot of things, but he wasn’t the best at anything by a huge margin.”

Between 2003 to 2007 (sorry, no shiny suit years for me), Phelps was the best in 200 fly and 200/400 IM by a huge margin.

You: “I doubt that there will be any standing Phelps records in 5-10 years.”

If you are talking about textile record only, then yes I agree with you.
The only textile record that Phelps holds is 200 fly at 1:52.09
It was am incredible record set in 2007, but I think Le Clos has the talent to break it.

But if you include rubbersuit records, then I am not sure if his 100 fly record is breakable in the the next 5 to be 10 years.



Thank you for the info that Friis is still with Bowman. You write that Bowman’s program is “a program that has been successful preparing swimmers for distance freestyle events”.

Since when?
Please tell me one successful distance swimmer coached by Bowman.

Craig Lord

Well, depends how distance you want to get, aswimfan, but Allison Schmitt and an Olympic 400m silver must be viewed as being at least on the edge of the zone. So there’s one, if you’re thinking down to 400. (And there was Conor Dwyer at the program, too, but hard to place him as ‘distance’ in the context of the discussion, though he will have done a fair amount of pre in that direction, as have Phelps, Kalisz etc for 400 IM etc)


400 is certainly not a distance, never has been.

400 is firmly in the realm of mid-distance.

In fact, since Thorpe, it has become almost straight out sprinting.

Also, Bowman was never successful with Phelps -the GOAT swimmer- in the 400, and has broken Agnel in both 200-400.

Yes, Bowman has been extremely successful preparing swimmers for 200 free, but definitely not distance events, unless I missed out on something, which is why I asked DanJohnRob.

Craig Lord

I’ll give you the mid-distance but not ‘never has been’, aswimfan 🙂 Clearly the history of the sport is stacked with distance swimmers who won 400m races. And not even Thorpe was ‘almost straight-out sprinting’. Freestyle, I’ll give you too, aswimfan, but not 400 – make it medley and you have soaring success with Phelps.
As with all programs – in the pot of what makes for success of a coach is the luck of having the right folk walk through the door then recognising what you have on your hands and working to that talent’s strength. I’m not sure there’s an argument for saying that Bowman cannot coach distance swimmers, which is what is implied, even if that is not what you intend to say. That is why I responded. You may well be right (I think you are) that there is no evidence that Bob Bowman’s program has produced world-beating 800-1500 folk but what we interpret from that requires less generalised thought.


The fact is, Dwyer, Phelps, Schmitt, Agnel, Kalisz, you name it all… never swam a good distance event. NOT ONCE.

Cierra Runge trained at NBAC but under Chris Coller coaching.
Becca Mann was developed by Randy Reese in Florida.
Gillian Ryan trained at NBAC but with her longtime coach Erik Posegay who moved there.

The only other distance star who trained with Bowman is Mellouli, who left Bowman to be with Salo.
I think not.

Friis may have been sick at the Europeans, but the fact is she has never swum a fast time since training with Bowman.


And I wish Friis all the luck, as I am a fan of hers, even before her fearless battle in Barcelona.

Craig Lord

aswimfan, I think you exaggerate the line and come to a conclusion I would be uncomfortable with.

As for ‘never swam a good distance event’:
Agnel: 7:29.17 s/c 800m free (not with Bowman)
Phelps: 15:35.43 l/c 1500m free at 16
Schmitt: 8:31.94 l/c 800m free
Dwyer: 3:46.24 400 free l/c

No, that may not add up to the stuff of gold on the biggest occasion (not the reason why it is there…) but the distance focus of preparation for mid-distance folk in Bowman’s program is an important part of the success story.

Not hard to find many programs with one example in many years of an outstanding 1500 swimmer but I wouldn’t conclude from that that such a program is a ‘great distance program’ or ‘not so good at other events’ etc. Way too generalised. There may be a very good reason why a particular focus and success emerges from one program or another but I’m a long way from believing that the experience of “Lotte” or any other single swimmer points to anything like clear evidence that Bowman can’t coach distance swimmers, which is what you imply.

Craig Lord

roy, I realise you are talking in relatives but ‘poor’ is not a reasonable word to describe women lapping at 1:03s over 1500m



That’s not my conclusion, but I questioned DJR’s opinion that Bowman had successful distance program, and I wanted to know why, as I fail to see evidence to support such statement.
And as I presented, the only true distance star that Bowman program had, Mellouli, left the program after one year. I don’t think you can qualify that as “successful”

This is not a knock against Bowman as I think he has highly successful mid-distance program.

Craig Lord

Sure, aswimfan, I get that. The definition of success is an interesting topic.. but not for me, here, for now 🙂


Roy – Jazz Carlin has stated herself that she swims much faster with someone to chase (unlike Ledecky, who almost seems to swim faster on her own with no distractions). Jazz is so far unbeaten over her four 800 swims this year:
– a 4.15/4.10 negative split in Flanders, 14sec ahead of Hosszu in 2nd (unrested)
– a 4.10/4.11 at British Champs, 11sec ahead of 2nd place (presumably tapered at least a little here!)
– a 4.12/4.13 in Marseilles, 7sec ahead of 2nd place (unrested)
– a 8.27 at BUCS, 18sec ahead of 2nd place (unrested)

I think that’s amazing consistency in conditions that she doesn’t find ideal.

Craig Lord

Roy, very different environment/different sport … and I hardly think European 400m silver in 4:03 constitutes ‘losing the plot’ 🙂


@aswimfan: Thanks for explaining your abbreviation! 😉

You seem to have taken offense from my comment. I assure you none was intended; however, you will never find me unwilling to defend my point of view.

First, there are multiple ways to categorize events. You can divide freestyle events into pairs: 50/100, 200/400, 800/1500. In that scenario a 400 is “middle-distance”, and I grant you that often the same competitors excel at those paired events; but, you could also divide the freestyle events in half: 50/100/200, 400/800/1500, in which case the 400 free is a “distance” event. The way they are divided is arbitrary; there is no official designation akin to “backstroke” events or “butterfly” events. In fact, since there are 3 races in each of the “stroke” events, I think an argument can be made for dividing into groups of 3. Anyway, I think many people consider the 400 IM a “distance” event. Surely many athletes who are good at longer distance events also excel in it. Why then is the 400 free “middle-distance” but the 400 IM “distance”? Arbitrary.

As far as the word “successful” is concerned, my bar is definitely lower than yours if winning a World or Olympic medal in an event is your standard! To me, Mann winning the US 10K title two years in a row is successful enough. Sierra Schmitt winning the 800/1500 at the Jr Pan Pac’s was also success in my book. For that matter, Runge’s big 2014 time drops also count as successful to me (I’m specifically avoiding 400 meter event examples so as not to offend your sensibilities, so I only have 2 pool events to choose from).

Also, you’ll note I said, “…a program that has…”, not, “…a coach that has successfully prepared swimmers…”. That’s because I have no idea which athlete swims in which lane or who directly coaches or creates the workout plans for them. I also think which coach gets the credit when an athlete swims well is a gray area. Officially speaking, I think the Head Coach gets to put it on his resume, so to speak, but I think there is generally room for more than one name on the list. Is Teri McKeever solely responsible for Cierra Runge’s performance at the 2015 NCAA meet, or is the work she did at NBAC the year before part of the equation?

Words matter, my friend. Don’t go attacking ones like “distance” or “successful” if you’re going to use “never” and “firmly” because there is far less subtlety in their interpretation.

As far as Friis’ performances since joining NBAC are concerned, you know as well as I do that most swimmers perform much better at a taper meet than mid-season, and the only such meet Friis has attempted since then was the 2014 European Championships.

As a fan, my subjective opinion is that Friis decided she wanted to continue competing for another three years after Barcelona, saw that the training she had done leading to that point had been insufficient to challenge Ledecky, and chose to move to NBAC and rededicate herself in preparation for 2016. I believe Friis is smart enough to know if she is training hard and probably trying new things to see if they work for her. If she doesn’t meet her goals at 2015 Worlds, I guess she’ll have to reassess, but I personally admire her tenacity and willingness to rise to the challenge Ledecky has thrown down in women’s distance freestyle!

As, “…a fan of hers…”, I’m sure you’ll agree Lotte Friis is worthy of respect and should not be eliminated as a podium threat in discussion about what will happen in Kazan. I’m hopeful we’ll see improvement over what she was able to do in Barcelona, and that could have an impressive outcome!



I respect your opinion to group 400 free into distance event. From the earliest time I followed swimming, I never thought 400 free as a distance event, and frankly, I don’t think many people do.
As for 400 IM, I also never said or thought of it as a distance event. It is an individual Medley event, neither sprint, mid-distance nor distance.

If you let me make an analogy with track events, 100 and 200 m (and sometimes 400m) are sprints, 800 and 1500 (and sometimes 400m) are mid-distance, while 3000m, all the way to 10000m are distance, and marathon is equivalent to open water.

And as I wrote about Runge, Mann, and Ryan, they trained at NBAC for a bit, but under different coaches, not Bowman. Did Hoff train under Bowman when she trained at NBAC. You and I certainly know she did not.

As for me taking offense at your comment, NOT AT ALL. I was genuinely confused why you thought Bowman had successful distance program when I failed to see it. But now when you explained that you believe 400 free is a distance event, I positively understand.


@aswimfan: I’m glad we understand each other. Now I’d like to ask you a question: where do you get your info regarding who is coaching who within a program, because you seem to know a lot more than me on that subject? I did know Yetter coached Hoff (and thank God, because Katie probably would have been crying in the pool gutters with Bowman yelling at her like he does at Phelps), but how do you know Runge, Mann and Ryan didn’t swim under Bowman? Maybe Friis doesn’t either?

Jim C

I think it would be pathetic if Ledecky were to win gold in Rio in 15:52 or so, even if we are talking about the men’s 1500–it would be even worse if we are talking about the women’s 800.

Jim C

In Kazan I expect Ledecky to try to save as much strength as she can in the 1500. I doubt that she will be over 15:50 but it is possible. In 2011 Friis won in 15:49.59 with Ziegler second in 15:55.60. Remember the 1500 is not an Olympic event, and I imagine most of the women will be focusing on Olympic events in preparation for Rio.


Ledecky couldn’t go over 15:50 if she tried, unless dragging a parachute behind her.


50m freestyle 1. Ranomi Kromowidjojo
2. Cate Campbell
3. Sarah Sjöström
100m freestyle
1. Cate Campbell
2. Sarah Sjöström
3. Ranomi Kromowidjojo
200m freestyle
1. Missy Frankilin
2. Femke Heemskerk
3. Sarah Sjöström/Katie Ledecky

400,800,1500 freestyle 1.Katie Ledecky
2.The rest of swimmers


@roy: you haven’t taken into account that women are much closer to the men in the distance events, percentage-wise, than in the sprints. This is the opposite of track & field indicating that women distance swimmers are likely much better than their sprinting counterparts, if anything.

Besides, you always remove outliers when doing statistics meaning that if someone is way far ahead it is not that EVERYONE else is poor/pathetic/whatever derogatory term you want. It means that the person way out in front is the outlier.

You seem to want to not give KL her due (because your comments seem to not be objective). Not sure why. Unlike many other athletes she certainly does not have a character that one would dislike in any way.


Medals vs WR. Roy, despite I personally think that nothing can be compared by importance to the World Records I have to agree with you and are accepting your point. There would be no competitive sport if it would be no spectators. So at the end it is an entertainment and as such different people like different part of it. But each entertainment needs Heroes and there is no need to clarify what is more important: medals, wr, versatility, etc. Let them be all. So let’s follow the Olympic tradition where there were plenty of Gods and Goddesses to satisfy any kind of tastes and needs.


@Roy: Pathetic is absolutely derogatory, no ifs, ands or buts about it, unless you are making a joke. Unless you are referring to somebody’s financial status, poor isn’t much better. Neither is an appropriate way to describe hardworking elite athletes in my opinion.

It sounds like you’re trying to say that the amount of competition is poor rather than that the athletes are poor swimmers and that a lack of competitiveness gives viewers a pathetic lack of entertainment? If so, understand, but personally speaking, I find her dominance to be an awesome spectacle!


Roy, this thread is getting very long, but I cannot resist the temptation to answer you. I can’t believe that you are getting asleep watching Ledecky’s Olympic race. Despite Ledecky’s coach says that it is the worst her race from the technical point of view it was so amazing that I have been watching it again and again. If you don’t like it then we probably are very different. But let’s consider the following entertaining hypothetical example that will help to comprehend the magnitude of Ledecky’s records.
In order to make races with Ledecky interesting FINA has to introduce the practice of “rabbits” (pacemakers) same way as it’s done in track&fields. But there is a problem. In order to lead Katie to new world record of let say 3:58 at 400 we have to find two swimmers who can provide a steady pace of 1:58.5 per each 200. What would be the personal best of such swimmers. Subtract from 1:58.5 1.5 sec for not starting from the block, subtract 1 sec for being not rested, subtract 1.5 sec for making steady splits and we come up with ridiculously low 1:54.5 personal best. No elite swimmer will agree to do this job, because it is too embarrassing. So the first class male swimmers has to be invited. But what male swimmer will agree making living for making pace for lady’s races – some stupid male pride 🙂 So poor thing Ledecky has to swim alone. I am sorry Roy but we have to accept the fact that there would be no competition excitement with Ledecky’s races and the only thing left would be an appreciation of this incomparable wonder of nature 🙂

Craig Lord

Roy, I think you should turn it round (as others suggest): it is not that the best of the rest are average or weak or whatever else you might think of folk who fall shy of the top pace to the gold – it is that Ledecky is truly outstanding, once in several generations… try seeing it in that context or imagine she wasn’t there if that helps, because the best of the rest would be swimming at the best we’ve ever seen … barring Ledecky.


Ledecky was a 4:45 400 IM at the Mesa Grand Prix earlier this year, not a bad time for an even swum for fun, if a 400 IM is ever fun.

Craig Lord

and one of the fastest closing splits ever on freestyle, beachmouse: 1:00.87, a touch up on her 1:00.95 finish in the 400 free at a meet she went 4:01, 8:13 and 15:42 … obv. she would struggle with the 400IM standard-setter 58.69 but then no-one else has come remotely close, of course.



The coaches of Mann, Runge, Ryan have been reported publicly in various swimming sites, it’s not a secret.

Look it up (some of the more recent info were reported in other swimming sites, and I don’t think it would be appropriate if I link the sites here).




I need to stress again that I think Bowman can coach one heck of 200-400 swimmers.

“I did know Yetter coached Hoff (and thank God, because Katie probably would have been crying in the pool gutters with Bowman yelling at her like he does at Phelps),”

Wow. You seem to have some inside info. Please tell us more. Is it because Hoff couldn’t do yardage?
Because I remember in early 2008 after Rice broke IM WRs in Aussie trials, there were articles by Australian media of how Michael Bohl used to tell Rice about Hoff’s grueling training to motivate Rice to do more.


I’ve heard from a few in the australian swimming camp that Emma Makeon apparently wasn’t feeling at her best in the Aussie trials a few weeks ago, so there could be some real improvement there if she gets her taper right this time?

Also, the 200m is historically one of those truly odd races that many can’t seem to get right on the biggest stage, so we may just see an outsider pop up out of nowhere if everyone is racing each other instead of their own race (Everyone remember rooney???)


@aswimfan: I didn’t mean that a swimmer’s coach is a secret, just that in all the articles and videos I see the only info is “Becca Mann, NBAC”, and fans are left to assume that the elite athletes from the referenced club swim under the direction of the Head Coach. I thought that Mann and Ryan and Runge and Schmitt and Friis swam in the same group. I have seen interviews in which MP references swimming with Friis, and why would she travel all the way from Denmark to train with his assistant? One would think Bowman at least designs the workout, even if his assistant is directly supervising the practice.

With regard to Hoff, the general impression is that she was a “high-anxiety” athlete who lacked confidence despite her enormous talent. Paul Yetter is generally given credit for “building her up” mentally as well as physically. Bowman is considered a tough taskmaster, and since MP has a reputation for being “difficult” in practice, apparently there are lots of fireworks. I have also seen interviews in which Bowman was harshly critical of Hoff; you rarely see interviews where a coach criticizes another coach’s athlete! I think Hoff + Bowman (at least with MP around) would be a bad equation.

Actually, it’s too bad Hoff and Phelps swam in the same era altogether, because if they hadn’t perhaps she would not have attempted such a grueling schedule and would have ended her career on a happier note. As it is, she’s attempting yet another comeback, and I personally am rooting for her to make the 4×200 relay and finally get that elusive Olympic gold and a happy Olympic ending to her story!


FYI to all those people writing off Denmark’s Lotte Friis as no longer a contender on the Worlds stage, she just swam a 16:00.82 in the 1500 at the PSS-Charlotte, the #2 time so far this year! Becca Mann from the US came in second with the #3 time this season and Sierra Schmitt came in third (all 3 athletes are training at NBAC).

Craig Lord

roy, soccer can be spectacularly boring – and even when it is it gets thumpingly huge coverage. your snapshot of your bro’s interest is a very valuable one (many examples of similar in terms of media interest in my realm) but the popularity of sports and media coverage hangs on a wide spectrum of things… and some way out wins over 1500m down the years have been some of the biggest moments in the sport on a number of levels, including the making of lore that transcends the moment.



Not sure who you meant by people writing off Friis chances at Worlds.
If your comment was intended to me, which I think it was because I can’t see anyone queried about Friis, then you are being untruthful. And like what you always said, I will defend myself from wrongful assertion.

All I did was questioning about your opinion that Bowman had successful distance program.


Also, not sure what you meant by writing off Friis. If it means we all think that Ledecky is prohibitive favorite to win 400 800 1500 then we are all guilty.

Or do you really believe Friis has reasonable chance to defeat Ledecky?


And by the way I disagree with those who think distance races where Ledecky swims are boring.
I do think the way Ledecky swims her events is very exciting, she charges attacks her race right from the start and does not relinquish like Imperator Furious. Fury Swim.


Publicity in swimming is needed, mainly many swimmers seems like Human robots when under media coverage, always happy, never upset/angry, always ultra ultra happy.. which is something unlikely to be their real self.. PR of plastic people..

I much prefer guys like Gary Hall and Popov spelling out that they would crush the competition than PR-made answers for everything.. Much better to see explosive reactions like Cielo does than the thing: Give a small smile, does not let your emotions out because it might be offensive on the person you defeated…

Craig Lord

Rafael, that will only happen when athletes turn pro and change the sport. Right now, they are under federation control, from the ownership of their image to the sponsors they may wear on the big occasion, without any personal gain in terms of a living wage. That’s not progressional sport – it is sport made for those who govern the sport not do it.


@aswimfan: I was NOT speaking specifically to you! If you go back to my initial comment, directed to nobody in particular, I stated that I think people are writing off Friis prematurely. Do I think she’ll beat Katie? No, but I think she could get some best times for her efforts these past 2 years, which is pretty d#$% awesome considering how long she’s been on the world stage! I wrote the comment out of excitement after watching her swim a very good time at an in-season meet that added credibility to my assertion.

Anyway, believe it or not, I’m actually here to make friends and learn from others, not to make enemies and argue; but, I have found you’d better not make a comment here if you’re not prepared to defend what you write! If you look back, you’re the one who disagreed with what I wrote, not the other way around. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve EVER disagreed with anything you’ve written, but I can point out numerous examples of you opposing even innocuous statements I make (not just on this site) for no apparent reason.


@roy, I think that watching Ledecky swims is exhilierating.

Growing up, swimming was all about constantly competing against yourself, what you’ve done previously, how you can improve, and trying to swim your own race. Sure, we wanted to beat the next person and qualify for national teams, but there is no greater competition than the one against yourself.

That is why it is such a thrill to watch Katie swim, because she is the epitomy of a swimmer; she constantly looks for self-improvement, and it is that competition which is absolutely thrilling to watch, no matter if she is streets ahead of anyone else in the field.

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