Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 3 World Grades!

We get it, Lochte should have been on the relay. Now MOVE ON!
As day 3 got rolling with a breathaking Ryan Lochte 200 free victory, I couldn't help but think back to the meet's beginning. I know I've already pointed it out, but Lochte definitely should have been on that 4x100 relay. Yes, I understand the process they used where he had a fair shot in prelims vs Walters, Weber-Gale and Robison. I just don't think it should have come to that. Lochte is a money swimmer- you put him in the big races. Alas, let's get on to the Day 3 Grades:
Tae Hwan Park: C-. Park had the type of swim that is likely to draw him little criticism in the coming days. He was hard charging down the stretch and came up just slightly short of Biedermann and Phelps. But he deserves to be called out for his overly conservative racing tactics. For a guy who was 48.9 in the 100 free at the Santa Clara Grand Prix, going out in 51.8 in this race is way too slow. That's racing to look fine but ultimately not compete. This isn't the 400 free where you can sprint past everyone half way through.

Cameron Van Der Burgh A-. Cameron Van Der Burgh was outstanding in many ways today. His time of 26.90 represents a new textile world best, swimming significantly faster than Oleg Lisogor's 27.18. But he also reminded us that it's ok to have fun. It makes me happy to see Van Der Burgh smiling and looking relaxed behind the blocks. When he wins, there is no angry fist pumping or worse yet, tears. He just smiles and looks genuinely really happy at how well he did.

Jeremy Stravius A: How many people could have predicted that Camille Lacourt would have to share gold with one of his own teammates? Lacourt looked like a sure thing coming into the meet after a dominant 2010. Stravius was one of the more anonymous members of Team France. That all started to change when Stravius swam huge on France's 400 freestyle relay. He built on that performance on Day 3 by tying his countryman for gold. Who cares that Lacourt wasn't at his best? All of a sudden France is the new America when it comes to backstroke.

Kate Ziegler: B. No doubt Kate Ziegler should be pleased with her performance in the 1500. Times have been fairly rocky for Ziegler since she set the world record in this event in 2007. She started to round back into form last summer, and this swim is a significant step up from that. Her time gives hope that she may be able to come back all the way to top of the world form by 2012. The only reason that this isn't an "A" is that she is still slower than she was four years ago. Maybe I should change it to an incomplete pending Omaha and  beyond in 2012. 

Natalie Coughlin: B-. That the field has caught up and in some cases passed Coughlin in recent years is less a measure of lack of dedication on her part than a golden age of women's backstroke. When Coughlin first went under a minute in 2002 no other woman swam under 1:01 that year. In 2011 Coughlin is slightly faster but contending with a field that now boasts 11 women that have been 59 this calendar year. I can't help but think that Coughlin has been able to slip more gracefully into the "veteran star" phase of her career far more smoothly than Michael Phelps because she was never put on the same pedestal as Phelps. I wouldn't count her out for 2012 given how well Zhao Jing and Zueva had to race to beat her today.


  1. Van Der Burgh is another person that the crier can take some tips from.

    What do you think can help NatCo finish better?
    obviously not going out so fast.. but training wise..

  2. Wouldn't you need to know what she is doing in her training?

    Like she said, over swimming the 1st 30 meters made a big difference when you get touched out in a 100 Back. Truth of the matter, from this mediocre coach's (and former Backstroker's) perspective, she doesn't need to change anything at practice, just the competition pool..

    When you over swim BK, you have zero legs to finish. You lose your turnover and body line, rendered helpless. Its just not as dramatic as swimming a poor 200 fly.


    Are we going to have to wait until the final day to see a grade for USA Swimming and the team selection 1 year away from the meet? I am sure fans of Franklin, Grevers and Hansen have an opinion.. I know this particular NT Director did not make this decision, but I think its fair to say this grade is probably hovering some where around the Mendoza line...

  3. Well I also think that Natalie "not finishing well" is sort of an illusion. She is so superior with her underwaters that she almost always gets reeled in by her competitors after the first 15m of both 50s.

    What I mean to say more simply is if she wasn't so great underwater it wouldn't look like people were catching up to her she would just look slower.

  4. I meant no disrespect by my comments. I was not a swimmer growing up. I am still learnging about swimming (even though I have been watching it since the 88 olympics) . I know she is great underwater. I just never knew about the improtance of the 1st 30 and not going out so hard... thank you.. :)

  5. No problem, and I sincerely apologize if I made you feel bad. I make that argument because we had a swimmer on our team with a consistently great start. He went to championship and they took 25 splits. We noticed he was coming back considerably "slower" on the second 25 relative to his competitors. But it wasn't that he was fading- he had just beaten them substantially off the start so his splits were more disparate.

  6. Re: Coughlin, I agree with Chris. Natalie has such an explosive start that swimmers are bound to catch up with her in the "swimming" part.

    I actually thought Natalie had a good swim last night. 59.15 is a strong time for her. I think her track record actually exaggerates how far ahead of the competition she actually is. She hasn't blown away a 100 backstroke field in years. She always wins by a slim margin (i.e. '08 Beijing, '07 Melbourne, '04 Athens), but just has a knack for getting her hand on the wall first. Last night, she just got unlucky and was touched out by 0.1 seconds.

  7. For how long has NC been the woman on top of the world in 100 back?

    (Rome'09 does not count in world swimming, sorry)

    I'm amazed that anyone in the US is ready to count her out based on her age.

    She will take the gold in London 2012, and then retire as the best you ever had, like AP did for the men.

    I'm, the european who would LOVE to have her on my team.

    NC is amazing.

  8. PS. @ Chris, She is just as good lookng as our Federica Pellegrini, if not better ;)