|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.