In the last couple years my wife, Kate, has become more interested in swim meets. As with any sport, putting the competition in context helps. 4:07 in the 400 IM means nothing unless you know how fast it is. So before a big meet, I always make her a cheat sheet of what would be a good swim the swimmers on my team.
So, as a viewing aid for tonight's finals, I am going to do the same. For each final and semi I will give you an idea of what is good and what is not for the swimmers themselves and team USA.
Women's 100 fly: Dana Vollmer has put the world on notice. The lone carrot remaining for her is Sarah Sjostrom's 2009 world record of 56.06. She is already the Olympic favorite mainly due to Sjostrom's inconsistencies. The second place swimmer in this event will need a major step up to put themselves in contention in London: Claire Donahue for instance would need to drop .6 off the swim of her life to match Ellen Gandy's third in the world swim.
Men's 200 free: Lochte and Phelps are 1-2 favorites for London. Anything under 1:45 will be a good result as no domestic swimmer has shown they can challenge that. There is no real drama here- the rest of the field is already fast enough to complete a gold medal relay, its just a matter of who gets on the train.
Women's 100 br: Soni is still mostly competing with herself here and chasing the world record: which stands at 1:04.45. Larson drives the rest of this race, if she improves on her 1:06.5 she will put a lot of pressure on Hardy going into the final, especially with her early speed.
Mens 100 br: Hansen's 59.7 puts him at least in the conversation for a London medal. If he does more than dropping a tenth or two start the Kitajima-Hansen 3 discussion. Otherwise the minute barrier is the borderline for contention, a swim that would be phenomenal for all involved.
Women's 400 free: The top two swims are strong relative to recent US results in this event, which haven't been good. It's going to take all the way down to 4:03 for either to contend in London, a time that would be a huge textile drop for either.
Men's 100 back: Lots of questions to be answered here. Did Grevers go full bore on his 52.9? If he doesn't improve I say yes. The rest of the field swam within a normal range and needs to move up to Grevers level to be world relevant, a tall order for all but Thoman and Plummer.
Women's 100 back: Don't read into Coughlin's swims at all. She will not go close to 100% before the final. For the rest of the contenders 59 keeps them relevant and 58 separates from the world pack.
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