Sunday, July 12, 2009
Chris DeSantis- Looking ahead after Day 5
Instead of a straight reaction to day 5, I thought I would give a couple big positive themes that emerged from this weeks world trials. Rome is almost upon us, and the US has shown at least some of its hand. So what do we know heading into Rome?
1. Surprise Depth- With Phelps eschewing the IMs at this World Champs, conventional wisdom might predict that Team USA would be a little thin behind Ryan Lochte. On the contrary, Clary has shown himself to be a gold medal contender in the 4 while Shanteau is now bested only by Lochte in the world rankings. America looks poised to sustain its dominance on the IM front. Clary also provides able backup in the 200 fly, and Shanteau alongside Mark Gangloff have answered any lingering questions about the current state of American breaststroke.
2. Rebecca Soni- We'll get to the rest of the women's squad, but the brightest spot of all is Rebecca Soni, who made herself the favorite for both golds in Rome and gave the US team a much needed ace card to play on the medley relay. You have to feel pretty good about Rebecca's chances after she stepped up in the most pressure-full meet of the last year to win gold and set a world record. There has been no post-olympic hangover for Soni, who has continued to improve and now threatens the 100 record alongside the 200.
1. Relays: Both the US men and women face an uphill battle in the majority of the relays. Aside from the men's 4x200, where the US is an overwhelming favorite once again, the US team should not be favored to win a single relay. In fact, there is some doubt whether the Americans will even medal in certain relays. In the men's 4x100, France currently a quartet of swimmers that would have beaten the first place finisher at US trials. Australia may be a much less formidable foe now that Eamon Sullivan had withdrawn, but Brazil looms as a spoiler. On the women's side, the US could get shut out by powerful teams from the Netherlands, Australia and Germany.
2. Distance: It was the perfect storm of things that could go wrong for the US distance chances. Katie Hoff, one stroke away from Olympic gold in the 400 last summer, took ill and had a poor meet. Kate Ziegler was sick as well and did not participate. Allison Schmitt was off her pace from last summer, and while Chloe Sutton certainly made tremendous progress, she is well off world pace. Meanwhile, Peter Vanderkaay decided to forego the mile, while the fastest miler, Chad LaTourette, raced in Serbia for the World University Games. To make it even harder, a number of international distance stars have improved in the last year, foremost Ous Mellouli of Tunisia. But at this point, even the tiny Faroe islands will send a higher ranked male distance swimmer to Rome. An American distance swimmer medaling would be a serious upset.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go be antsy for a couple weeks until the swimming starts again.
Posted by The Screaming Viking! at 3:35 PM