Monday, June 20, 2011
What to Make of Santa Clara
The Grand Prix season ended yesterday. There are still a couple elite meets sitting between now and this summer's World Championships, most notably the TYR Meet of Champions coming up this next weekend. But, as intrepid swimming reporter Craig Lord notes, we are now less than six weeks from Shanghai. I frequently point out how nerve-wracking the spring and early summer are for fans of America's Swim Team, watching the rest of the world swim fast while we muddle through. This year features even more anxiety.
When USA Swimming decided to set this summer's world championship team based off last summer's Pan-Pac results, it laid the ground for a very strange summer. On the one hand, all of the fastest Americans of 2010 have known that Shanghai is their taper meet and planned accordingly. As such, we won't have the benefit of a close by trials meet to see who is swimming fast right now. On the other hand, you have a number of swimmers who have taken off or come back in the last year who can't qualify for any serious international competition until the Olympics. Let's run through a few:
Brendan Hansen: Hansen ripped off a 1:01 100 breaststroke. Don't you think that team USA would like to have him for a medley relay come August? How are we going to feel if Hansen goes a 59 at Nationals in August, which is just as realistic as no other American breaking a minute.
Jessica Hardy- Ok, technically she made the team, only not in the 100 breaststroke. Now she's ranked #2 in the world. Will the National Team coaches simply bump Amanda Beard so that Jessica can swim? Amanda would still have the 200 breast left as an event.
Kate Dwelley: The former Stanford swimmer was 1:59 in the 200 free over the weekend. Why is that somewhat pedestrian (for the World stage) 200 free important? Because Dagny Knutson is qualified for the 4x200 Free relay and has struggled mightily (2:05 200 free).
Rachel Bootsma: You might say we are totally stacked in backstroke, with Franklin and Coughlinpicked to represent USA abroad. Unfortunately, they are currently 4th and 9th in the world respectively. Don't be deceived by the fact that Bootsma is finishing back of both the others at the Grand Prix's. Last summer Bootmsa was 1:03.8 at the Charlotte Grand Prix, then finished the season with a 1:00.4 at Nationals. This summer, she's shown huge improvement in her long course swimming with a 1:00.3 at Charlotte and a solid 1:01.3 in Santa Clara.
Four years ago in Melbourne the US National team dominated, with 36 medals, more than the next four teams combined. They will need all hands on deck to repeat that performance.
Posted by The Screaming Viking! at 6:36 AM