Saturday, July 9, 2011

The British Are Coming!

As Braden Keith has aptly noted in his writeups of European Juniors, Britain is kicking some continental butt right now. Britain hasn't exactly set the world on fire for the last few decades, so the results beg the question: how good are they really doing. In order to find out, I compared their results so far at Euro Juniors with last summers American Junior Nationals in Irvine. The results are pretty surprising.

For instance, the banner event for British junior men was the 200 IM. They took 1-2 in that event. When you compare them to US Junior Nationals, it's not even close, with Britain recording a 2:01.57 and a 2:02.41 and the winner at US Juniors going 2:04.1. Although here would be a good place to note that David Nolan did not swim at that Junior meet, and we can assume that Britain isn't holding somebody that goes 1:59 back at home.

In another event, the British managed a 4-5 finish with two 3:54 400 freestyles. Their times would have wedged them solidly into 2nd and 3rd place at US Juniors last summer. Lastly, Britain's 800 freestyle relay put up a respectable 7:23.36, with splits of 1:52.85, 1:51.75, 1:49.78 and 1:48.98. The US aggregate from last summer is nearly identical, albeit missing Nolan again.

While these results may seem modest, consider that British men outranked Americans in just one Olympic long course event last summer (100 backstroke). While I noted in an earlier blog that Britain has had exciting Juniors fail to pan out in the past, Britain's results could also indicate that they could be well on their way to actually making a difference in Rio. Unfortunately for them I don't see too many 19-20 year olds winning in London, but undoubtedly the Olympics will augment the momentum they have right now. If Britain develops senior athletes with anywhere near the efficiency of its smaller regional neighbors (Netherlands, Denmark, Faroe Islands) they could seriously affect the power balance in World swimming.


  1. It also seems that in the US age group system, coaches generally train male swimmers with the expectation that college swimming will be the time to shine, hence an emphasis on long-term development. This view might be reinforced by the fact that a British 18-year old with a 2:01 200 im has a very good chance of representing Britain at a major meet (like Worlds) within a year, while an equivalent US swimmer wouldn't expect to reach that level until the early 20's. College swimming also changes the priorities of many top end male swimmers in high school because of the focus on high school yards meets.

  2. One of those 2:01 IM swimmers will be starting at UF under Gregg Troy come next month so turning him into a good senior will be down to America!