2011 Mid-Term Swimming Comeback Report Card

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 11

December 21st, 2011 National

As 2011 comes to an end, and we can almost begin talking about “this year’s” Olympics rather than “next year’s”, it’s time to hand out some report cards. Final exams will

First, we’ll look at those swimmers who have made a big comeback since the last Olympic Games, and how they’re doing. This list will include all swimmers who, for one reason or another, were out of competition long enough to not make any World/Continental Championship squads since the Beijing Olympics. That includes swimmers like Davis Tarwater, who may or may not have formally retired but were certainly out of elite swim training for a period of time.

Excluded are swimmers like Geoff Huegill, who was retired, but has been back long enough that it’s pretty clear how his comeback is going (swimmingly).

Explanation of Grading Rubric

Remember, these are not scoring the athlete themselves, rather giving a grade to the overall comeback package.

Performance: How fast has this athlete’s times been? We’ll manage expectations a bit here for the length of the comeback, but Thorpe doesn’t get a free pass just because he chose to wait until November to start competing. A’s mean faster times.

Ease of Domestic Competition: In his or her primary events, what level of domestic competition is there to just qualify for the Olympic Team? A’s represent the easiest path to the Olympics. Multiple potential events will boos this score.

Ease of International Competition: If the swimmer qualifies for the Olympics, what are there chances of placing well, making a final, or even winning a medals?

Buzz factor: What sort of publicity and excitement has been flowing through the swimming community about the swimmer’s comeback? A’s mean a ton of chatter, F’s mean they’ve gone well under the radar (though in this case, that’s not always a bad thing).

Overall comeback grade: This is a mid-season update on how well the comeback has gone taking all into perspective. Just like in school, there’s still plenty of time to bring these grades up by the end of the year, but this is a snapshot of where things are at now.

Most Likely to Make Olympics:

1. Laure Manaoudou
2. Brendan Hansen
3. Davis Tarwater

The Scores: Men

Ian Thorpe Big Stroke remake means still time to hit his stride, still a ways off of the squad though.
Performance D+
Ease of Domestic Competition C-
Ease of International Competition C+
Buzz Factor A+
Overall Grade C
Brendan Hansen Has dominated American breaststrokes since comeback.
Performance A
Ease of Domestic Competition A
Ease of International Competition B-
Buzz Factor A
Overall Grade A-
Michael Klim Has outshined teammate Thorpe in pool, if not in headlines
Performance C+
Ease of Domestic Competition C-
Ease of International Competition C+
Buzz Factor B-
Overall Grade C+
Ed Moses Hasn’t been quite to the level of Hansen, though he had a longer hiatus. Buzz boosted by TV Series.
Performance D+
Ease of Domestic Competition A
Ease of International Competition C+
Buzz Factor A
Overall Grade C+
Anthony Ervin Jury’s still out a bit, as we haven’t seen him in long course since return. Short course has been grand though.
Performance B
Ease of Domestic Competition C+
Ease of International Competition B-
Buzz Factor A
Overall Grade B-
Ian Crocker Incomplete returns with no serious competition yet. Crocker chatter hasn’t really begun yet.
Performance IC
Ease of Domestic Competition D-
Ease of International Competition B
Buzz Factor C-
Overall Grade B-
Davis Tarwater He might be even more versatile now than he was before Oxford. Has been on fire since comeback. Clary injury could clear path.
Performance A
Ease of Domestic Competition A-
Ease of International Competition B
Buzz Factor B-
Overall Grade A-

The Scores: Women

Laure Manaudou She’s avoided a lot of the French press by hiding out in Auburn, but hard to hide that she’s swum well in return.
Performance B
Ease of Domestic Competition A+
Ease of International Competition B
Buzz Factor A
Overall Grade A-
Libby Trickett Big Stroke remake means still time to hit his stride, still a ways off of the squad though.
Performance D+
Ease of Domestic Competition C-
Ease of International Competition C+
Buzz Factor A-
Overall Grade C
Alena Popchanka Only a month back into competition, has made huge drops in 100 freestyle times (over a second in short course). Trains with a great group in Spain.
Performance D
Ease of Domestic Competition B
Ease of International Competition D+
Buzz Factor F
Overall Grade C
Janet Evans Has Janet been swimming and we’ve missed it? She’s endorsing lots of products, but haven’t seen any racing from her since August.
Performance Truant
Ease of Domestic Competition B
Ease of International Competition D+
Buzz Factor B+
Overall Grade Truant

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Chris
9 years ago

Not sure why Moses would have a higher EIC score than Hansen, considering how similar they are. Also, I think you should diversify the “buzz” scores a little more, ie give Thorpe an A+ and downgrade Ervin or Trickett. Ervin and Crocker’s EDC scores also seem very low. Ervin just needs to get under 22 in the 50 or get in the low 48 range to be a very strong contender to make the team, while Crocker’s best 100 fly time is nearly a second faster than anyone else (aside from Phelps) has been in textile, domestically and internationally. Relative to their best times, they both have very good chances of making the team if they’ve been training well. However,… Read more »

Bryce
9 years ago

A lot of this I agree with, but there is some that doesn’t make sense (but I guess it does make for healthy discussion, which is the point right?)

I don’t know how Ed Moses gets a D+ in performance while Manaudou gets a B. Moses went 214 at Winter Nats and at least made the final in the 200, while Manaudou was off the charts bad. What did she go 410 plus (I have to look it up, may have been 413), and in the 200 she has been s l o w as well. Here’s a woman who has been 402 and 155. I really think her time at Auburn has been nothing but a failure, yet this… Read more »

Chris
9 years ago

Bryce, I believe Braden is focusing on the backstrokes for Manaudou, where she’s easily the fastest French swimmer, although far from medaling due to the resurgence in the women’s backstrokes. The 200/400 free are the opposite, where she’ll need to be at her best to make the team, if she can will be in the hunt for medals, maybe even gold.

bobo gigi
9 years ago

Interesting. Braden, I agree with most of your grades except for the EDC of Anthony Ervin and the EIC of Laure Manaudou. Anthony Ervin has just Nathan Adrian as a big opponent in the 50 free and in the 100 free. I give him a B in EDC. As a french, I can tell you Laure Manaudou has a good chance to make the team in backstroke. In her opponents only Alexianne Castel has the international level. And she also has a good chance to make the 4X200 free relay’s team. And if she qualifies in individual, I don’t see her as a potential medalist. The level in backstroke has incredibly increased. I give her a C in EIC.
… Read more »

Josh (the original)
9 years ago

Manaudou could very well also be playing possum. If she makes herself too much of a target right now, she gets all that media attention she left France to avoid. You’re talking about one of the toughest racers in the world, and a girl who in her prime was taking the 400 out so fearlessly that her 200 split would have made the US National team at the time. I think even if she isn’t where she was previously fitness-wise, she’s got the racing instinct and background to pull up her performance level when it’s crunch time.

me262
9 years ago

this reminds me that we haven’t heard much from Janet Evans (except for endorsement announcements and product pitches) in a while. I’d grade that comeback as ‘incomplete’ or perhaps ‘not enrolled’ at this point…

Bryce
9 years ago

I just think it’s odd how Manaudou did pretty well right away with AU but has gotten progressively worse. Does anyone think she’ll actually be as good (or even close) as she’s been in the past. I don’t, I just don’t think she’ll train well enough to do it. I know her coach back in 04-07 was a hard-a$$ but he’s obviously a great coach for athletes in the middle distance world. Too bad for her for giving up on her coach when they were at the top. I’ve seen to many women do this in this sport.

aswimfan
9 years ago

aah… I was right about thorpe being one year too late:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/sport/ian-thorpe-has-left-it-a-year-too-late-to-qualify-for-london-says-denis-cotterell/story-e6frg7mf-1226228820950

Ian Thorpe has left it a year too late to qualify for London, says Denis Cotterell

IAN Thorpe’s attempt to turn back time and qualify for next year’s London Olympics is doomed to failure, according to the coach who helped pilot Grant Hackett to two Olympic 1500m gold medals, Denis Cotterell.

The Gold Coast-based Cotterell, who has also tweaked the techniques of four current Chinese world champions and has a brood of emerging Australian talent under his wing, broke ranks with swimming orthodoxy to make a pronouncement some may have contemplated but none were willing to articulate. Until now.

Just… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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