The teams seem to still not quite be set in stone, but with every change (most notably and recently, Ryan Lochte’s injury), it seems as though the Americans’ grip on this series of national/continental-team duel meets gets more-and-more tepid.
- Men’s Breaststrokes (Note that we upgraded Europe’s chance in the men’s races to a ‘slight edge’ after Europe added Marco Koch).
Hannah Miley (200)
Meghan Hawthorne (200)
The 100 seems to be heavily favored toward the Americans. While Breeja Larson has never swum short course meters, Jessica Hardy is one of the best in history. Larson will probably emerge from this meet as one of the best SCM swimmers in history as well. She’s already the fastest in short course yards.
The opening for the Europeans could be in experience. There is no race other than breaststroke where timing becomes more important. That’s especially true for the 6’1″ Larson, who swims with an extremely long stroke. With how carefully she has to time her 4-6 strokes per length in yards, she could get stuck on a few walls with the meters pool being about two yards longer than she’s used to.
Hardy also hasn’t raced since the World Championships, though she probably will swim at Winter Nationals in the United States just before leaving for Glasgow.
So, while the Americans are the favorites in this race, there’s certainly a potential opening for the Europeans to score in the format that only awards points to the top three.
At any rate, the Europeans have some pretty good swimmers of their own. Moniek Nijhuis is the Dutch National Record holder, and has already approached that record with a sub-1:05 in August in short course.
Fiona Doyle came into her own this summer as well, breaking the Irish Long Course National Record.
In the 200, things look much different for the Europeans. Hannah Miley is a great 200 breaststroker, if the Europeans decide to use her there. Though Doyle and Nijhuis are not as good in the 200, Allen certainly is.
For the Americans, Larson is the only swimmer on the team who is a really big threat in both the 100 and the 200. Again, though, with only three scorers, that probably doesn’t matter. Micah Lawrence took bronze in long course in the 200 breastsroke at this past summer’s World Championships. She’s never been quite as good in short course as she has in long course – for example, her long course 200 best time (2:21.7) is better than her short course meters 200 best time (2:23.6), though the latter of those times came in 2010, before her big breakout.
Hawthorne, like Miley, is primarily an IM’er, but also brings value in the 200. She probably swims that 200 breast on an American team without a ton of options.
Overall, this should be a win as a discipline for the Americans.
100 breast top 3 picks:
1. Breeja Larson (USA)
2. Moniek Nijhuis (EURO)
3. Jessica Hardy (USA)
200 breast top 3 picks:
1. Hannah Miley (EURO)
2. Breeja Larson (USA)
3. Micah Lawrence (USA)