2013 World Championship Previews: Yang’s Shape Questioned, But Still a Big Favorite in 1500

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With Olympic gold under his belt and the world’s fastest time heading into the games, there is little doubt that Sun Yang (CHN) is the favorite to win the men’s metric mile in Barcelona. Even though he has been fielding some out-of-the-pool drama, separating from his long time coach while also finding the time to find some romance with an air stewardess, Yang has been swimming well this year. He swum a very controlled mile at Chinese Nationals in April, where he won the event by 20 seconds, clocking a 14:48.10.

There’s some questions about his shape floating around after comments by his Chinese coach, and he has dropped the individual 200 free, but his advantage in the 1500 is so great that his dominance won’t be questioned.

Even though London silver medalist Ryan Cochrane (CAN) is going into Worlds with the 8th fastest 2013 time (14:59.73), he has been swimming fast in-season this year, with a near lifetime best in the 800 free while in the midst of heavy training. His best time of 14:39.63 from a year ago still ranks him second fastest in this event since 2011.

Oussama Mellouli (TUN), Olympic gold medalist (in 2008 in the mile, and 2012 in the 10km), and bronze medalist (the mile in 2012) won the 1500 at the Mediterranean Games in Mersin, Turkey in a time of 15:12.36, good enough for 24th in the world this year. Considering that he didn’t break 15 minutes once in the year leading up to the Olympics, this isn’t surprising or for Mellouli, particularly worrying.

Jordan Harrison (AUS) is following in some impressive footsteps. At the 2013 Energy Australia National Championships Harrison beat the time Grant Hackett did as a 17-year old. This trajectory should not come as a surprise – Harrison is coached by Hackett’s coach Denis Cotterell in the same Gold Coast pool where Hackett (and Sun, for that matter) developed. The time of 14:51.02 makes him the fastest 17 year old in the history of the event, and the 3rd fastest Australian of all time.

Although Connor Jaeger (USA) was just off of his lifetime best swimming a 14:53.34 at US Nationals and World Championship Trials, he negative split the swim, taking it home 2 seconds faster (7:57 – 7:55). He has swum two 14:52’s in this event in his career, and with the year he has been having so far (distance titles at NCAA’s, best time in the 400 at Nationals) he is due to get under the 14:50 mark.

Teammate Michael McBroom (USA) broke 15 minutes for the first time at Nationals in placing second behind Jaeger. He has been steadily improving in this event over the course of the season. At the Charlotte Grand Prix he shaved five seconds off his best time (15:03), and then another 4 seconds at Trials (14:59), ranking him 7th in the world this year.

The Italians have a strong contingent in this event this year, with the 4th and 5th ranked swimmers in the world. A pair of 18 year olds, Gregorio Paltrinieri placed 5th in London (14:51.92), while Gabriele Detti placed 13th in London, failing to qualify for the final. Paltrinieri had a breakthrough year in 2012, dropping a whopping 30+ seconds off of his best time in the year leading up to the games. He also ended up winning the gold medal at short course Worlds in Istanbul in December when Mads Glaesner’s (DEN) failed drug test annulled his titles in the 400 and 1,500.

Daniel Fogg (GBR) swam a personal best of 14:55.30 last year in front of a hometown crowd. The 15:01.74 he swam at British Gas National Championships a few short weeks ago was done at the end of a particularly grueling week of swimming, and makes him the only Brit qualifying for Barcelona in this event.

Japan’s Hirai Ayatsugu has had a breakout year, winning this race easily at Japanese Nationals in a time of 15:05.93. He swam particularly well short course this season, clocking a 14:38.13 – and in the process dropping 7 seconds off of his best time.

Sergiy Frolov fromt he Ukraine looks like a good darkhorse; he was 10th at last year’s Olympics and just under 15 minutes, is only 21 years old, and in-season has been 7 seconds better this year than he was in the run up to the Olympics. If things click, he could be under 14:50 in Barcelona.

Notes:
– Australia will only be sending one swimmer in this event. Mack Horton dropped under 15 minutes for the first time at Australian Nationals, but was just over the Worlds qualifying standard of 14:58. The 17-year-old will instead be headed to World Juniors in Dubai. The 14:59.66 he swam is the 7th fastest time posted this year.
– As noted in other previews, South Korea’s Park Tae Hwan will not be competing in Barcelona. He placed 4th in this event in London in a time of 14:50.61.

PICKS, with best times since January 1, 2010
1. Sun Yang, China, 14:31.02
2. Ryan Cochrane, Canada, 14:39.63
3. Jordan Harrison, Australia, 14:51.02
4. Oussama Mellouli, Tunisia, 14:40.31
5. Connor Jaeger, USA, 14:52.51
6. Gregorio Paltrinieri, Italy, 14:48.92
7. Gabriele Detti, Italy, 14:58.78
8. Michael McBroom, USA, 14:59.12
Darkhorse: Sergiy Frolov, Ukraine, 14:59.19

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Klorn8d

My prediction for this event:
Minor medal and American record for Connor Jaeger. He looked very relaxed at nationals and he said he wasn’t fully tapered. An I think you meant 7:27-7:25 as his splits.

bobo gigi

Do you know one swimmer who says he’s fully tapered? 🙂

Klorn8d

Yeah I always take people saying that with a grain of salt. But I still think he’s got it in him, he took his race out really slow and I think a faster field with benefit him. #teamjaeger
And to out do your emoji

Klorn8d

^my clever string of emojis didn’t work. How did you put the smiley face up?

bobo gigi

You type the code of your smiley and it works.

Greg

You can never forget about Ous Mellouli he always sneaks up on everybody because he never seems to post sub 15’s in season. I hope to see him repeat his London finish for a bronze medal.

liquidassets

I take Chinese coaches words with a grain of salt because of the political pressure they are under. And it is good to see a growing pattern of Chinese swimmers slowly asserting their independence from their coaches/government, at least relatively speaking. Small steps. This was the right year for Sun to separate with his coach and pursue a life outside the pool, and dropping the 200 was the perfect compromise solution for his somewhat reduced level of fitness compared with last year. He knows what he’s doing. I agree that he will win comfortably in Barcelona and that Cochrane will likely get 2nd, barring unforseen circumstances. I do think Jaeger, who has been very consistent since NCAA’s/Trials last year, could… Read more »

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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