2021 SC Worlds Picks & Previews: Women’s Individual Medley

2021 FINA SHORT COURSE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

  • Thursday, December 16th – Tuesday, December 21st
  • Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • SCM (25m)
  • Prize Money
  • Meet Site
  • Entries

UPDATE: Abbie Wood has announced that she is withdrawing from the meet. The below has been updated.

Women’s 100 IM

Anastasia GorbenkoMaria Kameneva and Beryl Gastaldello are the three frontrunners for gold in the women’s 100 IM, having all cracked the 58-second barrier over the past few months.

Gorbenko clocked 57.90 at the Berlin stop of the FINA World Cup circuit, while Kameneva won the event in back-to-back playoff matches in the ISL (going 57.94 in Match 3), and Gastaldello dropped a time of 57.87 in the fourth playoff match for the LA Current.

There’s a number of swimmers in the field that have been 58-something this year as well, including Canadians Sydney Pickrem and Bailey Andison, Italy’s Costanza Cocconcelli, Switzerland’s Maria Ugolkova, Belarusian Anastasiya Shkurdai and Finland’s Fanny Teijonsalo.

Gastaldello should be raring to go after being held out of competing in the ISL Final two weeks ago, but she could potentially have a schedule conflict with the 50 fly, which falls just two events before the 100 IM in all three rounds of competition.

Gorbenko also has a busy schedule on her plate, but this will be Kameneva’s first of just two individual entries, which may give her an edge.

Shkurdai is one swimmer that really came into her own down the stretch of the ISL season in the backstroke events, and does own a scintillating best time of 57.59 in the 100 IM, though it was set last year.

This race will almost surely come down to the last 10 meters of freestyle and who has that extra burst of speed, and with Kameneva’s 50 free ability, she gets the slight edge.

Top 3 Picks

  1. Maria Kameneva, RUS (SB: 57.94)
  2. Beryl Gastaldello, FRA (SB: 57.87)
  3. Anastasia Gorbenko, ISR (SB: 57.90)

Women’s 200 IM

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Finalists Participating:

2 of the 4 fastest swimmers of the season, all with best times from the ISL, are all entered in the women’s 200 IM for the Short Course World Championships: Sydney Pickrem (2:04.59), and Anastasia Gorbenko (2:05.04). The two exceptions in that top four are the defending Olympic Champion Yui Ohashi who has also been 2:04 in the short course season.

The two swim a bit differently. Pickrem attacks the breaststroke leg, while Gorbenko swims the most balanced race, finishing the best, of the major contenders who will be at this met.

Pickrem struggled early in the ISL, missing races and leaving empty lanes (which she also did at the Olympics). By season’s end, at the ISL finale, she earned some confidence with a win in the 200 IM, but her time was off – 2:05.79.

Gorbenko, meanwhile, was asked to fill a lot of different roles for the LA Current, and while she handled that variety well in the ISL format, she seemed to get more-and-more tired later in the season, with her IM times rising as high as 2:09.

With a big schedule for this meet too, with 6 individual events for 6 days, and with the 200 IM falling toward the end of the schedule, fatigue becomes a big factor for her.

Canada’s Bailey Andison has been 2:05.38 this season, and Switzerland’s Maria Ugolkova has been 2:06.51, so they’re the next-in-line to grab a spot if she falters.

There are a few names who haven’t raced short course meters yet this season, though, who will be a factor here as well. Yu Yiting of China, Kate Douglass of the United States, and Melanie Margalis of the United States, primarily.

Margalis swam in yards in November at the Georgia Tech Invitational, but focused mostly on shorter and non-primary events. That included a best time of 53.78 in the 100 yard back, and some other nice times, but nothing that excites much. She has new training in Atlanta, leaving her long-time home at the University of Georgia, and a new part-time job to juggle.

That’s her only meet since June’s Olympic Trials, and it would be a surprise at this point for Margalis to land on the medal stand in this event.

While Alex Walsh, the Olympic silver medalist, isn’t racing at this meet, her teammate and training partner Kate Douglass is. Douglass hasn’t raced short course meters this season, but has been electric in yards, improving on even her own already-fast best times in the breaststroke events.

Virginia trains at race-pace a lot and swims very well in season, so Douglass should have less impact from the context of the ongoing NCAA season than many of the other American collegiate athletes will.

Yu Yiting comes out of the black box that is Chinese swimming, so it’s hard to know exactly where she’s at, but she performed well in September at the Chinese National Games, with a 4:38 in the 400 IM and 2:10.12 in the 200 IM in long course, so it appears she’s fit.

Right now, my instinct is that Pickrem, Douglass, and Yu are the serious medal contenders, with Andison, Gorbenko, and Margalis, in that order, the only swimmers close enough and with enough quality in this event to possibly make the leap on to the podium.

Top 3 Picks:

  1. Kate Douglass, USA (SB: 1:52.21 in yards)
  2. Yi Yuting, China (SB: 2:10.12 in LCM)
  3. Sydney Pickrem, Canada (SB: 2:04.59 in SCM)

Women’s 400 IM

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Finalists Participating:

The field for the 400 IM is pretty similar to the one for the 200 IM, with a few exceptions.

For the Americans, Emma Weyant is in and her Virginia teammate Douglass is out; no Gorbenko in this race; Bailey Andison won’t swim the race (in spite of having the #1 time in the world this season); and there are a few other minor players who could make a run at the podium.

With Andison’s absence, this race becomes wide open with a whole lot of swimmers able to stake a claim. In opposite of the 200 IM, very few of the top swimmers in the world this season are entered for SC Worlds. None of the top 4 swimmers in the world this year are racing: Wood is a last-minute scratch with illness, while Andison, Summer McIntosh, and Ohashi are all out (though McIntosh and Andison are both in the meet elsewhere).

That leaves an opportunity for a swimmer like Weyant, the Olympic silver medalist, who was a personal best in yards in 4:03.69 earlier this year, to grab another medal, though she doesn’t have any substantial short course meters racing experience.

The teenage Hungarian Viktoria Mihalyvari-Farkas has been swimming several non-ISL meets in short course meters this fall, though her times have not been great. On November 13, she swam 4:35 at the Hungarian Championships, only half-a-second faster than her long course time at the Olympics.

Cusinato, on the other hand, has raced more sparingly, but has been faster. She was 4:31 in Budapest in October and 4:32 in Riccione earlier this month. She’s always been a little better in short course than long course, and has a PB of 4:27.88 from the last SC World Championships, so if she’s stabilizing in her training after a well-told journey in the leadup to Tokyo, she has medal potential too.

With 4:27 looking like it’s going to be the target to medal in this one, swimmers like Sydney Pickrem (4:29.2 this season, 4:23.6 best time) and Zsu Jakabos (4:30.3 this season, 4:25.6 best) are capable of striking a medal. Pickrem is only one year removed from her 4:23 in the 400 IM, so while she hasn’t been as good this year, if she hits a taper, she could easily land on a podium.

And then there’s Yu Yiting again. She isn’t as good in the 400 IM as she is in the 200 IM, having placed 11th at the Olympics, but in a year like this, ‘on form’ might be enough. Other contenders include Viktoria Gunes of Turkey, who swam a best time earlier this year and is having a big bounceback year in this 400 IM, dropping 5 total seconds from her previous personal best.

I don’t expect Melanie Margalis, who says she doesn’t really like swimming the 400 IM, to have this race locked in, and Ellen Walshe, training at the University of Tennessee but representing Ireland, has better medal chances than this. I think there is a chance that neither actually winds up swimming the event.

So that leaves a clear top-tier of Weyant, even without really being on the international scene yet in short course meters, followed by a wide-open battle for 2nd and 3rd. Pickrem’s 4:23 potential is just too much for me to feel good leaving her off the podium, even if she hasn’t been there this season yet. If we were doing deeper picks, I’d choose the momentum of Gunes and Yiting as next-in-line here, with Cusinato and Jakabos in the next tier.

There’s some darkhorse love to be handed out to Great Britain’s Katie Shanahan. The 17-year old has only been 4:31.83 this season, but that’s already a 10-second drop from her previous best time.

Top 3 Picks:

  1. Emma Weyant, USA (SB: 4:03.69 in SCY)
  2. Sydney Pickrem, Canada (SB: 4:29.21 in SCM)
  3. Yui Yiting, China (SB: 4:38 in LCM)

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Anymouse
1 month ago

Unfortunately Abbie Wood has announced that she isn’t going to SC Worlds due to glandular fever.

Snarky
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

Glandular fever is so British.

kate
1 month ago

Ooof. Where did she announce this?

Ghost
1 month ago

My guess is that Sydney Pickrem doesn’t show for 4IM….

Fairness
Reply to  Ghost
1 month ago

Solid guess

Canuswim
Reply to  Ghost
1 month ago

Shocked if there any no shows for 400im. Huge opportunity to shine with the top 4 swimmers in world this year not entered / out due to illness.

Ghost
Reply to  Canuswim
1 month ago

Good point with big money on the line

Sub13
Reply to  Ghost
1 month ago

Why is that? She DNS’d a few swims early in the ISL season but none since playoffs started. Her finals performances weren’t her best but were still pretty good.

Njones
Reply to  Ghost
1 month ago

This is way overblown now. Yes she stepped down at an early season ISL meet but that was it. We don’t know why unless someone can shed light (injury? Illness? Vertigo…??)

However at the Olympics she did not ‘no show’ or ‘step down’. She scratched 400IM early in the meet due to an illness, which was fair enough given the taxing nature of it, and choose to aim to recover on time for her better event 2IM. Unfortunately she was still off form for that one finishing just out of the medals.

Then she scratched the 2 Breast in order to help Canadian relays in the final 3 or so days. She wasn’t on form enough to contend in… Read more »

swimapologist
Reply to  Njones
1 month ago

She did it twice* in ISL.

At the Olympics, she DID no-show the 400 IM. Empty lane and everything.

That must have been particularly frustrating for her teammates Bailey Andison and Mary-Sophie Harvey, who were on the roster and could have swum that event, and possibly finaled, if not medaled. If Sydney had decided she didn’t want to swim it earlier in the week, they could have entered one of those two swimmers.

So yes, there’s a definite pattern.

NJones
Reply to  swimapologist
1 month ago

She scratched prior to the event being swum, but not reseeded, due to illness. And it showed unfortunately at her 2IM was off when at her best she had a chance to win.
Zero effect on Sophie-Harvey or Andison. Neither made the Fina A time (Andison was only hundreds away) so neither were eligible to race it at the Games, period.
So, again, legit reason to scratch (anyone recall McKeown scratching the 2IM despite posting #1 time in the world?).
It is not easy to swim multiple events at that high level, very few can do so, let alone sick. Strategic decisions were made to put Canadians in best chance to podium.

Tiudbsi
Reply to  Njones
1 month ago

At the olympics she scratched 2 pre selected events which pisses people off because 2 other swimmers would have been added to the team, She did not need to do the 4×200 because 6 women were selected for that event plus Taylor. She wasn’t the best option for the br split in the 4×100. Wog was off form but still would have out split her. She just wanted a medal and scratched any events that she couldn’t win one in.

NJones
Reply to  Tiudbsi
1 month ago

Wrong: no one else was eligible in the 400IM, read other post, they did not make Fina A cut so could not swim the event period.
Same with 200 Breast, no one else at Trials made A cut. You could argue placing Smith in the event ‘if’ her 2019 time was under the A cut but she was off form and not a finals contender. She was only placed on the team as a 4×1 medley back-up.
For the 4×2 she helped rest one of the 3 finals swimmers by posted an ok sub 2 min swim. Taylor Ruck was 201 at Trials and not even in the final. A shame as a 154 level Taylor would have… Read more »

Tiudbsi
Reply to  NJones
1 month ago

Swim Canada changed the selection policy before trials. Emily Overholt would have been selected based on her 2019 time 4:37 (best time of 4:32). Smith would have been properly selected to the team in the 200br and they might have brought Nicol who was second at trials (2016 100 br finalist). Taylor ruck didnt make the A final at trials in 2016 and was the second fastest split in Rio. Anyone on the team could have gone 1:59 (Bellio, Wog, Savard, Harvey, Ruck,Sanchez, Smith) she didn’t help. If they wanted to rest someone they would have chose someone with a lighter event schedule she had 3 events she should have been the one resting. The 4×100 was a terrible choice… Read more »

Njones
Reply to  Tiudbsi
1 month ago

I don’t disagree that the 4*1 could have gone to Wog. 50/50 imo based on how both were swimming. Sydney a bit off but consistent. Wog way off unfortunately and not consistent. In a dream world Wog would have been on her winter 2020 1:06 form and dropped a 105 split to have Canada right in the mix at the 200 mark…

Other than the pre selected 6, SNC did not select anyone with a 2019 standard over anyone that was under the standard at 2021 trials to my knowledge. So Emily O from 2019 would not bump Tessa from that spot. Emily was also a bit off form and got ‘retired’ by her dad on the final day anyways!… Read more »

Taa
1 month ago

Grimes would crush the 400IM.

Canuswim
Reply to  Taa
1 month ago

What does Grimes scy time convert too?

Taa
Reply to  Canuswim
1 month ago

4:26 per the converter on here.

swimfast
Reply to  Taa
1 month ago

lol

Meat Day
1 month ago

TEACH ME HOW TO DOUGIE

Wow
1 month ago

200 IM

  1. Pickrem
  2. Douglass
  3. Gorbenko

400 IM

  1. Weyant

2-3. TWO of Cusinato, Gunes OR Walshe – short course 400 IM can be her primary event. Went 4:06 @ TEN Invite in prelims absolutely cruising and they went for the “fun” swim that night – 100 Fly where she chopped another second off her PB. She is dangerous in this.

Last edited 1 month ago by Wow
RMS
Reply to  Wow
1 month ago

No way is Douglass losing.

Greg
Reply to  RMS
1 month ago

Please someone (preferably from USA Swim) explain why Douglass is not entered in the 100 IM.

Snarky
Reply to  Greg
1 month ago

Not qualified. Fina rules.

Noah
1 month ago

Can Douglass/Weyant/Any American NCAA swimmers retain all of the prize money?

Sub13
Reply to  Noah
1 month ago

NCAA swimmers are allowed to get money for their image and likeness. They can retain prize money only equal to their expenses for attending the meet but they can’t make any profit off it. So most NCAA swimmers will be sacrificing the vast majority of their prize money.

Taa
Reply to  Sub13
1 month ago

I can get them some receipts if they need em.

Taa
Reply to  Taa
1 month ago

actually their costs are covered by teamusa? I don’t think they get to keep anything.

Snarky
Reply to  Sub13
1 month ago

Not entirely accurate. They can win prize money but not world record bonuses.

Eli
1 month ago

I personally think Margalis will be up there in the 200/400.

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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