4×100 Free Relay, London Olympic Preview

  83 Gold Medal Mel Stewart | May 01st, 2012 | Featured, Gold Medal Minute, London 2012 Olympics, News | Sponsored by: SwimOutlet.com

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83 Comments on "4×100 Free Relay, London Olympic Preview"

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4 years 2 months ago

Great discussion. I’ll go Aussies, USA, and Russia. South Africa, France, Brazil, Italy all in the mix for Bronze.

4 years 2 months ago

This video totally pumped me up. Let’s get to London already!!

4 years 2 months ago

I think the Aussies will have it…even if Phelps can flat-start a 47.4, that doesn’t give the Americans a boost anymore because we’ve already seen James Roberts flat-start 47.6.

Russia is in interesting pick for bronze…they’ve been this team with all of these young swimmers waiting to explode for SO long, but then they just collapsed last year. I think France beats South Africa on depth – Agnel is focusing 100/200 now.

4 years 2 months ago

I agree, and I think it’s more accurate (right now) to portray the US as fighting for silver, not gold. Unless the Aussies completely collapse, they’ve got around 1.5 seconds on everyone else, and that’s assuming that they don’t improve more (unlikely given their age).

South Africa is a little lacking on depth to be more than a spoiler for bronze, and Russia lacks the killer legs (Magnussen/Phelps/Adrian/Roberts) although they have the depth. France has a good pair with Gilot and Agnel, but I wouldn’t count on big meet performance from Leveaux or Bernard, who’ll both need to be stellar to keep France in the running.

For the US, as others have said, Phelps and Adrian are solid bets with 3 and 4 unclear. However, I think people are way too optimistic with respect to their times. Considering Adrian/Phelps’ best times and in season times, I think a 47.8+/- .1 is reasonable. Maybe one gets 47.5/6, but I highly doubt 47.4/5. For the last 2 spots, I think GWG is far ahead enough of the rest to be a good lock. If Berens or Walters can’t get past 48 mid, then the coaches will probably look at Lochte. However, Lochte’s best relay start is 47.98 and considering the wide range of events he has, I think a 47 flat won’t happen. My prediction is Phelps/Adrian 47.7’s, GWG 48.2, and Berens 48.4/5.

4 years 2 months ago

France looked like they were going to be the main challenge to the Aussies, but then Meynard and Stravius flopped at their trials. However, they do have all the guys on the roster, and if they get back to where they should have been, with Agnel on the team, they can contend. They just need to not have Bernard swim.

RSA is the same way; they were one leg away from being with the US last year without Schoeman. However, they were unimpressive at their trials.

My prediction right now is 1. AUS 2. USA 3. FRA 4. RUS 5. RSA 6. GER 7. ITA 8. BRA

4 years 2 months ago

Kirt – great call on Italy. Another young team with a lot of potential.

I actually think Brazil can finish much higher than 8th, if they make it through prelims. Afterall, they were 9th in prelims with a 50.32 instead of Cesar Cielo, who could have been 47-mid. Make that change, plus Chierighini’s improvements (rolling start 48.7 last year, flat start 48.7 this year), Bruno Fratus (49.0 flat-start last year), and adding in Cielo…that 3:16 becomes a 3:13 in a hurry…if they make it through prelims.

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to Braden-Italy is an oddly non-descript relay. I don’t trust Magnini to have another great swim, but Dotto, Orsi, and Santucci are quiet up-and-comers. Germany is another interesting one. Di Carli should be worth a 47-mid split, Biedermann’s been 47.5, and Markus Deibler has split 48.0. Between Fildebrandt, Steffen Deibler, Starke, and Dimitri Colupaev they can get under 3:12.

4 years 2 months ago


Actually Cielo already went 47 flat on relay.. (if he is not the opening leg). The other 3 guys went 48.7 already flat start. Brazil will have another “trial” to see who will be on the relay on a week.

Probably all three legs could go as low as 48 flat (not lower I Think) and Cielo can open with a 47 mid-high.

Potentially we have 5 teams that can go sub 3:12, USA, France, Brazil, Russia, and Australia that can go even sub 3:10. Maybe Italy but unlikelly. The thing is that this race will be HUGE (4×100 medley also will be amazing)

4 years 2 months ago

This relay is tough to call I agree that Phelps will lead off with Adrian closing

the second and third spots are up for grabs.. I do agree that Lochte should have a spot, he is great in pressure situations. It would be intersting to see what other races he has that day.

I think that final spot is a toss up between: Grevers, GWG, Lezak, Berens, Walters..

4 years 2 months ago

Troy is the Olympic coach…so if Lochte swims or doesn’t (and I think he should), we’ll know it’s a decision made based on spending a whole lot of time with him on a pool deck.

4 years 2 months ago

Braden…when we know the last man on Team USA, I think the chances will be more of a toss up.

4 years 2 months ago

Awesome video. This is the GMM I missed….goofy and kick-ass.

I think Phelps will be right around where he was in Beijing(47.5ish), and Adrian will be quick as well. Lochte will undoubtedly be on the relay, as he should have been last year. Looking at his 200 and 100 times from 2010 (1:45.3, 47.9r) and then at Shanghai (1:44.4, ???) theres no question he could have had an incredible split. While he did split a little slower in the heats, we all know Lochte is a clutch performer and he probably could have gone faster in finals swim. Also, people forget that GWG flat start 48.1 in a time trial at Shanghai. That’s just a tenth off Adrian’s time. Those are gonna be the big 4, and they can do it.

4 years 2 months ago

thx, saltycrackaz….

4 years 2 months ago

As far as gold, silver and bronze.. I just watched the Beijing race on Comcast and I remember Rowdy saying that every way he crunched the numbers that USA was going to lose to the French. Granted that race will go down as the best ever but I truly believe you can’t count any team out. After the bronze at worlds, I was definitely nervous but I don’t think they all swam their best and I also don’t think the best relay team was on deck. I think Lochte, Grevers and even GWG can bring more to the table.. Right now its so hard to put number together because we haven’t seen them swim fast since worlds last summer. Everyone is doing such heavy training.. Its going to be one of many epic battles and I can not wait

4 years 2 months ago

Rowdy was wrong. Rowdy has always been sensationalist and Rowdy made that comment for TV audience, for non-swimming enthusiasts to generate interests and drama.

As I have shown in a comment in a swiminfo article last month or two months ago, the combined flat start best times from 4 fastest US sprinters were ACTUALLY, FACTUALLY FASTER than the combined flat start best times from 4 fastest French sprinters.

Hence, to say that the US was the underdogs and the French was heavy favorite in Beijing is a complete MYTH.

4 years 2 months ago

I wouldn’t say it was a complete myth. The flat start times of the French prior to the Olympics were almost meaningless because Bousquet’s best time at that point was 48.52, but he split a 46.6 in prelims (and finals), Leveaux flat started 47.76 in prelims, and Gilot was a second faster than his already fast flatstart of 48.02. They’d also come close to breaking the WR at previous events that year and all had consistently been putting up great times in season.

4 years 2 months ago

I think we have to recognize that when crunching the numbers before Beijing, we had no idea the effect that the LZR’s would have on times…I bet that nobody had pegged either team going 3:08’s like they did. This year’s relays should be a little bit less wild than that, as the suits are more of a known quantity.

4 years 2 months ago

These are the fastest americans at the start of 2008 Olympics:
Lezak (47.58), Weber-Gale (47.78), Phelps (47.92), Brunelli (48.29)

And these are the fastest French coming into Beijing:
Bernard (47.50), Gilot (48.02), Leveaux (48.38), Bousquet (48.52).

Unbiased prediction would have the Americans as slight favorites in the men 4×100 free, however, there were plenty of trash talks by the media (which I think is good for the sport because they give exposures, but unbiased experts should not have bought into it) and people’s memory of the event were obscured by those media instead of cold hard facts.

For example: people are still thinking Bernard swam badly in that relay final, but the truth is that he swam really excellent, he swam 46.73.
It was just that lezak’s swim was so amazing and riding on Bernard’s wave (imo, similar to what Roberts did at the aussie trials) that almost every other facts became skewed.

How the race unfold was extraordinary, but the end result was in line with the initial forms.

And the bookies got it right, they put their money on the americans because they read the cold hard stats instead of buying into the trash talks.

4 years 2 months ago

Got a link to that? Times would work, too.

I just remember thinking the US had no answer for how fast Fred Bousquet was swimming in that relay. Had Lezak not gone absolutely insane, they really didn’t.

4 years 2 months ago

These are the fastest americans at the start of 2008 Olympics:
Lezak (47.58), Weber-Gale (47.78), Phelps (47.92), Brunelli (48.29)

And these are the fastest French coming into Beijing:
Bernard (47.50), Gilot (48.02), Leveaux (48.38), Bousquet (48.52).

scubastan also wrote:
I know that USA loves the underdog role, but I’m going to dispell to common myths. 1. France was favourite going into Beijing. Not true. The bookies had it line-ball, amd USA prevailed. 2. Australia was favourite for the 4×200 going into Athens. Again, not according to those that lay bets at the time. They were 2 very good wins and fantastic races, but underdogs? no. Lezak’s anchor is the stuff of legends, but it was needed because Fred B swam above expectations and the rest of the sqauds were on form.

4 years 2 months ago

Not sure if the men 4×100 free will be the most competitive race in London (on top of my head, I can think other races which will be more competitive: women 200 free, women 100 back), but men 4×100 is without a doubt the most exciting. The most exciting race in Sydney 2000 was men 4×100 free, and the most exciting race in Beijing 2008 was also the men 4×100 free.

In Sydney 2000, it was the underdogs who smashed the guitars, and in Beijing 2008 although the winners confirmed the initial form, how the race unfolded was breathtakingly dramatic, with the eventual winners coming from behind against the previous WR holder. In both races, TWO WRs were broken: 100 free and the 400 FRR.

London is already promising similar outcomes: 100 free WR, 400 FRR textile WR and plenty of drama.

The USA can still win this race, and that’s what makes this race so exciting.

4 years 2 months ago

Mel Stewart,
I cant help but think that the splits that you proposed are outrageously fast. Let’s say we remove Magnussen and Roberts from the equation, and suppose they never existed. 47.84 would be the jointly held textile best. Proposing that Nathan Adrian could be 47.4 to 47.4 is EXTREMELY fast. It would break the textile record by as much as Magnussen did last summer, which, if we all recall was regarded as an absolutely extraordinary swim.

I think the fact that Magnussen has swum so fast skews the fact that 47.8 is still an extraordinary achievement and only a handful has been under 48 in a textile suit.

Even after Magnussen made passage under the textile suit, followed by Roberts. Many posters across forums had the sentiment “the secret is out, we’re going to see a lot more people under 48”. This sentiment is supported by the fact that SO many swimmers were knocking on the door of 48.00 in Shanghai last summer.

Yet what have seen is that swimmers have changed tactics to try to split the race evenly, yet the fact of the matter is that 48.00 is STILL a hard barrier to break. We’ve seen all the French, Russians and Brazillian attempt, but failed to reach the mark. Granted, I’m not saying that we won’t see 47mids from any other swimmers, nor am I saying we won’t see a handful of sub48 (I think we could see as many as 8 different swimmers), but I think it is important to temper expectations.

I think it is more accurate to predict using last year’s results instead of “possible” times and splits based on the suit era (46.2 split for Adrian, really?) and what has shown as been possible by other swimmers. I think that 47.7 and 47.8 are good projections for Phelps and Adrian.


FACT: Australia’s aggregate flat starts from Aussie Trials was 3:11.5, with “regular starts”, they puts them around 3:10.0, a full second faster than they were last year excluding the improvements in the upcoming months, as well as the infamous “relay spirit monster splits”.

A failing point for the Australians could be that their trials are so competitive that swimmers may burn out and not be able to duplicate the swims in 4 months. The counter argument is that they have 6 swimmers under 48.6. Last years places 2-4 swam these times and were all able to split 47s. Another valid argument is that Magnussen had obvious areas of improvement in front of him, Roberts has exactly followed in the Missle’s improvement trajectory with Magnussen having shown Roberts where the next step in improvement could come from (front end), and that the next 2 swimmers are Matt Targett and Eamon Sullivan, who both have the experience of Olympic Finals. If you are worried about burnout, the 2 individuals I’m most worried about are magnussen (illness) and Roberts (inexperience). It’s not so bad with the question marks are on the 2 fastest textile sprinters of all time.

Ofcourse, you can argue “when you’re in an Olympic final, anything can happen”, but as it stands, Australia is positioned to be within a second of the WR, and currently already has an aggregate relay time that is faster than the actual American relay last summer! With that, barring disaster and miracle, in my opinion, the Australian men are HEAVY favorites going in.

4 years 2 months ago

I would say that Ricky Berens is the one who could give the US a big boost in that key leg. He has experience in relays and has be coming on lately. The 100 is a little short for him, but I still think he is swimming with more momentum than Grevers, GWG, Lezak, Walters and Jones.

Andy Dixon
4 years 2 months ago

LOL man I’d love to see Phelps come out of retirement and swim a 46 high in 2016. And I can’t believe you were criticized for thinking Phelps would win 8 in Beijing. He’s the Steve Prefontaine of swimming, he just doesn’t lose. (Well at Hayward Field, at least. Pre did lose in Munich but that’s for another time).

The difference between the great swimmers and the champions is simply mental. A champion finds a way to win, no matter what. Phelps getting his fingernail on the wall before Cavic was determination, period. It infuriates me when people take that case or Lezak’s brilliant anchor leg and associate it with luck.

It’s this reason that we can go ahead and predict Phelps will swim a 47 low leadoff leg in the relay, because we KNOW he will perform when needed. And that’s also why I think Phelps will win 7 golds this summer. If he wins 6 it will be due to a silver or bronze in the 400 free relay. 1:42 low in the 200 free beating Lochte and Agnel, 1:53 low winning the 200 IM, then the 100/200 fly, 800 relay and 400 medley relay should be givens. If the 400 free relay can find a way to perform, Phelps will be perfect this summer.

4 years 2 months ago

If Adrian does a 46.2 split then he will win the 100M freestyle (not going to happen!). Folks I think we are getting carried away with all these 47 lows being thrown around in this discussion. If Roberts duplicates his trials performance this race will not be competitive at all for gold. Magnussen is in a league of his own, there is no question about it. The competition will be for silver and bronze. Lets be a bit realistic here.

4 years 2 months ago

Keith G…. that’s insightful, re: “two of the best 200m swimmers we have seen didn’t come back faster than -24.7 in the 100.” You’re planting seeds of doubt in my head. I’m sure I’ll get a sobering dose from Braden & Garrett on this topic that’ll erode my confidence even more. For now…wait and see…

1. USA (wins as a new star emerges, a 4th sprint man from The States)
2. AUS

4 years 2 months ago

Mel, i am with you about improving in swimming(and some taboos being broken, like 47 barrier in 100 free).Just seeing past competitions we know Olympic year is amazing.The guys will put out the best in their minds and bodies and do what are called impossible in the past years.

4 years 2 months ago

like others, I am baffled by what you would consider as a “wow” swim, if not a 47.10. In my opinion, that time is approximately as strong as Thorpe’s 400m free and Lochte’s 200IM and probably among top 3 textile records that currently stands. What time would Magnussen have to pop to “wow” you in London?

In response to this statement:
“100 free, in my opinion, hasn’t been a spectacular event for men. Based on Biondi, Popov & Hoogie’s times in the 80s and 90s, the 100 free (textile) should be faster. When Maggie dips under 47 (which he should), he won’t be wowing us, he’ll be bringing the historic progression back to where it needs to be…”

I had some time between classes today and decided to play with excel a little.


All information was gathered from swimnews.com top 25 performers lists. The record only goes back to 1990, so I omitted Biondi’s best swims and simply concentrated on comparing Magnussen’s times (green) to Popov-hoogeband (red) in their peak. I think it is rather obvious that Magnussen’s time isn’t simply “bringing historic progress back to where it should be”.

*******2008/2009 were omitted for obvious reasons.

The regression line was exponential (it appears linear). I do not use the line as evidence that Magnussen’s times are superior, but simply as a simple tracker of the general standard set by the dominant sprinter of his era. It is clear that Magnussen busts the regression line, but it may be due to his meteoric rise. A few years down the line we could definitely use this technique to compare the careers of Magnussen with his predecessors.

Anyways, the graph I believe disproves that Magnussen, by going sub46 is going to restore the progression of the 100m WR is this one:


This graph only has 5 points: 1994, popov 48.21. 2000 Hoogy 47.84. 2002 Hoogy 47.86. And Magnussen’s 2 best swims. These were chosen for obvious reasons: comparing the absolute best performances of the individuals (and therefore textile bests).
You can see the polynomial regression is convex indicating that Magnussen’s 47.10 is a relatively faster time than any of Popov or Hoogenband’s swims. Any improvement upon the time this year would be nothing short of otherworldly and in my opinion, incontrovertibly better performances than Popov or Hoogenband’s WRs.

Its important to note I’m not saying Magnussen is a greater champion, we will know if that is the case in a few years, but for now, the performances by the Missile have wowed his predecessors, and statistically, they are justified in their thinking.

I continued this just for fun and came up with this graph
There’s 3 notable additions here:

1) I compared the performances of popov (green) and Hoogenband (red) in their prime. These two are often regarded as two of the greatest sprinters in history. I plotted their performances each year while at their peak that made the top 25 performances of the year. It’s clear that Popov dominated in terms of longevity and had generally improving times throughout his career. Hoogenband was largely dominant for a 5 year period where they improved, peaked, and then faded.

2) I added 2008 and 2009 in just for comparison. As expected, the curve got shifted significantly when the poly suits were active. From the looks of it, the suits helped by just over 0.5 in ’08 (perhaps even less since it was an Olympic year) while in 09, the suits helped by approximately a second!

I feel this sort of analysis avoids the typical accusation of “the suit helped him x amount” because here the analysis is on the entire field and neglects, for the large part the affect on individual swimmers. It is also apparent throughout history that the year after Olympics features similar times to the year 2 years after the Olympics, while the 3rd year speeds up before climaxing at the next Olympic year. These are the assumptions I made in deducing that the lzr suits helped by approximately 0.5 seconds, while the full poly suits aided on average by almost a second.

3) in 2012, we’re not even done with Olympic Trial season, and the season is already shaping up to be about as strong as 2010 (the entire year). In 2011, it took until June 2 for the top 25 swimmers to go under 49. This year, it happened on april 21. Currently this year, we are sitting approximately where the event was in mid June.

Once we see the top 25 compress a little with much faster times come in at the US trials and the Olympics, I would not be surprised to see this year only SLIGHTLY slower than 2008. If you treat to look at the plots as a stock chart, 2008 seems like a natural progression for 2012.

That said, I predict that the overall pace of the 2012 Olympic final will be similar in overall pace, albeit slightly slower than the 2008 final (6 men under 48). Which is probably what many of us “forumers” are expecting per se. To me, it looks like when “natural progression” catches up to the 2009 field will be sometime around 2016. Therefore, I don’t think we’ll see your “47.2 to make finals”, but we could be having an entire field something like 47.8 or faster.

For 2012, this implies that the minor medals will probably be won in 47mid, with places 4 thru 6 spread evenly between 47.7 and 47.9. Just a prediction, but one I feel quite confident of. This was my gut feeling even before the analysis, so “natural progression” most likely puts Adrian and Phelps in this range. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him 47.mid but it should not be an expectation. To put it simply I would be more surprised to see them in 47mid than seeing Magnussen break the WR.

4) Addressing the point about the event being underswum in recent years. From the graph, it doesn’t seem especially true. It looks more like the period from 1998 to 2002 was especially fast. It was when both Popov and Hoogenband were are their relative best (even though popov was techinically more dominant earlier in his career, the fact that he was actually swimming his best is clouded by the fact that Hoogenband swam better, yet sustained it for a shorter time.

That said the Sydney games were actually faster than the Athens games and this why you probably felt that the swimmers have been underswimming in recent years.

According to (1) Magnussen’s times are truly faster than the general trend set by the previous champion’s careers, although it is too soon to say whether it is because his career has been so short so far.

According to (2) Magnussen’s best times are not “returning progression back to what they should be” but instead reaching out from “natural progression” to beyond even the times set at the helm was a 5 year period of blissfully fast sprinting between 1998 and 2002. Magnussen’s times seem to be even faster proportional to his competitor than even Popov and Hoogenband. Magnussen’s times are “better”, and we could see an even faster one in London.

Anyways, sorry for the long post, but I hope it illustrated my point somewhat adequately.

4 years 2 months ago

Nice data john26, you brought me memories of POPOV dominant times.
I always question myself HOW GOOD Popov could have been if he wasnt stabbed in his abdomen in 1996 after Olympics?The knife grazed one of his kidneys,sliced one artery and damaged his pleura(what made him lose a bit of his lung capacity).I always remember of some stories from the past about Popov doing 47.50 in training.Sadly, we will never know the truth.

4 years 2 months ago

Solid stuff, John. Reminds me of our general trend and predictions analysis in 2008: http://bit.ly/IpGpOk (2012 predictions to be published later this year).

4 years 2 months ago

Awesome analysis John26 :). I see you left Cielo out of the Popov-Hoogie-Missile equation, I assume for poly-urethane involved reasons.
Where do you think he will be this summer though? Personally, I wasn’t impressed by his 48.4 at the Maria Lenkh and I belief he will be no match for the Missile in London.
Still he is the world record holder and went 47.84 at Pan-Ams. So he shouldn’t be ignored like that :). In my eyes he’s still a favourite for the 2012 100m freestyle podium.

4 years 2 months ago

You are all overlooking one important fact.True Racers can pull out miracles when they are in race mode.It doesn’t matter what they did the last time they were in the pool as that was the last race.For someone who cannot stand the thought of losing, they have an inate ability to dig deep inside themselves and perform under extreme pressure and do whatever it takes to get their hand on the wall ahead of the competition.How do you measure that talent…sure they all have it, but who has the most of it?How does it influence this race?So often I think that because swimming is a numbers game, people rely on numbers, forgetting that one of the reasons some swimmers are so successful is that they cannot stand to lose.They may not have had to push themselves as much at the last meet because they did what they needed to beat that competition.At the Olympics you have the best of the racers and this is the opportunity to see who is the hungriest and who really is the most gifted RACER.
Some of that is not taught, it is inate.So how can you measure it?What are the psychologicaal traits of a true racer?

4 years 2 months ago

Haha Mel, I’m a Finance/Engineering student at Cornell University. I actually don’t swim myself (I’m a track athlete) but have been pretty interested in swimming ever since I was a kid.

I dont really want to shift the conversation from relay projections to historical significance of specific swims because I feel it’s a topic that has been beaten to death and really does come up with concrete conclusions. But here we go.

The reason I omitted data on Biondi and previous champions is because I obtained the top 25 data from swimnews.com that doesn’t have information pre1990. Because of this, I didn’t think I could get reliable data regarding the top 25 swimmers and performances of that time period. Although, it would definitely help the analysis.

What I did instead is plot the world record progression since Biondi’s first championship WR of 48.95 (Top left). I just realized I forgot to label the 3 other graphs. But o well. According to this graph, The only record that is on the same “scale” relative to the regression is Biondi’s 48.4 (Popov and Hoogenband’s record, to my surprise, really doesn’t compare).

The top right graph is the world record progression since eletronic timing began with Spitz.. Note that I took out Jim Montgomery’s and Jonty Skinner’s WR as it was immediately after the goggle rules were changed and including them helps my argument significantly as it makes the curve more flat. However, it shows that Magnussen’s swim is even faster than Biondi’s swim.
(The bottom left graph is the same as top right, It was supposed to include Skinner and Montegmory’s times but got deleted :/)

The final graph (bottom right), I took out Magnussen’s 47.49 because I suspected that since it was only one year apart from 47.1, it skewed the regression and made it curve upwards. This is the most significant graph because it shows that it shows that Magnussen’s WR is on pace with progression from the 70’s (which is absolutely amazing), and is no less extraordinary than Biondi’s swim.

What does show?
If we had more data points about Biondi’s performances in the 80s, we’d be able to more accurately compare his achievements with Popov’s, Hoogenbands, and one day, Magnussen’s. However, at the moment these graphs confirm what I wrote yesterday about Magnussen’s time being more extraordinary than Popov or Hoogenband’s relative to the time period. From the graph, it looks like 47.49 appears to be a product of “natural progression”, but 47.10 appears to be on another level– a similar playing field, if not even slightly better, than Biondi’s 48.4 (according to bottom left graph). Yes, you can factor in the suit technology, nutrition, block technology… etc, but that’s where the distinction blurs.

What I feel very strongly is if Magnussen could take the WR to another level, if he does get down to 46.8 or even 46.7 in the next few years, that would be on a totally different level to anything we’ve [ever?] seen.


Regarding drops in other strokes, it’s hard to compare because I think strokes progress at different times. Immediately after the suit era, we saw a few events that accelerated to the point where the entire field is half a second or so faster than in 07 (w100back anyone?), whereas some events really haven’t improved that much (women breaststroke). There are also events that look like the entire field is about to make that jump (m100breast).

I think the key here is that the field shifts when there is a notable discovery (ie. Learning from the suits without actually swimming with them). And I think because freestyle is the most “natural” and studied stroke, you can’t expect the same improvements in breast and fly in the last 20 years to apply for the freestyle. It would not surprise me at all if there’s scientific evidence that freestyle times are much closer to human potential than the other strokes simply because it is more studied.

4 years 2 months ago

Anyways, returning to the original topic, its not to say amazing out of body swims are not likely to happen. I would be rather disappointed if none happen. But you really shouldn’t expect that sort of performance. The interviews in the video say it best “you can’t rely on miracle finishes”, what if Roberts blasts a <46.5 anchor leg? Do we have an answer to that? From the age of the Australian swimmers, it swims almost more likely to come to the aussie side.

With the times we saw from the Americans in 2011, it seems that if they had swum the perfect relay, they would’ve probably been somewhere around 310. 7 or so. If you consider the age of the American squad compared to the Aussies, it seems that we’re less likely to see significant time drop from Phelps, Lochte and GWG. All that considered, I would be somewhat surprised to see the Americans under 3:10, which is a mark that seems easily within the Aussie’s reach.

My point is that if the Americans swim a 310.2 and lose, that is still an amazing time for the American men right now, and I fear that if overly-optimistic time expectations aren’t met, the American squad is judged to have “underperformed”.

4 years 2 months ago

So here’s something else to consider on the Australian side…there’s about a 50/50 chance I’d say at this point of one of their 6 relays swimmers being in the hospital with a broken this or an infected that between now and the Olympics. Didn’t affect Magnussen too bad last year…but can the Aussies stay healthy??

4 years 2 months ago

That’s a good question Braden. Obviously Magnussen has respiratory issues and prone to infections, but from his past two outings it hasn’t seemed to affect him to much (or has it?). Doing his preparation in the Australian winter won’t help, but i think we can assume he won’t be hospitalised (touch wood).

Obviously Sullivan, in spite of his natural talents, is made of porcelain, so you’d have to say there is a constant threat of something going wrong there. Would that matter? I think he brings a lot of experience to the relay, and if he wasn’t there you’d expect that McEvoy would be ready to step up. At 17, he is very young and inexperienced, but from what i have seen is made of ‘the right stuff’. Let’s be honest, he has gone from ~49.5 as a 16 year old to 48.5 at 17, so who knows what he might be capable of. His time drops are Magnussen-esque, and i wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see him be 48.1-48.2 off a flat start come August.

A lot has been said about Maggie and Roberts, but not so much about those other 2 relay spots. I’d assume they would go for Sullivan and Targett (something to be said about having two 20yr olds who are fastest ever in textile, and two olympic finalists in the mix), but what sort of improvement can we see out of them? I personally think Targett under performed at aus trials, and the disappointment was obvious. I think 48-flat was more in his sights, and it’s something he is capable of. Sullivan? who knows. And D’Orsogna, well he is unproven at the international level..

Slightly off track there, but it got me thinking. Assuming Maggie/Roberts don’t improve, if the 3 and 4 spots on the Aus relay can improve to ~48 flat, what does this do to the chances of the rest of the field?

4 years 2 months ago

I suspect that if team Australia swam a relay with their top 4 guys in Late March, they could probably swim around 3:10.0. I think that if the top 2 dont improve and the other’s cut time, we could still be looking at a time in the 3:09s. Which I dont think team France or US could do barring miracle.

The real concern for me about team Australia is if Magnussen or Roberts doesn’t fire right. Roberts is technically “unproven”, we dont know whether he could actually improve. My gut feeling is that he is learning from the Missile (his splits are identical to Magnussen ’11) and at Trials Magnussen showed Roberts how to take his swimming to the next level (front speed). So the ingredients are there, its up to him to follow through with it.

If Roberts fails to repeat his form, and pops a 48 or something (which, I guess isn’t exactly out of the question), that is something that would give the other teams some light. To me Roberts, despite being 2nd fastest is the weakest link on the team. If Sullivan is injured, I truly believe that someone else could product a 47mid/high split. If Roberts flops, there’s no one else that can substitute that sort of split.

In my opinion, this relay will either be won in about 3:09 seconds, or in 3:10low.

4 years 2 months ago

John26, we’re (swimming) claiming you for ourselves… We done! I think your points are all spot-on. I’ll go back to your data as well. While I still think 100m free should progess as fast as the other stroke, it’s clear I can learn from you!

4 years 2 months ago

oh dear, I forgot to post the link of the new sets of graphs…
This is the link of graphs I was referring to in my last 2 posts

wish theres an edit button

4 years 2 months ago

I don’t see any reason why Phelps/Adrian shouldn’t be able to be 47.4/47.3 flat start. Phelps did go a suited 47.5 in Beijing, and we know that he’s going to be expecting to better those times in his last hurrah, and Adrian should be prepared to go that fast too. If the US can get their 3rd and 4th guys going 48.0-48.1 flat start, 47.3-47.5 exchange, its anybody’s race.

4 years 2 months ago

@John: Thanks for taking the time to put together the data! It’s quite interesting!

One thing that I think should be noted in the analysis is the difference between Hoogie’s and Popov’s record swims and the rest of the pack on your chart.

For example, in 1994 when Popov set his 48.21, the #10 time in the world that year was a 50.18 – nearly a two second difference!

In 2000, an olympic year, it took 49.15 to make the top-10, making Hoogie’s gap 1.31 seconds

Last year we saw a ton of swimmers all bunched up around the 48.0 mark, and it took a 48.69 just to make it into the top 25! Surely, bell curve stats indicate that a breakthrough like Mag’s was inevitable.

This year, the difference btw Mag’s 47.1 and the current #10 time in the world (48.48) is 1.38 seconds … and we still have many Euro trials, US trials and the Olympics to go!

So, from this perspective, I really don’t see how Mag’s swim can be considered a “wow” swim on the same level as e.g. Popov or even Hoogie when their swims were at least as far ahead of rest of the world as Mag’s is now.

There’s a really good chance we’ll have at least 10 swimmers under 48 seconds this year. If so, that would make Mag’s swim less than 0.9 ahead of the #10 swimmer … compared with 1.31 for Hoogie in ’00 and nearly 2 sec for Popov in ’94.

I don’t have data for 1988, but Biondi’s 48.42 I’m sure was astoundingly ahead of the rest of the world, so I understand why Mel is impressed but not overly-awed by Mag’s swim.

I understand that there are other factors at play e.g. there are many more pro swimmers now than there were in the past, but I still think it’s important when comparing swims to look at the gap btw a particular swim and the rest of the world. Maybe someone could make a half bell-curve chart so we can see how the shape has changed over the years.

Fly is not Free obviously, but I think Mel made a good point about the Fly progression. Remember back in ’03 when everyone was hovering at or just below the 52.0 mark … then Klim’s record was simultaneously pulverized by Serdinov, Phelps, Crocker in Barcelona? We all know how far fly has progressed since then… Seems like right now with a TON of swimmers hovering right at the 48.0 is a somewhat similar situation. I could def be wrong, though. Time will tell!

4 years 2 months ago


you said that the gap between Popov and the #10 was much bigger than the current gap between Magnussen with #10.

That’s not a good way to measure a wow factor. I can show you easily that the gap between #1 and #10 in ALL EVENTS, men and women, were MUCH bigger in early 1990s than in 2012.

You forgot about increasing depth, parity, etc in world competitive swimming.

4 years 2 months ago

No, it’s not a concrete way to measure a wow factor. I do think it should be considered, though. It’s true that most events are getting tighter. I did mention this, and mentioned it would be cool if somebody made of graph of how this has changed over time … then we could be better able to scale the factor. I’ll see what I can do.

Personally, I see Mag’s swim about equal to PVDH for wow factor. If not for the tech suits, the WR before he swam 47.1 would most likely have been 47.5ish. Also, when PVDH swam his WR in Sydney, the world had been under 49 seconds for 14 years already. Breaking 48 was very special. Statistically, that shouldn’t contribute, to “wow”, but it def did emotionally =)

4 years 2 months ago


I also do not understand why you make an analogy of Magnussen’s 47.10 with Michael Klim’s 51.81.

I’m sure John26 can show you with statistics how Klim’s 51.81 was actually behind rate of progression in men 100 fly, and hence it got pulverized soon.
Meanwhile, John26 has shown you that Magnussen’s record is actually already ahead of rate of progression in men 100 free.

Also, your premise is false when comparing the difference in seconds, instead of in percentage. 1 second difference from 50 seconds is obviously smaller percentage wise than 1 seconds difference in 47 seconds.

Also, popov swam his 48.21 in non-olympics year (1994), and I can easily show you that the #10 in 1993, 1992, 1991, and 1990 were all under 50 seconds.

And, your premise is that Magnussen’s 47.10 is not WOW because many swimmers may break 48 seconds in coming months and that the difference between 47.10 and the #10 is smaller than PVDH’s 47.84 in 2000.
But you even said that PVDH’s WR had smaller gap with #10 compared to Popov’s 48.21 in 1994.
Does this mean PVDH’s 48.21 was not a WOW because it has smaller difference compared to Popov’s?

I can go all the way to Biondi, Montgomery. Devitt, all the way back to John Weissmuller if you like.

4 years 2 months ago

I wasn’t comparing Mag’s 47.1 w/ Klim’s 51.81, I was comparing Klim’s time w/ Hoogie’s 47.84.

Concerning seconds vs percentages: You are right, but the difference is so small, it really doesn’t matter much. I didn’t really didn’t intend this post to be a proof.

Hmm, you are right that the #10 in ’94 was unusually slow. I didn’t really look at the other years. So that gap shrinks a little in significance.

I’m not trying to define “Wow” here. Anybody that thinks they can is just silly. It’s kind of subjective. I was just trying to suggest another factor in the analysis.

bobo gigi
4 years 2 months ago

I think the best american team for this relay is Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Nathan Adrian and the other swimmer between Garrett Weber-Gale, Jimmy Feigen and Ricky Berens. Perhaps I forget other names but for me these guys are the best for a chance of gold.

4 years 2 months ago

Zach…. ” but I think Mel made a good point about the Fly progression. Remember back in ’03 when everyone was hovering at or just below the 52.0 mark … then Klim’s record was simultaneously pulverized by Serdinov, Phelps, Crocker in Barcelona? We all know how far fly has progressed since then… Seems like right now with a TON of swimmers hovering right at the 48.0 is a somewhat similar situation.”

I think so… I think this is like the famous 4-minute mile barrier in track. Once one guy goes the time, the rest of the world quickly follows.

4 years 2 months ago

Mel, I can’t see how you can compare today’s highly professional swimming environment with what was the dawn of modern athletic performance in the 1950’s at a time when athletes weren’t anywhere close to maximising their potential. And interestingly (or not), if John26 were to run a linear regression on the improvements over the 1950’s you would see that the first sub 4 minute mile certainly wasn’t a “wow” performance based on the improvements you would have expected, and subsequently saw.

As Chris mentioned, we need to remember that in swimming drag forces are a function of velocity-squared. Incremental time improvements become significantly harder the faster we go, and assuming that the limit of human performance (discounting the natural progression in human physiological evolution) is within 2-3 seconds of the current record (for argument’s sake), what you will see is that performance levels/improvements will no longer be a linear function of time, but will start to approach that “ceiling” asymptotically, and improvements of 0.1 to 0.2 will start to be considered “huge”.

That’s why posturing that “x-swimmer should be able to swim 47.2” when they are currently a 48.1 swimmer and have been for multiple years, is probably not a great reflection of reality.

4 years 2 months ago

If my swimming brain still works from the 80s, I can provide some data on Biondi’s swims. Once again, some years it’s an estimate, in case John26 wanted to use them:

84 – 50.23 to make relay team
85 – 48.95 – WR
86 – 48.74 – WR
87 – 49 low I think
88 – 48.42 – WR
89 – not sure if he swam much
90 through 92 – low to mid 49s.

These once again are just my guesses, but I think they are pretty close.

4 years 2 months ago

To answer Aswimfan about blocks:

0.15 dont explain 0.7 and 0.86 improving in 50 free.And you are putting to much pressure in all world swimmers.How many of the are full peaked(probably not even Magnussen)?Cielo was RESTED(not full, and far from tapered), and at the same point last year, made 21.76 and 49.03 in Maria Lenk, and at that time, he told he was gonna to do a 48 low(and failed).Now he wanted a 47 low(and failed), and seeing his event, i saw mistakes in his start,turns and finish, and it wasnt a sinking ship effect(like PanPacs).I doubt he will do that many in Olympic Games fully peaked.You should give more credit to Cielo PanAms swim…
The improvement in MANY swimmers are amazing, and our tech time has a lot to do with them.I remember 1998 GoodWill Games where Fernando Scherer set area records(South American Records) doing 22.18 and 48.69(opening relay).His improvment in 50 free wasnt even 0.1(If i am not mistaken it went from 22.27 to 22.18) and in 100 free was around 0.4.Popov made almost a riot telling it must be doping because he dont do training like him(it was something around 150 thousand meters/week) etc and tal…
Nowadays, 0.5 improving dont look that much in 100free, we know there is a lot to do with biomechanics, food,weights and training than high metrage swimming.

4 years 2 months ago


I am not even sure anymore what you are debating.

I agree with you that nutrition, trainings, biomechanics etc help in making the times across the board progressed.
And this is especially telling in countries which had never incorporated much science into sports, and as we can see as the parity increased among more and more countries in competitive swimming, we can see marked improvements in many more swimmers from many countries.
And this is not only happening in 100 free but in virtually all events, although it may be more marked in men 100 free because it is one event where it has the greatest depth.

However, that is not what we have discussing here; We are discussing the significance of Missile Magnussen’s 47.10. You may “feel” that Missile’s 47.10 is not significant, but all data that John26 and Chris and I have presented provide evidence and proof that 47.10 is indeed ahead of the curve and in fact accelerate the improvement rate of 100 WR.

I also do not understand why you are being so sensitive about Cielo, I did not even mention Cielo’s Pan Ams and yet you are saying I gave little credit to Cielo’s Pan Ams?
err, what?
The reason I mentioned Cielo’s progress in 50 free was because you mentioned Marcelo Chieriguini’s progress in 50 free in Maria Lenk and that you also have previously mentioned several times that the new starting block newly installed at Cielo’s club would help him in 50 and 100 free. I am also sure you mentioned that the block had not been installed prior to Pan Ams, and hence I did not mention Pan Ams, but focusing on Maria Lenk to prove my point that the new starting block does not actually help much in 100 free, although they may have done so in 50 free.
Had I mentioned Cielo’s 47.84 in Pan Ams, that would in fact only defeat your own argument that the new starting block helped in progressing time in 100 free.

You said:
“Nowadays, 0.5 improving dont look that much in 100free,”

True, if it’s 49.50 second to 49.00
But if it’s 48.00 to 47.50, that is HUGE.

Please tell me a swimmer that has improved on that scale apart from Magnussen or Roberts (which I suspect benefited from Magnussen’s draft anyway).

(and also remember what Chris and Keith G above explained about “swimming drag forces are a function of velocity-squared. Incremental time improvements become significantly harder the faster we go”).

You also mentioned Marcelo Chieriguini progress under the tutelage of Brett Hawke.
let’s see:
in 50 free, he improved from 22.89 to 22.03
and yet in 100 free he only improved from 49.22 to 48.79
You and I know that Chirerigiuini is the most improved among Brazilian sprinters, and yet the fact shows that he couldn’t even yet improve 0.50 seconds in the 100 free although he smashed his PB in 50 free.

4 years 2 months ago

What i am talking is ALL TECH helped ALL swimmers(some more).You are talking like Magnussen 47.10 is something intangible.totally unapproachable.I just used Cielo 47.84 because that swim is worth more than hoogie 47.84 in SEA level.Its not only the blocks, its the fact he knew he would win and eased off last two strokes(Scherer words, he was commenting) to swim the relay one hour later.And remember his coming home?25.0, 24.53 in free relay.Even if you believed he swam free of waves(he made that in Worlds and got killed), he still made 24.79 closing medley relay and he was dead tired(it was in the LAST day of PanAms).Dont forget about ALTITUDE effects…Cielo visited a doctor two days before 100 free because he wasnt feeling well with altitude effects.At that time, i dont believed when Scherer told he was going to swim under 48 before 100 free event…After suits age, even Cielo is learning how to swim again.
What i am talking IS:I dont think 47.10 is out of reach for Cielo(but no, i dont believe he will beat Magnussen), and i think a lot of guys out there think in the same way.In the other side, i dont think Cielo 21.38 is out of reach either.I will not be surprised if Adrian blasts 21.37 american record.
Its harder to put anyone in when you put just upper level swimmers(down 48 mark), besides Cielo from 48.48 to 47.84.It s obvious will be harder to drop times at TOP level like it is with every sport.And Chieriguini is the biggest drop in SENIOR class sprinters(21 or more)… there is a lot of drops below that age group.Lets wait US Trials and see what happens…

4 years 2 months ago


Did I ever say Magnussen’s 47.10 is intangible and totally unapproachable?
You keep accusing me of something I never said or even implicated.

Please read the discussion from the very beginning. This was started when Mel Stewart said the he was not wowed by Magnussen’s 47.10 or even if Magnussen swam under 47 because he thinks it would only put the WR progression back in line with historical progression.

I (and John26 with his impassioned analyses and excellent data and graphs) went on to disprove that notion, and we proved that in fact, 47.10 not only put the 100 free WR back into improvement rate line, but actually accelerate the improvement rate.

And please, this is not about Cielo, so do not get too upset and take no offense if I don’t mention him too often.
If Cielo breaks his rubber-suited WR, I will surely mention him a lot in the discussion about the men WR.
(also, I never ever mentioned about Cielo swimming in “free-waves”. You must have confused me with somebody else, as I remember someone else said Cielo relay in Pan Ams was swum in clear water).

My point about Chieriguini remains:
You claimed that improvement of 0.50 second in men 100 free is not much, and then you said:
“Its harder to put anyone in when you put just upper level swimmers(down 48 mark)”

Well, this discussion is about the men 100 free WR, what am I supposed to do? taking in every swimmers down to 50 seconds level?

4 years 2 months ago

The POINT in that discussion is about a WOW swim, right?It was what i was understanding… i told Magnussen is not THAT WOW because he showed a lot of power with his 47.49, and for me, his progress was NATURAL.
For me,a WOW is something unexpected, uncalled, something no one is waiting for.I was waiting for Magnussen swim.And I believe, in some extend, Mel was too.
Lezak closing relay in 2008.Definitely, a wow.
For me, Magnussen and Chieriguini 50free, definitely a wow(and they arent even best times in the world).

4 years 2 months ago


Here’s what Mel Stewart wrote in his tweets:

Magnussen’s Stunning 100 Free, 47.10, is Textile Best http://swimsw.am/1h9 via @swimswamnews

Aussie #Olympic Trials: James Magnussen clocks 47.10 for the win, a mind-blowing time. Team USA 4×100 free relay on notice! @swimswamnews

Obviously he was wowed initially with Magnussen’s swim.

For you, you don’t think Magnussen’s 47.10 was a WOW. I respect your personal opinion.
And I am here to provide opposite argument, complete with data and statistics.

4 years 2 months ago


It just occurred to me that you may not understand that a drop of 0.5 seconds from 48 or 47.50 is so much more difficult than 0.5 seconds drop from 55 seconds.

4 years 2 months ago


So you don’t think a swim is a wow because you have already expected it?
I remember that you wrote in swiminfo you expected Magnussen to break WR in London (and you expected Cielo to swim around 47.20).

Does this mean that when both actually happen in London, you will not be wowed by 46.90 and 47.20 in London?
I think the general swimming population have totally opposite idea.
And for me personally, if that happens, I would not only be wowed, but I would be totally mind-blown.

How about if Franklin goes 2:04 flat in 200 back or Sun Yang goes 14:30 flat?
Surely we all expect that kind of thing to happen.
You won’t be wowed?
I, as most of swimming community, will certainly be not only wowed but super-excitedly mind-blown.

4 years 2 months ago

Honestly, i will be very happy with their times(And i think Cielo time in coach Alberto Pinto sheet is lower than 47.20).I will be wowed(it s a neologism???)if someone blast a time 2.06 in 200IM female, or crack 21 mark in 50 free(no, i dont believe Cielo can do it, at least while training 100 free),Why?Because right now, i can t expect times like that or someone swimming faster like that.

Come on, Franklin 2.04 something for me is a done deal.

4 years 2 months ago

First off, thank you all for the compliments regarding the data. I tried to present it in most unbiased manner given all the information available.

I suspected that the argument was going to come up that Magnussen is “only” less than a second ahead of his competition while in the 90s there were clearly time where individuals were clearly more ahead of the competition.

I’m sure you can make similar arguments about how Team USA was once able to win 2 or 3 golds per Olympics, while today, they’re struggling to win half of them. Does this make the US team less “wow”ing than they were 30 years ago? No we can all agree that the world has learned and caught up. It doesn’t mean the current crop of athletes aren’t as good relative to predecessors.

Zach, it is erroneous to justify Popov and Biondi being more dominant because they are more ahead of their competitors (>1second) than Magnussen (<1s). This is because the relationship between the WR and progression of competitors is nonlinear. As could be expected, the progression of competitors is faster.

In support of this argument t I made this graph.

There are several lines indicating different things. I cheated with the world record line a bit. It was just this line added in

It is very clear that the over time, all the lines are heading towards convergence. The distance from the top line to the bottom line in the 1992 is over 50% wider than it is now. As expected, progression in WR has slowed from the 70s as expected. But something that is interesting (and VERY intuitive) is that the field has progressed in performance faster than the WR. The relative movement is a non linear relationship so you cant exactly say "magnussen is 1second ahead, so if there's a year in 1992 where someone was more than 50% ahead of competition, Magnussen is less impressive".

The key relationship is that **even taking account that Popov and Hoogy were more advanced compared to competition** Magnussen's performance is significantly under the regression curve set by Popov and Hoogenband, and on the same level as Biondi's 48.4 (which is although impressive, was never replicated again), and we could see as many as 2 even faster swims from the MIssile this summer.

I understand the argument that Mel made about the fly world record set at 52.0 and then being pulverized very well. I understand that the change was due to a sudden change in the mechanics of the entire shift. This shift is considerably more significant than what Magnussen has done (change the pacing and shifting focus to backend speed). Also note that to execute Magnussen's strategy, the athlete has to be capable of the type of fitness and aerobics necessary to go out in 22mid and still come back under 24.5. This was something Hoogy has, on multiple occasion, said that he didn't think was possible.

It has been 9 months since Magnussen showed the world what was possible, and so far the only individual who has shown himself capable of following in Magnussen's shoes is James Roberts. Because of this, I do not think we will see a floodgate of people who drop from 48.0 to <47.5. I think we could see it from several individuals ie. Roberts, Agnel who already have that sort of race model, but there will definitely be individuals who save up on teh front end, and are not able to make the progress on the backend and end up swimming the same times.

Lastly, it is important to note that although Crocker and Phelps destroyed Klim's record 51.8 is still a competitive time. It would've made the 100fly final last summer, and until Shanghai Serdinov's 51.3 from !!2004!!! was still #3 in textile, with #4 being 51.6. Crocker and Phelps were beasts, but it didn't mean the field was just ready to make the leap over. In fact, no one really did until last summer when Czerniak and McGill went 51lows.

4 years 2 months ago


Thank you for the charts! They all confirmed my hypothesa.

re: Agnel, I agree with you.
Now that Agnel has ditched 400 and moved towards sprints, I think in the long run he will be Missile’s biggest competitor aside from Roberts, because they all are in the same age range. Once Agnel gets his 50 speed right, he will be very dangerous.He is already 48 flat from 48.5 last year.

4 years 2 months ago

To tell the truth, I’m kind of disappointed that he dumped the 400 event. Although its hard to see him better than Bronze this year, down the road, who knows what would’ve been possible. His improvement curve in ’10 and ’11 mirrored Thorpe’s as a teenager.

On the other hand, it truly opened possibilities in the 100. Even still, he has only dropped half the time he’s going to need to in order to make the switch “worth it”, in terms of hardware. He went from 145.4 to 144.9 despite a poor showing in the 400 and disrupted training. If he was 343 in the 400, he would be even faster in the 200.

That said, its not difficult to say he’s going to be at least 143.9 in London, with 143id not completely out of the question. THe bigger question is what that could equate to in his 100. Personally, it would be hard to see him medal this year. If he does drop to 47.5 or so, I think he could beat Phelps in the 200.

4 years 2 months ago


I think Agnel has almost maximized his potential in the 400, and I definitely think it’s very smart of him to move towards sprints where the older you get (until a certain point), the stronger you become.
Conversely, in the longer distances, the older you get, the slower you become.

There’s a reason why Holland, Goodell, Salnikov, Perkins, and Hackett swam their legendary times when they were still teenagers and never replicated or swam close to their marks once they hit early 20s.

Obviously with better training techniques, recovery, etc, the peak of even distance swimmers are prolonged, but it’s still the general rule.

For 400 free, Thorpe already swam 3:41 when he was 17, and he was only able to improve by little more than 1 second when he swam the 3:40.08 when he was 19, but then he never got close again to that legendary mark. And yet he kept getting faster in 100 free up until his retirement, and still swam close to his best in 200.

4 years 2 months ago

I want to add also that by ditching the 400 free, it will conserve Agnel energy and may even be the difference between bronze and gold in the 4×100 FR for France, as the 400 free will fall on the first night and the 4×100 FR on the second night, although it didn’t seem to affect Thorpe at all in 2000 where both were on the same night (but it may have quite possibly affected him in 200 free in the following night resulting in his narrow loss to VDH).

4 years 2 months ago

^ That last comment was to say, that no, Klim’s fly times weren’t necessarily ahead of the curve but Crocker completely destroyed it when he went 50.40. If you choose to see the 48.0 barrier as 51.8, that is to say if Magnussen goes 46.7 or something like that it would be as impressive as 50.4 was in the early 2000s. I would agree with this sentiment But because it is 7 years later, I would contend that Magnuusen going 46.7 is on par with the current 100fly WR.

Regarding the wow factor. I was very new to predictions last summer and I made some pretty optimistic guesses (aswimfan probably remembers this), I predicted that the w400IM would be won in 431.2 and the w400free was going to be won in 4:01.3, but I was still very surprised with the winning times. I know that no matter time I write down for James Magnussen this summer, I will be jumping up and down fistpumping if he is under the WR pace.

Something that no one else has addressed about Magnussen is that if he takes down Cielo’s WR, Magnussen could have taken the WR down by a over a second (a greater margin than any one else since electro timing began) within a period of 12 months. The fact that Magnussen could do this despite the record’s improvement curve has naturally slowed down would be truly indicative of how great his performance have/could be, In my eyes 47.1 has already surpassed Popov and Hoogy, and he has the opportunity this summer to surpass all previous champions if he goes on to break the WR.

Again, this is not are argument for Magnussen being the greatest of all time, but if he goes 46.7 or so, in my mind there is no doubt that is the greatest 100free we have ever seen.

4 years 2 months ago

@John: Thanks for posting chart #5! That’s what I was mainly curious about. It does indeed show that most of the top times are converging (though the convergence is exaggerated a bit by drawing the projection lines all the way to 2016) … the exception being between the #25 and #8 times. Really no change there btw ’90 and ’12. That is interesting…

After looking at that data, I admit my mention of the “gap” argument is a little weaker than I’d thought. But, considering only “gap” theory and the obvious narrowing of the top times, looks to me when the convergence factor is considered, Mag’s swim looks approx equal to Hoogie’s and Popov’s … so that is not a definitive refutation of the gap argument. Just a bit of a neutralizer.

If Mag does indeed go 46.7 @ Olys and the rest of the world doesn’t progress much, then IMO that would def be enough evidence to claim his swims as more impressive! Right now, you make good arguments toward that claim, maybe even the strongest, but I don’t think enough to be definitive..and if we have no data for Biondi, nobody can really even go there.

In the end, “Wow” has way too many subjective elements and can in no way be proven. The only thing that has been proven is that Mag’s swim is ahead of the WR progression line. Thanks again for the data!

Hmm, I think I and many of us have strayed off topic. haha!
Fun Relay Predictions:
(1) Aus
(2) US
(3) Russia or Germany =P

4 years 2 months ago


That was exactly why John26 and I have provided numbers and statistics:
a wow factor is different from one person to the other, and that I can understand.

BUT, Mel Stewart gave the reason why he was not wowed by Missile’s 47.10 (please read his original comment):
He did think that 47.10 only put back WR into historical improvement rate line.

That was the point that John26 and I contented: Magnussen’s 47.10 does not only put the latest WR into the historical line, but it actually accelerate the WR progression, as John26 chart has shown.

re: gap between WR and #10 of the year, if there is data I’m sure I can show you that John Devitt’s WR of 54.6 in 1957 was a lot more than 2 seconds faster than the #10 of the year 1957.
So according to your proposition, John Devitt’s swim must be a lot BETTER and a LOT WOWer than Popov’s 48.21.

4 years 2 months ago

Thanks, Zach! based on chart 5, I feel that my argument stays in tact if
a) Magnussen breaks the WR
b) The fourth place finisher does not finish faster than 47.6 (James Robert’s time is approximately at the 2nd line from the bottom).

Again it is tempting to assume many men will go sub 48 simply because so many people were knocking on the door last year. And certainly, on paper it looks like as many as 8 could, but I definitely came into 2011 with this sentiment and the field simply did not live up to it. To me its not unrealistic that the field moves ahead 0.2 so that places 4-6 are around 47.8 instead of 48.0. (In which case Magnussen could still end the year 1 second ahead of the field)

We will have to wait and see how the suits affect this order as the new arena suits certain appear to be providing some additional aid to wearers.

Currently, I’m predicting something like this
1 Aus
2 US
3 France (if they can field Agnel Gilot Meynard Stravius/Leveaux all at full strength, I think they can beat the AMericans)
4 Russia
5 Italy (close call w Russia)
6 south africa
7 brazil
8 germany

3 years 11 months ago

Its such as you read my thoughts! You appear to know so much about this, such as you wrote the guide in it or something. I believe that you just could do with some % to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog. A great read. I’ll certainly be back.


About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly.As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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