With a couple of hours to go until the second prelims session begins in Shanghai, let’s briefly look at a cheat sheet at 5 things to look for on the 2nd day. No relays, but plenty of hot individual action. Overall, this expects to be a big day for the Americans with some of their best swimmers going off today.
Prelims begin at 9 AM local time (9 PM Eastern Time), with finals to go off at 6 PM local time (6 AM Eastern Time).
1) Life A.P: After Peirsol – Though American fans might not be ready to admit it, it will really sink in today that the Aaron Peirsol era is over today. With the prelims and semi-finals of the men’s 100 backstroke, America will be seeking a new top backstroker for the first time since Lenny Krayzelburg fell off of a treadmill in 2001. The two candidates, at the moment, are defending National Champion David Plummer and short course World Record holder Nick Thoman (though Matt Grevers will show us next week how much he wants that spot). The Americans are very deep in this race, but depth isn’t going to help them beat the French medley relay.
2) World Record Watch – Two World Records will be on the chopping block on day 2 at the Oriental Sports Center. Dana Vollmer, based on her semi-final swim, appears to be closer to the 100 fly World Record of 56.05 than anyone expected to; she’ll swim that race in tonight’s final. Though, don’t sleep on Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom, the 3rd seed, who currently holds this World Record set two years ago when she was only 15! The better chance at a World Record is probably France’s Camille Lacourt in the 100 back. Though day 2 will only see prelims and semi-finals of the backstroke, Lacourt seems destined to break this 100 record at some point during the meet.
3) The Women’s 200 IM Final – This field is so strong and so deep in the nightime final session that even the defending Olympic silver medalist, Kirsty Coventry, and the 200 short course World Champ, Mireia Belmonte-Garcia, couldn’t final. The names to watch are Stephanie Rice, the defending Olympic Champion, and Ariana Kukors, the World Record holder and defending World Championship. Those two are the top two seeds headed into finals. How will this race play out? Rice and fellow Australian Alicia Coutts will go out hard on the opening half, as will Canadian Julia Wilkinson. American Caitlin Leverenz and Britain’s are the World Class breaststrokers in the field and will make a big a big push on the third 50. Kukors has no real “specialty,” but is the most balanced throughout all four legs (aka has the best breaststroke amongst all of the non-breaststrokers). By the end, most swimmers will just be giving all they have left, but 15-year old Chinese star Shiwen Ye closes like a demon. If she’s close on the close, be nervous.
4) Lochte and Phelps’ Real Debuts – So lets ignore the debacle that was the American 400 free relay. Neither Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte are sprinters. But they are both phenomenal 200 freestylers, and they will swim the prelims and semi-finals of the 200 free on day two. The pair will meet in the same prelim heat. Their competition in this race will be Park Tae Hwan of South Korea; who already has a 400 free title under his belt; Frenchman Yannick Agnel, who looked really fast through 200 meters of the 400 before fading hard at the end; and Paul Biedermann of Germany, who is the defending World Champion and the World Record holder. Based on his improvements in the 100 free, I expect Britain’s Robbie Renwick to really have a great swim here in the 200 as well.
5) Soni and Beard – American Rebecca Soni is a big favorite in the 100 breaststroke, but today will reveal in prelims and semi-finals the new Leisel Jones, sans the 200 breaststroke on her schedule, and the young star Yulia Efimova of Russia. This seems to be a three-swimmer race, though the other Aussie Leiston Pickett, at only 19, is ready to make a big move internationally. The American who might garner more mainstream attention, however, is former Playboy model Amanda Beard, who made a surprising comeback at last year’s National Championships to take a spot on this World’s team. As the 10th-seed, she’s going to be fighting an uphill battle to medal, but she’s still one of the USA’s most popular swimmers.