Day 3 will feature a very-light prelims session, with only four races being contested: the men’s 50 breaststroke, men’s 200 fly, women’s 200 free, and only 7 heats (about an hour’s worth) of men’s 800 free prelims being the only race that will really bog things down. Then, headed into finals, there will be no relays (for the 2nd day in a row), but 5 sets of medals will be handed out.
- Men’s 200 free
- Women’s 100 back
- Women’s 1500 free
- Men’s 100 back
- Women’s 100 breast
Here are the top 5 things to watch in day 3, which will as usualy begin at 9 AM local time, 9 PM Eastern US Time (prelims) and 6 PM Local, 6 AM Eastern US Time (finals).
1. Still Waiting on the World Records – Our biggest World Record scare on day 2 was a bit of a surprise, as Norway’s Alexander Dale Oen came within two-tenths of the all-time mark in the men’s 100 breaststroke. But neither Rebecca Soni nor Camille Lacourt, who are amongst the favorites to topple world marks, blew their full speed in the prelims or semi-finals in day 2. Soni is sitting about half-a-second away in the 100 breast, though she looked pretty worn after semis and it’s not clear if she has another half to drop; and Lacourt is about a second off in the 100 back. Soni should be racing by herself, but Lacourt has to worry as much about a win as anything: his teammate Jeremy Stravius has looked much better through two rounds. Lacourt has looked very relaxed, but is bouncing around a bit on the laneropes, and hasn’t had a chance to really tear into his speed yet and get warm.
2. Most Exciting Final in the Night Session – The most exciting final should be the men’s 200 free featuring Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps: probably the two best and most popular swimmers in the world. Lochte brings in the 3rd seed, but ahead of him are France’s 6’7 teenager Yannick Agnel and the defending champion Paul Biedermann. Still looking at Lochte to win though, as he hasn’t even given close to a full effort yet through two rounds of this 200 free. Agnel might not have enough to dip into the 1:44, though Biedermann looks like he might. South Korea’s Tae Hwan Park is following a similar pattern as he did in the 400 free, where he was the champion, in that he hasn’t shown us much yet. The big wildcard is of course the 5th-seed Phelps.
3. Men’s 200 fly prelims and semis – Besides the 200 free final, day 3 will also see Phelps swim the prelims and semi-finals of the 200 fly. This is a race that he dominated for nine years before losing three-straight races in 2011. Will he bounce back, like he seems to have in the 100 fly (which won’t come until later in the meet)? We’ll get our first indications on day 3.
4. Women’s 1500 free – After day 2’s prelims of the women’s mile, I am really excited for this final. China’s Yiwen Shao took this race out hard in her prelim, and if she does that again in the final, it could force some competitors to follow her. The likely result of that: fast times and an exciting race from start to finish. Though the best part of the 1500, like any race, is the end, don’t miss the beginning of this one, as it’s going to have a huge influence on what happens later. Lotte Friis of Denmark, Kate Ziegler of the United States, and Kristel Kobrich of Chile will be the swimmers in the middle lanes that are most likely to be forced to go out with Shao.
5. Women’s 100 back – Ok look, Natalie Coughlin isn’t THAT old. If you’re a casual swim fan, don’t think that when we refer to Coughlin as “still the best” we’re implying that at 28, anybody is past their prime. Most successful adults are only just beginning to get serious about their career at 28, and to accomplish as much as she has at that age almost puts your brain into a warp. But in swimming terms, that’s getting up in years a bit, especially in this 100 back. Historically, this has been a young woman’s race. Coughlin would be the oldest swimmer to ever win World Championship gold in this event, beating out Lea Maurer from the 1998 Championship where she was 27 (and a young 27 at that). The majority of champions in this 100 back – 7 out of 13 – have actually been teenagers.
The big competition for Coughlin, who has the top seed, will be Russia’s Anastasia Zueva, who took silver in 2009, China’s Zhao Jing, the only swimmer ever under 59 in textile, and Australia’s Emily Seebohm, who was all but counted out after a rash of freak illnesses seemed to have her in the hospital every other week. Should be a great finish.