On Friday, USA Swimming posted the following Tweet highlighting the dire challenge of American sprinting so far in 2015. Since then, the situation has gotten even more dire, with Katsumi Nakamura going a 48.41 in the 100m freestyle at the Japan Open.
Nakamura, 21, set a new Japanese national record with that time and is now currently ranked eighth in the world, tied with Russia’s Danila Izotov.
As of now, the top American swimmer in the 100m freestyle is Nathan Adrian which isn’t much of a shock. The shock is where he stands on the global scale. With his season-best of 48.85 from the Arena Pro Swim Series at Charlotte, Adrian is merely tied for 25th in the world rankings.
According to the data provided by USA Swimming, the best time last year in the 100m freestyle at this time done by an American was a 48.23. That swim was done by Adrian at the Mesa Grand Prix where he won the 100m freestyle. He was also a 21.73 in the 50 free.
A 48.23 right now would rank Adrian fourth in the world behind Australian sprinter James Magnussen. Although this stat is riddled with bad news for the American men as a whole, it might not mean anything drastic in terms of how Adrian will perform this summer. Last season, Adrian swam some very good in-season times, and wasn’t able to produce anything better at the Pan Pacific Championships.
This season, there’s the possibility that he’s changing up his training regime in order to get a faster result at the championship meet this summer, and forgo fast in-season swims.
Adrian was one of the only American swimmers to crack the top 25 in the world rankings at the end of the 2013-2014 season in the 100m freestyle. As it were, only Adrian and Michael Phelps managed to dip under that barrier.
Adrian was ranked fifth for the 48.08 he swam at the Mare Nostrum in June, Phelps was ranked 16th for the 48.45 he swam at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships.
It’s clear that the world is getting a lot faster this year in an attempt to make a statement a year out from the Olympic Games. It seems as though the Americans are currently lost in the hustle of the sprint events. Adrian is the defending Olympic champion in the 100 free, and a 2013 bronze medallist in the 100 free at the world championships, however it appears these next two years have the potential to be faster than ever before.
This stat also goes to show how much trouble the American men’s 4x100m freestyle relay will be in this summer. Last year, the Americans weren’t even ranked in the top three globally in the event. They would have finished fourth at the European Championships behind the Italians. Throw Australia in the mix, and that moved the States to fifth globally last season. Both Brazil and China were within two tenths of a second off the American’s combined times as well.
Without Michael Phelps on the team, it poses even more of a threat to their medal chances. Anthony Ervin, Ryan Lochte, Matt Grevers, and Jimmy Feigen were the only other American’s to be ranked top 50 in the world last season. They all swam 48-highs, times which truly won’t make much of a difference on the relays.
For the first time since the 2001 World Championships, it’s looking like the American’s are out of a medal position in the 4×100 free relay at the World Championships.
The Americans are going to have to step it up if they want to continue to compete with the best in the world in the sprint freestyle events. They seem to be lacking speed individually, and as a relay team, putting them in a dire position heading towards 2016.