The European leg of the 2011 FINA/Arena World Cup series will wrap up in Berlin beginning on Saturday, which is where the current American contingent that includes Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin will get off the tracks.
Full Start lists here.
Meet can be watched live, and replayed on-demand, here. Finals sessions will begin at approximately 9 AM New York time on Saturday and Sunday.
Besides the Americans (Phelps, Franklin, Lia Neal, Allison Schmitt, Chase Kalisz, Andrea Kropp, Jacob Pebley, Hali Flickinger, Josh Prenot, Tyler McGill and Chelsea Chenault), the majority of the German National Team will be there (labeled as “CLB” for “club”), along with many of the top British swimmers (James Goddard and World Champion Liam Tancock, amongst others).
Phelps will keep part of his event schedule the same, except that this time he will drop the 200 fly and his two freestyle races in favor of the 200 and 400 IM’s. This will give him 5 events (100 fly, 100 IM, 200 back, 200 IM, 400 IM) for a total of 100 more yards of competition than he swam in Moscow.
Franklin will keep the same four events that she swam at the Russian stop (100/200 back, 100/200 free) but will also this time add the 100 IM. That 100 IM addition was likely a for-fun choice, given that it’s the 2nd-to-last event and comes only after all of her more serious events are completed.
Here’s the top-5 races that we’re keeping an eye on in Germany:
1. Women’s 200 backstroke – Remember how a week ago we talked about the revival of the 200 backstroke world-wide (link here)? If you buy that, then this Berlin stop of the 200 backstroke is can’t-miss. The field will include the world’s top three swimmers this year (Missy Franklin, Daryna Zevina, and Belinda Hocking), all three of whom are 21-or-younger, and the third-fastest swimmer ever in the event Elizabeth Simmonds of the UK (only 20 herself). Want to talk about the youth movement in women’s backstroking? Out of the top 16 seeds in this event, 15 were born in the 90’s. Out of the 28 entries in this race, 25 were born in the 1990’s. Out of the three exceptions, one was born in 1989, one in 1988, and one in 1986.
2. Women’s 800 Free – These distance freestyles are not usually big draws at World Cup meets. Most distance swimmers greatly prefer long course swimming, and in-season times are never any good. This field, however, does give a little bit of excitement. Lotte Friis of Denmark is the top seed (she of the 1500 gold/800 silver at the World Championships), and joining her will be Germans Isabelle Harle (the local National Champion), France’s Camille Muffat, and Germany’s Keri-Anne Payne. If you get the chance to watch this one live, do so.
3. Women’s 200 Free – The 200 free in Moscow was an exciting race. So exciting, in fact, that the Americans Allison Schmitt and Missy Franklin tied for the victory. Now take that field, and add to it France’s Camille Muffat and a potential bounceback swim for world #2 Angie Bainbridge (who won the Stockholm stop but sat out the Russian trip). China’s Jing Liu, and Russia’s Veronika Popova (who made waves with her National Record in the 100 free last year, but might be an even better 200 freestyler). The race-within-the-race here is Germany’s Silke Lippok (17), the USA’s Lia Neal (16), and France’s Charlotte Bonnet (16). If you toss in Missy Franklin, nobody would be surprised if that was your top 4 at the 2020 Olympics.
4. Men’s 100 IM – There are three very young, extremely talented swimmers entered as the top three seeds in this race: Kenneth To (the world’s fastest this year in 51.93), Markus Deibler (the silver medalist from short course Worlds in 51.69), and Sergey Feskiov (the bronze medalist from short course Worlds in 51.81). Add to that the excitement of Michael Phelps (who looked great in this race in Moscow in 52.19) and a home-crowd medal contender, and you’ve got a phenomenal race shaping up. Want to see the roof really blow off of the Europasporspark? Watch for another German, Marco di Carli, to catch everybody off-guard. His best time is a 52.94, but he hasn’t swum the race since 2009. In that same time period, he’s dropped nearly two seconds off of his 100 free. That would make a loaded field even better if he can come close to that here.
5. Women’s 200 breaststroke – There are some fairly good women’s breaststrokers in this field, and most of them specialize in the 200 versus the 100. Dane Rikke Moeller Pedersen is the top seed, and she was the bronze medalist from Worlds last year, and Annamay Pierse (the long course World Record holder), Sally Foster (Australia’s best after Jones dropped the 200 from her schedule), Lisa Fissneider (the Italian youngster who dominated the World Junior Championships), and American Andrea Kropp (who was formerly the USA Junior Nationals Record holder, and is currently at Princeton – though she’s been pulled off of their roster for this year). The young Japanese swimmer Kanako Watanabe (who shocked the world when she put up a blistering long course time earlier this year at only 14) will also be in this race, as will Anastasia Chaun. Chaun has one of the tougher stories of the last year, as she was held out of Worlds because of a blood clot that was reportedly caused by a flubbed drug test. She was on fire at the Moscow stop, however, and looks ready to swim well and take home some cash. Kore’as Darae Jeong has also swum very well in the series so far, despite what her entry time reflects.
Note for those filling out your score cards – Slovakia’s Katarina Milly has not really been a 1:01.43 in the 100 breaststroke. In fact, I’m not sure she’s ever swum the race. That was likely supposed to be an entry in the 100 backstroke.
- Michael Phelps (100 fly, 200 back, 100/200/400 IM)
- Tyler McGill (50 free, 50/100 fly, 100 IM)
- Jacob Pebley (100/200 back, 100/400 free, 200 IM
- Josh Prenot (200 fly, 100 breast, 200 backstroke, 100/200 IM, 400 free
- Missy Franklin (100/200 free, 100/200 back, 100 IM)
- Allison Schmitt (100/200/400 free, 100/200 fly)
- Andrea Kropp (50/100/200 breast, 100 fly, 400 IM)
- Hali Flickinger (100/200 fly, 200 back)
- Chelsea Chenault (50/100/200/400 free, 100 fly, 100 back)
Below are the overall standings prior to the Berlin stop, with $100,000 going to the winner of each gender (and $50,000 to the runner-up, $30,000 to 3rd place).
South Africa’s Chad le Clos still has a strong lead in the overall standings, though since joining the tour Hidemasa Sano has been dominating both the 200 fly, and the overall points standings. Both should stick it out for the full tour, but unless le Clos can turn things around, Sano is on track (despite his 2nd-position) to take the overall reward.
Most of the rest of the contenders will head home after this meet, including Kenneth To, Michael Phelps, and Paul Biedermann. Germany’s Marko Koch, however, is scheduled to swim in every meet in the series, which gives him the inside track on 3rd. He failed to swim fast enough to score in Russia, however, so to stay there he’ll have to really fight in Asia. The competition overall gets weaker in Asia, but the breaststroke fields will get better.
|Rank||Name||Nationality||Points awarded (Bonus)||Total|
|1||Chad Le Clos||South Africa||25||16||20||61|
|5||Michael Phelps||United States||16||16|
|20||Tyler McGill||United States||1||1|
|21||Gustav Åberg Lejdström||Sweden||1||1|
Last year’s series champion Therese Alshammar is back in the lead this year, and given her propensity for travel, one might expect for her to finish out the series. The only thing at that point keeping her from the overall win would be if Ying Lu of China does the same. Alshammar has been the better of the two so far in this series, but in November, the home-pool advantage will shift to the Asians.
Franklin is done after this meet, and Sjostrom was a one-hit-wonder. Any number of swimmers could take 3rd on the women’s side, but we will have to wait and see who has the best attendance in Asia. Jie Gong is the best-positioned, though she’s not swimming in Berlin.
|Rank||Name||Nationality||Points awarded (Bonus)||Total|
|4||Melissa Franklin||United States||25||25|
|8||Allison Schmitt||United States||20||20|
|16||Hye Ra Cho||South Korea||3||2||5|
|20||Hang Yu Sze||Hong Kong||2||2|
|23||Barbora Zavadova||Czech Republic||1||1|