Disclaimer: BlueSeventy Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The BlueSeventy Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.
When Evgeny Rylov broke onto the international scene in 2014, his biggest success came in the sprint-distance 50 meter backstroke.
The Russian, then 17 years old, won a Youth Olympic Games gold medal in the 50 back, smashing the junior world record in the process.
The problem? That 50 backstroke is a non-Olympic distance. For many athletes who excel at the 50s of the non-free strokes, the longer, Olympic-distance stroke races create a difficult challenge in transferring their sprint success to the next level.
But Rylov has developed in the most effective way possible, so much so that he’s now an Olympic medal contender at the very opposite end of the spectrum: the 200 backstroke.
Nowhere was that more on display than last weekend’s Energy Standard Cup in Italy. There, Rylov put up his second meet with a 1:54 200 backstroke in the last month, making him one of the most consistent 200 backstroke performers in the world for 2016.
Rylov already sits at #2 worldwide with his time from the Russian Championships, and though leader Mitch Larkin is far outpacing the field, Rylov is in great shape to defend (or improve upon) his bronze medal from last summer’s World Championships.
Rylov was 1:54.76 in Italy, a swim that ranked #1 of all men at the meet in overall FINA points (see rankings here). In addition, Rylov’s wins in the 50 and 100 backstroke put him in a tie for 3rd place overall in the points rankings, correlating with an €8,000 prize stipend.
While Russia may have lost its top gold medal threat in Yulia Efimova (whose anti-doping violation could keep her out of the Games), Rylov is providing Russian swimming another great chance to make the Rio medal podium.
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