Commonwealth Games Preview – Women’s Distance Freestyle

800 freestyle

Event Details:

  • Heats – Sunday July 27th – 10:30 am local (5:30 am EST)
  • Finals – Monday July 28th – 7:00 pm local (2:00 pm EST)

Event History:

  • 2010 Champion – Rebecca Adlington (ENG) – 8:24.69
  • Commonwealth Games Record – Tracey Wickham (AUS) – 8:24.62 (1978)
  • Commonwealth Record – Rebecca Adlington (ENG) – 8:14.10 (2008)

This is one event where Commonwealth swimmers are well represented in the top of the world rankings. After world record holder American Katie Ledecky the next three swimmers that have posted the fastest times in the world this year will all compete in Glasgow. Jazz Carlin of Wales has posted an 8:18.36, Jessica Ashwood of Australia has recorded an 8:19.76 while Lauren Boyle of New Zealand has put up an 8:22.93.

Carlin’s time of 8:18.36 is not only a season’s best, but a lifetime best and Welsh record in the event which she swam at the 2014 British Gas National Championships. Carlin, who throughout her career has been focused mainly on the 200 and 400 events, decided to give the distance events a go over the last two years and has seen substantial improvement in the 800. In 2013 she improved her best time by by seven seconds going from an 8:25.67 in 2011 to a season’s best of 8:18.58.

Despite that success early in 2013 she was not able to perform at the World Championships in Barcelona finishing ninth in a time of 8:27.48. Carlin does have a great amount experience and success at the Commonwealth Games. She attended her first games in 2006 and in 2010 collected a silver in the 200 freestyle and a bronze in the 400 freestyle.

It is also important to note that Carlin has swum well in the shorter distances this year having posted a lifetime best and national record time of 1:57.65 in the 200 and tied her lifetime best in the 400 posting a 4:04.03 in June at the Mare Nostrum Series.

Ashwood’s time of 8:19.76 is a lifetime improving on her 2013 time of 8:24.63 by almost five seconds. Ashwood has gained a lot of international experience over the last three years competing at the 2011 World Championships, the 2012 Olympics and the 2013 World Championships where she finished 10th in the 800. She has also made significant improvement in her 400 this year posting a time of 4:05.01, beating her previous best of 4:09.98 by nearly five seconds.

Ashwood has had a hard time stepping up her performances at big meets, under performing at both the Olympics and 2013 World Championships.

Boyle can be considered the best big game swimmer in the pack having bettered her lifetime bests at both the 2012 Olympics and 2013 World Championships. She went into London with a lifetime best of 8:28.15 and eventually finished fourth in a time of 8:22.72. In Barcelona she won the bronze in the 800 freestyle in a time of 8:18.58 coming in with a best time of 8:22.72 and a season’s best of 8:23.08.

The 26-year old has been training with Fred Vergnoux’s elite group which includes Mireia Belmonte. She also trained with Vergnoux in 2013, but this season has been battling illness and having a harder time with the workload, which could be seen in her results earlier in the year. Just last weekend though Boyle put up her season’s best of 8:22.93 and appears to be rounding into shape heading into Glasgow.

Canadian Brittany MacLean had a great year in 2012, not only qualifying for her first Olympic team, but making the final in the 400 freestyle, eventually finishing seventh. On the contrary, MacLean did not have a great year in 2013, qualifying for the Canadian team, but only as a relay swimmer. 2014 has been a very different story.

MacLean, who represents the University of Georgia, had an exceptional NCAA Championships winning both the 500 yard freestyle and 1650 yard freestyle. Translating the success in those events to success in a long course venue may not be the most practical, but where those results do speak volumes is about her ability to win at big moments.

She then followed up a strong NCAA Championships with an impressive Canadian Trials where she won the 800 freestyle in a time of 8:24.91 breaking Brittany Reimer’s 2005 Canadian record of 8:27.59. It was also a lifetime best for MacLean who went into the competition with a previous best of 8:33.70 from 2012.

Australian Alanna Bowles is part of her first senior national team. The 16 year old qualified for the 800 freestyle finishing second to Jessica Ashwood at the Australian National Championships posting a lifetime best time of 8:29.40. Although this will be Bowles first senior national team experience she did have outstanding success at last year’s World Junior Championships in Dubai winning the 800 freestyle and finishing second in the 400 freestyle.

Eleanor Faulkner of England finished second to Carlin at the British Gas National Championships in a time of 8:32.99. Faulkner’s best though is an 8:25.36 which she posted in 2013. The 20 year old Faulkner has not swum her best at the biggest competitions, but still has plenty of time to show that she is learning to step up when it counts.

Canadian Tabitha Baumann has shown a great dealt of improvement over the last year in this event going from a lifetime best of 8:41.13 to a 8:32.37. Baumann has not had a chance to compete at a major international meet and the 18 year old (19 at the time of the competition) may be poised to continue to experience some solid improvement in Glasgow.

My top six:

  1. Lauren Boyle (NZL) – BT – 8:18.58 – 2013
  2. Jessica Ashwood (AUS) – BT – 8:19.76 – 2014
  3. Jazz Carlin (WAL) – BT – 8:18.36 – 2014
  4. Brittany MacLean (CAN) – BT – 8:24.91 – 2014
  5. Eleanor Faulkner – (ENG) – BT – 8:25.36 – 2013
  6. Tabitha Baumann – (CAN) – BT – 8:32.37 – 2014





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9 years ago

Carlin third? Big call, considering she hadn’t tapered for her 8.18 – She was pre-selected for Wales and didn’t need to taper for nationals, was very confident she’d be a fair chunk faster in Glasgow for Commonwealths. I think we’ll see 4.07 out and home for Carlin, 8.15ish. Don’t see anybody else swimming that quickly in Glasgow. Would not be at all surprised to see her break Becky’s British Record over the next few years getting dragged alone 4 or 5 seconds behind Kathleen 😉 Could even happen in the next two weeks!

1. Carlin (WAL)
2. Boyle (NZL)
3. MacLean (CAN)

Reply to  Dee
9 years ago

Watched Carlin at Glasgow, she did that 8.18 on her own. Defo put her on my no1 prediction.

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