The American 4x100m medley relay team at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games put up an amazing time that under careful consideration might be faster than what the American ladies can go at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.
Natalie Coughlin, Katie Meili, Kelsi Worrell, and Allison Schmitt all pooled together to throw down a Pan American Games record time of 3:56.53 and win gold, giving Coughlin her 60th international medal.
Their time beat the time that Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy, Kendyl Stewart, and Simone Manuel put up to finish second at last summer’s Pan Pacific Championships. The same four will likely be the lineup for the American women’s 4x100m medley relay this summer at worlds.
2015 Pan American Games Splits (3:56.53)
- Natalie Coughlin (59.05)
- Katie Meili (1:06.06)
- Kelsi Worrell (57.34)
- Allison Schmitt (54.08)
2014 Pan Pacific Championships Splits (3:57.41)
- Missy Franklin – (59.99)
- Jessica Hardy – (1:06.35)
- Kendyl Stewart – (57.62)
- Simone Manuel – (53.45)
Looking at the splits from both relays, it’s easy to see where the strengths and weaknesses lie. Franklin can without a doubt go faster than a 59.99 this summer on the leadoff. She was experiencing back spasms that kept her from competing at her full potential in 2014, which is likely why Franklin’s split was slow in relation to her best time.
Hardy has the potential for a 1:05 breaststroke split, or even a 1:04. Stewart will likely be around 57-flat, and after Manuel’s performances at the NCAA Championships it’s likely that she can go faster as well.
One of the best ways to compare these eight swimmers is through looking at their in-season best times. A rested time at Pan Ams should be faster than a non-rested in-season swim, so a direct comparison of times from the 2014-2015 season isn’t fair.
Best In-Season Swims 2014-2015
- Natalie Coughlin – 100 back – 1:00.08
- Missy Franklin – 100 back – 1:00.65
- Katie Meili – 100 breast – 1:06.50
- Jessica Hardy – 100 breast – 1:06.97
- Kelsi Worrell – 100 fly – 58.24
- Kendyl Stewart – 100 fly – 58.05
- Allison Schmitt – 100 free – 54.85
- Simone Manuel – 100 free – 54.20
Just by adding up the best in-season swims for each team, the Pan Am team has a 3:59.67, the worlds team has a 3:59.87, precisely two tenths of a second slower.
Although these in-season swims give a fantastic representation of what to expect heading into championship meets, each swimmer swims differently in-season and has different focus meets. Worrell, Franklin, and Manuel for example all peaked for NCAAs in March.
Simply looking at personal best times, the worlds team has the Pan American Games team beat by almost two full seconds.
Even if you replace Jessica Hardy’s 1:04.45 100m breaststroke personal best from 2009 (suited), with her textile best of 1:05.18, the worlds team still has a commanding lead. For the sake of the argument however, Hardy’s 1:04.45 was used for the calculation below.
Pan Am Games team best times (3:55.76)
- Natalie Coughlin – 100m backstroke – 58.94
- Katie Meili – 100m breaststroke – 1:05.64
- Kelsi Worrell – 100m fly – 57.24
- Allison Schmitt – 100m freestyle – 53.94
Worlds team best times (3:53.85)
- Missy Franklin – 100m backstroke – 58.33
- Jessica Hardy – 100m breaststroke – 1:04.45
- Kendyl Stewart – 100m fly – 57.82
- Simone Manuel – 100m free – 53.25
The worlds team certainly has the potential to be faster than the Pan Am Games team this summer, however the results might be a lot closer than previously expected. If all those on the worlds roster are not in top form, the Pan Am team could be the top women’s medley relay of the summer.