Disclaimer: Dolfin 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 Dolfin 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.
Not an Olympic event until just recently, the men’s 800 free is primed to fly under the radar. But with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics set to give away the first-ever medal in that event, the world is starting to rise up.
At last week’s Swim Open Stockholm, Mykhailo Romanchuk (Ukraine) and Florian Wellbrock (Germany) battled for two of the best men’s 800s in recent memory. Both broke their own national records and both cracked the top 11 in history in the event.
Romanchuk won the race with a 7:42.49, taking a half-second off a national record he set while winning European Championships gold last summer. Wellbrock was second in 7:43.03, cutting two and a half from his bronze medal time at Euros, also a national record. The two times sit #1 and #2 in the world this season, with the third-place time more than two seconds back. And the times show a marked improvement from last year on the world stage: Romanchuk’s 7:42.9 was the fastest time in the world for all of last season, with no one else going faster than 7:43.7.
At 2017 Worlds, Romanchuk’s time would have been third and Wellbrock’s time fourth, making them strong medal contenders later this summer. The times also move the duo to #10 and #11 on the all-time performers list. That particular record is still dominated by bodysuit-era swims. The two fastest performers in history are from 2009. And two more swimmers in the top 5 are legends from the very early days of full-body tech suits: Grant Hackett (7:38 in 2005) and Ian Thorpe (7:39 in 2001 in the famous full-body suit that went from ankles to wrists).
In fact, here’s a look at the top swimmers since the bodysuit ban went into effect at the beginning of 2010:
- Sun Yang – 7:38.57 (2011 Worlds)
- Gabriele Detti – 7:40.77 (2017 Worlds)
- Gregorio Paltrinieri – 7:40.81 (2015 Worlds)
- Wojciech Wojdak – 7:41.73 (2017 Worlds)
- Ryan Cochrane – 7:41.86 (2011 Worlds)
- Mykhailo Romanchuk – 7:42.49 (2019 Swim Open Stockholm)
- Florian Wellbrock – 7:43.03 (2019 Swim Open Stockholm)
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