The meet in Dubai is over, and the Americans had a great final day of competition. They won 7 total medals, 3 of them gold, to almost double their overall medal total. This finish, and especially Garret Weber-Gale’s finish in the men’s medley will definitely help erase some of the disappointments that this meet has given.
Men’s 100 freestyle
Brazil’s Cesar Cielo added another dominant performance to his trophy case in the men’s 100 free. He was the first swimmer off of the block (.64), the first swimmer to the turn (21.45), and ultimately the first to the finish in a new meet record of 45.74. France’s Fabien Gilot was second in 45.97. The battle for third was a good one, as Russia’s Nikita Lobintsev (46.35) out-touched France’s Alain Bernard (46.37), Australia’s Matthew Abood (46.40), and the USA’s Nathan Adrian (46.44) in a boom-boom (boom-boom) finish.
This is a bit of a shocking result for Lobintsev, as he is probably the last accomplished sprinter out of that finishing group. Though he has been a member of some 400 free relays at international meets, he has generally excelled in the 200 and 400 individually. At 22, however, he is at the age when most sprinters really start to develop, so he could really continue to take off from here.
Women’s 50 backstroke
China’s Jing Zhao turned on the burners in finals and took the women’s 50 backstroke in a new meet record of 26.27. In a largely uneventful race, Rachel Goh claimed another medal for an Auburn grad with a silver in 26.54. Spain’s Mercedes Peris continued her country’s move up the medals table with a surprise bronze in 26.80. As a largely unknown swimmer on the international scene, a medal in her first World Championships is a great result.
Men’s 200 backstroke
Ryan Lochte swam his first race of the day in the 200 back. There was no World Record in this swim, but there was another meet record, and he blew away the competition in 1:46.68. Lochte continued pushing hard and extending his lead all the way through the end, which is a bit of a surprise given that two events later he has a 100 IM final, but this just shows what a true competitor he is.
Tyler Clary, who had the stress of an absolutely brutal double relieved from his schedule after failing to final in the 200 fly just 45 minutes after the 200 back prelim, blasted his way to a silver medal here. His time, in fact, was easily second in 1:49.09, and shockingly almost even-split his last two 50’s. This shows what kind of closing power and endurance he has. Austria’s Markus Rogan, who is sort of the third-cog in many Clary-Lochte dominated events, took the silver in 1:49.96. He was the only medalist who had a close finish, and faded almost back to Spain’s Aschwin Wildeboer (1:50.01).
Women’s 200 Breaststroke
The USA’s Rebecca Soni completed a successful sweep of the breaststroke events by taking the 200 in 2:16.39. Absent of Australia’s Leisel Jones, who didn’t enter this race, nobody ever really pushed Soni, but she still pushed herself to a new meet record by over two seconds from her prelims time this morning. She had the fastest split on every single leg of the race, and had over a body-length lead for the better part of the swim. This was pure domination.
China’s Li Jiping started off the race well, but, despite being an expected medalist, faded back shortly thereafter and her teammate Ye Sun jumped into the silver medal position. Sun held that spot for the whole race and won in 2:18.09. Rikke Moller Pedersen from Denmark was third in 2:18.82.
Men’s 100 IM
For the first time during this meet, Ryan Lochte looked human in this 100 IM. Unlike every other race in this meet, he did not lower his time from semi-finals, and therefore didn’t break his World Record from semi-finals. But still, swimming the race only 28 minutes after the 200 back, is winning time of 50.86 was nothing to sneeze at, and after this swim and the subsequent 200 backstroke medal ceremony, Lochte appeared visibly trashed; moreso than at any other point in this meet. Markus Deibler, the younger of two brothers, seems to be older than he is based on his brother’s reputation. At only 20, however, a silver medal finish in this race is a great result for him in 51.69, and demonstrates that with another few years of seasoning, he might be ready to compete with Pehlps and Lochte in London in the 200 IM.
Russia’s Sergey Fesikov had a very good swim as well to finish third in 51.81. This is despite a hard push by Trinidad & Tobago’s George Bovell on the back half of the race, and he finished fourth in 28.19.
Women’s 100 Fly
Though Sweden’s Therese Alshammar has been wholly dominant in the 50 fly for about a decade, she hasn’t really ever attempted to seriously push that strength into the 100 until very recently. Felicity Galvez from Australian, however, is the defending gold medalist in this event at this meet, and this extra experience showed big time in this race. Galvez was much tighter and quicker through her walls, and though Alshammar made up some ground in the middle of the pool, Galvez ultimately took the victory in 55.43. Alshammar finishd three-tenths back in 55.73, though the finish looked much closer than that.
The USA’s Dana Vollmer finally put together a great race in the 100 fly, her best event. She came from outside of the main group to touch third in 56.25. In a sort of quirky stat, that proves what I’ve long believed that it’s way more important to finish hard than start hard at the elite level, the finishing order of the race was identical to the order of the finishing splits (save for 7th and 8th being flipped).
Men’s 50 breaststroke
Watching Felipe Silva swim, it’s no surprise that he won this 50 breaststroke. He is just physically bigger and bulkier than most of his breaststroke competition When compared to a 200 breaststroker like Brenton Rickard of Australia, who has a bit longer and leaner build, it’s clear which one is built for all-out sprints and which one is aiming for the longer swim where all of the drag from the extra bulk can cause problems. His time of 25.95 broke Cameron van der Burgh’s meet record from semi-finals.
Van der Burgh also was under his old meet best with a silver medal time of 26.03, and Norway’s Aleksander Hetland was third in 26.29. Roland Schoeman finally showed signs of life in taking 4th in 26.41. Unfortunately, it looks like his battle of bronchitis might be passing just a little too late, and leaves a feeling of disappointment about what could have been had he been healthy throughout.
Women’s 50 free
So long as she can dominate the underwaters, the Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo will continue to dominate the sprint events for as long as she wants to, a la Natalie Coughlin. As an indicator of how good she is underwater, Kromowidjojo was even with bronze medalist Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace when VP came up and started swimming, yet Kromowidjojo stayed down for another 4 meters or so and rocketed past her for an early lead. When a sprinter can do that, and i s still as good above the water as the Dutch champion is, the rest of the world doesn’t have a chance.
Her teammte, Hinkelien Schreuder, finished between the two in 23.81, and Vanderpool-Wallace’s third-place time was 24.04. The USA’s Jessica Hardy was 4th in 24.09, and Estonia’s Triin Aljand, who is having a lot of success after tinkering with her strokes, was 5th in 24.16.
Men’s 200 fly
The men’s 200 fly is really a man’s event. The amount of mental strength and fortitude it takes to win the 200 fly is highly impressive, and yet the race was won by an 18 year-old. South Africa’s Chad le Clos, who recently dominated the inaugaral YOUTH Olympics, now has his sights set on hardware at the big-boy Olympics thanks to his victory in 1:51.56.
His finish included just out-touching Brazil’s Kaio Almeida, who finished in 1:51.61. Those two swimmers were 5th and 6th, respectively, when they entered the final lap of the race, but blew through to the finish to take the top two podium spots. (Not to sound like a broken record, but those closing 50’s…) Laszlo Cseh really pushed on the third 50 to move into second-position, but ended up in 3rd in 1:51.67.
Cseh, for all of his accomplishments in the longer butterfly and IM events, seems to have a much less efficient butterfly technique than many of his competitors, and was much higher on every stroke than his competitors. However, this seemed to be balanced out by a much looser and easier recovery.
Wu Peng from China had a huge collapse in this race. He led by about a meter over everyone for most of the race, but then absolutely bombed the last 45 meters to drop all the way to 5th.
Men’s 1500 meter
The men’s 1500 is a strategist’s race, and if you love chess, you would’ve loved the final heat of the 1500. It was a definite battle of offense-defense at its finest. In the morning heats, Tunisia’s Ous Mellouli made the first attack with a blazing 14:24.16 that put him about 70 meters ahead of the next closest swimmer in his heat. While a lack of competition makes it hard to pace, it also can bring a little extra clean-water that is often so hard to find in a short course pool.
Then, in the evening final heat, the real fun began. Denmark’s Mad Glaesner launched into an assault of Mellouli’s mark, and was ahead of the lead pace (and well ahead of his heat) for exactly one-third (500 meters) of the race. Then came the “Colbertado Assault,” and over the next 500 meters, Italy’s Federico Colbertado bulged forward onto Glaesner. The Italian came his closest, .09 back, at exactly the 1000 meter mark, but was never quite able to overtake the lead due to some pretty awful underwaters. If he can improve on those even a little, however, he can definitely be a cotender in the long course 1500, with fewer walls, in Shanghai and London.
By this point, Mellouli’s time was all but out-of-reach, but Peter Vanderkaay’s mark of 14:35.25 was coming back into the picture.
At the same time as Glaesner fought off Colbertado, a new threat emerged on the outside in the battle for the silver in the form of 19-year old Hungarian Gurgely Gyurta. At exactly the same point, the 1000 meter mark where Colbertado was closest, Gyurta took the lead. Gyurta looked like he was putting everyone else away, but Glaesner wasn’t done yet. He clawed in and fought back, and in the last 50 meters outsplit Gyurta 27.78 to 29.08 to win the heat, and the silver medal, in 14:29.52.
The final finish results:
Mellouli – 14:24.16
Glaesner – 14:29.52
Gyurta – 14:31.47
Colbertado – 14:33.92
Vanderkaay – 14:35.25
Women’s 200 freestyle
The top 4 in the women’s 200 free all have been having a great meet, and this is an event that they have all been looking towards as a huge showdown. France’s Camille Muffat didn’t lead in this race until the very last touch, but that’s all that matters. Her winning time of 1:52.29, along with the three times behind it, bettered the meet record that Muffat set in leading off the relay on day 1.
The USA’s Katie Hoff, who was the pace-setter for much of the race, fell off at the end of the race and finished second in 1:52.91. Her fade at the end–she had the slowest closing 50 amongst the lead pack–is a bit of a surprise considering how well she finished in the 400. Australia’s Kyle Palmer, who rocked the anchor leg of the Australian 800 relay, finished third in 1:52.96. China’s Yi Tang is another swimmer who was able to parlay success at the Youth Olympics into success at the World Championships, and she finished 4th in 1:53.07.
Men’s 400 medley relay
The American relays finally got their golden moment in the last event of the meet: the men’s 400 medley relay.
Early in this race, the Russians, and Stanislav Donets looked as though they were going to be untouchable. The Russian backstroker swam a 48.95, which was just .01 off of Nick Thoman’s World Record mark. Mike Alexandrov made up a ton of ground in the 100 breaststroke, where the Russians knew they were weak. Then Ryan Lochte hit the water for one more huge swim, his third of the day, and blasted past the Russians and individual fly champion Evgeny Korotyshkin.
The American butterfly crew in Dubai was not its strongest, so Lochte on the fly wasn’t much of a surprise. The real surprise was Garrett Weber-Gale on the anchor instead of Nathan Adrian. On the other hand, Weber-Gale has had a slew of amazing relay swims in this meet, and his 45.42 actually widened the gap in a big way on the Russians to give the Americans their first relay victory, men’s or women’s, of the meet.
It’s good news that those top two relays were so well clear of the field by the time the freestylers hit the water, because the Brazilians (Cesar Cielo-45.12) and French (Fabien Gilot-44.94) had blaaaaazing freestyle splits.