Dubai 2010: Results, Feedback, and Analysis From Day 1 Finals; Semi-Final Highlights

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 6

December 15th, 2010 Industry

Wow, there’s tons to talk about after one day of competition.

1. What’s the deal with the Americans? – Ryan Lochte showed up to swim, but it’s not clear what happened to the rest of the American contingent. In three individual events, Team USA scored only two finalists, and one medal (a gold from Lochte in the 200 free). What’s more, neither relay was in the top 3. Sure, the Americans don’t always send full squads, but the supposed most powerful team in the world should be able to fill in well enough to get a few more finalists and relay medals than this! Maybe it’s time to give the switch to 25-meter pools more serious consideration.

2. Surprise Entrances – On at least three occasions on day 1, countries had surprise entries on relay teams who seemed as though they weren’t making the meet. The assumption was that because these three swimmers (Russia’s Fesikov, France’s Gilot, and France’s Muffat) weren’t entered in individual events that they were favorites to medal in, that they skipped the meet altogether. Apparently, this was not the case.

3. Peekabo! – The Chinese women decided that they would make time to show up full-strength for this meet, and it showed in a big way. Chang Gao looks unbeatable in the backstroke, and their 200 free relay ran away from the field in a new World Record.

Here’s a recap of finals, with a few notable semi-final swims at the bottom:

Men’s 200 Free

One event down, one gold medal in the books for the USA’s Ryan Lochte at the 2010 Dubai World Championships. Lochte looked very strong in the 200 and was never seriously challenged. He blew away his prelims time to set another meet record in 1:41.08. Russia’s Danil Izotov, who is only 19 years old, also went under Lochte’s old record mark to take the silver in 1:41.7. This is a season (and textile) best time for him, though it is the first time this season that the European long and short course champion has been downed in this race. The bronze went to Tunisia’s Ous Mellouli in 1:42.02 after he closed hard to just overtake Russia’s Nikita Lobintsev (1:42.03) for the bronze. Mellouli is a little better in the longer 400 and 800 meter events, and a good performance in the 200 bodes well for him the rest of the meet.

The big shock was Germany’s Paul Biedermann, the 2009 Long Course champ, slipping all the way to fifth place. Thus far, he has still not made a great adjustment to textile swimming. The top 5, including Biedermann, all went under Lochte’s Championship record performance from prelims.

Women’s 200 Fly

Mireia Belmonte Garcia first burst on to the scene during the 2008 season at the young age of 18. Since then, she has mostly disappeared from major medal stands-until now. The young Spanish sensation won the women’s 200 fly in 2:03.59, which is the second Championship Record-setting performance in as many finals. The runner-up was Great Britain’s Jemma Lowe (2:03.94-also under the old CR) and bronze went to Swede Petra Grandlund (2:04.38). Katinka Hosszu, who is well-known in America for her exploits with the USC Trojans, was fourth, slipping back from the top overall seed in prelims.

China’s Liu Zige, who has been notoriously absent from every meet that mattered since winning the 2008 Olympic gold in this event (and the silver at Rome) finished in 5th. This is a huge disappointment for the current World Record holder who skipped November’s Asian Games because she didn’t feel as though the level of competition was worthy of her presence.

Of note, neither American (former meet record holder Mary Mohler and Kim Vandenberg) finaled in the event.

Women’s 400 IM

Readers, swimming has a new iron-woman, and her name is Mireia Belmonte Garcia. A mere 44 minutes after winning a grueling 200 fly in a meet record, she dove in and set another one in the 400 IM. Her winning time of 4:24.21 was over 2 seconds clear of Kirsty Conventry’s previous standard in the race, but the Spaniard was not unchallenged. She and China’s Shiwen Ye battled the whole race, and in fact it appeared early as though Ye had the race put away. She absolutely slaughtered Belmonte on the backstroke leg (comparative split 1:06.64 for Ye-1:09.24 for Belmonte), but the eventual champion was able to battle back and nip Ye at the end.

Here’s a look at the comparative splits:

BELMONTE        29.27 – 1:01.76 – 1:36.87 – 2:11.00 – 2:47.79 – 3:24.51 – 3:54.81 – 4:24.21
YE                          29.48 – 1:02.01 – 1:35.74 – 2:08.65 – 2:47.20 – 3:25.52 – 3:55.62 – 4:24.55
Ye’s teammate Xuanxu Li grabbed the bronze well back in 4:29.05. Great Britain’s Hannah Miley, who I thought was a lock to medal, finished 4th in 4:29.77. The top American finisher was Ariana Kukors, who took 6th in 4:31.01. This marks the second time in as many events that the American women went without a podium spot on Day 1.
Men’s 400 Free Relay
As predicted, this relay came down to which teams had their full squads present, and in this meet that was the French and Russians. The two squads matched stroke-for-stroke throughout the race, and in the end it came down to two budding superstars: Yannick Agnel from France and Danil Isotov for Russia. Isotov looked to have put the race away halfway through his swim, but Agnel finished in incredible fashion to chase him down and give the French the win in 3:04.78 to Russia’s 3:04.72.
Both relays had surprise showings from Fabien Gilot (FRA) and Sergey Fesikov (RUS), neither of whom were entered in the individual 100 free despite having excellent chances at winning that event.
In a race that we knew would be loaded with power, the American men really disappointed by finishing fourth (3:06.10). This is especially true because of the lagging leadoff from Nathan Adrian (47.35) that left them in 6th place and too far in a hole to make a medal. For a swimmer who had eyes on double gold in the 50 and 100 individually, this was not the start that he was probably hoping for. Ryan Lochte did have a very good, though not mind-blowing, anchor mark of 46.02. Garrett Weber-Gale had a fantastic split of 45.88, amongst the best in the race, which (and I don’t have an official word on this) might be his fastest split ever. It’s certainly faster than he’s ever flat-started in a rubber suit or otherwise, even if you take into account the relay start. It’s going to be a great battle between him and the immortal Jason Lezak for the final relay spot in London.
Kudos to the Brazilians for finding possibly their next great sprinter, Marcelo Chierighini, to fill in the fourth spot in the relay and lead them to a bronze medal in a time of 3:05.74.
Women’s 800 Free Relay
Set off the streamers, blow your horns: the Chinese women have set the first World Record in the post-rubber-suit era in the 800 free relay. In fact, not only did they set the record, but they obliterated the mark previously held by the Netherlands. Their finishing time of 7:35.94 was almost 3 seconds under the old mark that was set in 2008. The runner-up Australians also were well-clear of the old mark in a time of 7:37.57. This is thanks, in no small part, to Kylie Palmer who had easily the best split in the field in 1:52.42, which makes her an instant contender in the individual version of this event.
France and the US, who finished third and fourth, made the old record look slightly silly by also beating it. The French (7:38.33) won the bronze thanks to a huge buoy from Camille Muffat, who many believed to have scratched the meet due to her auspicious absence from her key individual events. The American women (7:28.42) knew that this would be their toughest relay to win, but in their own minds they had to have been thinking medal. Especially with Hoff scratching the 400 IM and Knutson failing to final, they should have been in good enough form to at least pass the French for third.
Semi-Finals
  • The women’s 50 breaststroke final is going to be a very tight final, with the top 3 qualifiers (including Rebecca Soni) all seeded within .04 seconds of each other.
  • The men are even tighter in the 100 breaststroke, and this could be one of the closest World Championship races ever. USA’s Mike Alexandrov took the top seed (57.18) and Cameron van der Burgh (South Africa) and Felipe Silva (Brazil) dead-heated in second at 57.19. It’s going to take a 56 to win this tomorrow night, so look for some real fireworks!
  • The Americans got both male 100 backstrokers, Thoman and Plummer, into the final. Thoman is a short course specialist, and will be the better hope for a medal. Stanislav Donets from Russia is godly in short course, and took the top overall seed in 49.62.
  • The women’s 100 back looks to be a showdown between the Americans (Missy Franklin and Natalie Coughlin) and the Chinese (Chang Gao and Jing Zhao) who occupy the top 4 spots. As mentioned, it’s going to be near impossible for anyone to run down Gao, but should be a great race for silver.

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gosharks

American Record for Katie Hoff in the 200 free (1:53.37). Glad to see her back in form.

Joe

I am not ready to say Katie Hoff is back until she medals in her events.

I think it is time for some of the post-grads to move on and let some of the younger swimmers get the experience. I think they are swimming for the money and not because they are doing something to get gold.

The Auburn trained swimmers didn’t have a good day.

gosharks

Hoff might not be back to the hyped up female-Phelps status she was given in 2008, but earning a medal is considering factors outside of one’s control (the competition). To break an AR shows that you are not only at your personal best but your country’s best. I feel like that’s saying something.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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