The 2012 British Olympic Trials are likely to be the most hotly anticipated swimming event that has ever happened in the UK. Swimming fever is building there – both with the increase in superstars like Liam Tancock and Rebecca Adlington, as well as with the pending hosting duties for the London Olympics: in which swimming is the mainstage event.
The tickets for the British Gas Championships sold out quickly, if for no other reason than for fans to be able to see the Olympic venue and check out the best that Britain has to offer. For what the event has evolved into, however, the international finals (which will be held separately from those for British-eligible athletes) are going to be a monster show in-and-of themselves.
This event now has a star-studded lineup that will only be surpassed in 2012 by the Olympics themselves, as everyone is wanting to get a feel for the venue, the pool, and the procedures that will be used for the Olympics.
The latest additions to the field include the bulk of the likely swedish Olympic Team, with the exception of Therese Alshammar.
That includes teenage-supertar Sarah Sjostrom, who is entered in the 100 back, 100 fly, and the 200 freestyle. The entry in the 100 fly is obvious – it’s her best event. The 100 back and 200 free are more curious as to a possible hint at her Olympic schedule.
The Swedes are surely still considering Sjostrom, who is actually the country’s best backstroker though it’s not her best stroke, for that leg of a potentially deadly medley relay. This also could be a foreshadowing that she’s considering a run at the 200 free when she returns in late June.
This 200 free is a new-found talent. As recently 2010, she was only a 1:58 in the event, but already in 2012 she’s been an unrested 1:56.5. I think that this will be a meet where she’ll put in maybe a few days of rest, so she’ll be interested to see, in both of those two events, what her true potential is before making any serious decisions for the Games.
Also joining the event will be the polish National Team. That includes Otylia Jedrzejczak, who was a triple medalist and the 200 fly champion in Athens in 2004. She will be swimming the 100/200 flys, as well as the 200 free and 100 back. Also travelling with her is rising sprint-butterfly contender Konrad Czerniak and easily the country’s best ever backstroker, and the 2011 Short Course European Champion in the 100, Radoslaw Kawecki.
The South Africans are also sending a solid, though not complete, group. Their distance star Heerden Herman is entered into the mile; World Cup champion Chad le Clos is entered in the 100 free, the 100 and 200 flys, and the 200 IM. That might be another Olympic preview. It’s a tough load, but he showed in the World Cup circuit that he can swim very well, very often without much problem. It also looks like he might be thinking about going after some more relay spots, specifically the 400 free relay that showed a weak leg in Shanghai.
On the women’s side, an improving but still very young group of Kathryn Meaklim, 16-year old Vanessa Mohr, and Karin Prinsloo will be joined by the veteran Mandy Loots. This group is the heart of South African women’s swimming, and are competing as well as any group has in the country since 2000. They’ve still got work to do, however, to contend for finals in London.
The only major swimming countries that are totally unrepresented at this meet seem to be Canada and Australia. The Americans have sent a small group of 5, most notably World University Games star Lyndsay DePaul.
The entry deadline for the meet was February 15th, though the official entry list seems to still be catching up to the last-minute entrants.