As we’ve already covered, Great Britain’s James Guy has been on point the last three days at the Japan Open in Tokyo. In particular his butterfly, which has seen some big drops this season. On day 1, he equalled his 200m best time in 1:55.91. Then, after an impressive 3:46.6 400 free on day 2, he threw down a PB of 51.50 in the 100 fly on the 3rd and final day.
With the British team competing in Tokyo coming off a training camp, the strong swims came as a bit of a surprise to Guy.
Though it’s hard to imagine fly ever being anything more than a secondary stroke for Guy, especially considering he’s the reigning 200 free world champ, his vast improvements this year are a great sign for Great Britain’s medley relay.
The Brits have a very sizeable advantage over the rest of the world on the breaststroke leg with generational talent Adam Peaty, so if the other three legs can see some slight improvements from last summer they could dethrone the almighty Americans.
The Americans have never lost the medley relay in Olympic competition, but Great Britain gave them a good run last year. They led at the halfway mark after a devastating 56.59 split from Peaty, and were within four tenths of the U.S. going into the final leg, but ultimately finished 1.3 behind them after a classic anchor leg from American veteran Nathan Adrian.
Last year at the British Championships Guy went 52.15 in the 100 fly, and then got down to 51.78 at the Olympics. At the British Championships this year he went 51.52, and just bettered that coming off training camp, so it’s fair to assume he’ll be his best yet in Budapest. Of course this is far from a certainty, but it does beg the question, what will the impact be in the men’s medley relay?
Guy’s improvement isn’t the only change from last year on the fly leg either, as America’s go-to guy on the third leg Michael Phelps is now retired. There are a few candidates to take over for Phelps on the US team, but the most likely is Tom Shields, who was on the relay in 2015 when Phelps was suspended and actually beat Phelps at the 2014 US Nationals.
To try and keep things as cut and dry as possible, we’ll analyze the two teams using their best flat-start swim from either 2016 or 2017 (strictly 2017 wouldn’t be fair as the U.S. have yet to have their Trials).
|Ryan Murphy (51.85)||Chris Walker-Hebborn (53.54)|
|Cody Miller (58.87)||Adam Peaty (57.13)|
|Tom Shields (51.20)||James Guy (51.50)|
|Nathan Adrian (47.72)||Duncan Scott (47.90)|
Of course, there are plenty of variables that we can’t accurately take into account. It’s not uncommon for Adrian to drop a sub-47 relay anchor. It’s impossible to say if and how much Guy and Duncan Scott will improve come Worlds. Will Chris Walker-Hebborn be within two seconds of Ryan Murphy? He was only 54.24 at British Trials.
And of course, U.S. Trials haven’t even happened so we’ll have a better idea of where the swimmers are this year (and who will be swimming, Cody Miller and Shields aren’t sure things).
With so many different possibilities in this race were not even gonna approach the subject of predictions, at least until we see what happens in Indianapolis, but it’s safe to say the race will be fun and probably closer than it was in Rio.