Men’s Breaststroke – Commonwealth Games Preview – Christian Sprenger Looking For The Sweep


  • Commonwealth Games 2014. Glasgow, Scotland. July 24-August 2
  • 50m breast- Monday July 28th
  • 100m breast – Saturday July 26th
  • 200m breast – Thursday July 24th
  • Defending Commonwealth 50m breast champion- Cameron Van Der Burgh (South Africa) 27.18
  • Defending Commonwealth 100m breast champion- Cameron Van Der Burgh (South Africa) 1:00.10
  • Defending Commonwealth 200m breast champion- Brenton Rickard (Australia) 2:10.89
  • 50m breast Commonwealth Games record- Cameron Van Der Burgh (South Africa) 27.18
  • 100m breast Commonwealth Games record- Cameron Van Der Burgh (South Africa) 1:00.10
  • 200m breast Commonwealth Games record- Brenton Rickard (Australia) 2:10.89

The men’s breaststroke events at the Commonwealth games have some of the greatest depth international competition of that genre has to offer; having had at least one Commonwealth swimmer medalling at every international competition since the 2010 Commonwealth games in New Delhi.

Since then, Australian breaststroke has been on the rise and in a big way. Mix that with some of the talent in Scotland and England as well as the speed of South African swimmers and you’ve got yourself quite the field of Commonwealth talent.

50m breaststroke

The 50m breaststroke has been dominated by one man and one man only since 2007 where he won his first international medal in the event (a bronze at the 2009 World Championships in Rome): Cameron Van Der Burgh. Van Der Burgh is the defending Commonwealth Games champion in this event and the current world record holder from the 26.67 mark he set back in Rome. Regardless of the fact that the record was set in a polyurethane suit, Van Der Burgh is currently the world record holder in the 50 and 100m breaststrokes in both long and short course meters.

Since that mark was set in 2009, Van Der Burgh came scarily close to breaking his own record last summer at the 2013 World Championships when he won the event with a 26.77. Add a 2010 Commonwealth games title in the event, a 2011 World Championships gold, and Van Der Burgh is undisputedly the fastest man in the 50m breaststroke.

This summer, Van Der Burgh will have his hands full however with Australian swimmer Christian Sprenger. The former 200m breaststroker who has now focused a lot more on the sprint events is the only man who is likely to challenge Van Der Burgh this summer at Commonwealths. Last summer, Sprenger came ever-so-close to breaking Van Der Burgh’s streak after finishing just 0.01 seconds behind him to earn himself a silver medal in the 50m breaststroke final.

This year, Sprenger is currently leading the world with the fastest time, a time of 26.74. That time is faster than what it took to win the gold medal at last year’s world championships and significantly faster than anything any other swimmer has swam this year including the 27.05 Van Der Burgh swam at South African nationals.

The Australians have shown that they swim extremely fast at their national championships, but coming so close to a gold medal and then so close to Van Der Burgh’s record has to leave him with a sour taste in his mouth. The two have a very similar style of breaststroke, but I think that Sprenger is going to upset Van Der Burgh’s streak this summer and take home the gold medal for Australia leaving Van Der Burgh to settle for the silver.

No doubt the gold medal will be between these two swimmers, but that leaves the bronze medal up for grabs. Glenn Snyders from New Zealand has the experience to do it. Snyders finished second to Van Der Burgh at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in this event swimming a 27.67. In 2011 at Worlds, Snyders qualified for the semi-final improving upon his 2010 time with a 27.64. In 2013 Snyders improved upon that mark significantly, finishing sixth in the world with a 27.21.

Already, Snyders has been close to that mark this year with the 27.38 he posted at the New Zealand nationals. Snyders currently resides at 18th in today’s current world rankings. Ahead of him are two swimmers that could very well challenge him for the bronze medal: Adam Peaty and Ross Murdoch. Peaty, the English swimmer, swam a 27.19 at British nationals and is currently ranked fifth in the world. Peaty doesn’t have the international experience that Snyders does which makes me think that he’ll have a tough time beating him when it comes down to it.

Scotish swimmer Ross Murdoch has already been a 27.28 this year and boasts more international experience than Peaty as he qualified for the semi-finals in the 100m breaststroke at last year’s World Championships. He’s already significantly improved on his 100m time from Worlds so I think that when it comes down to the battle for bronze he could be the one to out-touch both Peaty and Snyders.

Swinging in as the wild card is Canadian swimmer Richard Funk. Funk has been a 27.82 this season which isn’t a spectacular time by all means but should be enough to get him into the finals where I think he’ll do alright. He’s had an outstanding collegiate career at Michigan thus far which gives me confidence as tho whether or not Funk will have the speed to try and hang on with such an experienced field. I think he’ll finish in sixth place, not having the speed to hand with guys like Snyder, Peaty, and Murdoch.

Note that it is unclear if all swimmers will be in the 50m breaststroke final as some have the option to swim it but chose against it.

My picks:

  1. Christian Sprenger (Australia) PB 26.74
  2. Cameron Van Der Burgh (South Africa) PB 26.67 WR
  3. Ross Murdoch (Scotland) PB 27.28
  4. Glenn Snyders (New Zealand) PB 27.21
  5. Adam Peaty (England)PB 27.19
  6. Richard Funk (Canada) PB 27.78

100m breaststroke

The 100m breaststroke will be just as much of a battle between Christian Sprenger and Cameron Van Der Burgh as the 50. Throw in two or three other swimmers that could keep up with the two of them and you’ve got yourself quite a race to look forward to.

Sprenger is the obvious favorite heading into the meet. He’s currently the world leader in both the 50, and the 100, and both times are very fast. Following the fast time he swam in the 50m breaststroke at Australian trials (not to mention being within 0.10 seconds of the world record) he posted a ridiculous 100m breaststroke as well which was within half a second of Van Der Burgh’s world record. Sprenger’s 58.87 makes him the only swimmer this year to currently break 59 second and puts him miles ahead of the competition in my eyes.

I think that at either Commonwealths or Pan Pacs Sprenger is going to take down both the 50 and 100m breaststroke world records. I’d think that Commonwealths would be the place to do it since he’d be up against none other than Van Der Burgh himself. Van Der Burgh won’t go down without a fight though, and he already swam a solid 59.50 to currently rank him third in the world this year. Van Der Burgh has the titles to back up a solid performance here in Glasgow, but as of 2013 Sprenger proved that he’s on top of the world.

Let’s rewind to 2010 for a second and look at the men’s Commonwealth Games finals in New Delhi. Van Der Burgh won in 1:00.10, a time that probably won’t even crack the top four this year. Sprenger was behind Van Der Burgh in 1:00.29, fourth was Michael Jamieson of Scotland, sixth was New Zealand’s Glenn Snyders. Fast forward a little to 2011 at the World Championships and once again Van Der Burgh’s on top of the world, at least as far as Commonwealth swimmers go. Van Der Burgh finished third in Shanghai with a time of 59.49. Snyders and Sprenger both qualified for the semi-finals but failed to advance.

Now it’s an Olympic year and Sprenger has really emerged as a 100m breaststroker, qualifying for the final. Van Der Burgh swam a 58.46 to win gold and break the world record in the process. The issue was, Van Der Burgh admitted to using multiple dolphin kicks on his pullout which is illegal and can contribute to his fast time. Sprenger, who stuck to the rules, finished behind Van Der Burgh in 58.93. Snyders again made the final.

In 2013 at the World Championships Sprenger finished on top of Van Der Burgh for the first time. Taking home the win in a 58.79, Sprenger won his first international gold in the 100m breaststroke. Van Der Burgh wasn’t far behind him in 58.97, but it was clear that Sprenger was now the fastest in the world.

Now it’s 2014, and I think this race is Sprenger’s to lose. He’s been improving leaps and bounds in his breaststroke sprints since last Commonwealth Games and I believe that he’s going to keep improving. The time he already swam this year was good enough to beat Van Der Burgh’s World Championship time from last year, and Van Der Burgh hasn’t really swam anything that suggests he’ll be significantly faster. My bet is that Van Der Burgh will be a very similar time to what he was last summer, and Sprenger will win the event and come very close to the world record or even break it by a small margin.

Besides Sprenger and Van Der Burgh, there are a couple other swimmers that have been fantastic this year and that included Adam Peaty. Peaty swam a 59.25 earlier this year which currently ranks him second in the world in that event. Peaty broke both British records in the 50 and 100m breaststrokes this year with two best time performances. Considering he’s young and that was a best time, he’s a wild card to me. He’s competed at the European Championships but never at the Commonwealths. Peaty might be able to better that time, but I feel comfortable saying that I expect a very similar time to the 59.25 he produced earlier this season, maybe a little bit faster, but I’m not expecting anything under 59.

Scotland’s Ross Murdoch will also be a factor in the final after swimming a 59.56 best time earlier this season. Murdoch will try to keep up with Peaty, but I don’t believe he’ll be in a range where he’ll be able to be in medal contention. Glenn Snyders from New Zealand will be right on his tail, and he’s got tons of international experience in the breaststroke. Murdoch and Snyders both swam similar times at the World Championships last summers in semis and failed to qualify for finals. They’ve both swam times faster than that this season.

Michael Jamieson also qualified for semi-finals at Worlds last year and should be able to squeeze in for a fifth or sixth place finish. He’s been a 1:00.53 this year which is faster than the 1:00.59 he was in semis last year.

My picks:

  1. Christian Sprenger (Australia) PB 58.79
  2. Cameron Van Der Burgh (South Africa) PB 58.46 WR
  3. Adam Peaty (England) PB 59.25
  4. Glenn Snyders (New Zealand) PB 59.78
  5. Ross Murdoch (Scotland) PB 59.56
  6. Michael Jamieson (Scotland) PB 59.89

200m breaststroke

With Christian Sprenger being the favorite in the 50 and 100, he’s had to move down one spot in the 200 to make way for Scotland’s Michael Jamieson. Jamieson was an unbelievable 2:07.79 earlier this year and a time like that should be good for gold here in Glasgow.

Jamieson is the hometown favorite, and should be able to shock the home crowd. Im expecting a similar time from him, nothing faster nothing slower. He was only a 2:09.14 last summer at Worlds which was good for fifth, here however with the 2:07 high that he swim already there aren’t many swimmers who will be able to challenge him and dip under 2:08.

Sprenger is the man who could possibly do it. I think that his focus on the sprint breaststrokes leaves him at a disadvantage when facing Jamieson this summer, however he’s been a 2:07-low in the past, regardless if it was in a polyurthane suit or not which leads me to believe that he’ll be competitive.

I’m expecting Sprenger to take the early lead, and Jamieson to pass him on the last 50m. Sprenger has shown unbelievable times in the sprints, but his 200 is almost a full second behind Jamieson’s this year at 2:08.63. That’s still an outstanding time, but he’s got a long way to go if he wants to take down Jamieson.

Ross Murdoch might be the second Scotsman up on the podium if he can battle it out with two great English breaststrokers: Adam Peaty and Andrew Willis. Peaty was a 2:09.40 this year, Willis a 2:09.85. Murdoch is currently ranked faster than both swimmers with a 2:09.15, but you have to look at Willis’ experience and expect something great out of him. Willis finished eighth in London, fourth in Barcelona, and has no fear of competing against a strong international field. Based on his performance from last summer which was a 2:09.13, I’m thinking he’ll be a 2:08-mid here in Glasgow. If he can post a time like that it will definitely be good for bronze or maybe even silver. Murdoch and Peaty will need to step it up if they want to stay on the same level as Willis.

Glenn Snyders comes in as the wild card. He was a 2:11.07 earlier this year which won’t give him much of a chance to crack the podium or even beat the five swimmers ahead of him. I’m expecting a similar time from Snyders, maybe a time in the low 2:10 range, but nothing extraordinary.

My picks:

  1. Michael Jamieson (Scotland) PB 2:07.43
  2. Christian Sprenger (Australia) PB 2:07.31
  3. Andrew Willis (England) PB 2:08.47
  4. Adam Peaty (England) PB 2:09.40
  5. Ross Murdoch (Scotland) PB 2:09.15
  6. Glenn Snyders (New Zealand) PB 2:10.55

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9 years ago

I dont know if it has been mentioned somewhere else, but Gyurta wont swim 200 breast at european championships, only 50/100 breast, this could be a huge chance for some british guy to win the gold medal.

9 years ago

Apart from The japanese breakstrokers not present of course , we will have the best of the best battling it out in those races . Will be very interesting to follow .
I beleive also that Sprenger willl take that 100 WR from Van Den Burgh .

9 years ago

100 will be very fast. I can see three men going below 59 seconds, has that ever happened before? Is Sprenger swimming the 200?

9 years ago

By changing his focus from 200 to 100, Sprenger is one of very few swimmers who has successfully rid himself from the tag of shiny-suit swimmer to all-around great swimmer.

9 years ago

Christian springer with a new wr in the 100. 58.40.

About Mitch Bowmile

Mitch Bowmile

Mitch worked for 5-years with SwimSwam news as a web producer focusing on both Canadian and international content. He coached for Toronto Swim Club for four seasons as a senior coach focusing on the development of young swimmers. Mitch is an NCCP level 2 certified coach in Canada and an ASCA Level …

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