Olympic Previews: Ranomi Looking for Redemption in 100 Free

  19 Braden Keith | July 05th, 2012 | London 2012 Olympics, News, Previews & Recaps

And here, we’ll delve into our string of Olympic previews ahead of the Games that are now just three weeks away. With more events (34 to be exact, including relays and open water) and less time in which to complete them in, we’ll try and be a bit more concise with our analysis, though still paint a full medal picture for each event. With most Americans distracted this morning by recovery from 4th of July festivities, we’ll appeal a bit to a more international audience, and pick on a race where the Americans aren’t immediately seeming to have great medal hopes: the 100 freestyles

Men’s 100 Freestyle

The United States’ big medal hope, Nathan Adrian, fell a bit flat at the Olympic Trials, and leaves the Americans unlikely to break their 5-Olympic streak of not winning gold in this event.

The power in this race has shifted drastically to the Southern Hemisphere, where defending World Champion James Magnussen has put up times in the last 12 months that nobody else in the world has been close to. After a 47.10 at the Australian Olympic Trials in March, there is no other favorite in this race aside from Magnussen. Upsets always happen, but he is the favorite.

If James Roberts can get in a lane next to Magnussen in the final and repeat what he did at that same meet (47.63 – second-best ever in textile), then the Australians are easily in contention for two medals in the race.

After those two, the field is wide-open (don’t be fooled – it’s still incredibly difficult to get under 48 seconds in this race). Now that France’s Yannick Agnel has moved from a 200-400 guy to a 100-200 guy, he has been out-of-his-mind in the two shorter races and has to receive huge consideration. Adrian still was as good already at the U.S. Olympic Trials as he was all of 2011 with a 48.10, but will need to figure out how to really get a “killer” mentality going at the Olympics to gun-down the confident swimmers who sit at the top of this field.

And then there’s Cesar Cielo, Brazil’s national swimming hero and the defending Olympic champion. Even though he failed to medal at last year’s World Championships (he was 4th), psychologically he’s got the best chance at taking down Magnussen. Cielo takes his 100 freestyle out incredibly hard, and if he gets a good start (not always a certainty) and feels good going into the turn, then he can put some big-time pressure on Magnussen’s impressive closing speed.

Last year’s World Championship bronze-medalist William Meynard wasn’t able to earn an individual swim in this race, and though Fabien Gilot is swimming well I’m not sure he’s medal-worthy. The Russians could be the big difference-makers from last season: the men’s squad as a whole flopped last year and didn’t even have a sprinter make the final in this race. But their young star Danila Izotov is swimming as well as ever, however, and one bad taper doesn’t sink a career.

Canada’s Brent Hayden took silver at last year’s World Championships, and along with the two Aussies above is one of the few men in history who has been under 48 seconds; just because he isn’t great in-season doesn’t mean that he can be discounted.

The darkhorse is Cuba’s Hanser Garcia. He’s one of the best raw sprint talents we’ve seen in quite some time. He needs to do a lot of work still on his starts and turns, but he’s one of the few swimmers who can make big progress in the next three weeks. With a long training setup in Europe, he can’t be discounted.

Cullen Jones surprisingly made his way onto the Olympic Team in both sprint events, and so deserves to not be discounted, but he’ll be more in the conversation in the 50.

Top 8 picks, with best times in 2012:

1. James Magnussen (Australia) – 47.10
2. Brent Hayden (Canada) – 48.53
3. James Roberts (Australia) – 47.63
4. Cesar Cielo (Brazil) – 48.28
5. Yannick Agnel (France) – 48.02
6. Nathan Adrian (USA) – 48.10
7. Danila Izotov (Russia) – 48.27
8. Nikita Lobintsev (Russia) – 48.21
Darkhorse: Hanser Garcia (Cuba) – 48.89

Women’s 100 Free

Last year in Shanghai, we had a tie for the World title in this women’s 100 free between two women whom few had picked: Jeanette Ottesen and Aleksandra Herasimenia. This year, however, with both of those swimmers looking still very strong, this women’s 100 free field has become extremely crowded.

Herasimenia has already been 54.0’s at two different meets this year (being fast in season is nothing new for her – but even those times are two-tenths better than their equivalents from 2011). Her return from the depths of doping at a very young age has revived what was once among the most promising careers in the sport.

Ottesen, similarly, has been 54-low already this year, which is just enough faster than normal to show “progress” without showing a premature taper.

But there will be no shortage of swimmers gunning for that gold medal in London. Sarah Sjostrom actually was the fastest 100 freestyler in 2011, after swimming a 53.0 in December. This is a talent that she didn’t really begin to fully explore until after the World Championships, and since that meet she has been better than 54 seconds four separate times. Nobody else in the world has done that.

At her most recent appearances over the last 8 weeks, she has finally started to show a little bit of a “breakdown” in her results, indicating that she’s begun to build for a final descent and taper into London. I don’t know how much better she can get than her 53.0 at the Games, but even that time will be more-than-enough to end up on the podium somewhere.

Anything she can do, however, the Dutch can do better. While Marleen Veldhuis seems better targeted to perform in the 50 this year, her Netherlands teammate Ranomi Kromowidjojo has been absolutely on fire. After two years dealing with freak illness, one of history’s most talented sprinters has already become the first woman under 53 seconds in textile this season. And she’s been great swimming different ways – sometimes getting off the blocks hard,and sometimes closing hard instead. She’s been nearly unbeatable both in the 50 and the 100, and even though she took only bronze last season, she’ll be hard to beat this year.

In addition to Veldhuis, there’s a big group of sprinters who are probably better candidates to medal in the 100 than the 50, but when someone can get out fast, crazy things happen. That includes swimmers like Great Britain’s Fran Halsall, Germany’s Britta Steffen, and Australia’s Cate Campbell.

Campbell’s Australian teammate Melanie Schlanger is an interesting case. She all-but-disappeared between the 2008 Olympics and late 2011, but came back with a vengeance this year to take a coveted second spot on the Australian roster.

The Americans will have two new swimmers taking the sprint freestyle spots at this year’s meet. Jessica Hardy, the winner at last week’s Trials, will have three weeks to focus on nothing but her sprinting after her breaststroke efforts came up short. Missy Franklin at times in Omaha looked tapered (her American Record in the 100 back), and at other times didn’t (200 back). Her ultimate 54.15 in this race leaves her in position to final, but with that final coming toward the end of the meet, and shortly after a 200 back semi, it will still make it a big challenge for her to medal. She was a 53.6 at the post-Olympic National Championships, though, so even on a second swim of the day she could be dangerous.

The Darkhorses in this race are Denmark’s Pernille Blume and Great Britain’s Amy Smith. Both perhaps are overshadowed by their higher-profile countrymates, but both have been outstanding in 2012. Smith we’ve mentioned several times as part of the group who, in an Olympic year, has been multiple best times this season. But Blume is a lesser-known quantity: the 18-year old has been a 54.0 already this season, and with the Danish Team swimming as well (or better) than any in the world right now, the  conditions are ripe for her to sneak into the final.

Kromowidjojo gets the edge because despite her stumble last season, she’s back on course to become the next legendary Dutch sprinter – it’s almost her destiny to win this gold medal.

1. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (The Netherlands) – 52.75
2. Sarah Sjostrom (Sweden) – 53.29
3. Jeanette Ottesen (Denmark) – 53.90
4. Fran Halsall (Great Britain) – 53.57
5. Missy Franklin (USA) – 54.15
6. Cate Campbell (Australia) – 53.84
7. Aliaksandra Herasimenia (Belarus) – 54.02
8. Yi Tang (China) – 53.71
Darkhorse: Pernille Blume (Denmark) – 54.06

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19 Comments on "Olympic Previews: Ranomi Looking for Redemption in 100 Free"

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4 years 3 months ago

Magnussen will break 100m freestyle WR 46.80s

4 years 3 months ago

I doubt he’ll be that fast.
In fact, I am not sure he can break the 100 WR. It IS very fast, and infact, just a year ago most people thought that the men 100 free WR would last for decades.

4 years 3 months ago

Nice preview. Both of these events appear on paper to be very weak for Team USA and our relays need a major boost from a number of our swimmers if we want to get a medal.
Adrian is awesome but like Braden mentions, he’s going to have to go in with his guns loaded if he want to even get on the podium.
I’m glad that Missy is giving this event a shot, unfortunately our veteran swimmers who have had experience in this event aren’t where they want to be right now, so it basically leaves Missy as our only hope of medaling (and this happens to be her 4th best event) … either way, she’ll need to be a 53 low if she wants to knock off some of the above mentioned swimmers.

4 years 3 months ago

The one guy I feel your predictions is missing is Verschuren. He was 48.27 last year for 8th in the championship final, but this is very impressive for someone who majors in the 200free. Not only that but if you watch the video of his race, his starts are almost as bad as Hanser Garcia’s, and from Mare Nostrum races, he closes his races just as hard (if not harder).

Further comparison is difficult because obviously Garcia is much more raw, but there was a race a few weeks ago where they pretty much swam stroke for stroke before Verschuren edged for the win. Based on this performance, I’m inclined to think that 2012 is too soon for Garcia to win a medal, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he knocks a big name out of the final. Verschuren, I believe is THE dark horse medal candidate, and from watching his races, I’m confident that he is likely going to be faster than Garcia, and that a swim in the 47’s is a definite possibility.

Last summer, he missed the finals in the 200free after going 1:46.5 in the prelims. I take that as a misunderstanding, but under why people consider him the second coming of Pieter Van Den Hoogenband.

Braden, I’m surprised you picked Hayden as a medalist. If you go on statistics alone, Hayden has been the #1, or #2 performer in this event since 2007 (except 2008), but to me, his times of recent doesn’t suggest to me he has much resembling an improvement curve ahead of him.

4 years 3 months ago

Now I may be way off on this, but I feel like Hayden’s always pretty bad in-season. I can vaguely remember discounting him a bit over the last couple years because of it, but then he always brings it at big meets. I definitely think he’ll medal.

4 years 3 months ago


I agree with you re:Hayden.
He is 28 yo already. So not going to drop times the way Magnussen, Roberts, Agnel or even Cielo are doing.
And bronze may be won in 47mid, which in my opinion is a bit of a stretch for Hayden.

And yes, a very good call on Sebastiaan Verschuren.
I also think Verscuren will surprise some people. He is still 23 yo, and interestingly, he started his career as a distance swimmer (1,500), so he is coming down just like Ryk Neethling did, and therefore he will have more speed to show after three years focusing on 100-200 only.

4 years 3 months ago

DDU, i have no doubts Magnussen will take the WR.
My Question is if we gonna see an absurd coming home, like 23.99?

About Braden predictions,
Hayden is very consistent, but i think will take a little better than 47.8/47.7 to win Silver, and what i think Hayden is capable to do at his max.
Roberts is too a young and raw pure speed talent, i will not put him out of another improvement and go 47 low.
Cielo have a lot more in the tank than an 47.84 at altitude restrained.Dont be surprised.
Garcia is a hard prediction.He is very inconsistent, but if he cuts his mistakes in a half, he will be a 47 swimmer.
Yagnel is a swimmer i like to see swimmimg.Smooth strokes and power.

Jonh26, great call on Verschuren.

4 years 3 months ago

I agree with you, although Hayden is very consistent, he is already 28 yo, and he is not going to suddenly drop times like Magnussen, Roberts, Agnel, or even Cielo are doing.

I also agree about Roberts. Some news coming out of Australia seems to suggest that we have to watch out for Roberts.

4 years 3 months ago

Nice to see somebody stiking with Ottesen eventhough I do not see it myself.
Kromowidjojo looks far and away the undoubted favourite in thies event, a few months ago I’d have had Halsall for silver but she has had shoulder troubles that affected her in the Mare nostrum tour. Many girls have the ablity…..

1. Kromowidjojo 2. Steffen 3. Halsall/Sjoestroem/Franklin

For men there is no doubt with anybody that Magnussen is looking quite untouchable right now with his teammate James Roberts being the closest threat on paper.
Brent Hayden is the proven Mr consistent in male sprint freestyle since 2006/7 and can not be counted out.

1. Magnussen 2. Cielo 3. Hayden/Roberts/Agnel

Generally after gold 2nd-8th could end up in any order without particularly shocking people, makes it very exciting.

4 years 3 months ago

If 2nd to 5th is not Cielo Hayden Agnel and Roberts (On Any Order, or at least 3 of them) would be schocking..

4 years 3 months ago

Im not sure but isnt Tae-Hwan Park going to swim the 100free? If so I think he could be in the final, he has been 48.70 in 2010 and he got way bigger, he has a lot of speed in the 200free, so if he takes it out 23.5 he could be 48.0.
Also dont ever count out the Italians, Luca Dotto has been in the final in Shanghai and won silver in the 50. He has got the speed and the talent, I think he is the darkhorse in the 100, because he has been improving consistently each year and therefore I see him taking the bronze.
And of course you never know what Superpippo Magnini can do, I would consider him and Fabien Gilot to make the final. Not sure about the Russians, their relay is going to be fast but individually im not sure and the same probably goes for Adrian.

This is probably the hardest event of all to make the final.

4 years 3 months ago

Park is not going to make final. He doesn’t have raw speed.
Those who hopes of getting into final should be able to swim 48flat-48low already, and there’s already enough sprinters for the final who’s been doing that: Magnussen, Roberts, Cielo, Hayden, Agnel, Adrian, Lobintsev, Izotov,

And I’m not counting on Magnini, Gilot, and Hayden to win a medal. They are among the oldest current top sprinters and they are not just going to break PBs by significant amount.

4 years 3 months ago

About Cielo taking Down Magnussen, it´s almost impossible.. But if one could do it, it could be him, but it would be more of a psych blow.. Magnussen Speed is unmatched at 100, Cielo would have to swim the way he finish the Pan Am Relay (Motivation only, Brazil was already leading the relay easily), going out fast and getting off the wall at 50 with superb speed, if Magnussen saw cielo getting out of his grasp after 50 meters, could he keep his composture to catch cielo at 90 meters?

bobo gigi
4 years 3 months ago

Ok, I make only picks for winners. Excuse me american swimming fans but again you have no chance to watch an american olympic champion in the 100 free. On the men’s side Cullen Jones is more a 50 free swimmer and he’ll struggle to swim faster in London. Nathan Adrian is more a 75 free swimmer but it doesn’t exist. On the women’s side I still don’t know why Missy swims this race. She can’t shine after a semi-final of the 200 back. She should focus on the 200 back. She would be fresh to destroy the world record. And Jessica Hardy is relatively new on freestyle. She has the skills to shine in the future if she forgets breaststroke. But it’s too early for this year.
Men’s 100 free. James Magnussen in 46.90
Women’s 100 free. Ranomi Kronomidjojo in 52.80
These 2 swimmers are 2 stars of the sprint and I don’t see them with a defeat.

4 years 3 months ago


Andre Lucena
4 years 3 months ago

BoBo, just remember this: Olympic champion at 50m free and Bronze medal at 100m free n Beijing 2008. World Record Holder at 50m and 100m free. In Rome 2009, world champion at 50m and 100m free. World Champion at 50m free and 50m fly at Shanghai 2011. Top of the world in sprint event since 2008.

This man is not James Magnussen. He´s a big swimmer and everyone knows it. But the man there I described is Cesar Cielo, and he´s the really Star of the sprint. Faster in the world. Looks ready for legend.

4 years 3 months ago

Andre, just remember this: 100m free is quite a different beast from 50m free.

Also: Textile is quite different from rubber.

4 years 2 months ago

Hayden has finished every year since 2006 in the top 5 in this event. And in the past couple years he’s done a great job of getting his hand on the wall. How many other guys have more than one sub-48 swim at a big meet? Not saying he is a favourite by any means, but definitely don’t count him out based on age or consistency being a negative – his 48-mid at trials looked very comfortable.

4 years 2 months ago

I think that Brent Hayden and Cullen Jones both have the psychological ability to take down confident favourites.


About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

The most common question asked about Braden Keith is "when does he sleep?" That's because Braden has, in two years in the game, become one of the most prolific writers in swimming at a level that has earned him the nickname "the machine" in some circles. He first got his feet …

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