Picks: American Men Look to Continue Streak in Medley Relay

  76 Braden Keith | July 17th, 2012 | Featured, London 2012 Olympics, News, Previews & Recaps

For our relay picks, we’ll lay out the previews a bit differently. We’ll present each relay with a best time, an aggregate time based on entry times, and the likely relay members, and then lay out a bit of analysis on each grouping. On medleys, this can sometime be a bit of a guessing game, but we’ll take a stab at assembling the best relay.

For athletes marked with an asterisk (*), they will not swim this event individually in London.

1. USA – Actual: 3:32.06 Aggregate: 3:30.52

Matt Grevers – 52.08
Brendan Hansen -59.68
Michael Phelps – 50.71
Nathan Adrian – 48.05

Breakdown: The Americans are huge favorites to win this relay, if for no other reason than their balance. The Americans probably could no longer beat a “world’s best” relay, made up of everybody not from the U.S., but the key to their dominance year-after-year is the fact that they can afford to have one, or even two, of their swimmers put up poor races, and still expect to win gold. That’s why they’ve never lost this event at an Olympics (aside from the 1980 boycott). The weakest swim last year was probably on the backstroke – though few across the field swam well – and with Grevers’ 52.0, that shouldn’t be a problem this year. We’ll give it about a 10% chance at the World Record – but only if Adrian finds his inner Dave-Walters and goes sub-47.

2. Australia – Actual: 3:32.26 Aggregate: 3:32.38

Hayden Stoeckel – 53.70
Christian Sprenger – 59.91
Chris Wright – 51.67
James Magnussen – 47.10

Breakdown: The Australians could sit about 4th for the better part of this race, but James Magnussen has already shown last year that he is a more-than-capable relay swimmer to go with his impressive individual feats. He’ll make up close to a second on the Americans, Germans, and Japanese. That should be enough to pick-off two of the three, especially with the middle two legs looking better than they have. Stoeckel on the backstroke leg will be the biggest question mark, but he’s been pretty good this year.

3. Japan – Actual: 3:32.89 Aggregate: 3:33.05

Ryosuke Irie – 52.91
Kosuke Kitajima – 58.90
Takeshi Matsuda – 52.36
Takuro Fujii – 48.88

Breakdown: The Japanese have a few big advantages in this race over the Germans and the French with whom they’ll be battling for the bronze. One is obviously Kosuke Kitajima – the best breaststrokers in the world are very far ahead of the second tier, and Kitajima is at the top of that group of “best”. The other is the consistent Ryosuke Irie – he was the only swimmer at last year’s World Championships to break 53 in this relay leadoff. Expect them to be in the lead, or neck-and-neck with the Americans, at the halfway mark. What they do with their back-half will be huge in their final result, but they never found their sprint freestyler (they don’t have a single one on the roster, even as relay only). That means we’ll probably see Matsuda on fly (his sprinting is improved this year) and Fujii anchor (he’s much better than his 48.88 flat-start indicates). Could be a painful fade back to the field.

4. Germany – Actual: 3:32.60 Aggregate:3:34.01

Helge Meeuw – 53.22/Jan-Philip Glania – 53.50
Hendrik Feldwehr – 1:00.48/Christian vom Lehn (1:00.51)
Benjamin Starke – 51.65
Paul Biedermann – 48.66

Breakdown: Because of Hendrik Feldwehr’s injury, vom Lehn probably gets the spot on this medley, but that won’t likely result in as much of a downgrade (if any) as we would have seen in past years. This aggregate time is a bit misleading: Biedermann doesn’t swim the 100 free from a flat start on a taper often, but is capable of a 47-low on a rolling start. Benjamin Starke has been very good this year, but the Germans have a similar challenge of timing as the Americans do.

5. France – Actual: 3:36.21 Aggregate: 3:33.80

Camille Lacourt – 52.44
Giacomo Perez-Dortona – 1:00.86
Clement Lefert – 52.48
Yannick Agnel – 48.02/Fabien Gilot – 48.13

Breakddown: Again, emphasize the backstroke. Camille Lacourt, if he’s on at this meet, will be matched only by Matt Grevers. Hopefully, this squad can avoid the prelims meltdown that they had at Worlds that caused them to miss the final.  With newcomer Giacomo Perez-Dortona likely taking over the breaststroke spot, and Clement Lefert providing a much more stable option on the fly leg, the French are dangerous. Yannick Agnel shifting his focus to the freestyle races doesn’t hurt either. There’s still some trepidation here, though, after what we saw last year. The middle two legs will be significant for this team’s success.

6. Netherlands – Actual: 3:34.11 Aggregate: 3:34.48

Bastiaan Lijesen – 53.86/Nick Driebergen – 53.98
Lennart Stekelenburg – 1:00.50
Joeri Verlinden – 51.85
Sebastiaan Verschuren – 48.27

Breakdown: This is another relay that’s all about “balance”. With so few relays in the world being able to put together four good legs, this Dutch relay surprised some people to place 5th at Worlds last year. Their secret weapons are their back half – Verlinden is a very underrated butterflier, and Verschuren has proven to be an outstanding relay swimmer. There’s a chance for this squad to medal, if one of their two backstrokers steps up.

7. Brazil – Actual: 3:34.58 Aggregate: 3:33.44

Thiago Pereira – 53.86
Felipe Silva – 59.63
Kaio Almeida – 52.11
Cesar Cielo – 47.84

Breakdown: This Brazilian relay seems like it could be great. But they are going to be in a huge hole after the backstroke, and that will hurt. There’s been a lot of talk about moving Cielo to the fly leg and letting someone like Nicolas Oliveira, renowned for his relay skills, anchor. Afterall, Cielo is the World Champ in the 50 fly. But that doesn’t seem like it’s part of the plan – Cesar hasn’t been swimming any butterfly, and they left him as the anchor at Pan Ams. At the Olympics, its best to let everyone swim their primary stroke – especially in a relay as emotional as this one. They’ll be expecting him to split under a 48 for this move to make sense. Most of the drop for this team to medal will be counted to come from Felipe Silva’s improved breaststroke.

8. Poland – Actual: 3:36.13 Aggregate: 3:36.66

Marcin Tarczynski – 54.12
Dawid Szulich – 1:01.18
Oskar Krupecki – 52.88
Konrad Czerniak – 48.48

Breakdown: This is an underrated Polish relay that has a good chance at winning the battle with Great Britain, Canada, and Italy as well as a few other countries for the last spot in the finals. The Poles seem poised to slide Konrad Czerniak, the world’s number two butterflier, over to the freestyle leg. He’s the country’s best in both races, but they have butterflier Oskar Krupecki on the roster as a relay only swimmer, and nobody aside from Czerniak in the sprint group.

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76 Comments on "Picks: American Men Look to Continue Streak in Medley Relay"


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Mr. Neptune
4 years 1 month ago

What about the Russians?

HKswimmer
4 years 1 month ago

Missing the Breast leg I think – and not sure how well Arkady’s going to do on back

HKswimmer
4 years 1 month ago

I personally think that France has the potential to drop quite a lot of time. Even though they don’t have Duboscq they do have the fastest Medley relay time from 2010 and 2011 combined from Euros in 2010. Add to that the fact that Gilot on anchor especially is a proven relay man (44’94 in Dubai anchor medley/47’3 in Euro 2010/47’2 in Shanghai) and that Lefert is really a lot more stable than Bousquet on fly, I think the French could look quite dangerous.

Also curious about Brazil. Pereira’s a proven 53 on back – wouldn’t they use him over Orzechowski?

Ole 99
4 years 1 month ago

The USA medley relay went 3:32.06 at worlds last year.

Jean Michel
4 years 1 month ago

true ! also , the weakest link was Gangloff on breast , not thoman on backstroke .

KSswimfanatic
4 years 1 month ago

Fastest relay anchor in history Eamon Sullivan in 46.65??? Might want to check that one… I believe there’s a man by the name of JASON LEZAK that anchored an American relay in 46.06 a few years back..

4 years 1 month ago

Fastest “Medley Relay” Anchor.

swimsprint
4 years 1 month ago

they said MEDLEY anchor split. Lezak dominated in the free relay. I think that is what they are trying to say.

junker23
4 years 1 month ago

I mean, bleh. That distinction is disingenuous at best.

john26
4 years 1 month ago

You can’t forget to mention Italy, who timed 3:32.8 at Euros, which would’ve almost medaled last summer! Additionally, you have to account for the fact that Magnini and Scozoli were probably swimming at half mast. I suspect that Italy will at least make the finals, and havea pretty good shot at picking off one of the more hyped up teams and finishing top 5.

PS. Thiago Pereira has been 53.86 this year, and given his consistency, gives Brazil a much more solid lead off. Honestly, places 3-7, with France, Japan, Brazil, Germany, and Italy could pretty much be separated by under a second in this race. And the only advantage Australia seems to have over those teams is the fact that Magnussen no doubt has a huge psychological advantage over the other sprinters.

Rafael
4 years 1 month ago

Can´t see Cielo being affected by Magnussen… not on a relay… on mental level they are on the same field.. at least they have the same confidence on their abilities..

Jean Michel
4 years 1 month ago

Us has huge potential to win this again , specially with a great Grevers and Hansen instead of Gangloff . It’s very clear . Also , as mentioned , Adrian needs to bring a 47 + to keep Aussies at distance . Whatever happens , Michael with blow the filed on Butterfly . Us for gold , Period

Milo
4 years 1 month ago

Leaving out Italy out of the final? Seriously?
Cmon, they have been 3:32.80 at Euro Champs this year with Scozzoli and Magnini far off their best shape, they could be 3:31 at the Olympics. They should be considered a serious medal contender.

And Cesar Cielos medley relay split in Rome was a 46.22.

Rafael
4 years 1 month ago

What were Scozzoli and Magnini Splits? Can´t see de doing better than a 47 mid-high… even on relay..

4 years 1 month ago

MILO,
i agree with you.I can not understand how Braden let Italy out of Final(At least, ahead of Poland).Maybe him know about some injury we dont know…

4 years 1 month ago

Braden,
Oliveira is like a gamble.In 2007 he was only 1.49.4 in 200 free at PanAms, but blasted 1.46.99 in 4×200 relay.In 2008, his early take off burned Brazil in Beijing prelims.Last year, was not a good year till the end(where he made 48.71 in december), but at Universiades, he showed his relay prowess again.Only 49.58 in individual event, but 48.04 in relay.He just needs to be in 48 mid-high we wll have a chance to see a nice split.
Honestly, if i was a brazilian coach, and Oliveira splits a 47.25 in relay, i will put Cielo in fly slot without much think.
>those who dares wins!

Ole 99
4 years 1 month ago

47.25… That’s a preety big “if”. Let’s keep in mind that there were only eight splits (including Magnuson’s leadoff) faster than 47.5 at the world championships last year.

MAGNUSSEN47.49 – leadoff of 4 x 100 Free
MEYNARD

Ole 99
4 years 1 month ago

in the words of Homer J. “D’oh!!”

MAGNUSSEN 47.49 – leadoff of 4 x 100 Free
MEYNARD 47.39 – 4 x 100 Free
GILOT 47.22 – 4 x 100 Free
ADRIAN 47.40 – 4 x 100 Free
MAGNINI 47.31 – 4 x 100 Free
LOBINTSEV 47.45 – 4 x 100 Free
WEBER-GALE 47.32 – 4 x 100 Medley
MAGNUSSEN 47.00 – 4 x 100 Medley

4 years 1 month ago

Olympics is the BIG meeting.These times will fall down like apples.
Dont forget Cielo pan ams 47.07 split in 4×100 free(with a bad 0.33 relay start).

Depends of Oliveira form.A 48 mid can put him even lower than 47.2 time.His much better relayer than normal swimmer.Make a 1.46 high swimming 1.49.4 is much more impressive than make 47.2 swimming 48.7.

aswimfan
4 years 1 month ago

Oliviera split 47.25???

Now, you MUST know something about the brazilians we all don’t.

Craig H
4 years 30 days ago

…Doping schedule.

Milo
4 years 1 month ago

I have no doubt Italy will be in the final. Like DDIAS said Scozzoli will be a 59mid flatstart in the 100breast, maybe even 59low, therefore could be 58 in the relay. Magnini is probably going to his last olympics, he will be well prepared and he always steps up for the relay, he will be a 47low. Rivolta is still young, maybe he could even imrpove on his 51.24 split, its the Olympics, everyone gives more than 100% and therefore even Mirco di Tora could go at least under 54. The top Italian swimmers usually have splits of 0.1 to 0.02.

Maybe the Poles could try to put Kawecki on the back leg and Tarczynski on the free leg? He used to be a freestyle sprinter when he was younger.

But either way Poland probably wont be in the final unfortunately, I think South Africa and Russia have better teams than the Poles to make the final. The South African relay is very young and they will be fast with Van Den Burgh probably outsplitting even Kitajima,Le Clos splitting a 51low.

drdov
4 years 1 month ago

Still magnuson on the last leg can make up ANY deficit
I think he will break Lezak’s split bring it home
Me very scared

pvk
4 years 1 month ago

Cant wait to see if magnussen takes down lezak’s incredible split from ’08

Rafael
4 years 1 month ago

I think that´s a little impossible..

We may see two 46 splits (Mag and cielo) but not even Mag split will beat the one from Lezak

The fastest Split Textile is Magnussen 47,00? We also have on the same level Bousquet 47,03 and Cielo 47,07.. is there any TEXTILE faster split?

aswimfan
4 years 1 month ago

When Magnussen swim 46.90 from flat start in London, everyone will be scared, including Cielo.

4 years 1 month ago

There is no chance to scare Cielo.And IF that talk about Cielo going between 20.90 and 21.03 in 50 free is true(I doubt!Must be wrong typing), a lot of people will be scared with his 100 free time…

And yes, i think Magnussen will take Lezak monster anchor leg relay down.

aswimfan
4 years 1 month ago

I really don’t think Magnussen take down Lezak’s 46.06.

Lezak was in LZR and drafted Bernard.

Kirt
4 years 1 month ago

I believe the fastest textile split ever is Pieter van den Hoogenband’s legendary 46.79 to take silver over the Americans in Athens.

aswimfan
4 years 1 month ago

I think you are right. I thought Bousquet split 46.70 in 2003 worlds, but it was actually 47.03.

Royale w/Cheese
4 years 1 month ago

Not a chance. To go a 45.9 beating Lezak is gonna take a monster swim. Don’t think we will see that go down for a long time.

john26
4 years 1 month ago

It is VERY VERY unlikely that record will go down at this meet, but its not out of question magnussen’s swim could be more impressive. Remember lezak had a pretty much perfect reaction time of 0.07. Basically, from a flat start that swim is worth a 46.7x from a flat, which isn’t impossible for James in a relay race. To beat Lezak’s time, Magnussn would need to have a near perfect reactintine, and be attempting to go after a lezak of his own.

Rafael
4 years 1 month ago

but he would also need the “reason” to do that… someone in striking distance.. and JPN is not much of a thing to rise a freestyler spirit to that extent..

aswimfan
4 years 1 month ago

Even if Magnussen break WR, I doubt very much he can go under 46.06 in medley relay.
46.06 was a freak swim, Lezak needed LZR and rode on Bernard’s wave.

HKswimmer
4 years 1 month ago

Agree with JOHN26, I don’t think Mag will be able to get past Lezak’s split, even if I do think he will be able to get close to it. We have to remember that improvement curves aren’t linear, and the faster the times get the harder improvement gets even for relay starts…

bobo gigi
4 years 1 month ago

Men’s 4X100 medley relay. USA in 3.29.20
This american team is fast and has no weaknesses. I can’t imagine and I don’t want to see a defeat for the last race of Michael Phelps. He deserves a big win to finish his giant career.

Rafael
4 years 1 month ago

the medley relays are probably the easiest team win for US, both are given ones… they are favorites for 4×200 free men relay.. but not on the same extent as medley.. the changes are equal for women 4×200 free relay,, not good for women 4×100 free relay and outside medal for 4×100 men relay..

Jean Michel
4 years 1 month ago

exactly ! those 2 medleys are sure gold wins ! the 800 free relays will be more challenged by other nations but i still feel Usa can get them inot gold too . Let’s see how works the 400 free relays …we never know what can happen as in 2008 . Surprise , surprise , surprise

Rafael
4 years 1 month ago

2008 was not a surprise.. US HAD the best times if you sum up all times.. This Craig Lord Nonsense is out of proportion

SwimNerd
4 years 1 month ago

South Africa will be top 8 for sure
crous-54.1
VD Burgh-59.49
Le Clos 52.4
Moore 48.15/Louw 48.7
3:34,14/3:34.7
All Young Great swimmers, they’ll even be in the hunt for a medal if crous has a good leadoff

john26
4 years 1 month ago

To people who speak portuguese, what is Cielo saying?

4 years 1 month ago

John26, nothing impressive, just he wants to best his(textile) times and try two medals.

You can read all interview here(use google translator):
http://www.cesarcielo.com.br/home/?p=1994

Rafael
4 years 1 month ago

he is saying (some adjusts by myself to make it faster) that each race will be like “one of a kind” and he will give it all on each race.. (even the relays) he admits he has the best shot on 50 free but he will swim every race like it was his “last lifetime race”
He remembered a little of Beijing and said he is feeling good.. and he will go for his textile best on both events..

Just for the record

França dropped about 4 kilos till Maria Lenk.. he Had nearly 20% fat on World 2011 and now he has 10%

JackedAndTan
4 years 1 month ago

Pretty sure Italy and Russia will beat at least Poland for a finals spot.

Is gonna be interesting to see what Magnussen can pull out in the freestyle leg, given that he most likely WILL have a Lezak-esque deficit to make up on the Americans/Japanese/whatever and thus will be filled with motivation.

Rafael
4 years 1 month ago

I Think it will be pretty saddening for the japanese to watch Fujii being passed by Magnussen Cielo maybe even Agnel and Bieldermann..

Tea
4 years 1 month ago

Agree, Japan’s sprint freestyle is going to be sad. However, they could hang in there for silver. I could see them in the lead, by close to two seconds over everyone but the Americans at halfway (with Brazil probably in third). Matsuda has been looking good, even though he’s more of a 200 flyer. I don’t envy Fujii being run down by all those freestylers, but he *should* get a big lead over them.

As for Lezak’s record, it’s not going anywhere. He had a perfect start and drafted off the huge Alain Bernard for 90% of that leg. Maybe it’ll work out where Magnussen can get a boost from chasing Adrian, but 46.0 is just toooooo fast.

Rafael
4 years 1 month ago

JPN is going to need a Huge Advantage.. and that is not given.

Considering Brazil and AUS the biggest threat… Brazil will probably be around 1 second, at most 1.5 seconds after JPN on fly leg.. and Matsuda and kaio are probably on the same level.. maybe a little advantage for Kaio on the 100 fly…

But if Fujii is not at least 1.5 seconds maybe even 2 in front of Cielo and Magnussen… he is probably going for a 48 mid… while the top freestylers will be going for a 46 mid high..

Tea
4 years 1 month ago

Agree Almeida and Matsuda should be pretty close on the fly leg. Chris Wright for AUS looks a little better, but only about 1/2 second. Fujii may be a 48 low, whereas I think either Magnussen or Cielo, at the end of the week, would be happy with 46 high. .7 seconds from a relay start is a best-case scenario, and Magnussen at 47.10 flat start is a best-case scenario.

Personally, I think the Australian team is a little overrated. On paper, of Braden’s top 8 teams, they have the #5 backstroker, #4 breaststroker, #3 flyer, and #1 freestyler. There’s a lot more spread in the backstroke and breaststroke times than the faster strokes (despite Magnussen’s outlier time), so I think back/breast will ultimately be more important. Also, I’m sure all the Aussies were shaved and tapered to make the team, so they might have less time to drop than an Irie or Almeida.

john26
4 years 1 month ago

@Tea,
The Brazillians do not stand a chance against the Aussies on paper. The only leg where they hold an advantage is the breastroke. They are not being overrated because all the discussion so far has been speculation based on seed times. Based this form of analysis, the US start as big favorites over the Aussies and other teams as the Aussies are in the 4×100 free (almost 2 seconds).

The key for Australia is that they have 4 swimmers that can make finals in their events, this is something that no other nation except for the US could confidently boast. Also, they have reliable performers, which is not something the other potential medaling countries can claim.

If a country “upsets” Australia for silver, it will most likely be France or Japan, and of the two, there are large question marks over the reliability of the breast and free legs, respectively (Based on flat starts the Japanese anchor SHOULD be able to post a 48.3 anchor, but have not been able to produce such a performance which would very likely place them on the podium)

Rafael
4 years 1 month ago

John

France has a superbeg back leg.. but that´s it for the team…

Any advantage Lacout can build over Pereira, França can easily counter.. and on fly and free Brazil has the upper hand ( not by a big margin but has, and Cielo is a guy who has proven himself to put up times when needed to) he has a 47.07 split with a terrible start (.33, he usally has a .61 RT).

I think US will be first, with Australia Second and Brazil third.. and then JPN will be pretty tied to France and Germany. How close AUS and BRA will be it depends on how much will França deliver with his “right” weight.. now 3 to 4 kilos less than Maria Lenk.. If both teams are close, Mag and Cielo will be a battle thay may put Mag to break lezak time..

aswimfan
4 years 1 month ago

TEA,

How can the aussies be overrated when they already won silver at last year’s worlds?

Tea
4 years 1 month ago

I think the Aussies look great on paper – their aggregate time is #2, and they took the silver last year. But, I think most of their swimmers are maxed out this year. Stoeckel and Rickard put up mediocre times at Aussie trials, when presumably they were on a full taper to make the team. They are 27-28 years old, so while they might drop a little time, I doubt seeing any huge breakthrough performances from either. A 53 high back leg will kill them…. if you can draft from behind on breast or fly, I’ve never seen it. Wright looks good, but every country has a 51-52 flyer on their squad. Magnussen is of course outstanding, but I doubt he’ll be faster than at trials, and he’ll have a lot to come back from.

I like Brazil and Japan for these reasons…
I’m sure the Brazilians have all rested for a meet this season, but Pereira, Silva, Alemeida, and Cielo were pretty much assured of making their events – they have a qualifying window instead of one meet. They can all potentially drop time.
The Japanese all tapered for their trials, but Matsuda and Fujii haven’t really focused on their legs as individual events… yet. Just as much as you get an adrenaline rush from being behind, you can get an adrenaline rush from finding yourself diving in at the front of the pack next to Phelps.

Tea
4 years 1 month ago

Ages back, I remember seeing a PDF of world all-time bests that included fastest relay splits of all time. Does anyone know if there is still a place where fastest relay splits are compiled????

Ole 99
4 years 1 month ago

Per Craig Lord the top six textile freestyle relay splits are as follows:

46.70 Van Den Hoogenband 2003
47.00 Magnussen 2011
47.03 Bousquet 2003
47.07 Cielo 2011
47.18 Magnini 2007
47.20 Thorpe 2002

Rafael
4 years 1 month ago

Pieter and Cielo Splits are (for me) the best of that list.

Pieter catch up was (and still is) amazing.. perfect swim by one of the greatest freestyle swimmers ever.

Cielo was pretty good too based on a terrible RT (0.33), Altitude and that he was the only one of that list that was not catching up someone and , brazil was already leading the relay..

But On Emotion based Bousquet split was the best

Tea
4 years 1 month ago

I thought Alexander Popov had 46 relay split once upon a time. Maybe I’m remembering wrong?

Rafael
4 years 1 month ago

I´ve checed All OG and World Champs and found nothing.

But probably on medley relay Cielo and Mag will beat Pieter time.. but considering how many years after just shows how amazing Pieter was

Andre Lucena
4 years 1 month ago

Cielo´s keep training hard for 100 free. Brazilians here can confirm: Cielo have condition to swim 100m free in 47 low. At the same way, a possible silver/bronze medal in this event can´t stop him for 21 low (and gold – new textile best, olympic record) or 20 at 50m. Cielo want a gold in 100 free, naturally, but he´s psychologically prepared for eventual gold for Magnussen. Cielo is mentally indestructible, much more than Magnussen, and it´s go to be seeing at Olympics.

Kevin
4 years 1 month ago

Wow, a few of us on this site know way too much about swimming. Some of these analyses are amazing.

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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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