Picks: Aussies Hope to Threepeat in Women’s 400 Medley

  31 Braden Keith | July 18th, 2012 | Featured, London 2012 Olympics, News

For our relay picks, we’ll approach them a bit differently. We’ll take the races spot-by-spot, guess at the lineup, and post both the country’s best time in the last year-plus, as well as the aggregate of their best flat-start times. To look at all of our race-by-race previews, check out this page.

1. USA Actual: 3:52.36 Aggregated: 3:54.14

Missy Franklin – 58.85
Rebecca Soni – 1:04.91
Dana Vollmer – 56.42
Jessica Hardy – 53.96

Breakdown: The Americans are not, on a historical level, as firmly in control of this relay as are their male counterparts; in fact at the last two Olympics, it’s been the Australians who have taken gold. This year, however, the Americans seem set to reclaim that throne. They come into the meet with the world’s number one backstroker, breaststroker, and butterflier, and though Hardy may not be quite as fast at peak as the anchors for either China and Australia, the times are close enough that she could surely hold them off. Rebecca Soni is the key to why this relay is so unbeatable. The Americans have the three best breaststrokers in the world, and on paper are so far ahead of the rest of the world that it will be hard for anybody else to make that up on the other three legs.

2. Australia Actual: 3:57.13 Aggregated: 3:56.07

Emily Seebohm – 59.21
Leisel Jones – 1:06.18
Alicia Coutts – 56.94
Melanie Schlanger – 53.74/Cate Campbell – 53.82

Breakdown: If this Australian relay ever gets healthy, then I think they could have a shot at the Americans; Jones battled through a bug at Trials, and Seebohm’s 2011 season was trashed with some scary illnesses. There are high hopes for the two anchors, however; Mel Schlanger is a very come-and-go swimmer, but always gets hot at the right time for the Olympics, and the young Cate Campbell has the potential to be one of the best in the world. I think the Aussies jump the Chinese because of the confusion with the Chinese breaststroke leg. Leisel Jones needs to be Leisel Jones of 2011 and prior, though.

3. China Actual: 3:55.61 Aggregated: 3:56.35

Jing Zhao – 59.05
Jiping Li – 1:06.52*
Lu Ying – 57.06
Yi Tang – 53.71

Breakdown: The Chinese are in an interesting predicament here. They have chosen not to enter their best 100 breaststroker into the event individually. But if they don’t allow Jiping Li (or even Sun Ye) swim this medley anchor, it’s hard to see where they can make up enough ground to catch the Americans or Australians. Jing Zhao can probably match Franklin; Yi Tang may be able to make up a few tenths on the anchor; but making up much ground on the middle two legs will be nearly impossible, especially against the Americans.

4. Japan Actual: 3:57.84 Aggregated: 3:57.65

Aya Terakawa – 59.08
Satomi Suzuki – 1:06.80
Yuka Kato – 57.77
Haruka Ueda – 54.00

Breakdown: This is a relay that’s in the same position as the Russians below. They’ve had the great front-half, but have been waiting for the back-half to come around. Their last two swimmers, though, have made an even better improvement in 2012. Kato and Ueda, though still not world-beaters, both broke National Records in their respective events individually in the 6 months. They’re still in an uphill battle to overtake the Chinese for bronze, but neither country has a history of out-performing at big meets, so it’s feasible.

5. Russia Actual: 3:57.38 Aggregated: 3:58.64

Anastasia Zueva – 58.97
Julia Efimova – 1:06.56
Irina Bespalova – 58.89
Veronika Popova – 54.22

Breakdown: This relay has been one of the best in the world on the front-half, and they will hand off ot Bespalova neck-and-neck with anybody in the world. But it’s the back-half that’s always been a challenge. Bespalova has looked pretty good the last year, and Popova continues to crush Russian Records as their anchor. This relay will come down 100% to whether or not Bespalova can relay split a 57 (when everyone else will have 56’s and 55’s). If that happens, they could sneak onto the podium. The other challenge for the Russians is that they have nearly zero opportunity to swap out prelims swimmers, save on the breaststroke leg.

6. Denmark Actual: 4:01.60 Aggregated: 3:59.12

Mie Nielsen – 59.69
Rikke Moeller-Pedersen – 1:07.13
Jeanette Ottesen – 58.24
Pernille Blume – 54.06

Breakdown: This is THE dark horse relay of the whole meet. With Ottesen really finding her groove this year in the butterfly, and the young swimmers Mie Nielsen and Pernille Blume still getting better, this is a dangerous group. It may be a year early for Nielsen to be good enough to give the Danes a medal chance, but a 2013 Worlds medal or even a 2014 European Championship are definite possibilities. The big concern, both short-term and long-term, is Rikke Moeller-Pedersen’s rib injury that kept her out of Danish Trials. She looked good at Sette Colli, though.

7. UK Actual: 3:59.65 Aggregate: 3:58.72

Georgia Davies – 59.95
Kate Haywood – 1:08.07/Siobhan-Marie O’Connor – 1:08.04
Ellen Gandy – 57.25
Fran Halsall – 53.48

Breakdown: This is probably the most back-half heavy relay in the final, with Gandy a medalist candidate on the fly leg and Halsall looking like the best sprinter in the world coming into this meet. The Brits will also be in front of a home crowd, and with their breaststroke group starting to come around, they don’t have a weak spot anymore. It will be interesting to see what they do on the backstroke leg. Neither Davies nor Gemma Spofforth has been as good as expected this year, but Lizzie Simmonds (who missed the team in the individual 100 but will swim the 200) has been outstanding other than at Trials. Amy Smith has been good enough to carry this relay to finals without Halsall, too. If they take the risk and swim Simmonds in finals, it could pay off big – a 59-low could put the Brits close to a medal. As is, that probably won’ t happen, so look for them to sit 5th-7th.

8. Germany Actual: 3:58.43 Aggregate: 3:59.40

Jenny Mensing – 59.85
Caroline Runhau – 1:07.28/Sarah Poewe – 1:07.33
Alexandra Wenk – 58.59
Britta Steffen – 53.68

Breakdown: The way this field is shaping up, there could be a big gap after the top 7. With the women’s 50 free on the last day, countries like Germany and the Netherlands will have to battle through prelims without their stars. Whoever can emerge from that mess will make the final, and with Daniela Schreiber to play anchor for the first round, the Germans could be ok. For much of this relay, there’s some concern that they’ve maxed-out at Trials.

Other Finals Contenders

The Netherlands’ relay is very interesting, as many of their best 100 freestylers will hold spots in other strokes on this relay. But at the end of the meet, I think they’ll be out of it. They swam horribly in prelims of Worlds in this relay. Canada will probably but Sinead Russell on the backstroke leg and Julia Wilkinson on the freestyle leg, but there’s some concern about Russell’s minor hip injury. Their aggregate is 3:59.39 though, .01 better than the Germans. With Martina Granstrom swimming well, that frees up Sweden to move Sarah Sjostrom to the backstroke leg -she’s the country’s best, but still not very good. They can probably go a 4:00.

Italy’s women had a very good European Championship meet, but still have a big hole at the end of this medley relay. If they can convince Federica Pellegrini to swim the anchor, and she can split a 53 low (very possible), then they could sneak into the 3:59 range as well and maybe final.

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31 Comments on "Picks: Aussies Hope to Threepeat in Women’s 400 Medley"


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Nadador
4 years 11 days ago

Medley relays are very interesting, specially when you have many talented swimmers. Let’s say Coughlin (back) & Hardy (breast) swim prelims. Then, you’d have Bootsma on the backstroke leg and Franklin on the free leg: would that improve on the overall final time for finals?

gosharks
4 years 11 days ago

I think that should be the finals relay: Bootsma on back and Franklin on free. Unless Schmitt blows us away.

swimcoach24
4 years 11 days ago

Bootsma could also go the back and Franklin can anchor. If Bootsma swims hot and goes a best time at the games (~59.0), it wouldnt be smart to not put Franklin at the end of it since shes already anchored in a 52.8 last year.

That puts them in reach of that world record!

Also, interesting note if they put Bootsma on the finals relay, Coughlin could go the back on the medley prelims, allowing her to pass Torres/Thompson for the most decorated female athlete in history.

Jean Michel
4 years 11 days ago

totally one of the best option they can offer ! Missy had a monster free relay last year .

eurosports
4 years 11 days ago

Would be a really nice finishing touch to Coughlin’s stellar career (assuming she retires after London) if they allow her to compete on the medley heats and go for this record.

However, it’s not even a given that the Americans will be guaranteed a medal of any colour in the 4×100 free relay, based on what we saw of them at their trials…

aswimfan
4 years 10 days ago

You must have meant “The most decorated AMERICAN female athlete..”

Because the most decorated female athlete is easily Larissa Latynina.

even Phelps will not be able to surpass her record of individual olympics medals.

Rafael
4 years 10 days ago

14 individual medals for her + 3 team + 1 Team Apparatus.

Phelps has 10 Indivual medals..

Phelps can medal in both medley and both fly.. can be a tie.. and he may shot for another OG..

aswimfan
4 years 10 days ago

That’s what I meant: not surpassing, but can be a tie. Phelps had a chance, but he ditched the 200 free.

So, if we go by him keep swearing that he would never swim after London, that is.
But I think Phelps will go back on his own words and un-retire before Rio.

Reed
4 years 11 days ago

It depends on what happens in the individuals. Say Franklin beats Bootsma in the back and also beats Hardy in the free. If the margin is greater in the free, it’s more advantageous to have her anchor and let Bootsma lead off. That would open a spot in the prelim for Natalie since you don’t want to have anybody swimming both prelims and finals. Conversely, if the margin is greater in the back, then Hardy should anchor, and I imagine Neal or Schmitt would anchor the prelim.

aswimfan
4 years 11 days ago

BK,

Halsall never swam 52.75, it was Kromowidjojo.

aswimfan
4 years 11 days ago

It doesn’t really matter who USA will put in the final, they will win this easily.

Nadador
4 years 11 days ago

I agree. I am just trying to “figure out” the best line-up for a better time (possibly a WR).

Jean Michel
4 years 11 days ago

As Swimcoach24 mentioned , the Usa has the WR on the reach , like they did allready in Short course at Duel in the Pool 2011 . They win this relay with the best team in the world . Really excited to seee how they will swim this last London relay . Usa , Love and gold

bobo gigi
4 years 11 days ago

Women’s 4X100 medley relay. USA in 3.52.04

USA can’t lose this relay. Last year it was a dream team and they swam very close to the world record. I still hope a new world record because it would be better than the world record with the magic suits. Missy Franklin or Rachel Bootsma on backstroke? What is the better place for Missy? Backstroke or freestyle? If the schedule of the olympic games is good on this page I see this relay on the last day of competition with the women’s 50 free just before so Jessica Hardy could be tired if she goes in final. But I think Missy at the start is a guarantee to begin well the relay. Allison Schmitt could finish on freestyle. I think Lia Neal will surprise many people and could finish too.

beachmouse
4 years 6 days ago

Some recent pictures of Liesl Jones, who honestly has looked in better shape many times over the years:

http://www.smh.com.au/olympics/swimming-london-2012/jones-not-here-for-a-holiday-coach-20120724-22nvn.html

4 years 11 days ago

Leisel is SO not swimming in that lineup. And I think Bootmsa/Franklin is a foregone conclusion for the finals UNLESS Bootsma has a bad taper. To the comments section – Schmitt swimming the freestyle leg I think is an unrealistic discussion, though I can understand why you’d want to throw her name in there.

Jean Michel
4 years 11 days ago

Schmitt or Lia Neal are 2 more options Usa can afford . that’s more than confortable .

JackedAndTan
4 years 11 days ago

Rikke Moeller Pedersen suffered a stress fracture in her rib, not a knee injury. Also, Denmark didn’t compete at Europeans but she swam really good in-season times at Sette Colli in Rome

You guys are crazy for thinking they’ll let Hardy swim breast in the prelim medley relay and cheat Breeja out of a gold medal

DCD3
4 years 11 days ago

Hardy makes me nervous, as her style is to take it out really hard and fade at the end. You never want an anchor that will fly and die, too much room for a Lezak-like closer to get excited and out-touch. Ideally the lead will be enough, but I would feel better with Franklin on the end.

gosharks
4 years 11 days ago

This is exactly the reason why I like Franklin on the end over Hardy. Of course much of it will depend on how they are swimming. But lately Franklin closes her 100’s better than anyone not named Phelps.

Dan
4 years 11 days ago

Does it really matter how Hardy swims her 100? Yes she goes out fast and fades a bit. But all that matters is how much time elapses from the time she leaves the block and her hand hits the pad. She did that faster than any American at trials. If she does that again in London she should anchor the relay. The good news is that since the relay is at the end the coaches have seen everyone swim their races and has everything they need to build the relay.

gosharks
4 years 10 days ago

Start-to-finish times may remain the same, but there are mental and emotional things happening during a race depending on position and pacing.

drdov
4 years 11 days ago

Hardy is still saying she’s not a freestyler!!
That’s weird for a swimmer who’s representing the US in the 50 and 100 free
She needs to get her act together, not sure what her problem is

bobo gigi
4 years 10 days ago

And I think she should forget breaststroke to focus in the next years only on freestyle. She could make some damages.

eurosports
4 years 11 days ago

In the unlikely but not entirely impossible scenario where Larson steadily improves and puts in a monster swim to put away Soni and the rest of the field in the 100 breast (perhaps even coming close to challenging the WR), do you think the American coaches will reward the rookie with a spot in the medley finals squad, or stick with a reliable veteran who’s been the “queen of the breaststroke” for the past 4 years?

John Sampson
4 years 10 days ago

No way they don’t put soni on the relay. Larson is fantastic and can win at worlds next year but soni wasnt tapered at trials, and she is the best breaststroker in the world. Way more reliable.

Precious
4 years 10 days ago

I’d imagine that the fastest in the individual events gets to swim in finals, unless Larson gives the finals spot to Soni, a la Phelps and Crocker in 2004

aswimfan
4 years 10 days ago

Not necesarily,
in 2004 Athens, Brooke Hanson beat Leisel Jones in individual 100, but Jones was picked to swim the medley relay fnal because Jones was clearly the fastest and best breaststroker at that time.

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About Braden Keith

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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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