Picks: The Legend vs. The Future in the Women’s 100 Back

  54 Braden Keith | June 15th, 2012 | Featured, National, News, U.S. Olympic Trials

The 100 backstrokes will be the most youth-oriented races of the 2012 Olympic Trials; as many as half of the finalists in the two races combined could be teenagers.

For a full rundown of our Race-by-Race Previews, click here.

Men’s 100 Backstroke

In 2010, one of the big stories in American swimming was the glut of talent in the men’s sprint backstrokes. The US was home to both World Record holders (Aaron Peirsol and Nick Thoman), the defending Olympic silver medalist Matt Grevers, and Ryan Lochte – the world’s best 200 backstroker who we still haven’t seen in this race at full-taper.

Yet, it’s been three-straight World Championships after a 1-2 finish in Beijng since the Americans have stood on a medal stand (2009 and 2011 in long course, 2010 in short course). The Americans really need somebody to get over the hump this year and break into that top three. They got a bit of a boost after last year’s co-World Champion Jeremy Stravius didn’t even make the French team in this event.

Nick Thoman from SwimMAC and Former Minnesota Golden Gopher David Plummer have become the foundation of the elite American backstroking group. They’ve grabbed the spots at the last two World Championships, and have really carried the bulk of the attention (including some great head-to-head battles) in this 100. They finished 4th and 5th, respectively in Shanghai, missing the podium by less than a tenth each.

But Grevers is lurking (as much as a man of his stature can lurk) behind them, looking to regain his spot after missing out on the World Championships team altogether. With Peirsol retired, 2012 will really begin the impact of the new era for American backstroking. Grevers’ advantage is that he’s the last American still around who stood with a medal around his neck on a global stage. He’s got the history of getting the job done.

The wild card is Ryan Lochte. Whether or not he is aiming for an individual spot in this 100 back at the Olympics is uncertain at this point, but it would be a good bet that he’ll swim it at Trials at least to see if he can’t convince the coaches of his value on a medley relay. We all probably think he’s capable of being one of the top 5 100 backstrokers in the world, but we haven’t seen a result indicating he can beat Plummer or Thoman. In textile, he’s never been better than 53.69 (in prelims at Pan Pacs, before scratching the final and giving Peirsol center-stage one last time). That’s not all-that close to Plummer, Thoman, Grevers and their 53.0’s.

After those top four the seed times drop off pretty heavily. A new name has emerged in the last year, but really it’s an old name rejuvinated – Ben Hesen. Hesen is a former NCAA Champion in the 100 back from 2008, and the US Open Record holder in the 50m backstroke. He was 5th at the 2008 Trials, but since then has taken several long stretches out of the sport that resembled retirement. For about 18-months now, however, he’s been consistently in competition; in that time he’s moved from Bloomington to Florida to train with the Gator Swim Club and their outstanding backstroke group, and his times have reacted. He swam a 54.1 in Charlotte (where many of the Gators seemed to be on a bit of a lighter-cycle in their training) and is back in the conversation for another final, at least. He gets a great start, and swimming from the front could be a big advantage for him.

Here’s another interesting name who, after 16 months without a long course race (and 7 without any race), re-emerged at the Santa Clara Grand Prix – Randall Bal. Bal is a “international” style swimmer in that he excells in short course and 50m competition, and he’s made most of his living the last few years racing overseas. He swam a 56.03 two weeks ago, but was going 54’s in 2010. At 31, he’ll be in a race-against-time to see what sort of competitive form he can return to before Trials.

There’s a ton of great young backstrokers who will be competitive in this race – they all sit around the same best times, so there’s a question of which one has enough extra gears to get close to the 53-lows. Ryan Murphy from Bolles, Future Cal Bear Jacob Pebley, Jack Conger, and David Nolan. All four of these swimmers, all teenagers, are seeded at 54.9’s or 55.0’s. That’s a long way from the likes of the leaders, but we also know that those guys all have a lot more drop to give than do the guys at the top. They’re certainly each capable of a 53 – but how low is the question. Out of those four, in the 100, I really like Murphy. He’s been on-fire as of late, and recently beat Ryan Lochte in the 200 in his home pool. But they’re all outstanding – if Conger doesn’t take on too big of a schedule he could challenge too. Pebley’s better bet is probably the 200, and Nolan’s the 200 IM.

SwimMAC post-grad Eugene Godsoe has been good the past 6 months, and has been waiting to crack 54 seconds. His strong performance at Brazil’s Maria Lenk Trophy, followed by a best time at the UltraSwim, leads me to believe that he’s got a 53.9 in him at least.

California Aquatics swimmer David Russell looked like he was ready to make a breakthrough in 2010, after a 54.2 at a Nationals Time Trial (though he didn’t step up quite as big in the standard race). 2011 wasn’t a great year for him, though he did make the Pan Ams team for the US; he seems to be an upward trend again this year, but maybe not meteoric enough to get into the conversation for a top-two position.

There’s a couple of Longhorns who could make at least the semi-finals – Patrick Murphy (who’s on his way back from an injury) and sophomore-to-be Kip Darmody. Darmody swam all of his long course best times in 2010, and in his first year in Austin seems to have focused on expanding his versatility and finding his best events – he raced the 50 free and 100 fly at Big 12’s, for example. What that means for his long course times is yet-to-be-seen.

Adam Mania is a really interesting case in this event. He was just an average professional-level swimmer coming out of college. He had 13 All-American awards in college, and was competing internationally for Poland (he was a 2004 Olympian). But in the past few years, he’s really become a “student” of the sport through his coaching for the Schroeder YMCA, and is now competing for the US. That’s put him back into the 54’s, and though he’s on the older-end of this field at 28, it’s a 28 that seems still emotionally invested in the sport and enthusiastic about the sport.

This is going to be a tight finish for the top four spots. Thoman is incredible off of the walls, Plummer is way better on top of the water. Lochte is Ryan Lochte, and Grevers has the big size advantage – especially in this race where guys like Lochte and Thoman aren’t super-tall for elite swimmers.

Here’s our top 8 picks, with seed times:

1. Matt Grevers (Northwestern/Tucson Ford) – 53.05*
2. Ryan Lochte (Florida/Gator Swim Club) – 53.69
3. David Plummer (Minnesota/Minnetonka) – 53.04*
4. Nick Thoman (SwimMAC Carolina) – 53.01
5. Ryan Murphy (Bolles) – 54.96
6. Ben Hesen (Indiana/Gator Swim Club) – 54.19
7. Eugene Godsoe (Stanford/SwimMAC) – 54.22
8. Jack Conger (Rockville Montgomery Swim Club) – 55.02
Next Four Out (no particular order) – Kyle Owens (Auburn) – 54.20; Jacob Pebley (Cal/Corvallis) – 55.01; David Russell (California Aquatics) – 54.22; David Nolan (Stanford) – 55.10

Women’s 100 Backstroke

This women’s 100 backstroke should be an incredible battle; a contrast of a load of young talent. In fact, this race will have three high school students who have all been under the minute mark in the last two years.

But they will be up against miss sub-minute herself – Natalie Coughlin – who a decade ago became the first woman to break the 60 second barrier in this event (which is almost hard to believe). Despite the rise and spectacularity of those three teenagers, it is still Coughlin who will have the top seed; still Coughlin who scored a bronze – the only American medal – at Worlds; and still Coughlin who has the knack to get her hand on the wall first.

This race is still her best event, and it comes early in the schedule – the semi’s will be a double with the 100 fly final (if she swims that event), and the final will come before the 200 IM semi on Wednesday.

The young trio that we keep alluding to is made up of Missy Franklin, Rachel Boostma, and Liz Pelton; the three have been coming up through the age group ranks together and the last three years have started to build huge anticipation toward these Olympics – where they’re each at the right age to take their swimming to another level.

There’s been a lot of anticipation about this young group, because aside from Coughlin, the rest of the top 5 swimmers from last year’s Olympic Trials have all retired. That’s left a huge vacancy for some new blood.

Franklin is the star-child of the three, and she is the closest to Coughlin in speed. Her big challenge, as we all know, has been her underwaters – which will hurt her badly against Coughlin. But on top of the water, she uses her size to gain leverage like nobody else in this field. She’s also the only one of the three who swam the high school season this year.

The other two, Bootsma and Pelton, will head to Cal together in the fall to begin training with the women’s Olympic head coach Teri McKeever. Pelton, like Franklin, has been a star from a very young age – making the World Championship team in 2009 when she was only 15. Bootsma, on the other hand, is sort of a late-bloomer; she was under a minute at only 15, but unlike the other two has never been on a global championship team (though she has been on a pair of continental championship teams – Pan Pacs and Pan Ams). She’s great underwater, but even she gets crushed by Coughlin. She makes up for that though with an outstanding stroke turnover – maybe the best of this field. Evidence of that is below from Charlotte, where Pelton, Coughlin, and Bootsma lined up side-by-side-by-side.

The benefit of the doubt in this race right now has to go to Coughlin and Franklin, because with ideal swims I don’t think anybody can get close to them. But when you’ve got so many swimmers at either end of the age spectrum (both young and old), the opportunity for big swings in performance is there.

As good as the top-end of this race is, there’s not many true contenders in the event. Tennessee’s Jenny Connolly is hitting her prime. She’s the next-best swimmer outside of the sub-minute club, and took a silver medal at last year’s World University Games. Olivia Smoliga out of Illinois had a great high school season, and with a best of 1:00.53 could get close to breaking a minute at Trials.

Megan Romano has been on fire in her freestyles, but don’t overlook her improvements in backstroke as well. She went a 1:00.19 at the Longhorn Elite Invite two weeks ago. There’s a chance she’d scratch it to focus on the 200 free (where her Olympic chances on a relay look better than an individual 100 back), but it’s after that semi so she’ll probably swim both. The challenge will be putting up her full potential swim in this final so quickly after that 200 free (the same dillema that strikes Missy).

Elizabeth Beisel hasn’t really shown the speed yet to hang with the others mentioned, and then that’s it under 1:01. Former USC swimmer Presley Bard is out of the sport, which means that the Americans have the same number of swimmers under a minute (four) as they do between a 1:00 and 1:01.

There are some swimmers who can get there though. Maggie Meyer is an NCAA Champion in the 200 backstroke, but in long course she’s better in the 100. Her 2011 taper was derailed by a broken hand, but she’s already gone a best time this year in March at the Missouri Grand Prix.

This is Ariana Kukors’ best race aside from the IM’s, but I would guess she won’t want to swim the 100 back final before the 200 IM semi if she can help it. SwimMAC’s Kathleen Baker could be a semi-finalist, but at 15 still is a bit too young to compete for the Games.

Cindy Tran is the second-coming of Coughlin underwater at Cal. She’s already one of the best ever in yards, but still isn’t there in long course. I’ve got a feeling, though, that in a second summer with Teri McKeever, she’ll figure out how to use those underwaters to best advantage her over-the-water swimming, and make a final.

One other bigtime dark horse worth mentioning is Fordham’s Brienne Ryan. Not just a dark horse being from a smaller college program, but in the sense that she just hasn’t raced that much long course. She scored her Olympic Trials Qualifying Time last summer in one of only two long course attempts at the race (before that, she hadn’t even gone a Jr. Nationals cut). She then didn’t race in meters again until the UltraSwim this year, where she knocked better than a second-and-a-half off of her time. It’s hard to ignore that kind of massive progression.

This result will highlight the dominance of Cal in the backstrokes. There will be at least three Cal Bears (Coughlin, Pelton and Bootsma) in the final; two more possible finalists who will probably be considering them heavily in the fall (Franklin, Smoliga); and another current Bear who is a possible finalist (Tran). That’s impressive.

The edge goes to Coughlin, for now, as this will be her first event of the session (but Missy’s second).

Our picks for top 8, including seed times:

1. Natalie Coughlin (Cal/California Aquatics) – 59.12
2. Missy Franklin (Colorado Stars) – 59.18
3. Liz Pelton (Cal/T2 Aquatics) – 59.99
4. Rachel Bootsma (Cal/Aquajets) – 59.65
5. Megan Romano (Georgia) – 1:00.19
6. Jenny Connolly (Tennessee) – 1:00.21
7. Elizabeth Beisel (Florida) – 1:00.77
8. Cindy Tran (Cal) – 1:01.35
Next four out: Maggie Meyer (Wisconsin/Tucson Ford) – 1:01.21; Betsy Webb (Stanford) – 1:01.29; Kristen Shickora (Georgia) – 1:01.34; Olivia Smoliga (Glenview Titan Aquatic Club) – 1:00.53

In This Story

Comments

  1. Chris says:
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    Lotche swam a 53.50 for silver behind Peirsol at 2007 Worlds, at the same meet he got past one of the two guys who kept him in second. At the 2008 Trials he was 3rd in 53.37 lzred, and scm he’s been pretty successful. However, I wouldn’t put him ahead of Plummer or Grevers because with his training focus (200/400 im, 200 back/free), he just doesn’t have the speed. Unfortunately for him, most 100 backstrokers have underwaters almost the same as his, so he won’t be able to compensate for his lack of speed like in the 100 free.

    For the women I predict Bootsma and Franklin get it with 59.2 or so (although probably faster in the semis). Bootsma’s been looking good, and I put Franklin for second because she hasn’t looked so great this year and it seems like she’s focused on the 200 free/back. Focusing on Franklin, her in-season swimming points towards small drops across the board, and playing it conservative: 200 free/back, 100 free/back semis with a final swims dependent on competition. Globally, the 100 free/back are much more competitive so 200 back gold, 200 free bronze, and 400 FR/MR anchor are a safe path to avoid a Hoff 2.0. For Coughlin, I think the 400 FR and 100 fly are her best options both domestically and internationally, with a semis/possible finals run in the 100 back just in case. At her age, I don’t think she can deliver medal-worthy performances with too many swims, and she hasn’t looked very good this season. It wouldn’t be surprised if she even misses the 400 FR, because Schmitt, Vollmer, Franklin, Romano, Weir, Neal, and even Hardy can all beat her (she didn’t even go under 54 last year). Pelton hasn’t been great at big meets, and I think her best chances are 200 back/im in a fight with Beisel and Kukors.

    • swimphile says:
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      You made some great points on the women’s side, Chris. Franklin hasn’t improved significantly time-wise in-season compared to last year, so even accounting for her projected time drops from taper, she’ll have her hands full battling Coughlin & Bootsma to secure a spot in this event.

      Ultimately I believe Coughlin (start/turns/underwaters, experience and her record of rising to the challenge and getting the job done when it really matters) & Franklin (natural talent, with a phenomenal closing speed esp in the last 15-20m – but even there she has looked less than sharp when up against Schmitt and even Muffat in the freestyles this year ) will make the team, in that order, clocking in the 59.1 area. But it wouldn’t floor me if Bootsma was to spoil the party as she’s rapidly improving, has very solid underwaters, and not a slouch either when it comes to unleashing it all on her back half.

      Agree that the 200 back gold is there for Franklin’s taking when it comes to London, with a good chance of medals of the same colour for her in the 4×200 FR & 400 MR. Don’t quite see eye to eye with you on the 200 free, as I think bronze would be a bit of a stretch for Franklin — considering that Muffatt, Schmitt & Sjoestrom have all upped the standard considerably from last year’s pace, and one can never discount Pellegrini either as she has yet to show her cards fully there.

      As for the 100 free, doubt an American will realistically make the podium, the medal count will be sewn up by Kromowidjojo, chased by Sjoestrom, Halsall and possibly Steffen.

      Back to the 100 back, that will be a spot of a crap shoot in London, with anyone from Zueva, Terakawa, Seebolm to an American (whoever qualifies) in the hunt – heck, even Hocking who’s better at the longer distance, or the upcoming Nielsen, or one of the Chinese girls could sneak in for the win!

      • Chris says:
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        I could be completely wrong, but I think Franklin might try to save a little for London. At trials, if she’s where she was last year in all her events, she’ll probably make the team and still be able to drop a little that’ll make her competitive for gold at the big meet. Mentally, I don’t think she’s likely to burn out, but all the media attention on her is going to affect her slightly, and she still strikes me as a kid (which has pros and cons), while Bootsma seems a little more mature.

        I think bronze is a good goal in the 200 free. Schmitt and Muffatt are already putting up medal worthy times, although neither of the two (nor Sjoestrom) has a good record of stepping it up at the big meet. Pelligrini generally does (assuming her love life is doing well), but her times since the suit era have been mostly static.

        On paper the Americans are probably just off a medal, although most of the top girls in the 100 free are terribly inconsistent, both mentally and injury-prone. Ironically, I think if Schmitt’s on her game, she’s the American most likely to medal, then Vollmer, although both have bigger prizes (100 fly & 200/400 free). Ultimately I think a medal boils down to who can perform consistently.

        Speaking of consistency, Coughlin has a ton of experience, but the last time she really “got the job done” was in 2008, and times are faster now. Most of the years she was on top, she had virtually no competition compared to the present. Last year things got competitive, and she delivered what I’d consider the fastest time of her career, and got bronze. Seeing as she might drop the back in favor of the fly, I don’t think she’s comfortable with her 100 back chances either.

        • aswimfan says:
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          Chris,
          I really like your analyses.

          But I think Franklin is the one who will challenge Muffat in 200 free. Potentially and talent-wise, Franklin is the one who I think will take 200 free to sub 1:54, but her London schedule is really terrible, and London (after Omaha of course) will be the first time where Franklin will be truly tested in how she handles pressure and media spotlight.

          • Chris says:
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            I agree on Franklin’s potential, but it’s hard to see her swimming faster than 1:54.2/3 based on her in-season swimming so far. On the other hand, Schmitt, who has dropped between 2-5 seconds in 08,09, and 10, and .7 in 11 (arguably an off year), should be at least 1:54 low, likely 1:53 mid or better. That’s after accounting for the great swims that appear after Colorado Springs trips, and the double taper. Muffat, I have no idea, only she hasn’t been stellar at high-pressure meets and the Olympics is the biggest meet of all.

  2. swimcoach24 says:
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    I would never count out Coughlin. Experience trumps all at this meet. I say Coughlin/Franklin, not sure in what order.

    I’m pulling for Grevers in the 100 Back. I am not sure how anyone knows if Lochte will have enough speed, we dont know exactly what he has been doing in practice. The race-horses are the ones you can never count out.

  3. John Sampson says:
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    Coughlin and franklin are no brainers. And i think franklin will win (at trials at least) and both are in serious hunt for olympic hardware in this event. I predict missy with a 58.7-natalie @ 58.8/9- and pelton and bootsma both around 59.2/5. If megan romano decides to stick around for the final i think she will break a minute (look how good she did at NCAAs ironically with the exact same double with about the exact same time inbetween-shes been in this situation and has prooven she can handle herself). Cant wait to watch this one!!!

    P.s. Any insite to where missy is looking at college? *cough* georgia *cough*

    • Chris says:
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      I would actually feel better for Coughlin/Franklin’s chances in London if they aren’t that great at Trials because they’d be saving something for the Olympics. If Franklin focuses on the 200 back/free/relays, she’s probably fast enough to make the team without a full taper and save her stuff for London. It’s a possibility that she doesn’t take the 100 back all the way, since she’d have to go all out just to make the team, and the international competition is just as stiff (ie Terakawa going 59.4 just recently). However, in Coughlin’s case, she’s just been too close to 1:01 instead of 1:00 this year, and her taper isn’t anymore spectacular than the girls she’s competing with. Romano will probably aim for the 100/200 FR. Extremely unlikely she’d make the 100 back; she’d be better off aiming for the second spot in the 100/200 free.

      Franklin said she’s looking at Georgia and Cal (although things might have changed if she’s visited). Georgia has a strong distrance group and a consistently championship contending team, and Romano really developed as a 100/200 free, 100 back swimmer, plus one of Franklin’s teammates is heading there. However, Schmitt went back to Bowman for the Olympics, which isn’t exactly an endorsement of the Georgia coaching staff. Cal has more top-level swimmers in Franklin’s events (Pelton, Bootsma, Tran, Roth, some other backstrokers, Coughlin, Vollmer, and the 200 free girls like Isakovic, Breed, etc). Caroline Piehl had a great freshman year there, and Kelly Naze is heading there this year (both connected to Franklin). Cal also looks like it’s going to win NCAA’s the next few years, and McKeever is the Olympic head coach. All of these could be advantages or disadvantages, ex. if Franklin wants a lot of backstroke competition in practice or to do more of a distance focus. Academically, Cal is much better and the geographic region has more to offer, although Georgia has a much more traditional campus setting. My guess is Franklin’s experience with the coaches this summer, her friends’ experiences, and her own visits after the Olympics will be the main deciding factors.

      Incidentally, Braden, you might want to throw Roth up there with Tran. It’s hard to say how fast she would have been this year at NCAA’s but she’s almost as fast as Tran scy, and she doesn’t have good underwaters so she’d be more impressive lcm.

      • Matt says:
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        I agree with you Chris on pretty much everything you’ve said. And a big part of me hopes that she does try and “swim through” OTs and focus on a limited schedule in London. She’s being hyped as the female Michael Phelps, but she’s not nearly as dominant in nearly as many races, and to even medal in the 100 back/free would be very impressive, though unlikely. A big part of me wants to see her just make the team in the 200 back/free individually, and then swim on the relays. Leaving the games with 3 gold (2back/4mr/8fr), a silver (4fr), and maybe another medal in the 200 would be a great first games. I don’t want to see her go crush OTs only to pull back a bit and overextended herself at the olympics.

        • Tea says:
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          My guess is Missy will go to Cal. First, we know a good education is very important to her (she’s already given up hudnreds of thousands of dollars by not going pro). UGA is not a bad school, but if you’re looking for a top academic/swimming college, it’s Cal, Stanford, or a few other schools if they have a specific program you’re interested in. Second, from what I hear, Missy’s swimming background is not particularly high-yardage. It would be quite an adjustment to fit into Georgia’s distance-oriented program, whereas Cal’s strength-oriented program seems like a more natural fit for her.

          • John Sampson says:
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            If Missy ends up at cal there is no way they will lose a championship in the next 3-5 seasons. I really enjoy Teri mckeever, she is clear the most innovating coach in the country. If Missy ended up at cal I don’t think she would focus on the backstrokes just cause they wouldn’t need her. I see her line up being 200 IM/ 200 fr/ 200bk or 100 fr.

            What if she went to USC? Salo does low yardage, and the post grads that are all there is an attractive sell . That would be insane! They would immidiatly in the run for at title.

          • Josh says:
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            I have no inside track on this, but I have a feeling she’ll end up at Stanford.

      • Kirt says:
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        On collegeswimming they’re saying Roth is transferring, not sure if that’s true, or where she’s swimming now, but if anything it would open a spot for Franklin.

        • Chris says:
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          Good point, although based on the depth Cal already has, I’m sure they’d give it all to Franklin if she wants it. Also, Roth was nowhere as hyped up as Franklin when she was in high school, so I doubt they gave her everything.

          • Kirt says:
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            I was thinking more like a backstroke spot opening up, making it more attractive her, not so much a scholarship. I agree that every school would throw everything they have at Franklin.

          • gosharks says:
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            I think when you are at Franklin’s level you aren’t putting too much stock in where you’ll be used in a meet line-up. Besides, Cal is flush in backstroke and Franklin will be anchoring their relays with :45’s.

          • gosharks says:
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            I should say, will be anchoring relays with :45’s wherever she ends up.

  4. bobo gigi says:
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    In the men’s 100 back my picks are Matt Grevers and David Plummer. Matt Grevers is for me the only american backstroker who can swim 52.50 this summer and can play with Camille Lacourt and Ryosuke Irie. David Plummer is now very consistent. I don’t think he has a fantastic talent but it can be enough to qualify. Ryan Murphy is better in the 200 back but he improves so quickly that I think he’ll not be very far behind my 2 favorites. The future is for him.

    In the women’s 100 back my picks are Missy Franklin and Natalie Coughlin. I think there are 3 swimmers for 2 places with Missy Franklin, Natalie Coughlin and Rachel Bootsma. The field is incredible. Elizabeth Pelton, the very beautiful Olivia Smoliga and many others can swim under 1.00. Megan Romano can also do it but I think she must focus on freestyle.
    On the pure talent Missy is unbeatable. I think she has worked very hard her underwaters and if she doesn’t swim the 200 free at the olympic games she can swim very close to the world record this summer. Natalie is always at her top when it counts. Rachel is very strong, has great underwaters, easily has the level for an olympic final but it’s difficult to put her ahead of Natalie. I think it’s the biggest race on the women’s side.

    • Mark says:
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      Bobo, I noticed that every time you mention Olivia Smoliga, you talk about her being so beautiful. She’s 16 so I hope you’re commenting on her stroke.

      • Craig H says:
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        Maybe you haven’t noticed but Bobo Gigi is French. He comes to American swimming an outsider, ignorant of our ways and customs.

        • bobo gigi says:
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          Excuse me but I’m allowed to find someone of 16 or of 30 beautiful. You are sometimes shocked by nothing much. And you really have bad ideas in mind. I don’t see where is the problem.

          • Chris says:
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            I think some people (Smoliga’s parents and Sutton’s parents come to mind) might find it creepy that some anonymous guy on an online forum is attracted to their their teenage daughters (although Sutton’s aged up). As far as they know, you could be their coach, and in the US you want to keep your hands off swimmers under 18, particularly in light of the stuff that’s been coming out in USA Swimming in recent years.

          • JackedAndTan says:
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            What if Bobo Gigi himself is 15 or 16? Is it then “creepy” if he finds a 16 year old girl beautiful? :)

            Ah, America… where girls don’t become beautiful until they’re 21!

      • bobo gigi says:
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        If I knew I would have shocked someone here I wouldn’t have written that. I didn’t know the term beautiful was banned. I didn’t know some people here have bad ideas in mind.

        • euroswimfan says:
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          Don’t take it too personally Bobo. Americans with their stuffy puritanical traditions sometimes seem to obsess over sexuality and interpret an innocuous statement in the worst possible light. The timing probably didn’t help to be honest, with all the recent reported cases of abuse of young swimmers by their coaches in the country.

          Hope you’ll keep posting on this forum, there are those of us who really enjoy your frank and interesting take on the US and International swimming scene. You’re like a breath of fresh air!

  5. FREEBEE says:
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    I would like to hear a plausible and more detailed defense of this idea of people ‘leaving something for London’—this is nonsense–(except for Phelps in some events and that is a huge exception) —it is not akin to conference/NCAA meet where people have already qualified or will be locks without DQ. U.S. Olympic trials has no absolutes and is full of risks especially psychological ones. I will say that coaches try all sorts of things to keep swim/strength training fresh post-trials pre-Olympic games for all sorts of reasons but the ideas of “saving” at US trials is stupid and I don’t believe anyone in THIS conversation (swimmer/coach) is going to do that. The idea that Franklin would be not shaved and fully rested for her first Olympic trials is ridiculous. She hasn’t made an Olympic team yet (she will) but this is a meet you don’t roll the dice with even if you the most talented swimmer on the women’s side.

    • bobo gigi says:
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      With this stupid date of trials it’s very difficult for the swimmers. They must make two olympic games in one month. I find it stupid but it’s like that.
      The goal is to swim faster at the olympic games than at the trials. So the best thing is to qualify without a full taper. And yes it can be dangerous and it’s a little poker. But most of the swimmers can’t do it. Only a few swimmers can do it. For me the swimmers who can qualify like that are Michael Phelps, if he doesn’t swim the 400 IM, Ryan Lochte, if Michael Phelps doesn’t swim the 400 IM, Dana Vollmer, if she’s focused only on the 100 fly and Rebecca Soni who has a big margin on breaststroke. But I don’t put Missy Franklin in that list.

    • Chris says:
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      Freebee, my impression is that most of the favorites would prefer to win as many medals (or as many golds) at the Olympics as possible, rather than qualify in as many events as possible. A full taper can take more than 2 months, so doing an extended taper aimed at the Olympics may produce better results than giving everything at trials and trying to figure out what to do next. The US Olympic trials doesn’t have any absolutes, but neither does the Olympics, and if a swimmer can swim fast enough with three weeks of taper, then it might be worth it. Phelps, Lochte, and Clary should all be in this category, with the 400 im being the deciding factor. Soni, Adrian, Vollmer (if she just focuses on 100 fly/free), and Beisel (200 back/400 im) are also have that option. For example, Beisel has a lot of competition internationally in the 400 im (Hosszu, Rice, Miley, Ye, etc), but nobody who can really challenge her for a top-two spot domestically. She has a choice between potentially getting a gold in the 400 im and losing the 200 back spot to Pelton, or minor medals in the 200 back and 400 im. As for Franklin, if she aims for 200 back/free individuals and the relays, her main risk is just making the relay for the 200 free if Vollmer steps up. However, that still gives her a great shot at 3 golds and a silver, as opposed to 3 golds, a silver, and a potential minor medal. That being said, every swimmer tapers uniquely and has different priorities and expectations. Maybe if Hoff saved a little for the Olympics in 08 she’d have a couple gold, instead of 2 4ths, 2 bronze, a silver, and not making it back in the 800.

      • gosharks says:
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        Chris, do you have an axe to grind with Katie Hoff?

        • Chris says:
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          Just her Beijing performance; she used to be my favorite female swimmer but I think she just lost it mentally with all the pressure and I never the disappointment of 2008 and her decision to go pro. I just hope Rowdy and all the other geniuses at NBC don’t try to label every multievent female swimmer the “female Phelps”. 2004 she was 15 so that was understandalbe, but in 2008, Hoff actually had a solid shot at four golds and a couple silver/bronze, and she and Coughlin had every nonbreastroke American scy record. Speedo signed her till 2016, and I have a hard time seeing her swimming that long, since she isn’t improving even with a reduced schedule, and she’ll probaby only make the 2012 team in the 800 FR.

          • JackedAndTan says:
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            The only gold she threw away in Beijing was the 400 free. Rice, Coventry, Pellegrini, Adlington were all on fire in their respective events and out of reach.

  6. cupofjoe says:
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    I don’t believe many of you are putting enough consideration on the event schedule in your predictions. For both the men and the women the turn around from the 200 free to the 100 back is very short. This will have a huge impact on Lochte, Franklin and Romano and and possibly Pelton. We’re talking less than 30 minutes. It’s tougher on Lochte becasue it’t finals of both. He has the same issue in the 200 free/ 200 IM. With that in mind here are my picks:
    Men: 1.Grevers 2. Thoman 3. Lochte 4.Plummer 5. Hessen 6. Murphy. Women: 1. Franklin 2. Bootsma 3. Pelton 4. Coughlin 5. Romano 6. Connolly

  7. cupofjoe says:
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    I disagree with those of you that think we should have a trials MUCH earlier, like in the spring. We’ve tried that. It didn’t work. I think maybe a week or so earlier would be good. I also don’t think we need to have semi finals at the OT’s. That would be the biggest change I would make along with no Prelims for the 1500. I know many of you will say that they do it at the Olympics so they need to practice it but I disagree. It just puts added pressure on the top swimmers who are swimming multiple events over 8 days. I think that is too hard to come back three weeks later and do the same thing. It’s no problem for the 1-2 event swimmers but I think it hurt Hoff in 2008. And the 1500 definitely hurt Vendt. Phelps is the obvious exception. But he’s a once in a generation swimmer.
    Now for my reasons for having the OT”s 4 weeks out:
    1. You are getting the”hot” swimmers. Granted a double taper is tough but the elite are used to it. With a spring trials more of the U.S. team would be flat later on.
    2. NCAA’s. The conflict with NCAA’s would intefere with a spring trials.
    3. So many swimmers don’t have long course training in the winter/ spring.
    4. If we picked our team in the spring (say March) I guarantee you there would be a lot of different swimmers faster when June/July rolls around. Then you would be wishing the trials were later. Like I said, we tried it. It didn’t work.

    • Kirt says:
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      I get the point of no semis, though I think they should kept at least for the 100 and 200 free, but no prelims in 1500 is crazy. When you’re deciding the Olympic team, you want your top guys swimming against each other.

      • Braden Keith says:
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        I actually really like that idea. Agree with Kirt – keeping them for races where there’s 6 spots available would make sense, and maybe even the 50 free as well, but for the 200 fly? What are you really going to find out in a 200 fly semifinal at a meet like Trials?

        • John Sampson says:
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          Why dont the americans use a multi-meet selection for the games? Granted the media would hate it but i think it would make alot of sense.

          They could use the grand prix series for example in the year leading up to the games, and then select the 2 fastest swims from the entire series (6 for the relay events) . There would be alot less hype, but at least it could be more personalized for the individual swimmer, because some would swim better at a trials in march, or some in june, or some in january etc etc . Call me crazy but i think that is the best way.

          • cupofjoe says:
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            There are pros and cons with all the different ways to pick an Olympic team and it has always seemed unfair when a great swimmer (Craig Beardsley, Bill Barrett to name two) missed the team but I beleive that a trials a month before the games is the best way to get the best swimmers for the Olympics. As I said before, taking semis out of the trials would probably help some of the swimmers perform better at the Olympics and mabe even cutting the trials down to 6 days?

          • aswimfan says:
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            multi-meet selection will ALWAYS open ways for controversies, appeals, etc.
            And you wouldn’t even want to go near that in such litigious society as the US.

            The all or nothing single meet selection is the best mode for countries with deepest depths such as USA and AUS.

    • Chris says:
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      Agree, look what happened in 2011 with Franklin. It also goes the other way: some older swimmers just have a harder time putting up the same times as they age, let alone improving.

  8. Phil says:
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    Quite honestly, what’s the point of semis at any level? How many times has the 16th place person in prelims become a top 2 (or 3…for bronze purposes) finisher?

    • Braden Keith says:
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      I think at some level, you could argue its part of the sport. “who can swim the fastest the third time.” sort of like why are NBA games 48 minutes and college games only 40.

      Then again, that idea runs contrary to most of what we see in swimming – gauging for those singular points of maximum performance. Semifinals don’t really contribute to that. A prelim arguably does, but not so much semis.

      • Chris says:
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        I slightly disagree. Although probably not intentional, semis give swimmers a chance to put up a great time (and use a high-reward/high-risk race strategy), when finals is all about placement. We’ve seen plenty of extremely fast semis followed by disappointing finals at the big-meet level. Also, by giving the top swimmers more leeway to gauge the minimal amount of effort to final, it allows them to save up more for the final instead of blowing it all to make top-8 in the prelims the same day.

    • Tea says:
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      Semifinals in the 200s are heck for the swimmers, boring for the fans, and seem to just serve as “filler” to make these major meets longer. Three rounds of the 50/100 are a little more tenable, but even then you’re just creating an extra chance for a top swimmer to false start or duff a race (eg, Peirsol at 2009 Worlds).

      I say do two rounds of each event… for the 100/200 free, have a consolation final where the times can count only toward making the relay.

    • Adam says:
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      Gabrielle Rose was 16th in prelims back in 2000 and made the team. Two of women that ended up top 6 in the 200 free that year also finished prelims lower than 16th. They moved up to semis after scratches.

  9. cupofjoe says:
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    I personally like the semis for the Olympics and World Championships. Don’t know exactly why but it seems better than when they used to have B Finals. Another improvement is that there is not a lot of dead time during the finals. There used to be 20-30 minute breaks as I recall before they added semis. It sure looks like Lochte is getting the short end of the stick as far as the event schedule goes. 200 back/200 IM 20 minutes apart. 200 free/ 100 back the same. Too bad.

  10. bobo gigi says:
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    I’m not a specialist but can Cindy Tran become one day a great long course swimmer? It’s incredible how she’s fantastic in yards and how awful she’s in long course. It’s one thing to swim fast in a bathtub and another thing to swim fast in an ocean. Can the great Teri McKeever transform her? I think it’s a big challenge because it’s perhaps just a problem of talent. And if Cindy Tran can’t do it she will have another way to explore in the world cup. She can make a big career in these races in short course. And she can earn many dollars.

    • Sam I am says:
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      Tran a awful swimmer? Missy Franklin has the 25th fastest time in the country for SCY 100 back. Would you say she is awful and has a problem of talent? I think not.

      • bobo gigi says:
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        I talked only about the talent of Cindy Tran in long course. Fantastic in yards, awful in long course. Perhaps it can change. We’ll see it next week.

    • Chris says:
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      NCAA’s take place in a bathtub so most college swimmers are also optimized for that environment. Tran probably isn’t considering a long-term professional career as a swimmer, and scy will probably do more for her financially than lcm swimming ever will.

  11. bobo gigi says:
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    I have counted 8 girls with the potential to swim under 1.00. Missy Franklin, Natalie Coughlin, Rachel Bootsma, Elizabeth Pelton, Jenny Connolly, Olivia Smoliga, Megan Romano and Elizabeth Beisel can do it. Perhaps the last 2 will not swim this race but the overall level is impressive.

  12. Tea says:
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    I know it’s very very unlikely (and has been discussed to death), but I’d love to see Phelps go after the 100 back, just because I’ve always wondered what he is capable of, fully rested in the backstroke. He’s too competitive – ie, he won’t give upgold in the 200 free for an event he probably won’t win. But he will have an opportunity to show everyone up leading off the 800 FRR.

  13. Jean Michel says:
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    All the re-actions about BOBOGIGI’s openminded comments are totally ridiculous and from wrong oriented minds ! Keep talking swimming , forget the useless details . This world has enough hypocrisy and wrong minded people . Thank you guys , stay focused on what’s important : we are sharing fabulous swimming passion for one great sport .

  14. cynthia curran says:
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    Tran had Coach Bob Gillet that did Misty Hyman. One reason I think he went out to Golden West since there just as good swimmers in Phoneix area. is Tran. Tran the best of the Golden west bunch since the early 1970’s when Flip Darr coach Huntington Beach with Shirley Bashasoff, Gary Hall Sr and Steve Furness went to the 1972 Olympic. Tran is more interested in team swimming so she prefers to do well in college. Also, as mention Golden West is a place where the last Olympics were way back in 1976, so good college swimmers from the program but not high elite swimmers Tran is the best so the 12th place finishing in the 100 meter back among the GWC Swimmers.

  15. cynthia curran says:
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    I mena olympians in 1972

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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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