While most of the big names from the 100 breaststroke (Rebecca Soni, Yuliya Efimova) will move on to the 200 breaststroke, the champion will fork off and take a bit of a different path. Meilutyte’s other two Olympic entries are in the 50 and 100 freestyle.
This is a trend becoming more-and-more popular in the 100 breaststroke (think Jessica Hardy of the United States) as coaches are finding ways to more effectively use a sprinter’s fast-twitch muscles to produce great times in the shorter breaststroke races. Previously, the 100/200 breaststroke was the dominant combination, as breaststroke used to rely more heavily on just power from a kick and less on explosive movements. (See the video above of the 1984 Olympic breaststroke final, and notices the differences, especially in the swimmers’ arms).
Based on the drops she’s made in her breaststroke, her time in the spotlight may not be done, either. She comes into the meet with bests of 25.67/55.57 in the 50 and 100, respectively.
If we play a little comparative math, in this meet she dropped two seconds off of her best 100 breaststroke time. That would imply something in the 53-second range in her 100 free. She’ll be swimming from outside of the circle-seeded heats, so if she can get some clean water that puts her well within reach of jumping up early and qualifying for the semi-finals at least in the 100 free.
Meilutyte’s build isn’t quite as ideal for the sprint freestyles; she stands only about 5’8″ tall. That is a bit undersized for a freestyler but seems to be a good fit in the breaststroke field – most of the finalists ranged from 5’6″ to 5’10” tall.
Get ready for the young Lithuanian to wow again in the freestyles, though. She’s already become just the second finalist ever to swim under the Lithuanian flag this week, and she’ll be keen to make it a second.