The return of the great Ian Thorpe, which was surrounded by much hype and fanfare, led to a huge emotional rollercoaster in the British and Australian media when he finished 6th in his only Day 1 swim, the 100 IM, at the Singapore stop of the 2011 FINA World Cup. (The Swim Brief nailed that feeling with another classic Tom Duke piece).
Thorpe touched in 56.33 in the finals, which was three-seconds behind Chad le Clos, the event winner, in 53.03, and that time leaves him ranked right around 60th in the world this season.
Through some finagling of times using Power Points tables, and giving some credit for the fact that he’s a freestyler not an IM’er, I’d put the equivalent 100 free (which is his goal event for the Olympics) around a 49.6 in SCM, or 51.0 in LCM. Though that’s a totally unscientific conversion, it’s probably in the right range, and is none-too-shabby of a result. Remember, as Thorpe expressed prior to the meet, this is off of 5 years without competing. Not just a year or two, but 5, so it’s hard to be disappointed with the result.
Thorpe did demonstrate that he’s found some fast-twitch muscle – on the fly/back front-half of the race, he was right in the thick for a top-4 finish with an opening split of 25.14. It was only on the back-half (31.19) where he slipped all the way to 7th, more than two-seconds slower on the way home than the main pack.
For anybody to be disappointed in this swim is unfair. Nobody aside from him and his coach had a clue of what to expect from him in terms of time, and even they probably were no more than 60-70% confident in it. I think throughout this World Cup, as long as Thorpe is continuing to make finals and get afternoon swims, the results are satisfactory. I’d look to a January meet as a better indicator of where he’s at headed into Australian Trials.