Wellbrock, Hafnaoui Miss 800 Free Final In Doha After “Surprisingly Slow” Prelim

2024 WORLD AQUATIC CHAMPIONSHIPS

The carnage in the men’s distance events continued on Tuesday morning in Doha as two of the big favorites fell short of the final in the 800 freestyle.

Defending world champion Ahmed Hafnaoui and Germany’s Florian Wellbrock, the 2022 silver medalist in the event, both missed out on the top eight. Hafnaoui clocked 7:51.72 to finish a distant 18th, while Wellbrock was right in the hunt but fell short by just over half a second in 7:48.17 to take 10th.

The result for Hafnaoui isn’t a shock after he fell well short of the 400 free final on Sunday, but the swim for Wellbrock is noteworthy for a few different reasons.

For one, there was already a sign that he too wasn’t at his best at the beginning of the championships in the open water events, as the reigning Olympic champion in the 10km and the defending world champion in both the 5km and 10km events finished 9th and 29th, respectively, early in the competition in Doha.

In Fukuoka, after Wellbrock was dynamite in open water, he struggled to perform in the pool off the back of that. His swim this morning while well shy of his best (7:39.48) was only a few seconds slower than what he went in Fukuoka (7:45.87), where he also missed the final, while clearly not being on the same type of form given the open water results.

The 26-year-old said he was surprised with the result, feeling as though the heat was moving much quicker.

“The time is surprisingly slow, I thought we were going a little faster because it was all relatively close together,” he said, having finished 5th in Heat 4 where the top four all advanced. “There might have been a little bit left in it. It felt faster than it actually was.”

Wellbrock remained optimistic moving forward and said the transition from open water to pool was smoother here than it was last year.

“The change from open water to the pool felt a little nicer than in Fukuoka, and that was important.”

The 2022 World Championship silver medalist in the 800 free, the 1500 has always been Wellbrock’s best event in the pool, and he’ll be in the hunt in that race at the end of the competition.

Coming in, he said his goal was to defend the open water world titles and then qualify for the Olympics in the pool, where he would need to finish in the top four and be the fastest German.

Wellbrock has locked up a spot in Paris in the open water 10km, but the pool slots remain up for grabs. His countryman Sven Schwarz advanced 3rd into the final after clocking 7:46.95 en route to winning Heat 5, and Schwarz and Oliver Klemet is another up-and-coming German distance swimmer poised to challenge for an Olympic berth in the men’s distance events.

If Schwarz finished inside the top four in the final, he’ll lock up one of the two Olympic spots in the 800 free.

In Paris, should Wellbrock qualify for the pool events, he won’t have to deal with the same open water-to-pool transition, as the 10km will take place at the end of the Games rather than the beginning.

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NotNicFink
1 month ago

Hard as a distance swimmer to differentiate how you feel during and race and where the competitors are at around you. There’s so many top tier distance men in the world that are so close together that they may be falling into the trap of just trying to race, which in these prelim situations is not good.

rhode
1 month ago

Hafnaoui is usually slow in season.

Alice
1 month ago

Just realized that Kim Woomin didn’t swim

chickenlamp
1 month ago

These are basically in-season times for Hafnoui, not sure why he came to Doha if he wasn’t going to taper enough to get night swims. The 1500 should be all Wiffen’s; it doesn’t seem like there will be much of a race unless Wellbrock or Paltrinieri rebounds. Wiffen historically has swam his best times in time-trial-like races.

I hoped that third try would be a charm for Charlie Clark, but I see he still hasn’t found a way to swim near his PBs outside of the US.

Tencor
Reply to  chickenlamp
1 month ago

Paltrinieri can still hand down a strong 800, we’ll see, he always likes to get a end lane during prelims

Tea rex
1 month ago

Maybe Ahmed’s “Half ‘n, half out” of training

swimster
Reply to  Tea rex
1 month ago

be nice

IU Swammer
1 month ago

I hope Hafnaoui gets it figured out. He looked like a promising contender to break the 1500 WR. I’m hoping this meet is a blip. Sometimes a half-taper does more damage than good, and things are likely made worse by the inconsistencies in training with a different coach and workout plan for the three weeks leading in.

Timekeeper
1 month ago

Isn’t David Johnston who also laid an egg in the 400 in that same training group with Schubert?

Konner Scott
Reply to  Timekeeper
1 month ago

He was only a second off his PB. I don’t think I’d call that “laying an egg”.

Adrian
Reply to  Timekeeper
1 month ago

I would not consider one second slower than PB and second-best performance as laying an egg. He also PBed by 2 seconds in the 800 today.

Mark Schubert
Reply to  Timekeeper
1 month ago

One second off in the 400, 2 seconds better in the 800. Let’s see what the relay and the 400 IM bring. He has not swum an IM since NCAAs so will be interesting!!

Nature Boy
1 month ago

“Damn that’s crazy” – IU coaches, probably

swimster
Reply to  Nature Boy
1 month ago

hard to blame IU now.

Nature Boy
Reply to  swimster
1 month ago

“IU can’t coach distance swimmers” crowd have to be hurting watching this meet. Denigan becoming an Olympian and Brinegar/ElKamash/Hafnaoui all off form has to hurt. Maybe the TST crew treated this meet like a pro swim/in season meet?

Last edited 1 month ago by Nature Boy
Admin
Reply to  Nature Boy
1 month ago

Is that a crowd that exists? I’m not familiar with that crowd. Based on the names you’ve listed….is that crowd just Mark Schubert?

Nature Boy
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

Seems there was a lot of ruckus when Gallant and later Brinegar decided to leave the program

Mike
Reply to  Nature Boy
1 month ago

I think for Hafnaoui there is more to his performances that he will publicly say. Hopefully he figures it out, his performances last year really were something else

swimster
Reply to  Nature Boy
1 month ago

that’s an expensive proposition for everyone except Hafanoui … he’s fairly local.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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