World Championships Preview: Will Ye Be As Good As She Was in London?

by SwimSwam Staff 46

July 09th, 2013 International, News

Much like the 200 IM the 400 IM world rankings look a lot like the Olympic final. Five swimmers in the top eight were in the final in London; Ye Shiwen, Elizabeth Beisel, Katinka Hosszu, Hannah Miley and Mireia Belmonte Garcia.

In fact out of the top eight ranked women in the world at this moment at least four of them have been in the final of each of the last two World Championships:

2009 – Hosszu, Miley, Beisel and Zsuzsanna Jakabos

2011 – Beisel, Miley, Belmonte Garcia and Ye

credits to British Swimming (Alex Whitehead, SWPix)

credits to British Swimming (Alex Whitehead, SWPix)

Let’s start at the top, Hannah Miley. Miley has had a good year after a big disappointment at the Olympics where she finished fifth. She won the Short Course World Championships in a time of 4:23.14, which was a best time by three seconds and she posted the world’s fastest time of 4:34.21 in April, which is still almost two seconds slower than her life time best of 4:32.67 that she recorded at the British Olympic Trials.

Her most recent result of 4:35.67 was recorded in her win at the British Gas Swimming Championships and World Championship trials.

It is very hard to get a handle on exactly where Ye Shiwen is at any point because she races so little. In 2012 Ye swam the 400 IM at two meets, the Chinese Nationals in April where she recorded a 4:35.17 and again at the Olympics where she produced her jaw dropping 4:28.43. So let’s look at this year, she has swum the 400 IM twice, the first at the BHP Billiton Super Series in January where she went a 4:37.04 and than again at the Chinese Nationals where she posted a time of 4:34.27 the second fastest time in the world.

Ye also put up a time of 4:23.33 at the short course world championships falling just short of catching Miley for the gold.

So can we assume that her preparation for Barcelona will follow the same course as it did for London? If so we are in for a treat and it is hard to imagine another swimmer will challenge her, but that is an assumption.

Maya Dirado has had an exceptional year, finishing second in the 400 IM at the NCAA Championships to Olympic silver medalist Elizabeth Beisel and winning the US World Championship Trials recording a new life time best time of 4:34.34, holding off the aforementioned Beisel in what was a tremendous race. Dirado is the fastest improving swimmer in contention for a place on the podium.

Elizabeth Beisel, 400 IM prelims, 2010 Pan Pacific Championships  (Photo Credit: Tim Binning, theswimpictures)

Elizabeth Beisel, 400 IM prelims, 2010 Pan Pacific Championships (Photo Credit: Tim Binning, theswimpictures)

Beisel won this event in Shanghai in 2011 in a time of 4:31.78. She has beat everyone in the field, except for Ye, at both the 2011 World Championships and the Olympics and has a life time best that is better than everyone except Ye. Her fastest time this year has been a 4:34.50, which she posted at the US Trials, finishing second to Dirado. This is a hard one Beisel has the heart of a champion, but has a appeared to be off her game or battling injury in the last few months.

Heading into the Olympics, where she had a fantastic swim to win the silver and recorded a life time best time of 4:31.27, her 2012 season’s best was a 4:31.74 that she posted at trials. The question will be can she get back down to the area of that time when she was only a 4:34.50 just over a week ago.

Belmonte Garcia’s posted a 4:35.27 in March and she has a life time best of 4:33.91, which she recorded last year. She was fourth in the 2011 World Championships and finished eighth in London.

Then there are the two Hungarians, Hosszu and Jakabos. As we discussed in the 200 IM preview Hosszu has had a great year on the World Cup circuit, at the Short Course World Championships and on the Mare Nostrum Tour, but will all of her racing catch up to her? It may and the 400 IM may be when it does.  By the final day of the competition her schedule of events may have taken enough of a toll on her  that we may not see the best of Hosszu. Having said that she has a best time of 4:32.83, finished fourth at the Olympics and has been preparing herself to race as much as she is all year.

Jakabos finished just outside of the top eight at the Olympics. At the Short Course World Championships she finished fourth and put up a short course life time best of 4:25.61 in November, which beat her previous best by over two seconds. She has a long course life time best is a 4:35.43.

Chinese swimmer Min Zhou fits into the same category as Ye when it comes to the frequency of racing this event. In 2011 she swam it once recording a 4:45.51, in 2012 she swam it four times with a season’s best of 4:37.83 and in 2013 she has swam it once posting a 4:37.44. With the history of the Chinese in this event and the improvement curve Zhou has had over the past few years, she looks to be a contender.

Miyu Otsuka of Japan has a life time best of 4:36.64, which she posted at the Japanese Nationals in 2012 and has a season’s best of 4:36.87. Aimee Willmott will also have a shot at the top eight, she has a life time best 4:37.48 and a season’s best of 4:38.94.

Top 8 finishers, with best time from January 1,2010 forward:

1. Ye Shiwen – 4:28.43

2. Hannah Miley – 4:32.67

3. Elizabeth Beisel – 4:31.27

4. Min Zhou – 4:37.44

5. Maya Dirado – 4:34.34

6.  Katinka Hosszu – 4:32.83

7. Zsuzsanna Jakabos – 4:35.43

8. Mireia Belmonte Garcia – 4:33.91

 

 

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Intheknow
9 years ago

China only have 4 “standard” meets each year: 2 Nationals (April/September) and 2 qualifying meets – one approximately 6 weeks before each nationals. That is why you don’t see many results coming out of there between April and the summer.
Also, don’t forget to factor in the fact that the post-Olympic year is always China National Games year which is the most important meet in the calendar for most swimmers and teams.
Don’t be surprised if some of the swimmers named above do not even swim in Barcelona – or don’t swim so fast – and then post faster times in early April.

ASF
Reply to  Intheknow
9 years ago

There were talks early on in the Chinese swimming circle that the Federation was considering sending a smaller delegation to this year’s world championship. This is because at the provincial level, the national games in September is much more rewarding financially than the world championship. Therefore, many of the provincial officials do not want to send their top swimmers to the world championship or build their training around the the world championship. The leaked news met a lot of angry reaction from the swimming fans. As it turns out, 49 swimmers will be swimming at te world championship. However, how fast they will swim is another question particularly those have no chance of medalling. One thing for sure is that… Read more »

Jg
9 years ago

Hagino & Fraser Holmes have proved this year to be world ranking in both 400 I’m & 200/400 free ( ok FH got disq but he is a 3.45 quality) .

Considering they barely edged out Ye’s final 100 free last year I am looking forward to the rematch.

aswimfan
Reply to  Jg
9 years ago

Ye may tone down her last 100, for fear of being slashed to death by arm chair critic who hurled drug allegations at her.

Chris
9 years ago

I know Ye will definitely be good, but a lot of people are underestimating the Americans. Dirado has dropped so much time and looks to keep that ball rolling into worlds. She has only gotten better since Meehan started coaching her and I am looking forward to see what damage she can do at her first international meet.

Beisel has been injured for the past couple months and the fact that she swam as well as she did at trials should worry her competitors. She is one swimmer who can consistently come back from setbacks and should be expected to take some names this summer. Every olympian goes through a depression after the olympics and she was not an… Read more »

Dave
9 years ago

I’ll take Ye for Gold 4:31, Miley for Silver 4:33 and Hosszu for Bronze 4:34. I suspect Ye will return to the sub 4:30 stratosphere at some point in her career, but not this year. As an American, I’d love to see Beisel pull out a huge swim or DiRado drop a bunch more time, but I’ll bet against it for now in the hopes of being pleasantly surprised. DiRado did indeed look seriously good at trials, I’m just not sure she has much reserve speed left in in the tank at this point.

KeithM
9 years ago

Someone like Miley is a more reliable pick to medal for me than Hosszu. We’ve all seen what Katinka can do in college and we know that she has the potential to throw down a good time in long course. But her results at the big long course meets more often than not haven’t been there, whereas Miley throws down a 4:35 and under every time she swims. I know that Hosszu may have said that the 400IM is her main event. But she hasn’t thrown down anything ominous this year and she has tended on occasion to swim her best times in season in the past. I think her chances of medaling in the 200IM may actually be better… Read more »

KeithM
9 years ago

“Beisel won this event in Shanghai in 2011 in a time of 4:31.78. She has beat everyone in the field, except for Ye, at both the 2011 World Championships and the Olympics and has a life time best that is better than everyone except Ye.”

Except for Ye?

Actually Beisel did beat Ye Shiwen at the Shanghai World Championships in 2011. Coming off her win in the 200IM Ye did not swim well in the 400IM. She finished 5th.

aswimfan
Reply to  KeithM
9 years ago

the writer clearly said:

“at BOTH the 2011 World Championships AND the Olympics”

Beisel beat Shiwen in 2011 Worlds, but she did not beat her in the olympics.
Beisel beat everybody else in BOTH championships though.

So the sentence is true and correct.

KeithM
Reply to  aswimfan
9 years ago

Yes, I understand now. My eyes glazed over the “both” so I just took it to mean either meet.

SwimFanFinland
9 years ago

Events where Chinese have a good shot at podium are the hardest to rank.
I’m sure everyone would welcome Chinese to compete at their meetings, e.g. Mare Nostrum, Sette Colli, France Open, US Grand Prix Series etc. I share the misery of evaluating Ye with swimswamstaff and everyone who’s trying to do that. In my book there is no superior Shiwen this year; maybe she has lost her heart to steward.

1) Hosszu, Katinka (HUN)
2) Miley, Hannah (GBR)
3) Dirado, Maya (USA)

There are aspects backing up Hosszu. No one has been exposed racing and fatigue at a meeting as much as Katka and 400IM, which she declared to be her main target, is on… Read more »

bobo gigi
Reply to  SwimFanFinland
9 years ago

So, you don’t pick Ye Shiwen even for a medal? Congratulations for your courage!

lbswimfan
Reply to  bobo gigi
9 years ago

BOBO you make me laugh! 🙂

bobo gigi
Reply to  lbswimfan
9 years ago

That’s already something.

aswimfan
Reply to  SwimFanFinland
9 years ago

with the exception of Sun Yang, it is hard to evaluate chinese swimmers. period.

they are so up and down. very unpredictable, and will certainly ruin many prediction lists 🙂

Witness:

– xin xin (15 yo) was 8:22 in the trials and bombed out 8:40 in London prelims.
– Zige, from 2:01 shiny suit and 2:04 in textile in 2011 to 2:08.7 in London
etc.
and then you had a bolter like Shiwen, going from 4:34 to 4:28

KeithM
Reply to  SwimFanFinland
9 years ago

SwimFanFinland, that’s just her personality. I wouldn’t take anything away from her being happy in the interview.

If I had to pick 5 American swimmers from trials that I felt were most likely to improve their times at Worlds she would be one of them. The other four would be Franklin, Ledecky, Lochte, and Adrian.

Bourdais
9 years ago

How fast is she in the individual strokes? Many of the best individual medley swimmers are also capable of competing in individual events, usually over 200m. Beisel, Coventry, Lochte and Phelps come to mind, while many of the rest compete in the 4x200m freestyle relay. One has to wonder if a swimmer as dominant in the medley as she is couldn’t at least relay in the 200m freestyle – her London effort indicates she lacks neither endurance nor speed. Or perhaps she is better at another stroke, I haven’t analysed her swim closely and she doesn’t swim often enough regardless.

aswimfan
Reply to  Bourdais
9 years ago

Ye Shiwen seems to be:

she expends less energy during the first three strokes which gives her a lot more energy than her competitors to finish the freestyle leg much faster.

Quite similar to the way Sun Yang or Adlington swims.

aswimfan
Reply to  Bourdais
9 years ago

Also, Ye Shiwen does not swim much else but 200/400 IM, so it’s very hard to know how fast she can be in individual strokes. Her srength is definitely freestyle and back, and she doesn’t seem to be expending a lot of energy in the breast either.

She swims 200 free occasionally (her PB is 1:58.77 AFAIK). based on her closing speed in 200/400 IM, you’d think she could swim much faster than that, but she doesn’t.

ASF
Reply to  aswimfan
9 years ago

Ye Shiwen swam 200 free and 200 back in this year’s Chinese spring national. Her time was 1:57.54 (free) and 2:09.12 (back) respectively.

aswimfan
Reply to  ASF
9 years ago

oh thanks for the info!!

This is very useful to evaluate her form. So she set PBs in those two events…

aswimfan
Reply to  Bourdais
9 years ago

A possible explanation why her 200 free time is mediocre compared to her 200/400 IM:

in swimming 200 free (or 400 free) she cannot save energy and has to spend it straight out from the start.