Just hours before the pool swimming begins in Shenzhen, China, the First day’s Start Lists have fianlly been released.
On day 1, the biggest race to watch will be the men’s 200 fly. It will feature two of the oldest University students in the field, in Pawel Korzeniowski of Poland and Laszlo Cseh of Hungary. Korzeniowski finished 6th at the World Championships in this race, and Cseh, who battled asthma problems throughout his meet in Shanghai, should have been, though he fell out as a victim of a slow semifinal heat.
The American challengers in this race will be Bobby Bollier, off of his recent USA Swimming National Title, and Mark Dylla, off of his recent Collegiate National Title. Both swimmers will have the advantage over the top two seeds named above in that this is their lone focus meet of the 2011 long course season, and both are close enough by time to give themselves great shots at medals.
Other big names competing on the first day include Australia’s Marieke Guehrer in the 50 fly, the 2009 World Champion in this race and a former short course World Record holder. Her big competition in this race will come from Ying Lu of China, who placed 4th in Shanghai at the World Championships. Guehrer is the top seed, though at Worlds Lu was the higher finisher of the two.
The men’s 200 back will feature Japan’s Ryosuke Irie, who took a bronze in the 100 back and a silver in the 200 back at the World Championships. He’s a heavy favorite here, as the Japanese have shown an ability to swim very fast times multiple times in a season (and he’s the top seed by 3 seconds), but the fight for 2nd is wide open. American Cory Chitwood is the number two seed, followed by Gareth Kean of New Zealand and Rex Tullius, also of the United States. If Kean has a performance at the level of the rest of his countrymate’s at Worlds did, he seems to be a shoe-in for a medal. Also don’t sleep on Italy’s Sebastiano Ranfagni. He’s not exactly one of the impressive group of Italian “youngsters,” as he’s 26-years old, but Italy always shows up very well in this meet.
The other medals awarded on day 1 will be for the women’s 800 free, the men’s 200 breast, and the women’s 400 free relay.