Well, the Swimming World Championships is finally under way! Such medals! Much excitement! I will cover the Championships in the blog, but I will only write about the evening sessions, without the morning heats. I watch them, since they can be really interesting sometimes, and many Israeli swimmers take part in the heats, but I don’t want to write posts that are 4,000 words long. I’m not Bill Simmons (sadly 😦 ). When the Championship ends, I will write some additional posts about swimmers and their medals and how the historical all-time medals rankings changed (and they will go through some changes, I guarantee you that).
Today I watched the morning heats on Eurosport, cuz they didn’t show it on Israeli channels. For the evening session I switched to the Israeli channel, but it was horrible. Seriously, it was almost as bad as watching “Spring Breakers”. They didn’t send a team to Kazan and they commentated from the studio, which is acceptable even though it sucks, but the commentators were sooooo bad… So I switched back to Eurosport. I guess I’ll stick with it till the end of the Championships. Anyway, the 1st day already featured 4 finals and many other great swims. So, without Freddy Adu, let’s dive into the pool…
Women’s 100m Butterfly – Semifinals
Let’s call it “The Sjostrom Show”, shall we? The girl who shook the world as a 15-year-old in Berlin 2009 is still only 21, but she can win her third title in this event in tomorrow’s final. She wasn’t in a league of her own today in the semis – she WAS the league of her own, recording a new WR of 55.74, while the second best time was 57.04 (Jeanette Ottesen, one of the prettiest swimmers in the world!). It will be a real shock if Sarah doesn’t win it. I still can’t believe she was only 4th in the event at the London Olympics…
Men’s 400m Freestyle – Final
I have one word for you: Sun Yang. Oh wait, that’s three words. Er… damn, I was never really good in math. I was confident in Sun Yang’s victory before the final, and even as he was always second up until the 300m mark, I knew he was merely biding his time for his famous and unparalleled finish. And indeed, his final 50m were the fastest in the whole swim. Sun Yang is the king of the middle-long distances, and it will be interesting to see whether he can pull the 200-400-800-1500 quadruple here (I don’t know whether he signed up for the 200m. Can someone please check? I’m too lazy to click the damn mouse). Anyway, Sun Yang (it’s always much funner to write his full name! And fuck you, funner IS a word) won his 6th World gold, and his second consecutive in the 400m. However, he’s still very far from the WR that Biedermann set… (Sun Yang today – 3:42.58, Biedermann’s WR – 3:40.07). Boy would I love to see Sun Yang battle Thorpe during his prime! I always get the feeling with Sun Yang that he’s coasting a bit, due to lack of competition. I bet Ian would’ve brought out the best of him.
Second was James Guy from Great Britain, a 19 year old Guy (ha ha, I made a funny!). BTW, I noticed that there are A LOT of very good British swimmers in the Championships! Seriously, they’re like everywhere, it’s like jews and the show-biz. GBR has become a true swimming power-horse. It seems like they have a major swimmer nearly in every event, male or female.
The bronze went to Ryan Cochrane, who is turning into the Merlene Ottey of the World Championships – it’s his 7th medal and none of them are gold! He is awesome of course, but there’s always someone better than him… Well, he’s swimming the long distances during the Sun Yang era (now try to say “during the Yang era. You see? It sounds horrible! Horrible!!!), what did he expect…
Women’s 200m Individual Medley – Semifinals
Wow, third event and a third unquestionable leader. WTF?! Competitiveness, where art thou?! Katinka Hosszu, the great Hungarian, the champion from Barcelona 2013, was in a league of her own here, easily setting the best time in the semis, over a second and a half faster than her nearest rival – Marie O’connor from GBR, who, in her turn, was also miles ahead of the third best time. It looks like the top two spots have been decided already. The only question is – can Hosszu break Ariana Kukors’ WR?
BTW, speaking of the prettiest swimmers out there… it was a pity that Zsuzsanna Jakabos didn’t qualify for the final, Wow Michael, you’re being so professional!
Men’s 50m Butterfly – Semifinals
Florent Manaudou looks like the favorite here. He was the fastest in the semis, 22.84, and looked absolutely great. It was a huge surprise to see Laszlo Cseh performing the way he did – I never thought of him as a sprinter, but he qualified with the 3rd best time! Expect the two Brazilians to be a force in the finals as well. The great Cesar Cielo Filho, the greatest sprinter of the last 7 years and champion of the last two Worlds in this event – qualified 8th… Is it, like, the end? Or is he brewing up some stuff to surprise everyone in the final? Anyway, my money is on Manaudou for the gold.
Women’s 400m Freestyle – Final
Well, Katie Ledecky, it was obvious from the start. I really don’t understand why they went through the trouble of actually letting her swim instead of simply giving her the gold medal and saving her the effort. The amazing twice-in-a-decade talent (Well, let’s not forget Missy Franklin, shall we?), still only 18 years old, won her 5th gold medal in the World Championships, and the first of at least 4 gold medals here. The only event in which she’s not guaranteed the gold is in the 200m, but even there I wouldn’t bet against her. I have never seen such a great middle-long distance female swimmer. I love Pellegrini with all my heart, but she’s nowhere near this girl. Katie didn’t get to break her own WR, missing it by 0.76 of a second, but I think it’s because she started out too fast. She was well under the WR time for the first 250m and then slowed down. But she still set a new CR (3:59.13), erasing my beloved Federica from the records books.
Silver medal went to Sharon van Rouwendaal from the Netherlands, who was almost 4 seconds behind Katie, and the bronze went to Jessica Ashwood. I expected Lauren Boyle to be on the podium – she looked awesome in the heats, but in the final she finished only 5th.
Men’s 100m Breaststroke – Semifinals
Boy, do I like Cameron van der Burgh. He looks like a Hollywood star, he even has that cleft chin. AND let’s not forget (almost forgot that, I swear) that he’s a great swimmer. He is the Olympic champion at this event, despite never winning the gold at the Worlds (he has one silver and two bronzes), and sadly – I suspect that he won’t get the gold here as well. Adam Peaty (another Brit!) is just too good. Cameron set a new CR in his semifinal, only to see Peaty shatter it in the next one. They are the two hot favorites for the gold, and Peaty’s victory is in no way guaranteed, but I reckon the odds are 65-35 in his favor. Cameron – may the odds be ever in your favor!
Women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay – Final
Wow, what a final! I looove relay swims. I think they are the most exciting events in the pool, and we’re lucky enough to get two of them on the very first day! I betted on the Dutch girls to win, I have a weak spot for Ranomi Kromowidjojo and I think she has been the greatest sprinter in the world these past few years. Surprisingly, she was the first swimmer for the Netherlands, instead of being the last. But first, last, doesn’t matter – she started it with a bang – 53.30. Missy Franklin for the USA was second, and the Australians (with Emily Seebohm, who has one of the loveliest names evar) were only fourth.
However, Netherlands’ second swimmer fucked things up and lost all the advantage Ranomi built. Australia moved to first place. Third swimmer for the Aussies was Bronte Campbell, of the Campbell sisters, and she torched the pool with the fastest split in the final – 51.77. During that third leg the Swedish girls came back into medals contention, because they fielded Sjostrom, who brought them to second place. However, sadly there is only one Sjostrom, and they quickly lost their position during the final leg and finished 4th.
The Netherlands had a very strong 4th leg, with Femke Heemskerk (51.99, second fastest split), but she couldn’t catch the second Campbell sister – Cate. She did, however, passed the Americans en route to second place. The USA finished a disappointing third, but who cares – the Aussies won it big time! And all thanks to the marvelous Campbell sisters. Well, not all thanks to them. I reckon they also won because they didn’t let Alicia Coutts swim and thus guarantee them a silver medal. But also kudos for the Netherlands! Since Kromowidjojo joined their national team in 2007 they never failed to win a medal in this event (2 Olympics and 5 Worlds)!
Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay – Quarterfinals. Just kidding. Final
Boy did the Americans and the Australians fucked this up in the heats… I really like Anthony Ervin, but in the heats it looked like he drowned in the pool… Neither team made it to the finals, and so we were left with the France-Russia duel, instead of the quadruple feast that we should have been treated to.
For some reason, Canada led after the first 100m. But then Florent Manaudou jumped in the pool, and he brought the French back to where they belong. From then on it was pretty much France vs. Russia. Fabien Gilot gave a fantastic third leg – 47.08, only to find out that the third Russian – Vlad Morozov, gave an otherworldly third leg of his own – 46.95 (the fastest in the final). Heading into the final 100m, Russia trailed France by only 0.15 of a second. However, back specialist Jeremy Stravius was too much for Alexander Sukhorukov to handle, and it was never really close. The French won by 0.45.
In the rest of the pool, the great Filippo Magnini, twice world champion in the 100m for you young bloods (2005 and 2007), pulled the Italians to the bronze medal, pushing the Brazilians to 4th. BTW, I really don’t understand how come Brazil didn’t fielded Cesar Cielo. It really befuddles me…
Anyway, the men’s relay was much less exciting than the women’s, and we know who is to blame for that (ehm ehm USA and Australia…).
So, this concludes our first day of the Championships. Lots of action, as always. And the best part? It’s only the first day!