Preview – Day 1, European Swimming Championships 2016

MENS 400 FREE

On paper the World No.2 James Guy, and World No.3 Luca Detti from Italy are streaks ahead of the field both posting 3:43s last month at their respective Olympic qualifying events. Only Australian Mack Horton has gone faster than that this year. The next closest swimmer in 2016 in Europe lies on a 3:46, and although this was only Detti’s personal best time before his break through last month, Guy has been under this mark 8 times previously. Guy, the World Silver Medallist in this event in Kazan last year, is difficult to look past for the Gold. The defending European Champion, Velimir Stepjanovic has had a quiet couple of years since his stunning performance to win from the front in the converted Berlin Velodrome, and while he can never be counted out particularly with his gutsy going out speed, this could be slightly too far for a man who has had looked much better at the shorter distances this year.

The Great Britain team have a number of Men in their team who will want to have a crack at this one including some of their Target Tokyo roster. The consistent Stephen Milne will most definitely get one of the four places, and with his experience now at major competitions, he is an outside prospect for a medal in London.

SwimWords Podium Prediction: GOLD – Guy. SILVER – Detti. BRONZE – Milne.

WOMENS 50 FLY

Sarah Sjoestroem has dominated the butterfly events over recent years, and there is unlikely to be a change this week. The world record holder is streaks ahead of the rest even not at her best and she is the overwhelming favourite. Janette Ottesen has unfortunately taken the full force of Sarah’s dominance, but may have to feel the weight of it once again. Freestyle sprint specialists Halsall (Britain) and Kromowidjojo (Netherlands) quite often treat this as a fun event and an opportunity to get into the meet, but with their natural speed they are never far from the podium places at a World level.

This could be an opportunity to see Great Britain’s Laura Stephens for the first time. The Plymouth Leander youngster will look to shrug off some of those cobwebs, before her the 100 metre event later in the week.

SwimWords Podium Prediction: GOLD – Sjoestroem. SILVER – Ottesen. BRONZE – Halsall

MENS 100 BACK

European No.1 and the only man to go under the 53 second barrier in the 100 metre backstroke this year, Camille Lacourt, is most definitely man to beat. Over the last year Lacourt seems to be finding the form the swimming world were blown away in 2010, with that smooth fast rated stroke. However, as has been the case in many recent backstoke events, many swimmers are capable in and around that 53.0 mark, so one bad mistake at the turn or finish can push you out of the major medals. Knocking on the door is a host of swimmers who will fancy their chances if they get it right. Chris Walker-Hebborn, although by at his own admission not at his best a few weeks ago at his Olympic trials, has gone sub 53 seconds once before and is the defending European champion from Berlin. The fast improving 1995 born Russian, Grigory Tarasevich, is now down to 53.0 at his National Championships in Moscow last month. Although swimming a little slower and placing second in the national final behind Rylov, he has the ability to swim very fast. The slower performance in the final though may something for his competitors to bear in mind if he were to post a fast semi-final swim.

Would expect Chris Walker-Hebborn to be joined by youngsters Luke Greenback and Joe Hulme (team mate of CWH’s at Bath) to represent Great Britain with him. Both these swimmers are better at the longer 200metre distance but this will be a great opportunity for them to get involved in the meet on the first day.

SwimWordsPodium Predictions: GOLD – Lacourt. SILVER – Tarasevich. BRONZE – Walker-Hebborn.

WOMENS 400IM

Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, one the biggest swimming names in the world, will be over whelming favourite for this one. She is the fastest in Europe and the World by nearly 4 seconds in 2016, and although she will undoubtedly have a busy schedule this will be her first event so no reason to be fatigued. Watch for her to make her move and draw out a commanding lead on the backstroke leg. Belmonte, who was quiet in 2015, will have something to say about this however, as she seems to be coming back into form just at the right time. Both Brits, Miley and Wilmott, have a great chance of medalling. Wilmott, fresh from a training camp in Dubai, will hope to use the familiarities of her home pool and home support to her advantage.

Abbie Wood will join team mates Miley and Wilmott in this 400 Individual Medley. Based in Loughborough at the National Performance centre with Kev Renshaw, Abbie is very much a junior tipped for great potential, and will also be representing GBR at the European Juniors in July.

SwimWords Podium Prediction: GOLD – Katinka Hosszu, SILVER – Hannah Miley, BRONZE – Aimie Wilmott

MENS 100 BREAST

You can’t see past World Champion and World Record Holder Adam Peaty for this one. He is the only one of two men in the field to go under 59 seconds on the 100m Breaststroke, and he has done it 9 times. Adam’s mid-season swims are still faster than the rest of Europe, so even if his focus is for later in the summer, he should still do the job here. Ross Murdoch is comfortably the second fastest man this year and is expected to take the silver. The Bronze medal however is all to play for, and there are a number of guys who will be interested in this one. Lead by Vsevolod Zanko the Russians have four men in the top six in the European Rankings, however none of them have travelled to London so others must feel they have excellent chance to get to the podium. Giedrius Titenis, who is a sub 59 second man at his absolute best and with huge experience would be your best bet to make the other podium spot.

Men’s Breaststroke in Great Britain has been stacked for some time now, and this year is no different. There are five GBR breaststrokers on the 42 strong team, but only 4 spaces available for the selectors. After a fantastic British Championships, the up and coming Charlie Attwood, coached by Dave McNulty in Bath, will be hoping for a chance to show what he can do. However, that will mean one of the 200 Breaststroke specialists, Willis and Benson, who have qualified in the longer distance for Rio in the summer, will have to give way. Something neither man will really want to do, even if Willis and Attwood are team mates down in Bath.

SwimWords Podium Prediction: GOLD – Adam Peaty. Silver – Ross Murdoch. Bronze – Giedrius Titenis

WOMENS 200 BACK

Expect it to be Katinka Hosszu for the gold medal, as her main rival and current at the top of the European rankings, Daria Ustinova. is not competing. These two have been much quicker than the rest in 2016 over the 200m distance. With Heats, Semi-Finals, and Finals for the 200s Hosszu will have to manage her efforts in the earlier rounds but with a commanding lead on paper, she is likely to be able to do.

Unfortunately, Great Britain’s best chance for silverware, is not on the team this week. Lizzie Simmonds, who’s ranked 4th in Europe in 2016, wasn’t able to qualify for the Rio Olympics last month and therefore didn’t get selection for London this week. However Target Tokyo selected swimmer, Charlotte Evans, will be starting off the Omega touch pads instead. Charlotte won’t be vying for the medals in London, but this will be invaluable experience for her future.

SwimWords Podium Prediction: GOLD – Hosszu. SILVER – Graf. BRONZE – Prikhodko.

MENS 50 FLY

This is a tough race to call and a great race to watch – the top of the European rankings is separated only by hundredths of a second. This event nowadays favours the out and out sprinters rather the butterfly specialists coming down from the 100m, so Cseh is unlikely to be able take top honours from Govorov or Proud. The sprinters will also all be competing in the one length freestyle sprint too.

Tom Fannon, team mate of Bed Proud in Plymouth, may get an opportunity to use the butterfly event as a warm up for the freestyle event later in the week. Fannon is a very exciting prospect in the GBR team and has also been selected for the European Junior Championships in July.

SwimWords Podium Prediction: GOLD – Govorov. SILVER – Proud. BRONZE – Cseh.

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