Medal contenders on Day 1 in Rio

Over the coming days #SwimWords will endeavour to predict who will win the swimming medals at Rio 2016 offering insight as we go. Before each day we will post our predictions with a short explanation of the reasoning behind the picks. #SwimWords will look to track the success of our predictions throughout the Olympic week.

So….

Here are the picks for the medals available on Day 1 of the Games….

MEN’S 400 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY

Kosuke Hagino sits as the favourite for this one. The World No.1 posted the fastest time in 2016, clocking 4.08.85 at Japan Open in May. Hagino has something to prove as he missed the World Championships in Kazan last year due to a fractured elbow after a cycling incident shortly before the competition began. Last month #SwimWords posted an article asking: Is Hagino currently the best all round male swimmer in the World? It is hard to argue against this when in Canet (the scene of the cycling accident the year before) in June this year he put on a display of versatility that not even the great Phelps or Lochte could produce now. Within that multiple event display, Hagino swam 4.09.52 in the 400IM on his own (he won by 5 seconds) a time that no one else has been able to achieve in 2016.

Closest to the diminutive Japenese all rounder is the American Chase Khalisz. Khalisz, who won a Bronze in Kazan last summer, swam a commanding 4.09.54 at U.S. Team Trials to beat the fading Ryan Lochte and up and coming Jay Litherland. Although only just off his best time (4.09.22) in a high pressure race, Chase was disappointed with his finishing time, knowing he will be required to go much faster to match Hagino. It is something the American believes he can do as his best times come from 2013 and he feels there is a big drop possible after his recent training with his long-term coach Bob Bowman (also Coach to Michael Phelps).

Hagino’s team mate and current World No.3, Daiya Seto has been battling back and forth with his Japanese counterpart for a number of years. Seto won the World Championships in 2015, in the absence of Hagino, in a very good time of 4.08.50. However this year he is yet to show the same form, and was beaten by his team mate at the Japanese Olympic trials by a significant margin. Seto will be hoping to peak in Brazil and compete for top honours.

David Verraszto will be looking to upset this party though and get himself on the podium instead. The Hungarian won Silver in Kazan in 4.09.90; a big breakthrough and the best swim of his career. Nonetheless he has not shown the same form this year clocking 4.12.21 (8th in the World two per nation) but this is not unusual for Verraszto, who with such a heavy training programme, often swims well of his best until the major competition. With the addition of Hagino this year, and a better-looking Khalisz, Verraszto is likely to miss out.

SwimWords podium prediction:

  GOLD SILVER BRONZE
Men’s 400 Individual Medley Hagino Khalisz Seto

 

MEN’S 400 FREESTYLE

2808_swjuniors_horton.jpg

The World No.1 in 2016 is Australian Mack Horton. Despite Horton having a disappointing year in 2015, culminating in failing to make the final of this event at the World Champs in Russia, the tall Melbourne based swimmer has bounced back and finds himself as the fastest 400 freestyler on the planet with 3.41.65. This time is faster than Sun Yang’s clocking to win the Worlds last year (3.42.58) and sits him two seconds ahead of the Chinese superstar on the World rankings.  With that 2016 form, Horton is our pick for Gold.

Sun Yang, the defending World and Olympic Champion, has not been as dominant as past years, with public doping issues, controversial bans, and other problems away from the racing pool, even causing him to not appear at the last minute for his 1500m final in Kazan last year. If Sun Yang does turn up for his event be sure though that he will be hunting for Horton on that final 100 metres.

There has been much talk about the winning time in Rio possibly touching the timing pad in 3.39 and a new World Record (WR 3.40.07 – Paul Biedermann). Unlikely for someone to attempt this when Olympic Gold is at stake; tending to be a more cagey affair with winning the race, rather than time, being the most important. If anyone can do it thought it is the man from China who’s best is recorded at 3.40.14.

The Bronze medal will be a tough fight between Guy, Detti and Jaeger, who have all posted 3.43 this year. Italian Gabriele Detti and American Conor Jaeger have made big drops in 2016 and find themselves near the top of the rankings. Jaeger was incredibly strong and tactically astute at the U.S. Trials to come through the field late and win in 3.43.79 (3rd in World). Detti has backed up his breakthrough swim in April (3.43.97) with great consistency by winning the European Championships in London (3.44.01) and swimming very fast in Rome at the end of June (3.44.21). However James Guy, the Silver medallist from Kazan, is fast improving and considering the way he swam at the British Trials this year (went out very fast under world record pace – blowing the rest of the field away resulting in a solo swim in the second half), when stronger competition is around him he often raises his game, he would be the SwimWords pick for bronze.

SwimWords podium prediction:

  GOLD SILVER BRONZE
Men’s 400 Freestyle Horton Sun Guy

 

WOMEN’S 400 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY

hosszu-600x400

The overwhelming favourite for this event in Kazan, and quite rightly, is Katinka Hosszu. The ‘Iron Lady’ has a best time this year of 4.29.89, and this is some 3.5 seconds ahead of the second ranked swimmer in 2016. The final is Hosszu’s to lose frankly, and with her butterfly and backstroke speed expect her to be out in front from the start. The only chink in the Hungarian’s armour is the fact that she had a disappointing Olympics in 2012, resulting in no medals and maybe a slight doubt in her head that she hasn’t done it on the biggest of stages yet. She is a very different swimmer from fours years ago however.

The destinations of the minor medals are a little harder to predict. On 2016 form there are four ladies vying for two medals.  Mireia Belmonte, who was plagued by injury last year, known for her toughness and short course prowess, has the 3rd ranked time this year with 4.33.42. If she can get herself in contention with 100 metres to go, the Silver medallist in the 800 free at London2012, will be plenty to handle on the final leg.

The ever consistent Hannah Miley from Great Britain has the 2nd ranked time in the World in 2016 (4.33.40) and will always be there or thereabouts. A Silver medal at the Shanghai World Championships in 2011 but a 4th place in Kazan in 2015, she will be eager to turn this around.

The two Americans representatives will be tough to beat with both ladies having impressive best times of 4.31. Elizabeth Beisel won Silver in London in 2012, but was also injured last year and has struggled to get back to her previous form. She has the 4th ranked time in the World from May (4.33.55), but is struggling for consistency, as a month later the American was only able to produce 4.36 swim and come runner up at U.S. Olympic Trials. That was taken by first time Olympian but experienced Maya DiRado, who after Silver in Kazan last year, has backed this up by a dominant winning performance at the U.S. Trials.  With the most recent form of DiRado and the finishing ability of Belmonte (and her hunger to get back after injury) they are the picks for the minor medals.

SwimWords podium prediction:

  GOLD SILVER BRONZE
Women’s 400 Individual Medley Hosszu Belmonte DiRado

 

WOMEN’S 4×100 FREESTLYE RELAY

aussie women relay

More in depth insight on the results of this Women’s relay has already been posted in Women team up for World Records in Rio, so please click on the article to read more about the SwimWords medal predictions for this one.

It proves to be a very exciting race, with the Australian women starting as overwhelming favourites. Don’t be surprised if a World Record goes in this one on the first night!

SwimWords podium prediction:

GOLD SILVER BRONZE
Women’s 4×100 Free Relay AUS USA NED

Day 2 medal predictions coming soon…

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