Connect with Us:  

Casualties Mount On The Last Morning

Jul 30, 2011  - Craig Lord

The last morning dawns and the list of casualties grows at a championships characterised by some of the tightest qualifications and finals ever seen. 

There is no one common thread to the theme of falling down, some sick, some out of shape, some unable to stand the heat, some caught in the headlights, others close to best when best is simply not enough to make the cut.

This morning, Laszlo Cseh (HUN) and Luca Marin (ITA) were among the fallen in the 400m medley, with Thiago Pereira BRA) failing to show. 

In the women's long medley it took 4:38.18 to get a second swim. Among those the wrong side of the line was defending champion Katinka Hosszu (HUN) and podium placers at Olympic, world and continental levels galore, the meet over for Zsuszanna Jakabos (HUN) Kathryn Meaklim (RSA), Anja Klinar (SLO) and Kirsty Coventry (ZIM).

And then came the drop in the medley relay: France, world No 1 in 2010 on the clock, out by 0.02sec, Britain's quartet the last through to the third final in the making this morning with Americans in pole position. Out too: Russia, Italy, China and Brazil. There is no mercy in these waters.

There will be none either for the forces within FINA who meddle yet with suits, if sentiment from swimmers and coaches on the deck is anything to go by here in Shanghai. The stability in the sport has been celebrated by athletes and reflected in their - the emphasis on their - efforts and the work of their coaches and their words all week long. They like it where they are. The real deal.

Now, some suit makers have persuaded some FINA folk that tops on men's suits and maybe even full bodysuits (textile) should be brought back and even before any proper debate, suit stockists have contacted SwimNews to tell us all that they have been told to prepare for the return of male suits with tops and possibly full bodysuits too. 

Equality arguments simply do not wash:

  • women and breasts not chests
  • no woman has landed a better commercial deal in the sport courtesy of the chance to advertise a small logo on her suit
  • the magazine, newspaper, TV docs, tweets and Facebook pages of the world are loaded right now with images of some of the most impressive physical specimens on the planet. In keeping with 'sex sells', the female fans out there appear to have decided in large numbers that chest is best. 
  • if suit makers want space to advertise on chests, then start thinking outside the box and talk to FINA about tattoos
  • if suit makers want better commercial chances, start thinking outside the box period - but leave the swimming to the swimmers, leave to the sport the things that make it so great, including the aesthetic image of athleticism that is on display in the race pool better than in any other sport in the world.
  • those in FINA who support such moves have not done their homework on the ability of textile cover on a human body to enhance performance and the risks inherent for swimmers in a world where technology moves on apace and some of the garments making their way into the medical market for the sick can also be applied in the swim by the would-be cheat. Time to read up on such things and listen to sound advice, including knowledge in the ken of the experts running FINA's suit monitoring process.

General rules would have to be changed by Congress to get the full monty back but there is leeway for meddling at the level of the FINA Bureau courtesy of flexibility introduced in Rome that allows the ruling few to bypass the voting membership. There are positive ways to use such power but the system is also open to abuse. Transparency is the key. If there is to be a debate, then let it be conducted in the open, all cards on the table, all commercial interests clearly laid out.

Prelim reports:

Men's 400m medley 

Ryan Lochte (USA) set up the very strong chance of a fifth gold medal of the meet with a 4:11.89 ticket to lane 4 in heat 5 ahead of Yuya Horihata (JPN), on 4:13.68, and David Verraszto (HUN), on 4:15.01. 

The Hungarian had watched his Olympic silver medal winning teammate Laszlo Cseh slump in the third heat on 4:22.26 before heading for the sick bay. Huang Chaosheng (CHN) at the helm of Cseh's heat clocked 4:14.07 ahead of Ioannis Drymonakos, the Greek swimmer who returned to competition in May last year after serving a two-year doing ban after he tested positive for Methyltrienolone.

The fourth heat had Tyler Clary up from, a 4:14.98 granting the US its first ticket to the final, with China booking a second place courtesy of Wang Cheng Xiang's 4:16.45, the door to the final slammed shut by Roberto Pavoni, of Britain, on 4:16.48.

Qualifiers: Lochte, Horihata, Huang, Clary, Drymonakos, Verraszto, Wang, Pavoni.

Women's 400m medley 

Racing in the first of the fast heats, Elizabeth Beisel and US teammate Caitlin Leverenz could leave nothing to chance: a 4:34.95 from Beisel and 4:36.78 from Leverenz did the trick, placing them in lanes 4 and 3 after two more fast heats.

Next up, world s/c champion and fastest in the world so far this season, Mireia Belmonte (ESP) responded with a 4:3636, Ye Shiwen (CHN) on 4:38.18. Heading for the door: Anja Klinar (SLO) on 4:41.23 and Olympic silver medallist Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), on 4:42.52.

The last heat knew that a 4:41.33 was the cut to add just one of them to the final line-up, while for four to make it would require 4:38.82 or better.

What a last heat it was, in the hunt Olympic champion Stephanie Rice (AUS), European and Commonwealth champion Hannah Miley (GBR), defending world champion Katinka Hosszu (HUN) and Asian Games champion Li Xuanxu (CHN).

Out on the wing in 8, Barbora Zavadova (CZE), 18, entered with a 4:42.30, was not expected to cause the big guns a headache. But she did: 4:36.96 took the heat and gave her a place in the middle four lanes tonight, Rice on 4:37.32, Miley 4:37.39 and Li on 4:37.61. In lanes 5 and 6, Hungarian defending champion Hosszu and teammate Zsuszanna Jakabos went the way of Cseh, Jakabos 0.66sec shy of the cut on 4:38.84, the queen of Rome 2009 gone in 4:42.96 for 15th.  

Qualifiers: Beisel, Belmonte, Leverenz, Zavadova, Rice, Miley, Li, Ye.

Men's 4x100m medley 

Germany set the pace in heat 1 on 3:33.69 ahead of the Netherlands, on 3:34.59, and Australia, on 3:34.88.

Defenders the USA clocked 3:32.42 at the helm of heat 2, Japan and Canada on 3:34.82 and 3:35.36 and lane 4 not quite sealed for the Americans, with Gaul to go as world No1 from their European title win in Budapest last year. 

And go they did - all the way to the helm of quartets who made the morning their last stand at Shanghai 2011.

Jeremy Stravius, Hugues Duboscq, Florent Manaudou and Fabien Gilot: how could they miss? It came down to the last two men in, Manaudou collapsing in the closing 10m and losing a body length lead coming into the wall. Still, all ought to have been well, with Gilot to go in just ahead of Britain's Adam Brown and Poland's Konrad Czerniak. The Pole split 47.86, the Brit a 48.36, fine efforts. Gilot? 48.77, slower than five of his standing start solo efforts this season and 0.02sec shy of what it took to match Britain, the last quartet through.

Gilot's problem was clear, his start worse than a standing solo effort from the gun because he was forced to hesitate, determined not to false start and could not be sure if Manaudou had 1, 2 or 3 tiny stroke, his arms barely clearing the surface, left in him, or perhaps whether he would even make it at all. 

Qualifiers: USA, GER, NED, JPN, AUS, CAN, POL, GBR