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Thursday, April 25, 2024

What Does Group USA Do For The Girls’s Medley Relay?


2023 WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

Headed into the 2023 World Championships, the ladies’s 4×100 medley relay was one of many largest gold locks for Group USA. In the event that they didn’t win another relay, not less than that they had the ultimate race on the ultimate day of the meet as a security internet.

Nevertheless, that narrative modified considerably following the conclusion of the blended medley relay.

Through the blended medley relay, america had been on tempo with China for the primary half of the race. Nevertheless, Zhang Yufei then outsplit Torri Huske by over two seconds, and Australia’s Matt Temple had additionally caught as much as Huske. Despite the fact that Kate Douglass anchored with the quickest relay cut up an American lady has ever produced (51.79), she wasn’t capable of move these in entrance of her and Group USA took bronze.

Huske’s relay cut up of 58.19 was significantly slower than her flat begin time of 56.61 from earlier—had she replicated her flat begin time on this relay, Group USA would have positioned 0.04 seconds behind China as an alternative of 1.62 seconds, growing their possibilities of gold considerably in a real-time state of affairs.

Though Huske has a historical past of swimming the 100 fly slower on relays in comparison with her particular person races, she’s been a mainstay on Group USA’s medley relays for the final two years as a result of the hole between her relay and flat begin instances had been by no means this massive. Nevertheless, after her swim on Wednesday, it’s very seemingly that she is not going to be retained for the ladies’s medley relay. So with out her, what’s going to Group USA do?

On this article, we are going to discover a number of lineups that the American ladies may go together with and evaluate them to a best-case-scenario Australian lineup (Kaylee McKeown, Abbey Harkin, Emma McKeon, Mollie O’Callaghan), because the Aussies look to be their major menace for gold on this relay.

Observe: We used O’Callaghan for Australia’s free leg as an alternative of Jack (regardless of Jack’s greatest 100 free cut up being quicker than O’Callaghan’s flat begin minus 0.5) as a result of Jack has a battle with the 50 free on the ultimate day whereas O’Callaghan is recent and can also be on an enormous upward trajectory after breaking the 200 free world report.

Possibility One: Walsh

For many nations, if their high performer in an occasion is underperforming, they may simply go together with their second-fastest performer. Nevertheless, staff USA opting with Gretchen Walsh, the second-place 100 fly finisher at trials, won’t be perfect.

Walsh is having a comparatively “off” meet at Worlds, having completed eighth within the 100 fly ultimate with a time (57.58) that’s over a second slower than her private greatest (56.31). She additionally didn’t have the very best efficiency main off the 4×100 free relay, clocking a 54.06 that was additionally significantly slower than her 53.11 from three weeks in the past.

Nevertheless, it is value noting that Walsh swam a 57.14 within the 100 fly semifinals. If 0.5 seconds is taken off that point, it’s a 56.64, which is corresponding to an Emma McKeon cut up and in addition considerably quicker than what Huske cut up. Walsh is thought to be a powerful relay performer, however her solely relay expertise is from NCAAs and junior worldwide meets from almost 4 years in the past—none of these meets are on the identical degree as Worlds.

If Walsh one way or the other bounces again within the 50 fly and 50 free in a while in her meet, placing her on the medley relay might be a chance. Nevertheless, given her inexperience, it’s a dangerous transfer. It additionally places them 0.69 seconds forward of Australia on paper, and there’s far more certainty within the Aussies replicating their best-case-scenario splits than america. So the decision right here appears to be that even when Walsh bounces again, placing her on this relay is enjoying with hearth.

Splits Comparability (-0.5 off flat begin instances for breast, fly, and Aussie free):

Possibility Two: Douglass On Fly, Weitzeil On Free

Placing Kate Douglass on fly and Abbey Weitzeil on free is the frequent consensus amongst our commenters proper now, and there’s logic behind it. Each Douglass and Weitzeil are on kind, Weitzeil is an skilled relay anchor, and Douglass has the fourth-fastest 100 fly time on this planet this 12 months.

Nevertheless, there are a number of bones to choose with this lineup.

First off, it’s vital to notice that Douglass didn’t qualify for the 100 fly individually at Worlds. She’s swimming freestyle, breaststroke and IM occasions and doubtless centered on these occasions within the leadup to the meet (although IM coaching *does* contain all 4 strokes). The final time Group USA opted to make swimmers race in strokes the place they weren’t certified f0r individually was at 2022 Worlds, when Natalie Hinds swam fly and Alex Walsh swam breast within the prelims of the medley relay (and paradoxically, Douglass didn’t swim fly on that relay regardless of having a season-best quicker than Hinds). Hinds cut up 58.88 when she had a flat begin season-best of 58.45, whereas Walsh cut up 1:07.60 with a flat begin season-best of 1:07.59.

If Douglass pulls a Hinds or Walsh, she needs to be within the 56-mid vary. Nevertheless, she’s going to be in a distinct state of affairs in comparison with them (prelims vs. finals), so she may have extra momentum to go quicker (she’s additionally a greater 100 flyer than Hinds)—however you by no means know.

I additionally assume it’s a mistake to make America’s quickest feminine relay swimmer ever within the 100 free swim one other stroke, particularly when she doesn’t have a person 100 fly swim to make use of as a knowledge level. Sure, Regan Smith swam the 100 again on the medley relay in 2019 and broke the World Document, however that got here after she broke the 200 again world report. All of her preparation for that meet was towards backstroke, so I’d be extra assured in 2019 Smith dropping a quick 100 again than I’d in 2023 Douglass dropping a quick 100 fly after qualifying for Worlds in freestyle, breaststroke, and IM.

Sure, Douglass clocked some quick dash free and fly splits at quick course worlds after not racing both stroke individually. Nevertheless, that was quick course and never lengthy course (plus, it was throughout the center of the NCAA season the place the 100 fly was certainly one of her major occasions), so it’s not very comparable.

Not as vital but in addition of notice is that Weitzeil has the 50 free previous to the medley relay, which could hamper her possibilities of replicating one other 52.4 cut up that got here when she was recent (although she did cut up 52.49 after a 50 free throughout the Tokyo Olympics).

If Douglass drops her “greatest case state of affairs” fly cut up on the relay, Group USA could be 0.81 seconds away from Australia. Nevertheless, given the dearth of knowledge factors surrounding her 100 fly kind proper now, this lineup nonetheless appears like a bet to me. Plus, if Douglass is across the 56-mid vary somewhat than 55-high (which may be very attainable), Group USA will likely be in “Aussie feminine sprinter run-down” territory. Which may be very harmful.

Splits Comparability:

Possibility Three: Smith On Fly, Berkoff On Again

Putting Regan Smith on fly and Katharine Berkoff on again is the lineup that I personally assume is the most suitable choice. Though the combination time is barely slower than the one with Douglass on fly and Weitzeil on free, I’ve higher confidence on this lineup really working.

First off, Smith is swimming the 200 fly already at Worlds and has seemingly centered on the stroke for the previous few weeks. Primarily based on the best way she’s been taking out her races, she may have 100 fly in her. I’d somewhat have her swim fly and Douglass swim free (the place she’s already proved herself twice) than have Douglass take her possibilities on an occasion that she hasn’t educated for within the lead-up to Worlds.

Plus, the hole between Berkoff and Smith within the 100 again is 0.47 seconds, whereas the hole between Weitzeil and Douglass on free is 0.61 seconds and might be even bigger with Weitzeil’s 50 free coming earlier than the relay.

Splits Comparability:

Possibility 4: The Standing Quo

This lineup most likely gained’t be used, however it will likely be included simply so we are able to contextualize how briskly Group USA will likely be in comparison with Australia if Huske replicates her blended medley relay cut up. The outcome will likely be a relay that’s almost a second behind Australia’s relay.

If Huske replicates her flat begin time although, Group USA’s add-up is a 3:51.13, which places them in a way more favorable place however remains to be slower than choices two and three listed above.

Conclusion

We will speculate about relay lineups all we wish, however the principle conclusion that may be made is that the Group USA coaches will actually need to place their pondering caps on to provide you with the quickest attainable relay. They may must go together with one thing out of their consolation zone and take dangers—the final time they did this in 2019, it result in a World report.

Though a lot of the hypothesis on this article surrounds the butterfly leg, there are different selections that should be made as effectively, reminiscent of breaststroke. Though Lilly King swam the quickest American 100 breast time at Worlds (1:05.45), Lydia Jacoby beat her in finals with a time of 1:05.94, in order that’s additionally a dilemma that Group USA has to grapple with.

This relay was as soon as Group USA’s greatest probability at successful relay gold. And they should make the most of this chance and make the proper decisions.

Different North American Highlights:

  • 16-year-old Summer season McIntosh of Canada broke the World Junior Document within the 200 free with a time of 1:53.65 and picked up bronze. In the meantime, America’s Bella Sims swam a 1:56.00 to take sixth place.
  • McIntosh additionally swam a time of two:06.85 to qualify for the 200 fly ultimate.
  • America’s Thomas Heilman and Canada’s Ilya Kharun tied for fourth place within the 200 fly ultimate with a time of 1:53.85. Kharun broke his personal Canadian report, whereas Heilman grew to become the quickest 18-and-under American within the historical past of this occasion. America’s Carson Foster completed sixth with a time of 1:54.74.
  • Bobby Finke took bronze within the males’s 800 free with a brand new American report time of seven:38.67.
  • Smith broke the American report within the 50 again with a time of 27.10, qualifying as the highest seed headed into finals. She additionally clocked a 2:06.86 to make the 200 fly ultimate.
  • Berkoff, the previous 50 again American report holder, swam a time of 27.49 to additionally make the 50 again ultimate. Canadian teammates Ingrid Wilm and Kylie Masse additionally positioned high eight. In the meantime, Linsday Looney, Smith’s coaching accomplice at ASU, certified for the 200 fly ultimate in eighth.
  • America’s Jack Alexy set a greatest time of 47.68 within the 100 free prelims, however swam a 48.06 in semi-finals to barely qualify for finals in eighth. In the meantime, reigning bronze medalist Josh Liendo of Canada completed 14th in semi-finals and didn’t qualify for finals. Trinidad and Tobago’s Dylan Carter additionally swam within the 100 free semis, ending sixteenth.
  • Jordan Crooks of the Cayman Islands set two greatest instances within the males’s 100 free, dropping over a second from his 2022 better of 48.79 to go 47.71 and make the ultimate.
  • America’s Foster and Shaine Casas certified for the lads’s 200 IM ultimate in third and eighth place respectively, whereas Canada’s Finlay Knox missed out.
  • Canada’s staff of Masse (59.19), James Dergousoff (1:00.69), Maggie MacNeil (56.30), and Ruslan Gaziev (47.54) mixed for a time of three:43.72 to complete sixth within the blended medley relay.
  • America’s Nic Fink completed second within the males’s 50 breast with a time of 26.59.

North America Medal Desk:

GOLD SILVER BRONZE TOTAL
United States 3 7 7 17
Canada 0 1 1 2

 



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