Kosuke Hagino at the 2012 Olympics
Courtesy of: Rob Schumacher - USA Today Sports
Swimming World's previews of the FINA world championships are proudly sponsored by Speedo USA

PHOENIX, Arizona, July 23. WITH the men's and women's 400 individual medley falling on the final day of the FINA world championships, we might see an amazing world record swim from Olympic champion Ye Shiwen or the phenomenal 4:07 that Kosuke Hagino posted earlier this year. The 400 IM is best swum fresh, not at the end of a grueling week of swimming. Times aside, the racing will still be top-notch, with a new men's world champion set to be crowned as Ryan Lochte sits out the event this year.

Swimming World correspondents Jeff Commings, David Rieder and Julia Wilkinson-Minks are offering their medal predictions for each event throughout this series and a brief analysis of their top-three selections.


Men's 400 individual medley

Commings
Gold:
Kosuke Hagino
Silver: Daiya Seto
Bronze: Chase Kalisz

will be Kosuke Hagino's first gold of the meet, and he will secure himself as a legitimate world leader in the individual medley events. He blazed through 400 meters in 4:07.61 last April, a shocking time that he is not likely to repeat. With the 400 IM falling at the end of the world championships, Hagino's mental and physical capacity might be too stressed to challenge a 4:07, but he will do enough to take gold ahead of teammate Daiya Seto. Chase Kalisz must be more aggressive in the butterfly and backstroke legs, since Hagino and Seto are so strong in the front half. If he finds himself too far behind at the start of the breaststroke, the distance might be too great for even him to overcome.

Rieder
Gold:
Kosuke Hagino
Silver: Tyler Clary
Bronze: Thomas Fraser-Holmes
Darkhorse: Luca Marin

When Ryan Lochte won the 400 IM at the London Olympics with one of the biggest margins of victory ever, Kosuke Hagino finished second with a 4:08.86; he has already smashed that time this year with a 4:07.81 to lead the world rankings; no one else has broken 4:10. Anyone else who swims under that standard will vault into medal contention. Tyler Clary has the best credentials of any remaining entries, having won two straight silver medals in this event at the past two Worlds. However, we don't know if he can get down into the 4:09 or even 4:08-range this year, or if 4:14 is his best for now. He didn't come close to his top times, however, at U.S. Nationals. Thomas Fraser-Holmes, Chase Kalisz, Daiya Seto and maybe even Laszlo Cseh could factor in, while Marin finds his way into finals more often than not, and he won bronze in this event at the 2007 Worlds.

Wilkinson-Minks
Gold:
Kosuke Hagino
Silver: Thomas-Fraser Holmes
Bronze: Daiya Seto

Kosuke Hagino seems to be the obvious winner in this event. He is ranked first in the world by two and a half seconds, the only swimmer under 4:10, and at 4:07.61, he is well under the 4:10 barrier. His current time would have put him second behind only Ryan Lochte last summer, and without Lochte, there does not seem to be anyone who can stop him. He will be joined on the podium by other "new blood" IMers, what with the absence of both Michael Phelps and Lochte: Thomas Fraser-Holmes has Olympic final experience and the second-fastest time in the world this year. Hagino's country mate, Daiya Seto, owns the third-fastest time, and at 19 years old, also has a lot of potential to improve beyond his already stellar performance at Japanese Trials. Thiago Pereira, silver medalist behind Lochte last summer, is reportedly not swimming the event, which is just as well, since his time from April did not even crack the top 20.



Women 400 individual medley

Commings
Gold:
Ye Shiwen
Silver: Mireia Belmonte Garcia
Bronze: Katinka Hosszu
Dark horse: Elizabeth Beisel

It was tough not putting Elizabeth Beisel in any of the medal positions, but as she has admitted in post-Olympic interviews, it's been tough for her to get right back into the grind and perform well in the past few months. That was evident at the NCAA and world championship trials, and while she is a fighter, her body might not be able to do exactly what her mind tells her, and she might find herself unable to get on the medal stand two years after winning this event. Ye Shiwen is going to reign in this event for many years and very few people look like formidable challenges this year, especially with the 400 IM falling at the end of the world championships. Mireia Belmonte Garcia and Katinka Hosszu will have swum multiple times over the eight days, and their ability to conserve when possible will help them push the pace for one last final. Hannah Miley won silver in 2011, and had a good meet at the British trials. Can she go faster than 4:34?


Rieder
Gold:
Ye Shiwen
Silver: Elizabeth Beisel
Bronze: Hannah Miley
Darkhorse:Yana Martynova

Ye Shiwen enters Barcelona as the clear favorite to repeat her Olympic performance of an IM double. She trailed Elizabeth Beisel at the 300 in that Olympic final before obliterating both the field and the world record on the freestyle leg, clocking 4:28.43. I'm not sure she can go that fast again, since the race falls on the meet's final day, as opposed to day one in the Olympics, but if she touches close to the field at the 300, she will dominate. Beisel did not swim particularly fast at U.S. Nationals, but she won't have to worry about any events other than the 200 IM, which comes six days earlier. Hannah Miley has been extremely consistent this year, but I think she will have a tough battle with Katinka Hosszu and Mireia Belmonte and perhaps Maya Dirado. As for an outside contender, watch for Yana Martynova, the silver medalist at the 2007 World Champs, who recently won gold at the World University Games. If she carries confidence from that win, she could put up a big swim here.

Wilkinson-Minks
Gold:
Ye Shiwen
Silver: Katinka Hosszu
Bronze: Elizabeth Beisel
Dark horses: Hannah Miley and Maya Dirado

I could not pick against Ye Shiwen in the 200 IM, so I really can't pick against her in the 400 IM. She is the world record holder in this event, and has an absolutely unstoppable final freestyle leg that the world has never seen before. Katinka Hosszu just missed out on the medals in this event last summer, and I don't think she will let that happen again. Although her time in the world currently ranks her seventh, it is from the Mare Nostrum series back in June, for which she likely was not rested. Compared to the Americans and British, she seems best in line for a huge time drop in Barcelona. I think it will also be a great race between Elizabeth Beisel, Maya Dirado and Hannah Miley. Beisel won this event in 2011, but then had her Olympic gold medal snatched away in the final 50 meters last summer. She is very, very experienced and arguably one of the best 400 IMers in the world because she has no weak stroke. Then again, Maya Dirado surprised everyone (except probably herself and the staff at Stanford) when she stormed the 400 IM castle at US Trials and beat both Beisel and Leverenz. Hannah Miley has the fastest time in the world this year, but was unable to reproduce it at British Trials: is this because she was leaving something in the tank? That seems like a major risk considering how strict their standards were; but it will be a risk with huge pay-off if that is what she did. There are a lot of women who could earn what seems like a well-deserved podium spot in this event, but I think gold is spoken for. Other than that, it's anyone's race.



Tomorrow: 400 medley relay

Missed our previous previews? Click the links below.
400 freestyle ---- 400 freestyle relay ---- 100 butterfly ---- 100 backstroke ---- 200 freestyle ---- 100 breaststroke ---- 800 freestyle ---- 200 butterfly ---- 50 breaststroke ---- 200 individual medley ---- 50 backstroke ---- 100 freestyle ---- 800 freestyle relay ---- 50 butterfly ---- 200 breaststroke ---- 200 backstroke ---- 1500 freestyle ---- 50 freestyle

Agree or disagree with our world championship medal predictions? Sound off below in our comments section.



Search For More News About: Kosuke Hagino