belinda-hocking-olympics-july-2012
Courtesy of: Rob Schumacher - USA Today Sports
Each day through July 23, Swimming World's Jeff Commings and David Rieder will offer medal predictions in the 19 swimming events on tap at the Commonwealth Games, which begins July 24 in Glasgow, Scotland. We invite you to offer your picks in our Reaction Time comments section below!

Commentary by Jeff Commings

PHOENIX, Arizona, July 17. THE Commonwealth countries have a great deal of talent in the women's 200 backstroke. Australia, Great Britain and Canada each have athletes in contention to win gold in the event in Scotland, though the Aussies take their usual spot as the favorite.


Belinda Hocking has been chasing Missy Franklin since the 2011 world championships, and will race The Missile in August at the Pan Pacific championships. Hocking will have the opportunity to rehearse for that matchup with Missy against a talented field in Scotland. After posting a time of 2:06.40 that leads the world rankings going into the Commonwealth Games, Hocking appears to be the clear favorite.

But Hilary Caldwell is dangerous. She essentially came out of nowhere to place third at the world championships last year, just 14 hundredths of a second behind Hocking. The thrill of winning her first major international medal has likely motivated Caldwell to be even faster this year. The fact that she was preselected for the Canadian team based on her performance at worlds meant she could train through the spring while her competition had to taper for team selection. We'll see if it pays off in a few days.

We could see a great battle for the bronze medal among two other ladies: England's Elizabeth Simmonds and Canada's Sinead Russell. Simmonds didn't swim this event at the world championships in 2103 after finishing fourth in the London Olympics. She'll show up big time in Glasgow. Russell was seventh in the 200 back at worlds, and will need to replicate that swim to show up on the medal podium.

Women's 200 backstroke medal prediction:
Gold:
Belinda Hocking, Australia
Silver: Hilary Caldwell, Canada
Bronze: Elizabeth Simmonds, England

The Australian men are the only swimmers in Commonwealth countries ranked in the top 20 in the world so far this year, which gives them a major push for domination in the final. Mitch Larkin, Matson Lawson, and Josh Beaver will fight for podium spots as the Australian representatives.

South Africa's Chad Le Clos is the fastest non-Australian in the rankings, but the 200 back final falls on the same day as the 100 fly final. Butterfly is too important to Le Clos, I believe, to jeopardize it with a 200 backstroke just minutes before it. That leaves Craig McNally of Scotland, a finalist at the world championships last year, and possibly Corey Main of New Zealand to round out the medal hopefuls.

Men's 200 backstroke medal prediction:
Gold:
Mitch Larkin, Australia
Silver: Matson Lawson, Australia
Bronze: Craig McNally, Scotland

Check out our previous medal predictions by clicking the links below:

200 breaststroke

200 freestyle

400 medley relay

100 breaststroke

50 butterfly

50 backstroke

800/1500 freestyle

200 individual medley

50 freestyle

50 breaststroke

100 backstroke

200 butterfly