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Commentary by Jeff Commings
SANTA CLARA, California, June 22. THE United States is going to be in big trouble, as far as the men’s breaststroke is concerned, at the Pan Pacific championships in Australia this August.
For the first time in the history of the meet, the United States is in danger of not being on the podium in any men’s breaststroke event, as several countries are fielding swimmers that appear to be too strong to defeat.
Christian Sprenger is the fastest swimmer in the world right now in the 100 breast, and in the top five in the world in the 200 distance. Japan has Yasuhiro Koseki and Kazuki Kohinata. Glenn Snyders of New Zealand is going to be a big-time threat in the 100 breast, while Brazil’s arsenal of breaststrokers are primed to be on their game on the Gold Coast.
Presumably, Kevin Cordes is the man to keep the USA medal streak alive, though the short course yards record smasher still appears to be finding his footing in the long course pool, and against international heavy hitters. Cordes put up some threatening times last summer at nationals, but did not produce those same swims at the world championships. If Cordes can manage to stay in control of his swims in Australia in August, he could have that breakthrough meet many had hoped to see last summer in Barcelona.
Nic Fink is also doing well, but like Cordes is still green in international meets. This will have to change this summer for Fink and others who make the team in breaststroke races. Australia will not make the medley relay easy for the United States, and a strong breaststroke leg will keep the Aussies and every other country at bay.
Ryan Lochte’s has not been mentioned much this weekend, though I am sure he watched every final at the Arena Grand Prix from his home in Charlotte with great interest. After seeing (results), I would imagine he sent a quick text to SwimMAC David Marsh to get the rehab pace moving faster, so he can get the chance to race the 200 IM in Irvine this summer. To not have Ryan Lochte in the 200 IM at nationals will be too bizarre to see, and no one wants to see that happen. Well, maybe a few people who know that a Lochte-free 200 IM means a spot is open on the international roster in that event.
Tonight’s race showed that the race for the top spots not only for the Pan Pacific team but the world championship team will be a nailbiting, stomach-churning, breath-holding finish. If Lochte skips the IMs this summer, it appears the 200 IM will be in good hands. Kosuke Hagino might have something to say about that in August at Pan Pacs, but for now, let’s celebrate the fact that we just saw three Americans under two minutes in an in-season 200 IM race. Has that happened before?
Taper time! Well,not yet. There’s still three weeks or so left for these swimmers before the resting officially begins. The yardage might start going down when they get home from Santa Clara, but it won’t get into serious taper mode for another month. A lot of swimmers had some great swims this weekend, and will be more enthusiastic about morning workout knowing everything appears to be on track for a good month of August. For those who didn’t swim well, the motivation comes from knowing that there’s still time to turn things around.