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By guest writer Julia Wilkinson-Minks (2008 & 2012 Canadian Olympian)
BARCELONA, Spain, July 30. AFTER a textile-best first 50 meters in his 100 breaststroke last night, it is no surprise that Cameron van der Burgh flirted with his world record this morning in the 50 breaststroke. Van der Burgh had a scare with his knee only a few weeks ago, and although he was not able to repeat his win in the 100 breaststroke, it would appear that his body is not letting him down in Barcelona. In the 50 breaststroke especially, we would expect to see less strength from a swimmer with a bum knee: whatever he did between Mare Nostrum and now seemed to have worked.
Speaking to preparation that seems to be working, Katinka Hosszu has arrived in Barcelona on an entirely new level. In a sport where a lot of swimmers experience “adjustment periods” after any type of program change, Hosszu is obviously adjusting to life as a professional athlete exceptionally.
Calling last night “exciting” for her would be an understatement, and after winning the 200 IM, she came in this morning to post a very fast 200 freestyle preliminary time, putting her in second place only two tenths behind Camille Muffat. Hosszu will have her hands full in this race, with Muffat’s eyes securely locked on gold especially in light of the absence of Allison Schmitt. Federica Pelligrini, the world record holder, American superstar Missy Franklin, and redemption-seeking Bronte Barratt will all be in the mix as well. However, Hosszu managed to take down a tough IM field, and topple Ye Shiwen, a feat that seemed impossible after the Chinese teenager’s Olympic performance. Clearly, Hosszu is a force to be reckoned with from the moment she stands on the blocks in Barcelona.
Before World Championships began, all eyes seemed to be on another woman: Missy Franklin. But with Hosszu’s performances so far, the gaze seems to have shifted to Katinka Hosszu, and Franklin is going to have to do something very special tonight to put herself back on top. That being said, after a pretty disastrous start last night, Franklin still managed to be the top qualifier in the 100 backstroke after the semi-finals, and will no doubt post a much faster time this evening. Maybe we will even get to see another world record?
Following a night that many considered “disappointing” for the Americans–although I hate to think a medal of any color for your country is disappointing–the men in the final two events of the morning stepped up into the top seeds. Tyler Clary earned lane four in the second semi-final of the 200 butterfly for this evening, and Conner Jaeger sneaked ahead of both Sun Yang and Ryan Cochrane for the middle lane of the 800 freestyle.
The United States has the potential to make some serious ground in the medal standings this evening, and could take four of the five golds from the podium; barring that Ruta Meilutyte gets a cramp in the middle of her race, she seems to have locked up the 100 breaststroke with her world-record swim last night, although, anything is still possible.
Julia Wilkinson-Minks is a two-time Olympian for Canada and was a finalist in the 200-meter IM at the 2008 Beijing Games. In 2010, she became Texas A&M’s first ever NCAA champion in swimming when she won the 100-yard freestyle. She graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Speech Communication. Julia retired from competitive swimming following the London Olympic Games and now lives in Texas with her husband Shane.
Follow her on twitter @juliah2o