Photo by Joao Marc Bosch
Each day through August 17, Swimming World’s Jeff Commings and David Rieder will offer medal predictions in the 19 swimming events on tap at the European Championships, which begins August 18 in Berlin, Germany. We invite you to offer your picks in our comments section below!
Commentary by Jeff Commings
Note: This article was slightly amended on August 5 to reflect the announcement of the British roster for the European championships.
PHOENIX, Arizona, August 3. THE Europeans love the 50-meter races of butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke. It’s been a part of the European championships for many years, which explains why the Europeans tend to dominate the medal stand in those events at the world championships.
Damir Dugonjic has thrived in the 50 breaststroke, as the Slovenian has amazing front-end speed, as well as a powerful dive and underwater pull. After years of struggling in long course, the NCAA champion almost found himself on a world championship medal podium last year, finishing fourth in the 50 and 100 breaststrokes. Dugonjic hasn’t swum extremely fast this year, posting a 27.54 that stands 14th in the world and ninth among Europeans. But a year of training at UC-Berkeley, his alma mater, and just missing the medal podium last year has likely fueled his fire. Expect him to be in the hunt in Berlin to defend his 2012 European title.
Adam Peaty and Ross Murdoch will be hard for Dugonjic to beat, as Peaty has gone under 27 seconds this year (26.78) and Murdoch is a threat as well to break the barrier.
The rest of the field is a toss-up among rising Serb Caba Siladji, Italy’s Mattia Pesce and Andrea Toniato and Germany’s Henrik Feldwehr. As with any 50-meter event, one competitor’s tiny mistake could make the difference between first and eighth.
Men’s 50 breaststroke medal predictions:
Gold: Adam Peaty, Great Britain
Silver: Ross Murdoch, Great Britain
Bronze: Damir Dugonjic, Slovenia
This month, it would be a shock to see Ruta Meilutyte with anything other than gold around her neck after the 50 breast. The competition got a little bit lighter when Russia’s Yulia Efimova got a suspension for a positive drug test. Meilutyte, who represents Lithuania but trains in England, hasn’t shown much in the pool this year, but don’t count her out. She’s the only swimmer under 30 seconds this year, and unless the Americans show something at nationals, Meilutyte might end 2014 as the only swimmer under 30 seconds.
Rikke Moller Pedersen is working on her sprint breaststroke to complement her amazing 200 breast talent, and could be in the hunt in Berlin. But it will be Sweden’s Jennie Johansson hot on Meilutyte’s heels, and if she can drop four tenths of a second from her season best, it would mean a sub-30 second swim for silver. Dorothea Brandt would be the one to keep Pedersen off the bronze medal podium, spurred on by the home crowd. Sophie Taylor could be in the medal hunt after strong swims at Commonwealth Games.
Women’s 50 breaststroke medal predictions:
Gold: Ruta Meilutyte, Lithuania
Silver: Jennie Johansson, Sweden
Bronze: Rikke Moller Pedersen, Denmark
Check out our previous medal predictions for the European championships!