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. We invite you to offer your picks in our Reaction Time comments section below!
Commentary by David Rieder
CHARLESTON, South Carolina, July 29. THE European Championships come around on a biannual basis, but the version this year has a bigger feel than the 2012 version. Two years ago, many countries kept their top swimmers at home to prepare for the Olympics, so it was a fairly diluted meet. For the European championships competitors, this will be the biggest showcase of the long course season. For such a showcase, what better event to begin the predictions with than the glamor event in swimming, the 100 free.
Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom headlines this event on the women’s side, having won the silver medal at the World Championships last year and entering the meet ranked second in the world at 52.73. Sjostrom will pass on the 50 fly, the event in which she crushed the world record earlier this year, to go for this championship. Meanwhile, Olympic gold medalist Ranomi Kromowidjojo announced earlier this month that she will skip the European Championships, eliminating possibly Sjostrom’s biggest threat.
Kromowidjojo’s Dutch countrywoman Femke Heemskerk should factor into the medal equation, as she currently ranks fourth in the world for 2014, while Danes Pernille Blume and Jeanette Ottesen should contend as well. Great Britain’s Fran Halsall has to be considered a contender should she contest the event, along with Belarus’s Aliaksandra Herasimenia and Swedish youngster Michelle Coleman.
Women’s 100 free medal predictions
Gold: Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden
Silver: Femke Heemskerk, Netherlands
Bronze: Pernille Blume, Denmark
On the men’s side, Russian sensation Vlad Morozov looks like the favorite to capture his first European crown. He finished fifth in the event at the World Championships – the top finisher outside of the U.S. and Australia – and he also won silver in the 50 free in Barcelona. Behind Morozov, however, the event looks wide open. One other Russian – likely Andrey Grechin or Alexander Sukhorukov – should be in the final and battling for a medal. (The top two finishers per country from prelims advance at the European Championships.)
France has long been a dominant force in the 100 free and specifically the 400 free relay, and they will bring younger talent such as 50 free Olympic champion Florent Manaudou and Mehdy Metella to Berlin alongside the likes of Fabien Gilot and Yannick Agnel. Meanwhile, the host Germans will look to break onto the podium with Steffen Deibler and even a resurgent Paul Biedermann having swum impressive times in the blue-ribband event already this year.
Men’s 100 free medal predictions
Gold : Vlad Morozov, Russia
Silver: Fabien Gilot, France
Bronze: Steffen Deibler, Germany