By guest writer Julia Wilkinson-Minks (2008 & 2012 Canadian Olympian)
SHEFFIELD, Great Britain, June 30. JAZMIN Carlin made more than waves this week at the 2013 British Gas Swimming Championships: she created a tsunami. By winning three gold medals and posting times that put her first, second and fourth in the world, she has positioned herself well for the World Championships in Barcelona next month.
On the final night of competition, Carlin qualified for her third event, the 400-meter freestyle. Her winning time of 4:04.25 brings her to fourth in the world this year in the event, behind Camille Muffat of France, Australia's Bronte Barratt and 2013 US Trials distance darling Katie Ledecky. It will be interesting to see how these times stand up next month, and if these women will be able to repeat them after a second taper.
Daniel Fogg also added another event to his World Championships program, demolishing the men's 1500-meter freestyle field in 15.01.74. Like Carlin, Fogg qualified in the 400-meter, 800-meter and 1500-meter freestyles, and will face the difficult task of preparing for a second taper in only a few weeks time.
Only a single slot was earned in the 100-meter freestyle, even with the potential for relays. Adam Brown snuck under the standard, winning the men's event in 48.67. On the women's side, Francesca Halsall won the race in 54.82, but did not meet the qualifying standard of 54.39. Halsall won a silver medal at the 2009 World Championships in this event, and has also been an Olympic finalist twice in the 100-meter freestyle. She had already earned her place on the team in the 50-meter freestyle, and took out any frustration she may have had after the 100 by winning the 50-meter butterfly in 25.91.
Since no British women were named to the team in the 100-meter freestyle, it would make sense that we will see Halsall on the blocks in this event in Barcelona. At least, I am sure she wants nothing more than another shot at an international podium performance.
In the men's 200-meter backstroke, two swimmers managed to earn their spot on the World Championship team. Craig McNally won in a new Scottish record of 1:56.36, followed by Chris Walker-Hebborn in 1:57.20. Walker-Hebborn will now add this race to the 100-meter backstroke, which he won on day two.
Another Scottish record fell in the men's 100-meter breaststroke: Ross Murdoch won gold in the only sub-minute time of 59.80. In a close battle for second, Olympic silver medalist in the 200-meter breaststroke Michael Jameson was victorious in 1:00.06, ahead of Adam Peaty in 1:00.11. A good touch earned Jameson a second event in Barcelona.
Two men also defeated the tough time standard in the 400-meter IM. Roberto Pavoni won in 4:13.67, followed by Dan Wallace in 4:15.22. Pavoni made his Olympic debut on home soil last summer, finishing 13th in the men's 400-meter IM. With this win tonight, he earns another chance to break into the top eight this summer and earn a lane in the final.
Georgia Davies and Lauren Quigley qualified for the 100-meter backstroke earlier in the meet, but earned themselves another race this summer by finishing first and second in the 50-meter backstroke in 27.97 and 28.16, respectively.
In the women's 200-meter breaststroke, Stacey Tadd took gold in 2:27.52, but did not meet the qualifying standard.
In the final event of the competition, Michael Rock proved that scratching his top seeded 200-meter butterfly semi-final was a wise decision. Rock rocked the competition and finished in 51.97, the only swimmer under the standard of 52.22.
In the post-Olympic year, there is always a plethora of surprising swims: swims that launch a swimmer to the top of the world rankings, swims that will result in Olympic finalists watching the meet from home this summer. The decision by the British to set time standards even faster than the Fina A cuts may have been a motivator: let the swimmers know that if they want to represent Great Britain this summer, they cannot be complacent following the Olympic Games.
These aggressive standards, combined with busy meet program this late in the season could make it more difficult for the swimmers who did qualify to repeat their performances in Barcelona, however. The distance swimmers will have to re-taper without losing fitness, the middle distance athletes will be considerably more tired because of the semi-finals, and the sprinters need to consider if they want to start lifting weights again.
It is not easy to taper twice in such a short period of time, but the US has been very successful with this calendar. But with even more rigorous time standards and the exhaustion that comes with adding semi-finals, the British may be facing an uphill battle to Barcelona.
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