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BARCELONA, Spain, August 4. MOST of the top country’s medley relays in the preliminaries feature the second-fastest swimmers in each of the 100-meter events, and that appears to be the case today, particularly on the American team.
For the men, David Plummer, Nic Fink, Eugene Godsoe and Jimmy Feigen will compete this morning to give the United States a spot in the final. The decision to put Feigen on the prelim relay appears to defy the typical protocol of putting the top 100 freestyler in the final. Feigen’s silver-medal swim in the 100 free — 47.82 — is faster than Nathan Adrian swam all week in Barcelona. But Adrian was the winner of the 100 freestyle at the U.S. trials, and the American coaches are likely sticking with the reigning Olympic champion as their go-to swimmer in this event as a foil for Australia’s James Magnussen. The United States is heavily favored to win their 13th world championship title in this event, though the Australians — the only other country to win the men’s 400 medley relay at the world championships — will make it a close race.
The Aussies will look for a third world title in the relay after their 1998 and 2001 victories, and are top-loading their prelim relay to avoid any question about getting into the final. Top backstroker Ashley Delaney and 100 breast world champion Christian Sprenger will hand off relay duty to butterflyer Kenneth To and freestyler Cameron McEvoy. McEvoy will certainly be replaced by Magnussen in the final, though it’s unclear who will swim butterfly for Australia in the final. The country’s fastest 100 butterfly swimmer at the meet was Tom D’Orsogna, who placed 19th in the 100 fly with a 52.82. Kenneth To may handle both prelims and finals in the butterfly if he is able to post a satisfactory time this morning.
Russia has put their top swimmers in each stroke on their prelim relay. Vladimir Morozov will swim backstroke, while Kirill Strelnikov will handle the breaststroke leg. Nioklay Skvortsov is the butterflyer, while Nikita Lobintsev will swim freestyle. With Russia having a very deep list of strong 100 freestylers, Lobintsev could easily be replaced in the final by Danila Izotov, though Lobintsev had the fastest split on the 400 free relay behind Morozov.
All three of these teams will swim in the third of three heats this morning, offering a preview of what could be the top three finishers in tonight’s final. Japan, always a medal contender, will swim in heat two and will also use their top swimmers: Rysouke Irie (backstroke), Kosuke Kitajima (breaststroke), Takuro Fujii (butterfly) and Shinri Shioura (freestyle). France will line up next to Japan with Camille Lacourt (backstroke), Giacomo Perez-Dortona (breaststroke), Jeremy Stravius (butterfly) and Fabien Gilot (freestyle).
The women’s medley relay prelim races will feature the second-place finishers in the respective strokes: Elizabeth Pelton on backstroke, Breeja Larson on breaststroke, Claire Donahue on butterfly and Shannon Vreeland on freestyle. While it is a foregone conclusion that Missy Franklin (backstroke), Jessica Hardy (breaststroke) and Dana Vollmer (butterfly) will swim tonight, the USA is likely choosing to put Megan Romano on the freestyle leg after her spectacular 52.60 in the 400 free relay on the first day of the meet.
Australia will be swimming three of their four top swimmers, with Emily Seebohm (backstroke), Samantha Marshall (breaststroke) and Alicia Coutts (butterfly) racing this morning. On freestyle, Emma McKeon will handle freestyle duties, and will most definitely be replaced by Cate Campbell, the world champion in the 100 freestyle.