Photo by Joao Marc Bosch
Each day through August 17, Swimming Worldâ€™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 Reaction Time comments section below!
Commentary by David Rieder
CHARLESTON, South Carolina, August 16. FOR four years, France was snake-bitten in the 400 free relay. After Jason Lezakâ€™s still-legendary comeback on Alain Bernard to win the relay for the U.S. at the 2008 Olympics, France seemed to come up short while heavily favored time and time again, to the U.S. at the 2009 Worlds, to Russia at the 2010 European Champs, and to Australia at the 2011 Worlds. That all changed, however, when Yannick Agnel stunningly chased down Ryan Lochte in the raceâ€™s closing meters at the 2012 Olympics.
France won again at Worlds last year with only Fabien Gilot remaining from the team that won Olympic silver in 2008, as he joined with Agnel, Florent Manaudou, and Jeremy Stravius. Gilot canâ€™t keep his magic up forever â€“ he split a 46.90 to propel France to victory last year â€“ and Iâ€™ll pick Russia to get the better of their French rivals this year. They lose Danila Izotov to injury from last yearâ€™s team, but Alexander Sukhorukov should pick up the slack. Vlad Morozov has morphed into a superstar, and he already ranks fifth in the world in the 100 free at 48.25.
Italy and Germany finished fifth and sixth in the Barcelona final, but I like Germany to turn the tables and get on the podium in front of a home crowd. Germany will have Marcus and Steffen Deibler joining Paul Biedermann on their team, while Italyâ€™s features the likes of Luca Dotto, Marco Orsi, and the ageless Filippo Magnini. Magnini was the World Champion in the event all the way back in 2005, and he tied Brent Hayden for a second title in 2007.
Menâ€™s 400 free relay medal predictions
The womenâ€™s relay final will be noted more for whoâ€™s absent than whoâ€™s present. The Netherlands squad that won an Olympic title in 2008 and two World titles in the ensuing championships loses 100 free Olympic gold medalist Ranomi Kromowidjojo, while Germanyâ€™s Britta Steffen has ended her illustrious career prior to a home European Championships. The Dutch should still be the favorites, though, with the likes of Femke Heemskerk, a medal favorite in the individual 100 free event, and Inge Dekker. But will they get enough on the other two legs to allow Dekker and Heemskerk room to work?
Sweden should be competitive with Michelle Coleman and Louise Hansson in support of Sarah Sjostrom. Russia has Veronika Popova leading their team along with Margarita Nesterova and Victoriya Andreeva. Germany finished eighth at the World Championships, but without Steffen they have very little here outside of Dorothea Brandt. Meanwhile, watch out for Great Britain. Fran Halsall, Amy Smith, and Siobhan Marie-Oâ€™Connor could be gunning for the upset.
Womenâ€™s 400 free relay medal predictions
Gold : Netherlands
Previous European championships medal predictions: