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
PHOENIX, Arizona, August 13. IT’S a shame that Ruta Meilutyte won’t be swimming the 100 breast at the European championships. The Lithuanian world record holder will be at the Youth Olympics, reportedly choosing China over Germany to swim her tapered 100 breast.
And then there’s Yuliya Efimova’s doping suspension, which keeps her out of racing until February. So, the reigning world champion and runner-up will not be in Berlin. That dilutes the field, but it’s still looking like a strong group of ladies contending for the title.
Rikke Pedersen, the 200 breast world record holder, appears to have a clear path to gold, but Great Britain’s Sophie Taylor is on an upswing after winning gold at the Commonwealth Games. What’s riding in Pedersen’s favor is her sub-1:06 from last year’s worlds to place fourth (behind American Jessica Hardy). The Dane is likely to break 1:06 in Berlin, but Taylor might also have the motivation to go under the barrier if she can match Pedersen’s endurance. Sweden’s Jennie Johansson will have the opening speed as well, but might falter in the closing meters.
Spain’s Marina Garcia was a finalist at worlds in the 100 breast and after a year of training at UC-Berkeley, she might find something in the tank to stay with the leaders. She likes the 200 breast, so her concern will be the first 50 meters.
Women’s 100 breast medal predictions:
Gold: Rikke Pedersen, Denmark
Silver: Sophie Taylor, Great Britain
Bronze: Jennie Johansson, Sweden
Last year’s fourth-place finish in the 100 breaststroke at worlds likely motivated Damir Dugonjic to train harder to turn that into European championships gold. As the top European finisher at worlds, Dugonjic appeared to be on the brink of European gold in the 100 to go along with the 50 breast win he posted in 2012.
But at least six people are in Dugonjic’s way, which presents the makings of a great final. Great Britain’s Adam Peaty is the heavy favorite after taking gold last month at the Commonwealth Games. If he can hold on to a second taper and go under 59 seconds, the gold medal is his. Teammate Ross Murdoch didn’t perform as expected at Commonwealths but will be looking to redeem himself next week.
Another star Lithuanian swimmer, Giedrius Titenis, has the potential to win his first European championships medal after a stunning 59.75 at the Sette Colli meet in Italy recently. That is light years behind Peaty, but in a field that is likely to include three or four others in the 59-second range, the “perfect race” could get Titenis on the podium.
Two Germans will also be in the mix. Hendrik Feldwehr and Marco Koch are on the cusp of taking a medal, but Koch is the dark horse as a 200 breast specialist. Also looking to earn a medal will be Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta. With the decision to step away briefly from the 200 breast, Gyurta could be working on the speed he needs to get into the medals for the sprint event.
Men’s 100 breast medal predictions:
Gold: Adam Peaty, Great Britain
Silver: Ross Murdoch, Great Britain
Bronze: Giedrius Titenis, Lithuania
Previous European championships medal predictions: