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 Reaction Time comments section below!
Commentary by David Rieder
CHARLESTON, South Carolina, August 12. NOT-exactly-a-swimming-power Spain will get a rare chance to flex its muscles in the women’s 400 free. We don’t know yet how many events Mireia Belmonte Garcia will swim, but if she chooses to include the 400 free on her program, she would enter as the slight favorite. She skipped the event at last summer’s World Championships due to a same-day conflict with the 200 IM (she also swam the 200 fly, 400 IM, 800 and 1500 free). At Europeans, the 400 free falls on the last day as the only individual women’s event, so the odds are good that she’ll race it. Belmonte ranks second in the world this year behind just Katie Ledecky with a 4:03.84.
Belmonte will face heavy competition from her countrywoman, Melanie Costa Schmidt. Costa Schmidt won the silver medal behind Ledecky at Worlds with an impressive 4:02.47. Also in that final, Great Britain’s Jazmin Carlin took fourth in 4:04.03, one spot ahead of Hungary’s Boglarka Kapas. Meanwhile, Italy’s Federica Pellegrini will try to return to form in the 400 after skipping the event in Barcelona. She had, however, won World titles in the event each of the previous two meets.
Lotte Friis finished second to Ledecky in both the 800 and 1500 at Worlds last year, breaking the previous world record in the longer event, but she skipped the 400 in Barcelona. She should be a medal contender if she swims it. The retirement of Olympic gold medalist Camille Muffat weakens the final drastically, but the depth here is incredible.
Women’s 400 free medal predictions
Gold: Mireia Belmonte Garcia, Spain
Silver: Melanie Costa Schmidt, Spain
Bronze: Lotte Friis, Denmark
In comparison to the wide-open women’s final that several talented swimmers will miss out on, the men’s 400 free could be one of the weakest events of the meet. Only James Guy made the World Championship final, finishing fifth in a lackluster 3:47.96. However, he did improve his time to 3:44.58 at the Commonwealth Games this year, and that time ranks fifth in the world headed into Berlin. If he is at his best at his second taper meet, he would be the easy favorite to win.
Four more British swimmers (Dan Wallace, Stephen Gilne, Robbie Renwick, and Nicholas Grainger) rank in the top 15 in the world after their performances in Glasgow, but only two can swim in the European final. Watch out for a resurgent Paul Biedermann to make a run at the podium; swimming in front of a home crowd, the world record-holder and 2009 World Champ in the event should go faster than his 14th-ranked 3:47.89.
Yannick Agnel has a history in the 400 free, but he hasn’t swum the event at major meets in recent years. Serbia’s Velimir Stjepanovic should be in the final, and watch, too, for Italians Gregorio Paltrinieri and Gabriele Detti, the former of whom won the bronze in the mile at last summer’s Worlds.
Men’s 400 free medal predictions
Gold : James Guy, Great Britain
Silver: Paul Biedermann, Germany
Bronze: Robbie Renwick, Great Britain
Previous European championships medal predictions: