Surprises of All Shapes and Sizes at World Championships

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By guest writer Julia Wilkinson-Minks (2008 & 2012 Canadian Olympian)

BARCELONA, Spain, July 29. LIKE any meet, World Championships is full of surprises. Those surprises, good and bad, are magnified, however: surprises can put swimmers on the podium, but they can also prevent them from even having the chance to race for a medal.

The first major surprise of this morning’s preliminary session was Katinka Hosszu’s 100 backstroke: although she showed the world yesterday that she has arrived to swim very fast, her 32.85 backstroke split gave no inclination that she would dominate the 100 backstroke the following morning. Hosszu posted the second fastest time during prelims, behind only Missy Franklin and half a second ahead of Elizabeth Pelton.

Even though she could challenge for a medal in the event, Hosszu has made the smart yet difficult decision not to join the likes of Emily Seebohm in a very tough double: 100 backstroke semis and the 200 IM final, separated only by the men’s 200 freestyle. Hozzsu would have had to pull off a miracle a la Missy Franklin’s 200 freestyle-100 backstroke double last summer in order to both move onto the finals and challenge for a gold medal tonight.

In the women’s 100 breaststroke, Ruta Meilutyte narrowed missed Jessica Hardy’s world record, but is this surprising? Only maybe that Meilutyte was already so close in the preliminaries. Of course, we want to assume that whatever a swimmer posts in prelims, especially if they are the favorite, they will smash in the semi-final and/or final of the event. However, don’t forget about Emily Seebohm’s 100 backstroke Olympic record from prelims in London: it still stands. I want to see a world record from Meilutyte tonight and tomorrow, and I think that is what she will do: but it is never a guarantee simply based on prelims.

Finally, a surprising disappointment for the British team: after posting the second-fastest time in the world at British Trials, Jazmin Carlin failed to qualify for the final of the 1500 freestyle. Even though last night’s performance in the 400 freestyle proved that Katie Ledecky is going to be very hard to beat, I would have bet that Carlin’s time from British Trials would have put her into the top three in the final had she been able to repeat it. It looks as if the quick turnaround combined with the very tough time standards set by British swimming was too much for Carlin to bounce back from.

The surprise swims will no doubt continue, and unfortunately for swimmers and swim fans alike, they are not always happy endings.

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

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