Photo by David Farr
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 comments section below!
Commentary by Jeff Commings
IRVINE, California, August 10. RUSSIA won the menâ€™s 800 freestyle relay at the last fully-attended European championships in 2010, beating Germany and Russia by a clear margin. The loss of Danila Izotov to injury this year will hurt Russiaâ€™s chances to get back on the top of the podium, and that opens the door for what could be one of the most exciting 800 free relays to come from Europeans.
With Izotov out of the picture, Russia loses its fastest swimmer, but the depth is good enough to keep them in the medal hunt. France has Yannick Agnel to give them a boost, but Franceâ€™s roster suffers after the Olympic champion. Fabien Gilot and Jeremy Stravius will be called on to help the team and the key will be their fourth swimmer to overcome what will be a race boosted by the home crowd.
If Germany has a chance to win a menâ€™s relay medal, itâ€™s in this event. Paul Biedermann is racing again, and if heâ€™s on form, the Germans have a solid chance for a medal â€“ maybe a gold one. Great Britain has a shot to contend based on performances from the Commonwealth Games, but Robbie Renwick will need to perform better than he did in Glasgow to help the Brits get on the podium.
Menâ€™s 800 freestyle relay medal predictions:
The womenâ€™s 800 free relay is just as interesting. Camille Muffatâ€™s retirement basically puts France out of the medal hunt, as she has always been the saving grace that has led them to medals at the Olympics and world championships.
I believe the race will come between Spain and Hungary, who have a strong roster of 200 freestylers beyond respective stars Mireia Belmonte and Katinka Hosszu. I was surprised Spain did not win a medal in this event last year at the world championships with Belmonte and Melanie Costa on the squad, but the team looks a bit stronger this year based on world rankings.
Hungary has the deeper group of ladies who can put together a solid four legs. I see Hosszu, Evelyn Verraszto, Boglarka Kapas and Zsuzsanna Jakabos outswimming the rest of the continent for the gold medal, a feat made more thrilling by the fact that none of these ladies specialize in the 200 freestyle.
Italy has a weak relay team behind Federica Pellegrini, but the world record holder should be able to outlast France for a minor medal.
Womenâ€™s 800 freestyle relay medal predictions:
Previous European championships medal predictions: