Radoslaw Kawecki’s 200 Backstroke at Europeans Might Rival Pan Pac Times

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 17. POLAND’S Radoslaw Kawecki is becoming one of the world’s best 200 backstrokers, winning the 2012 short course world title and placing second to Ryan Lochte last year at world championships.

In two years, he will definitely be in the medal conversation at the Rio Olympics, but for now, he is the undisputed favorite in the 200 back at this week’s European championships. Kawecki didn’t need to taper to qualify for Europeans, so nothing should be gleaned from his 1:56.45 that he swam at Hungarian nationals. Yes, it’s only 11th in the world, but it’s also just a tick slower than the fastest time by a European swimmer – not counting Arkady Vyatchanin. Hungary’s Peter Bernk swam a 1:56.42 at the same meet as Kawecki, and while the two will be faster in Berlin, Kawecki will be at least a body length ahead of Bernk at the end of the race.

I’m not sure if Kawecki’s European record of 1:54.24 from worlds is in jeopardy, given that the Pole will not have a lot of competition. But it’s possible he’ll have his eyes on what’s going on at the Pan Pacific championships and will want to beat any times posted there. It would take a 1:54 to do that.

Behind Bernk, a world championship finalist, a few swimmers in the 1:56-high or 1:57-low range will fight for medals. Andrey Shabasov and Jan-Philip Glania appear to be the major contenders.

Men’s 200 backstroke medal predictions:
Radoslaw Kawecki, Poland
Silver: Peter Bernk, Hungary
Bronze: Andrey Shabasov, Russia

Unlike Kawecki, Daria Ustinova does not have a clear path to the win in the women’s 200 back. She’s the fastest European this year with a 2:08.02 from Russian nationals. That’s a big improvement from the 2:09.08 she swam at the semifinals of worlds last year.

Elizabeth Simmonds didn’t swim up to expectations at the Commonwealth Games, but gets a second opportunity in Berlin to beat the 2:08.91 from a meet in Berlin earlier in the year. Simmonds likes to take the 200 back out hard and let the competition reel her in during the final stretch. One person who might do that is Katinka Hosszu, who will be looking to win a medal in this event among her 10-event schedule. Hosszu has the credentials in the 200 back with an appearance in the world championship final.

Don’t count out Federica Pellegrini or Jenny Mensing for a medal, either. We could see five swimmers under 2:09 in the final, a respectable result from Europe.

Women’s 200 backstroke medal predictions:
Daria Ustinova, Russia
Silver: Katinka Hosszu, Hungary
Bronze: Elizabeth Simmonds, Great Britain

Previous European championships medal predictions:

100 freestyle

400 individual medley

50 freestyle

100 backstroke

200 butterfly

50 breaststroke

400 medley relay
200 freestyle

200 breaststroke

50 backstroke

100 butterfly

800 freestyle relay

200 individual medley

Women’s 800 and 1500 freestyles

400 freestyle

100 breaststroke

Men’s 800 and 1500 freestyles

50 butterfly

400 freestyle relay