Wellbrock, Köhler Add Olympic Tickets As Riedemann Rattles German Record

Florian Wellbrock - Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Florian Wellbrock, World 1500m freestyle and Marathon champion, and Sarah Köhler added more tickets to their Tokyo 2020 rosters – for the inaugural Olympic men’s 800m and women’s 1500m freestyle – and Laura Riedemann joined the party of German swimmers inside the time cut for the Games as the MWG-Swim-Cup came to a close today at the Magdeburg Elbeschwimmhalle.

Top 4 finishes at World Championships in Gwangju for both Wellbrock and Köhler last year landed the distances aces automatic qualification for the Tokyo 2020 games provided that they backed up with a swim inside the FINA A cut in 2020. Inside that they both swam on Friday. Today was about adding more swims to their Tokyo campaigns.

Wellbrock has never been as fast over 1500m in winter training phase as he was Friday 14:46.61 over 1500m freestyle, the time placing him at the helm of the early World Rankings and sweeping him well inside the 15:00.99 FINA cut. Wellbrock claimed the World title in 14:36.54 in Gwangju last year.

The 22-year-old already had his place in the Olympic marathon, course of his first global gold in Gwangju. On Sunday, he wants to race fast enough to add the 800m free to his Tokyo targets. Wellbrock, the Swimming World Opens Water Swimmer of the Year in 2019, said:

“I wasn’t afraid to fail but you’re always relieved to get it done. In the past two years, I’ve always had the bad luck of getting sick over winter. Luckily I got through it healthy this time and that’s why this time means so much.”


Sarah Köhler – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Köhler, racing in her adopted home town clocked 8:29.96 over 800m freestyle (FINA cut 8:33.36), good for the ticket at a time of heavy training and well away from the 8:16.43 she raced in Gwangju for fourth place last year. Said Köhler:

“I’m relieved, because the qualification fulfills the criteria – and hopefully the speed will come in summer. Four years ago, reaching the Olympic final was a great success, this time I dream of something more.”

Coach Bernd Berkhahn was  delighted with his star turns:

“Swimming an Olympic standard is never a matter of course, especially over these long distances: you cannot always guarantee the best form on the day – so it was really good how both of them achieved the goals. We are therefore fully on schedule, which we have set up for the course of the season.”

Triple Target For Wellbrock – 800m, 1500m, Marathon

Wellbrock added the 800m to his Tokyo roster in 7:49.44 today, the norm he needed 7:50.30. In Gwangju last year, the 800m free proved a challenge too soon after his Marathon victory. A few days on and the 22-year-old ace was on fire once more, taking out Olympic and defending World 1500m champion Gregorio Paltrinieri, the Italian who had won the 800m a few days before.

For Köhler, a 16:03.76 long-course 1500m effort swept her well inside the 16:32.04 FINA A cut and the German federation (DSV) target of 16:16.00 for Tokyo. The 1500m free will be raced by women for the first time in Olympic history this July, making the schedules for both genders the same for the first time since it all began in 1896 (1912 for women).

Laura Riedermann Rattles German 100 Back Record

Riedemann, 21 and from Halle, got 0.11sec inside the Tokyo target time with 59.89 in the 100m backstroke, the time a personal best by 0.8 and just shy of the  German record held at 59.77 by Daniela Samulski.

The Magdeburg meet saw Franziska Hentke, the 2017 World titles silver medallist who finished in the top four once more in Gwangju over 200m butterfly last year, clocked 2:08.60 and in the final 2:08.74, just shy of the 2:08.43 she needed. She has moire chances, including the German trials a couple of months from now. As a pre-selected swimmer, Hentke just needs one effort inside 2:08.4. She will try again in Stockholm in April before trials.

Meanwhile, Philip Heintz, though injured of late, has his Tokyo place guaranteed on medley, while Marco Koch is likely to make the Germany team: he has a ticket provided two others do not swim faster than his season best at nationals and Olympic trials in April.