Yannick Agnel: Danas Rapsys Is the Only Man Racing the 200 Free Correctly

yannick-agnel
Photo Courtesy: Joao Marc Bosch

Yannick Agnel: Sees Danas Rapsys As the Only Man Racing the 200 Free Correctly

2012 Olympic 200 freestyle champion Yannick Agnel of France weighed in on Brett Hawke’s podcast about the status of the 200 freestyle in the swimming world right now, saying Danas Rapsys is the only swimmer who swims the 200 freestyle the right way.

“There is only one way to dominate and win a 200 freestyle,” Agnel said, referencing the need to take an attacking style. “When I’m watching swimming now, the only guy that knows how to swim a 200 freestyle is Danas Rapsys. And you know what, if it wasn’t for him to have shaken the blocks in Gwangju, he would have won.”

This comment was in response to Ian Thorpe’s comments on a previous Hawke podcast about how the 200 freestyle remains stagnant and how his winning time from the 2001 Worlds of 1:44.06, which stood as the world record for nearly six years before Michael Phelps broke it, would push for major titles today. Thorpe said “everyone in the world is swimming the 200 freestyle wrong.”

“You can’t swim 150 meters easy and then turn it into a sprint. You are going to limit what time you are going to do,” says Thorpe, Olympic 400m freestyle champion at Sydney 2000 and 200m and 400m gold medallist at Athens 2004.

Now 37, Thorpe believes that the only way the swimmer who cannot match the rare backend speed he managed to muster in his career can win the 200 freestyle in the kind of time he was capable of is to go for it the first 100 and be willing to make themselves hurt more to be “willing to deal with the pain that is going to exist the last 50 meters.”

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Danas Rapsys. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Yannick Agnel is one of two men in the last two decades to break 1:44 in the 200 freestyle, when he swam the textile best at the 2012 Games at 1:43.14. Danas Rapsys, who Agnel mentioned, touched first in the 200 freestyle final at the 2019 Worlds at 1:44.69 before being disqualified for twitching on the blocks, thus giving the gold medal to the next fastest in China’s Sun Yang. Rapsys had come home in 26.25 at the 2019 Worlds, which is only slower than the closing speed of Thorpe and Phelps in their best times.

Moving ahead to the 2021 Olympics, Rapsys is one of the gold medal favorites for the 200 freestyle.

Below is a chart of the splits of the 200 freestyle winner at the last five World Championships (excluding 2009) and two Olympic Games compared to Ian Thorpe’s best in 2001:

  • 2001: Ian Thorpe – 24.81, 51.45 (26.64), 1:18.26 (26.81), 1:44.06 (25.80)
  • 2007: Michael Phelps – 24.47; 51.00 (26.53); 1:17.73 (26.73); 1:43.86 (26.13)
  • 2011: Ryan Lochte – 24.53, 51.20 (26.67), 1:17.49 (26.29), 1:44.44 (26.95)
  • 2012: Yannick Agnel – 24.55, 50.64 (26.09), 1:17.16 (26.52), 1:43.14 (25.98)
  • 2013: Yannick Agnel – 24.07, 50.64 (26.57), 1:17.00 (26.36), 1:44.20 (27.20)
  • 2015: James Guy – 24.53, 50.99 (26.46), 1:18.33 (27.34), 1:45.14 (26.81)
  • 2016: Sun Yang – 24.87, 51.57 (26.70), 1:17.94 (26.37), 1:44.65 (26.71)
  • 2017: Sun Yang – 24.87, 51.10 (26.23), 1:17.45 (26.35), 1:44.39 (26.94)
  • 2019: Sun Yang – 24.97, 51.73 (26.76), 1:18.33 (26.60), 1:44.93 (26.60)
  • 2019: Danas Rapsys – 24.75, 51.35 (26.60), 1:18.44 (27.09), 1:44.69 (26.25)

Watch Yannick Agnel on the full Brett Hawke podcast here.

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