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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

In The Team Pursuit For Gold, USA Looks Good

The 5 km Team Time Trial (Team Pursuit) event should be a fantastic race to watch at the upcoming FINA World Championships in Barcelona on July 25th.

Team USA is the defending champions and they are the prohibited favorite in a 3-person race that is undoubtedly the most unpredictable and the most difficult to prognosticate of all the aquatic events at the World Championships. Watch it right to the very end as the results will be surprising.

The team trial event is completely unpredictable for the following reasons:

1. It is the only event in the entire championships where men and women compete together, both as teammates and competitors.
2. Teams compete separately on the same course.
3. The composite speed of the teams is dependent upon the pacing speed of the lead swimmer, the drafting positioning and technique of the second swimmer, and the speed of the trailing swimmer.
4. The relative speed, strength, and stamina of the trailing swimmer (usually the female swimmer).
5. The navigational IQ of the lead swimmer.
6. The formation of the entire team (e.g., tripod, arrow, peloton, or hybrid).
7. There is always a chase going on as the teams start one minute apart.
8. The start order is randomly selected.
9. The conditions can change between the time the first team enters and the last team starts, enabling some teams to have an advantage and other teams to face disadvantages.

At the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai, the American team just barely beat the Australia team by a second. The Americans used a well-defined beeline formation with Andrew Gemmell in the driver's seat, Sean Ryan in the middle, and Ashley Twichell pulling up the rear. In contrast, the Australian team competed using a arrow formation with Ky Hurst, Melissa Gorman and Rhys Mainstone as the trio from Down Under.

While Team USA has an extraordinarily high navigational IQ with Alex Meyer and Sean Ryan that is supported by Christine Jennings, an exceedingly swimmer who can keep up with her male teammates, their gold is not a given. They will have to perform at their very best to overcome the Italians and the Germans who will both undoubtedly be in the hunt for gold.

The German team with Thomas Lurz and Christian Reichert have a very strong engine and Isabelle Härle can hang well with her male teammates. But it may be the Italians who are primed to upset the Americans with Rachele Bruni teaming up with Simone Ercoli and Luca Ferretti.

But in this unpredictable event, the unexpected can always occur with all these moving pieces and a team like the French with Damien Cattin-Vidal, Aurelie Muller, and Bertrand Venturi might also snag a medal.

The 22 teams include:

1. ARGENTINA (shown above): Guillermo Vittorio Bertola, Martin Miguel Carrizo Yunges, Florencia Belen Mazzei Villegas
2. AUSTRALIA: Jarrod Poort, Simon Huitenga, Melissa Gorman
3. BRAZIL: Luis Rogerio Arapiraca, Samuel De Bona, Poliana Cintra Okimoto
4. CANADA: Zsofia Balazs, Eric Hedlin, Philippe Guertin
5. CHINA: Shinye Cao, Wenchao Xu, Han Lidu
6. ECUADOR: Katia Paola Barros Esquivel Ivan Alejandro Enderica Ochoa, Santiago Paul Enderica Salgado
7. EGYPT: Youssef Hossameldeen, Adel Ragab, Laila El Basiouny
8. FRANCE: Damien Cattin-Vidal, Aurelie Muller, Bertrand Venturi
9. GERMANY: Isabelle Franziska Härle, Thomas Lurz, Christian Reichert
10. GREECE: Kalliopi Araouzou, Antonios Fokaidis, Spyridon Gianniotis
11. HONG KONG: Fiona On Yi Chan, Hong Li Chun, Leung Sunny Poon Ching
12. HUNGARY: Éva Risztov, Anna Olasz, Mark Papp
13. ITALY: Rachele Bruni, Simone Ercoli, Luca Ferretti
14. JAPAN: Yasunari Hirai, Yumi Kida, Yuto Kobayashi
15. KAZAKHSTAN: Vitaliy Khudyakov, Vladimir Tolikin, Xeniya Romanchuk
16. MEXICO: Ivan Lopez, Lizeth Rueda Santos, Miguel Alejandro Hernandez Martinez
17. SOUTH AFRICA: Chad Ho, Daniel Marais, Kyna Pereira
18. RUSSIA: Sergey Bolshakov, Evgenii Drattcev, Elizaveta Gorshkova
19. NEW ZEALAND: Phillip Ryan, Kane Radford, Cara Baker
20. TUNISIA: Badr Chebchoub, Maroua Mathlouthi, Seifeddine Sghaier
21. UNITED STATES: Haley Anderson, Andrew Gemmell, Sean Ryan
22. VENEZUELA: Johndry Segovia, Luis Bolanos, Florencia Melo

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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