It was a good first day for Britain in Kazan, with probably the outcome towards the high end of expectations. Here are some pointers from the first day’s performance:
1. Britain has avoided a slow start
Britain is traditionally a slow starter when it comes to global meets and while the programme was favourable, with two of their big guns in finals action immediately, it was important to get that first medal on the board. That they duly did thanks to a storming piece of freestyle from James Guy, who took 400m silver behind Olympic champion Sun Yang. The key now will be to build on that medal; hopefully the team will be buoyed by the fearless attitude Guy took into that final.
2. Carlin can bounce back
On day 1 two years ago Jaz Carlin was pipped to 400m bronze by Lauren Boyle and her meet somewhat fell apart. There’s no reason to suspect the same will happen here; in 2013 she faded to the end of the 400, this time she was finishing strongly and swimming just outside her season’s best, but left her finishing charge too late. Wisely she has opted out of the 1500 to focus on the 800m, in which she is Commonwealth and European Champion, and with a final out of the way, we can expect her to be ready for the fight.
3. Peaty is not quite yet a lock
Adam Peaty looked supreme, setting the second fastest time ever to qualify in lane 4 for the 100m breaststroke final, but don’t hang the medal around his neck just yet. Cameron van der Burgh swam just 0.03 outside his own personal best and looked very quick over the first 50m. Peaty was marginally quicker at the turn, but did a lot of his work over the second 25m having got a sluggish start. He will need to be on his mettle during the breakout to prevent van der Burgh getting away and having to chase too much, but he does have the most speed from 75-100m of anyone in the field, so even if he leaves it late could, and probably should, still win.
Don’t count out Ross Murdoch either – he was affected by van der Burgh’s early pace in his semi final and was left spinning his wheels a little at the end. Out in lane 8 he will be clear of the sprinters and can focus on his own race. Something near his season’s best of 59.13 will be challenging for the podium.
4. O’Connor is in no man’s land
Siobhan Marie O’Connor has looked supreme in the 200IM, both in heat and semi final. her problem is that Katinka Hosszu has looked even better, and she sits stuck between the Iron lady and a chasing pack that is some way off the pace. What we don’t know is how much O’Connor has been saving at the back end. Hosszu has been better at backstroke, the British lady at breaststroke, and even in the semi finals there was little to choose at 150m. A that point their trajectories diverged, with Hosszu giving it full gas to the wall and O’Connor seemingly shutting it down. It seems unlikely that a British gold will occur as the gap is big, but there is definitely a 2:07 in prospect for the Bath swimmer and if she can do that anything’s possible.