Record Breakers – where to look in Glasgow

Over the years the Commonwealth Games has seen some amazing swimming, but we haven’t seen a world record in the pool since the Melbourne games of 2006 where Leisel Jones set a 100m breaststroke standard and inspired her medley relay teammates to another. Conditions in Delhi were less than conducive to record setting. But Glasgow has the potential to return the Games to World record breaking ways.

There has been much talk about Michael Jamieson having an assault on the 200m Breaststroke mark of 2:07.01 held by Japan’s Akihiro Yamaguchi on the opening night at Tollcross. Indeed many thought he would attack it at the British Championships in April, having already secured his games berth a week earlier at the Scottish Championships. That didn’t work out, but buoyed by what is guaranteed to be hugely vocal home crowd, there is every chance he could become the first man under 2:07. The danger of course is getting over excited and falling back into the grasp of the chasing pack; the gold medal must come first for Jamieson, but he has the capability of dropping the required time from his best of 2:07.43.

If he doesn’t make it then the very next event on the programme is probably the one where the likelihood of a World record is highest. Australia brings to the games four of the fastest ladies in the world for its 4 x 100m freestyle relay in the shapes of the Campbell sisters, Cate and Bronte, Emma McKeon and Melanie Schlanger. The quartet are ranked 1, 3, 5 and 9 in the world in 2014, but where it gets interesting is when you look at the sum of their times.

Cate Campbell 0:52.68
Bronte Campbell 0:53.02
Emma McKeon 0:53.43
Melanie Schlanger 0:53.78
Cumulative time 3:32.91
Takeover allowance 0:01.22
Final Time 3:31.69

Adding their best times of the year from a standing start gives a time of 3:32.91; the world record held by the poly suited Dutch quartet of 2009 stands at 3:31.72, leaving theoretically only 1.19s to be made up in takeovers. Looking at the reaction times of the 4 girls from standing starts at trials and assuming they can match those of the Australian quartet from last year’s world championships, which included three of the four plus Alicia Coutts instead of Schlanger, gives a nominal time of 3:31.69 – a new world mark. It’s close and it’s hypothetical of course, but it’s definitely on.

That doesn’t even consider that Cate Campbell might not lead off and could be faster with a flying start, or that all of the girls might rise to the occasion. It looks a very strong bet, but as with the breaststroke, it needs to be balanced against winning gold. Many a relay has been spoilt by a false start and pushing the takeovers in search of a record could result in the loss of an almost certain gold. It’s an interesting conundrum, but they would appear to have plenty of leeway. It promises to be a fantastic opening night.

In other events, Emily Seebohm might fancy a crack at Gemma Spofforth’s 100m backstroke world record, having come so close in 2012, while the rivalry between Cameron McEvoy and James Magnussen could yet push one of them to something special. These do seem like longer shots however.

British Record Distribution
The distribution of British Records currently in the books by year – as expected there is a big spike at 2009

On a domestic level, there are several British records that look vulnerable. It’s already been a good year with seven British marks being set already across 6 events, but we should expect to see a few more in Glasgow. Apart from Michael Jamieson, the men’s 50 and 100m breaststroke records have both gone this year and the quality of those events could push Adam Peaty or Ross Murdoch to even faster times.

Meanwhile in the equivalent women’s events, both Sophie Taylor and Molly Renshaw are within 0.4s of Kirsty Balfour’s 2006 200m breaststroke mark and it would not be a surprise to see that one go. Taylor of course is the British record holder over 100m so a PB for her would add another record to the list. In the shortest distance though, Zoe Baker’s 50m breaststroke world record swim of 30.57 from Manchester 2002 is still the British record and the oldest one in the book – it also seems likely that it will keep that distinction.

The other women’s record that seems vulnerable would be the 200IM – Siobhan Marie O’Connor is within striking distance and her race with Alicia Coutts could be the push that she needs. One also shouldn’t count out any of the 50m records that have been set in the last 2 years which have already moved on from their suited days.

For the rest of the men, things are not quite so clear cut. James Guy and Ben Proud will both want to set PB’s which would entail British Records over 400m Freestyle, 50m Freestyle and 50m Butterfly respectively but beyond those events it’s difficult to predict any records going.

It is a competition with plenty of excitement in store and it seems that one thing is for sure, the record books won’t emerge unaltered.