If there is one criticism swimming nerds must take to heart it's this: our sport can be boring. One thing that often gets lost in the conversation is that swimming has fairly predictable results. This is why we have had dominant swimmers over the ages who rack up big medal totals.
This is also why many the most memorable races are the ones with unexpected results. Unpredictability is at the heart of many widely watched live sports- people feel compelled to watch because they simply can't predict what will happen.
Which brings us to some recent results. Yesterday, everyone's favorite name to say Ranomi Kromowidjojo blistered to a 22.9 in the 50 free SCM, beating the sizzling hot Sarah Sjöström at the Berlin World Cup. Witness below:
Sjöström came off a World Championships where she swam to a world record in the 50 and 100 freestyle and performed her usual 50/100 Butterfly domination. What's fun about this is that Sjöström is swimming phenomenal- but on a given day Kromowidjojo can reach even higher and take a victory.
As good as Sjöström is, Kromowidjojo is perhaps the world's best technician on the start, and even in losing in Budapest she had a significant advantage in the early going. Sjöström's raw speed advantage was blunted a bit by the short course format.
Likewise, Simone Manuel was lying in wait at the World Championships for Sjöström in the 100 freestyle. Sjöström was just a bit off, and Manuel seized the opportunity to snatch another gold.
Like the Pellegrini win over Ledecky at the meet, these kind of results point to an ever more competitive world stage for swimming, and that means a more entertaining product.
I'm not suggesting that it's not fun to watch envelopes pushed to the extreme that one swimmer is dominant for a period. As a swim nerd I love to watch Adam Peaty- but his races have come to take on an air of inevitability. I'm looking forward to him having a significant challenger.
In any case, this is fun, let's hope the competitive level keeps building and we can go into Tokyo with less certain winners than ever.