Analysis: Women's 400IM
Aug 10, 2008
Craig Lord

Beijing 2008

  • 1. Rice (AUS) 4:29.45 WR
  • 2. Kirsty Coventry (ZIM) 4:29.89 Af rec
  • 3. Katie Hoff (USA) 4:31.71
  • Fastest field ever: Beijing 2008: 4:29.45 - 4:42.13, final; 4:34.55 - 4:36.56, prelims

Comparison fields, finals:

  • Melbourne 2007: 4:32.89 - 4:46.97
  • Athens 2004: 4:34.83 - 4:50.85

Facts going into the race: 

  • World record: 4:31.12 - Katie Hoff (USA), Omaha 29.6.08
  • Olympic champion: Yana Klochkova (UKR) 4:34.83
  • World champion: Hoff 4:32.89wr

Impact of morning finals:

Three women went slower and two improved less than a second in the final compared to their heats times. What it took to make the final:

 

  • Beijing 2008: 4:34.55 - 4:36.56
  • Melbourne 2007: 4:38.21 - 4:44.34 (1 woman under 4:40 heats and finals)
  • Athens 2004: 4:38.36 - 4:45.16 (1 woman under 4:40)

 

Notes on the race:

The courage shown by Rice and Coventry, who took the race out very hard, dented Hoff's ability to get back in the race. Alessia Filippi lost out big time on breaststroke but was the only woman in the race who brought the last 50m home in under 30, with a 29.64 effort. Rice and Coventry have different body types and builds but they are similar in terms of having excellent skills across the range of the four strokes. Their weak(est) point is breaststroke when compared to Hoff but they had done so much damage that the clearly improved breaststroke skills of the American made inroads too small to bring her close enough into contention going into freestyle. The psychological impact of the way the race unfolded is hard to fathom but Hoff, who could challenge for gold in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle here in Beijing, was no faster than Rice on freestyle, while Coventry put in the second-best freestyle split, of 1:01.43. Filippi's was 1:00.91.

Impact of the race on the all-time top 10: 

  1. 4:29.45 Rice BEIJING F 
  2. 4:29.89 Coventry BEIJING F 
  3. 4:31.12 Hoff 
  4. 4:32.87 Beisel 
  5. 4:33.24 Miley 
  6. 4:33.59 Klochkova 
  7. 4:34.34 Filippi BEIJING F
  8. 4:34.79 Chen
  9. 4:34.95 Sandeno
  10. 4:35.73 Smit

All-time 2007

  1. 4:32.89 Hoff, Katie USA 2007
  2. 4:33.59 Klochkova, Yana UKR 2000
  3. 4:34.79 Chen, Yan CHN 1997
  4. 4:34.95 Sandeno, Kaitlin USA 2004
  5. 4:35.80 Filippi, Alessia ITA 2006
  6. 4:35.96 Tajima, Yasuko JPN 2000
  7. 4:36.07 Coventry, Kirsty ZIM 2007
  8. 4:36.10 Schneider, Petra GDR
  9. 4:36.17 Risztov, Eva HUN 2002
  10. 4:36.28 Wu, Yanyan CHN 1997

HISTORY IN THE MAKING:

Stephanie Rice is the first Australian to win an Olympic medley crown since 1972 (Gould, 200m; Neall, 400m), while Kirsty Coventry made history as the first African to reach the podium in the 400m medley, capitalising on the same honour achieved in the 200m in Athens four years ago, when she won bronze. Katie Hoff's bronze helped to keep America ahead on medal count and the USA still leads on gold count, with four of the 12 titles on offer since 1968.

Fastest: 4:29.45, Rice, 2008.

World Record wins: Gail Neall (AUS), 1972; Tauber, 1976; Schneider, 1980; Klochkova; Rice, 2008.

Biggest margin: Kolb swam a generation ahead of her rivals to win the crown in 5:08.5 in 1968 to win by 13.7sec over teammate Lynn Vidali. 

Closest shave: Krisztina Egerszegi (HUN) claimed the 1992 title by 0.19sec ahead of Lin Li (CHN) on her way to one of the most successful Olympic career in women’s swimming history: the Hungarian is the only swimmer with five solo gold medals to her credit.