Thursday, May 23, 2024

Paris 2024 | Corbeau and Kamminga are going for breaststroke gold, what chance do they have?

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For Dutch viewers it is finally possible to watch swimming without completely changing your sleep rhythm. In Rio as in Tokyo, swimming took place in the middle of the night. Just the right moment for the American viewer, but almost impossible as a European. With the Games again in the same time zone as that of the Netherlands, swimming will again be shown in prime time on Dutch televisions and other screens.

  • What: Swimming (men)
  • Where: Paris La Defense Arena
  • When: July 27 – August 3 (8:30 PM – 10:30 PM finals, 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM heats)
  • Where to watch: Eurosport 1 & HBO Max
  • Dutch participants: Kenzo Simons, Renzo Tjon-a-joe, Arno Kamminga, Caspar Corbeau, Nyls Korstanje, Kai van Westering, 4×100 meter medley relay team
  • Favorites: Léon Marchand, Haiyang Qin, Adam Peaty, Zhanle Pan

What does the swimming stadium look like?

For the first time since 2004, we will be swimming at the Olympic Games in a stadium that was not specially built for the Games. The Paris La Défense Arena is normally used by rugby team Racing 92, a team that plays in the country’s top rugby division. A swimming pool will be installed in the stadium especially for the Games.

The stadium is one of the largest indoor stadiums in Europe. At a Racing match there can be more than 30,000 people in the stands. At concerts there is even room for 40,000 people. Big names have already performed in the La Défense Arena. The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Rammstein, P!nk and Stromae, all held a concert in the main hall. In May, the hall was sold out four nights in a row for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour.

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The swimming arena as a rugby stadium

Photo: Icon Sport

The capacity for swimming is slightly reduced. An Olympic swimming pool is about half the length of a rugby field. By making the stadium a little smaller, everyone in the stands can follow the matches in the water. During the Games there will be room for just over 15,000 people.

Bad period

Dutch swimming gold is something from a long time ago. The last gold medal in the swimming pool was won in 2012. Ranomi Kromowidjojo crowned herself the queen of the swimming pool in London by winning gold in both the 50 and 100 meter freestyle. Until 2012, the Netherlands had won a medal at all intermediate Games since 1996. From 2000 to 2012, the Netherlands always won gold.

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Ranomi Kromowidjojo wins gold in the 100 meter freestyle in London

After that, Dutch swimming quickly deteriorated. A strong generation of women in the freestyle, often called the ‘Golden Girls’ because of their gold medals in the relay, said goodbye or no longer reached the level they previously achieved. The 2016 Games were an absolute low point: for the first time in 20 years, a Dutch swimmer did not win gold. The Netherlands didn’t even win a medal.

There were Dutch swimming medals again in 2020. Arno Kamminga was ‘the best of the rest’: behind world record holder, multiple Olympic and world champion Adam Peaty, he took gold in the 100 meter breaststroke. In the 200 meters school, he won silver behind the Australian Zac Stubblety-Cook.

Dutch team

In addition to Arno Kamminga, Kenzo Simons, Renzo Tjon a Joe (both 50 meter freestyle), Caspar Corbeau (100, 200 meter breaststroke), Nyls Korstanje (100 meter butterfly) and Kai van Westering (200 meter backstroke) are also participating in Paris. Together with probably Stan Pijnenburg, they will also participate in the 4×100 meter medley.

The Dutch team could become slightly bigger, but that is not likely. All official qualifying moments where swimmers can swim a limit have already taken place. Uncapped swimmers may still designate two events in which they will attempt to meet the requirement. June 23 is the deadline to swim a limit time.

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Renzo-Tjon-A-Joe in action as the flag bearer of Suriname during the opening ceremony of Tokyo 2020

Photo: Getty Images

It is special that Renzo Tjon a Joe will participate in a red-white-blue or orange swimming cap. Tjon a Joe played in Tokyo for his native Suriname. He was even flag bearer for the South American country at the time. In recent years, however, he trained with the Amsterdam swimming club De Dolfijn. Out of dissatisfaction with the training conditions in Suriname, he naturalized as a Dutch citizen. This year he received a Dutch passport, although he hastened to add that a Dutch passport does not make him any less Surinamese.

It is striking that he is in the pool together with Kenzo Simon, who was also born in Suriname and trains from Amsterdam.

Gold on the way?

Will Kamminga take care of the Dutch swimming medals, just like in 2021? Data agency Gracenote predicts not. According to the American company, the Netherlands does not even win a single medal in the swimming pool. Yet there are actually opportunities.

These opportunities mainly lie in the breaststroke. With Corbeau and Kamminga, the Netherlands has two top players who would not look out of place in an Olympic final. Corbeau even won silver in the 200 meter breaststroke at the previous World Championships, although many big names were missing, such as Olympic champion Stubblety Cook and world record holder Haiyang Qin.

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Tokyo 2020 | Arno Kamminga behind Peaty to silver in the 100 meter breaststroke

Corbeau is a fairly atypical Dutch swimmer. First of all he focuses on the breaststroke: a stroke without much Dutch history. Then he is also better at the longer distance than the sprint. He also hardly spoke Dutch until he was 22. Corbeau grew up in the United States, his mother is American, his father Dutch.

There he also started his sports career. In addition to studying kinesiology at the University of Texas, he swam for the Texas Longhorns in the American college sports system. At the prestigious NCAA championships he won gold with the Longhorns in the 4×100 medley. Now he is training in the Netherlands again, just like Tjon-a-joe and Simons in Amsterdam with Mark Faber.

Still, a medal will be difficult. In the Olympic rankings, a list with fastest times in 2023 and 2024, he is in 8th place in the 200 school. Arno Kamminga is 10th there. In the 100 meter breaststroke, Corbeau is 12th, Kamminga in 4th place.

Nyls Korstanje (25) is another contender. At the World Championships in Doha this year he came 4th in the 100 meter butterfly. De Fries is 6th in the Olympic qualifying rankings for that distance. He could become the Dutch surprise in the pool.

Home favorite Marchand

One of the men to keep an eye on these Games is Frenchman Leon Marchand. The only 21-year-old home favorite has already won 5 gold medals at world championships. He is especially strong at the tough distances: the 200 meter butterfly and the 200 and 400 meter individual medley. He even broke Michael Phelps’ 2008 world record in the 400-meter individual medley. He swam that record in one of the fast suits, which were subsequently banned.

The program of the Games has been adapted especially for him. Six months before the Games, the organization changed the program so that Marchand can participate in both the 200 meter breaststroke and butterfly.

In addition, they started swimming a lot faster in China. The country is in the spotlight because several swimmers tested positive for banned substances a few months before the Tokyo Games and still participated. China’s most acclaimed male swimmer Sun Yang unfortunately also has a doping past.

In any case, Chinese breaststroke specialist Qin Haiyang has not tested positive. Last year at the World Championships he won gold in the 50, 100 and 200 meter breaststroke. Something even Adam Peaty never managed.

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Qin Haiyang

Photo: Getty Images

At the World Championships in Doha early this year, the Chinese surprised by winning gold in many important events. Zhanle Pan won gold in the 100 meter freestyle. He also swam a world record at that distance as part of the relay team.

For years, swimming was a battle between Australia and the United States in particular. Other countries also won medals, but were never as strong in terms of breadth as those swimming countries. It could be that China will join in completely in Paris.

WHERE ARE YOU LOOKING?

Eurosport and HBO Max will broadcast the battle for gold, silver and bronze live during Paris 2024. Just like in Tokyo and Beijing, we bring you all the matches in Paris live with a large team of experts and commentators, with all the emotions, reactions, analyzes and backgrounds. Are you following us? new channel on WhatsApp yet?

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