Swimming World Championship: Florian Wellbrock wants to reach over 1500 meters of history
There he was again, old Florian Wellbrock. That long-distance swimmer who glides through the water economically with long, powerful moves, who can not be disturbed when, on the track next to him, Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri sets the pace. The speed of the last 800 meters to qualify for the 1500m World Cup finals. And then he goes to the press and says: "That Paltrinieri eventually floats away and makes more pressure than necessary, I knew that, then I could bring the cool backstage out there."
This Florian Wellbrock, he acted like that self-confident world champion, who had won the open water race over the Olympic ten kilometers the week before. As the European champion over 1500 meters, who had consistently performed well in the open water as well as in the pool since his European Championship race last summer in Glasgow, and therefore as the safest among the German medal candidates traveled to Gwangju.
But there was also this 800-meter lead, the 21-year-old four days earlier with ten seconds over his best time overall 17. had finished. An astonishing slump that had left everyone at first helpless. Would not he succeed in what his coach Bernd Berkhahn and he try out for the first time at this World Cup, namely the double start between the open water and the pool, which should end in the coming year at the Summer Games in Tokyo ideally double glossy?
Ultimately, this can only be judged after the 1500 meter final on Sunday (from 13.30 clock). If Wellbrock get a medal there, he would be the first man to succeed in a swimming World Cup in individual races in the pool and open water. At the Olympic Games in London, this feat was achieved by Oussama Mellouli with bronze in the pool and gold in Hyde Park. At the 2015 World Cup silver, Dutch rider Sharon van Rouwendaal won silver over 400 meters freestyle and the ten kilometers open water distance.
"Florian lives on the fact that he brings a power impulse into the water, then he slips, then he lies down on the water, but he was not lying on the water, he was deep in it," Berkhahn said in an initial analysis after the 800-meter Forerunner, who was seen from his grandstand position already messed up after the start jump. "Florian has found no rhythm from the first lane, had to fight for every inch." Wellbrock himself could only hear that he was frustrated, "a bit desperate," as Berkhahn conveyed.
So had not he shaken off the load of the ten kilometers from the previous week, could not change his body and head to the next challenge? If you believe the coaches and the swimmers, then physically nothing had previously indicated that Wellbrock would fall away like this. The training results were positive, two days before the start Wellbrock had swum yet another series in the competition pool, "which went very well," as he later said, even when swimming immediately before the race, he made a strong impression.
Wellbrocks out in the 800-meter lead - a head problem?
As the body seemed prepared, the coach's first attempts at explanation went to the head. "For him, this is a completely new role, where he is the bearer of hope to save the German swimming." Since a 21-year-old must first get along, "said Berkhahn. Referring to his protégé's statements that he enjoys the attention and recognition he has received since his gold race at the 2018 European Championships, Berkhahn added: "The competitive athlete is a sensitive entity, when influences come that are not positive that also collapse quickly. "
So much was done in the days after the 800-meter-Aus, "Wellzukriegen" Wellbrock, as Berkhahn called it. Training scientists were involved, the sports psychologist, so that Wellbrock finds the usually quite strong confidence in their own abilities. For the body feeling also strength training was on the program, "so that he can feel the water again," said Berkhahn.
For Wellbrock himself, the lead over the 1,500 meters on Saturday had "tended to feel a little better" than the 800-meter race before. "This loose swim up to 1000 meters went very well, second in there, first of all, great." The 21-year-old also admitted that the day of the forward-out "head-on" was already difficult. But old Florian Wellbrock immediately added: "Then I slept over it one night, closed the book - and now it's being rewritten."