Day 1 of the 2012 FINA World Cup Series is in the books, and there was plenty of cash handed out, as well as the beginning of the underlying themes that will highlight the series, including major plays from Katinka Hosszu and Therese Alshammar for the women’s overall title.
In a series where the overall champion is often determined by simply who attended the most events, with many athletes participating in all 7 meets this season, the fight for the $100,000 grand prize for each gender could get very interesting as December nears.
We also saw at least one National Record go down – one from Australian Kenneth To in the 100 IM – and several other come very close to being picked-off.
We also saw history made in the first ever relay at the World Cup Series, with a 4×50 mixed-gender medley.
To see a list of who has won which money, click here.
Men’s 100 Free
Anthony Ervin won the badge of courage in the 100 free, splitting 22.02 (to the feet none-the-less) on the first 50 which put him ahead of the field by four tenths. He couldn’t hold onto that pace, though and Kenneth To of Australia chased him down on the second 50, touching him out in a time of 46.89. Ervin got the silver with a 47.04, and American-trained Roland Schoeman was 3rd in 47.24.
Still, a strong performance from Ervin so soon after the Olympics indicates that his comeback was anything but a fluke. For To, this was one of two victories on the day.
Women’s 800 Free
USC’s star Katinka Hosszu, representing Hungary, came out strong at this meet in the freestyle events, picking up another free victory in the 800. Her time of 8:31.7 bested Slovenia’s Tanja Smid’s 8:33. Hosszu’s fellow countrywoman, Zsuzsanna Jakabos, got the bronze with an 8:38.1.
Hosszu is a three-time Olympian and NCAA Champion, but usually excels in the IM and butterfly events. However, weakened competition in the distance freestyles is typical on the women’s side at these World Cup meets, and she took advantage of that opportunity to pick up the first victory and the first $1,500 prize of the 2012 series.
Women’s 100 Breast
It was the Swedes that came out on top in this event, Jennie Johansson and Joline Hoestman taking first and third in 1:06.2 and 1:06.9. Japan’s Fumiko Kawanabe was in between the two, with a 1:06.6. Johansson qualified for 100 breast semifinals at the Olympics, but her 1:07.5 in London was not fast enough to advance her to finals.
Last year, she swam only a very limited World Cup schedule (Berlin and Stockholm), but as compared on the whole of past seasons, this is a bit of a slow start for her. As the series moves back toward Europe, expect her times to really pick up steam and possibly move into the 1:04 range.
Women’s 200 Free
won this event in a time of 1:55.9. She was over a second ahead of the next closest finisher, Hang Yu Sze of Hong Kong, who went 1:57.1. Hosszu is a three-time Olympian and NCAA Champion, but usually excels in the IM events. However, weekend competition in the distance freestyles is typical on the women’s side at these World Cup meets, and
Men’s 50 Breast
South Africa’s Cameron Van Der Burgh, who is the world record holder in this event, won with a 26.6, which is over a second slower than his record, set in Berlin in 2009. South Africa pulled off a 1-2 sweep, Giulio Zorzi earning the silver with a 26.9. Zorzi, a short course specialist, has taken over the spot as South Africa’s number-two breaststroker this fall, and has already earned a spot on the South African Short Course World Championships team.
A third South African, Schoeman, was in this final but finished only 7th. Schoeman, though best known as a sprint freestyler, is in fact the 2nd-best 50 breaststroker in history in short course.
Men’s 400 IM
Japanese teen Daiya Seto won the 400 IM in a 4:02.64, just two tenths off his Japanese record of 4:02.44, set in Tokyo last year. He’s an outstanding butterflier and ripped off a 54.5 on his opening 100 meters, which pulled away from evenLaszlo Cseh: one of the world’s best long-distance fliers.
Cseh would fight back on the backstroke, but he was again crushed by Seto on the breaststroke leg as the 18-year old Japanese swimmer won running-away. Cseh took 2nd in 4:06.69 – more than four seconds back.
Seto might be one of the rarer IM’ers we’ve seen as the number-two-man in Japan’s increasingly impressive teenage IM group. He is, in short course at least, World Class in both the butterfly and the breaststroke 200m races, and if he can tag on a little bit of improvement in the long-axis strokes he has the potential to be special.
Women’s 100 fly
Therese Alshammar of Sweden, the defending champion in the FINA World Series had to sit out much of the Olympics due to an injury (though she toughed her way to a 50 free final), but proved here that she’s on the road to recovery with a 57.91 to begin her title defense. Only two other girls broke the minute barrier in a very top-heavy race: Inge Dekker of Netherlands (58.30) and Sze Hang Yu of Hong Kong (58.37).
American Rachel Knowles made the final, but was disqualified.
Men’s 100 back
Stanislav Donets of Russia had a disappointing Olympic Trials earlier this year, but seems to have bounced back from defeat after missing the team. His winning time of 50.62 beat Australia’s Ashley Delaney, who went 51.28. Donets is a short course king, and the defending Short Course World Champion in the 200 back, which we’ll get to see him swim on Wednesday.
Poland’s Radoslaw Kawecki was a 52.04 for 3rd, while American Tom Shields made his first-ever finals appearance at a World Cup with a 52.06 for 4th. Shields has been a master of yards swimming in the United States, and is now trying his hand at the international level. In that 100 yard back, he’s the two-time defending collegiate champion.
Women’s 50 back
The top three finishers in the 50 back all went 27s, Rachel Goh of Australia leading the pack in 27.0. Noriko Inada of Japan and Michelle Coleman of Sweden went 27.3 and 27.9, respectively.
Men’s 200 fly
It’s been a good year for Chad Le Clos. While his win here probably paled in comparison to his gold medal upset at the Olympics, it was still a win–and in a close race where he touched out Seto, who took silver, by exactly a tenth, going 1:51.61. Seto’s performance is nothing to scoff at either as he was back in the water for this race just 28 minutes after he won the 400 IM.
Women’s 200 IM
Hosszu picked up her third victory of the day in the 200 IM, finally back into her wheelhouse, going 2:10.5. Her teammate, Jakabos, completed a sweep for Hungary with a 2:11.4, edging out Ukraine’s Anna Dzerkel who went 2:11.7.
Hosszu will have big aspirations for this short course season, having committed to the entire World Cup series, but hopefully she will find the time to get in some training as she edges towards Worlds in and among all of her travel and competition. Then again, swimming 8 races in a single day is not too far from the racing-mentality that she’s used to everyday at USC practices.
Women’s 50 Free
Not too long after she hopped out of the water from the 100 fly (28 minutes, to be exact) Alshammar was back in for the 50, really putting a test on the herniated disk in her neck. She came through, though, and won in a time of 24.50, just seven one hundredths ahead of German star Britta Steffen.
Dekker picked up another podium with a 24.75 for 3rd as the representative of the Dutch sprint crew.
Men’s 400 free
Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, Olympic bronze medalist in the 400 IM, went 3:40.7 to beat Robert Hurley of Australia, who went 3:41.4. Hagino didn’t compete in the 400 IM here, but after an impressive showing at a Japanese National meet in the 400 free a few weeks ago, this may be an indication that he’s going to spend the post-Olympic year testing the waters in this 400 free.
The 400 free-400 IM double can be accomplished at a World Championship meet, but is implausible at the Olympics with the two events falling on the same day.
This swim was within a second of Takeshi Matsuda’s National Record of 3:39.91 and ranks the young Hagino 2nd on his country’s all-time list (by a couple-of-seconds).
Men’s 200 Breast
German Olympian Marco Koch, who got off to a good start in last year’s World Cup as well, won this event in a 2:05.2. Seto got the silver again in his third event of the night, going 2:05.7 to wrap up an impressive triple. Cal’s Sean Mahoney, representing the USA, was close behind with a 2:05.9 to win the bronze and take home his first cash of the season: a $500 payday.
Men’s 100 IM
Australia’s To picked up his second gold of the night in the 100 IM with a time of 51.43, which broke his own Australian Record set only three weeks ago at Australia’s Short Course Nationals. The record had stood at 51.64. To is absolutely on fire in short course, leaving ruminations about what might have been when emergency appendicitis just prior to Australia’s Trials in the spring cost him a shot at London.
George Bovell took a dip back into the IM pool with a 52.19 for 2nd place. Bovell, the 2004 bronze medalist in the 200 IM, has been heavily focused on the sprints as of late, but this World Cup Series is all about pushing boundaries in event choices, and it’s fun to see the long Trinidadian back in an IM race. South African Darian Townsend, a former Arizona swimmer, was third in 52.60 – he was out very fast, but lost some ground to Bovell on the breaststroke
Tommaso D’Orsogna was 4th for Australia in 53.27, followed by Cseh in 53.45.
Men’s 50 fly
Former Stanford Cardinal Jason Dunford, representing Kenya, beat continental competitor Chad le Clos by .09 seconds. Their final times were 22.77 and 22.86, respectively. That’s a new Kenyan Record, and personal best, for Dunford.
This is an impressive swim for the young le Clos, 200 fly Olympic Champion, as he finds his speed. Dunford is a true-blue 50 butterflier, and for Le Clos to hang so close to him.
Tom Shields just missed the podium again, with a 23.36 for 6th.
Mixed Medley Relay 4×50
History for the first FINA-sanctioned mixed-medley went appropriately enough to the country that perhaps takes the World Cup Series with more passion than any other, Germany, as they ran away from Hungary in 1;43.21.
The rules for the prize-less mixed medley are that it must be two men and two women, swum in any order, and the different countries (often with limited selection based on who was in attendance at the meet) all chose different lineups. The Germans went with Jenny Mensing-Marco Koch-Helge Meeuw-Britta Steffen (G-B-B-G), with the obvious alteration being the backstroker Meeuw sliding to the butterfly leg (very doable in just a 50 in short course).
Meanwhile, the Hungarians went with just the opposite in Laszlo Cseh-Zsu Jakabos - Katinka Hosszu - Krisztian Takacs (B-G-G-B).
The Ukrainians were 3rd in 1:45.89. The Americans didn’t enter a relay in this event, though once the team hits Europe and more women join the group, expect them to be very competitive.