Katinka Hosszu was facing stepped-up competition at the third stop of the 2012 FINA World Cup Series, which threatened to cut into her almost unlimited roll through the Middle East. No such impediment happened, however, as Hosszu still won early and often.
On the men’s side, Japan’s Daiya Seto, who has been the revelation of this series, continued to roll and very nearly broke a World Cup Record in the 400 IM.
Among the disappointing news on the first day is that Sweden’s native Sarah Sjostrom has pulled out of the meet. She has been battling some sickness, and needed to catch up on her training before she felt prepared for competition.
The Americans only earned a pair of bronze medals, one from Tom Shields and one from Jessica Hardy, despite a slightly-expanded roster for this meet. The best swim of the day, though, probably goes to an American-trained swimmer George Bovell in the 100 IM. Though the event makes it somewhat under the radar, he now stands among the top-10 of all-time.
Women’s 800 Free
Hosszu won this race, not one of her primary but still one she’s pretty good in, with an 8:24.48. That overtook Denmark’s Lotte Friis, one of the world’s best distance swimmers, in the last 200 meters. Overtaking Friis down the home-stretch of an 800 is not always easy, as she’s the best 1500 swimmer in the world. As her competition increased, though, so too did Hosszu: this swim is her lifetime best by 5 seconds as she’s dropped big time in every meet of the series so far in this 800.
If the rest of her races improve this much, Hosszu is going to do something special.
Hungary’s Zsu Jakabos also crushed her personal best from Doha with an 8:31.96 for 3rd place.
Men’s 100 Free
Australians Tommaso D’Orsogna and Kenneth To have been locked in a head-to-head grudge match in this 100 free throughout this year’s World Cup. To won in Dubai, the pair tied in Doha, and now the older D’Orsogna has evened the score by skating by with a 47.05 to To’s 47.24. To has actually added a few tenths at each meet in this event: not the direction he wants to be going at this long series.
This race ultimately ended in a clean Australian sweep, with Kyle Richardson taking 3rd in 47.33. Anthony Ervin, as he is wont to do, took a big lead at the halfway mark, opening in a blazing 21.99. This week, however, he wasn’t able to hold onto that and finished 4th in 47.50.
Women’s 200 Free
Hosszu didn’t have quite as spectacular of a swim in this 200, but it was still a good result for her winning in 1:55.30. She swam this race very differently here than she did in either Doha or Dubai. Her finishing split of 28.95 was much faster than either of those other two meets (even though her total result in Doha was faster).
Unlike Hosszu, Jakabos posted her 2nd big time drop of the day with a 1:56.31 for 2nd. That’s almost identical to what she did at this meet last year, even though last year she would have been much more rested coming into the meet.
Great Britain’s Hannah Miley got on the board with $500 for a 3rd-place finish in 1:56.58. She overtook a podium spot as Australia’s Jessica Morrison, who led most of the race, slid to 4th in 1:56.65.
Men’s 50 Breast
The men’s 50 breaststrokes had been dominated thus far in this series by the South Africans, having swept the golds and silvers in the Middle East. With most of them having gone home, however, now with most of them gone home, the battle for this race was wide open in Stockholm, and New Zealand’s Glenn Snyders took advantage to win in 26.61. That just out-touched Brazil’s Joao Gomes Jr. (26.69) and Norway’s Aleksander Hetland (26.83).
Fabio Scozzoli, a former World Champion in the long course version of this event, was 4th in 26.98.
Women’s 100 Breast
Lithuanian teenager Ruta Meilutyte, who trains at Britain’s Plymouth Leander Club, is on a roll. Two months ago, she won Olympic gold in an upset nobody saw coming, and now she’s won her first World Cup race with a 1:05.02 world-leader. That’s a best time by more than three seconds, which is not really a huge surprise considering how far she came in the last year in long course. She’s also moved into the top 20 all-time.
Now we’ll really look forward to her performances in the sprint freestyles, where she seems to have untapped potential. If she can become Lithuania’s version of Jessica Hardy, with great sprint freestyles and breaststrokes, that could be a big boost to Lithuania’s overall international performance.
Speaking of Hardy, the American World Record holder missed the podium in her first race of this year’s Series (she’ll be around until at least Moscow). In a tight finish, she finished 4th in 1:05.50.
Ahead of her was Sweden’s Jennie Johansson in 1:05.39 and Japan’s Rie Kaneto in 1:05.44. Johansson’s silver was the home country’s first medal of this meet.
Men’s 400 IM
Young Japanese star Daiya Seto was consistent through the first two meets of this series, very-nearly matching his 400 IM times very closely. Here in Sweden, however, he completely overhauled his strategy, and it worked to the tune of a 4:00.85, another new Japanese Record and very nearly a World Cup Record (missing by .22). Seto was about a second slower on the first 200 meters of this race, but closed in a 55.8, as compared to the 57′s he had been before, to blow by his personal best.
Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh did his best to hold off Seto, but was doomed by his breaststroke leg. He was even faster than Seto on the last 100 meters, but did hit a season-best in 4:01.01. Israel’s Gal Nevo, a former NCAA Champion, was 3rd in a 4:08.32.
Women’s 100 Fly
With Sarah Sjostrom out of the meet, and Inge Dekker not swimming very well, Sweden’s Therese Alshammar ran away with this race in 56.68. Norway’s Ingvild Snildal in 57.98 and Finland’s Emilia Pikarainen in a new National Record of 58.48.
Dekker was 4th in 58.77, and Italy’s Ilaria Bianchi was surprisingly slow with a 58.94 for 6th.
Men’s 100 Backstroke
Bobby Hurley was a backstroker early in his career, including at one point holding the World Record in the 50 short course. As he neared his mid-20′s, he turned his focus more toward middle-distance freestyles, but this year he seems bent on returning to his backstroke roots. He took his 2nd 100 back win of the season with a 50.38 to just out-touch the defending Short Course World Champion Stanislav Donets (50.42). Hurley got Donets coming off of the final 25 meter turn.
Fellow Australian Ashley Delaney was 3rd in 51.35.
Women’s 50 Backstroke
Australia’s Rachel Goh got back on top of her best event, the short course 50 backstroke, with a 26.94. That makes her the first swimmer in the world to crack 27 seconds this season. Magdalena Kuras, a Swedish short course specialist, was 2nd in 27.50. The Swedish medley relay could really use her skill in long course, but she’s not even close to as good. Brazil’s Fabiola Molina was 2nd in 27.58.
Men’s 200 Fly
Japan went 1-2 in this race with a win from Kazuya Kaneda in 1:51.95 and a second-place finish from Seto in 1:52.12.
American Tom Shields took 3rd for the second-consecutive meet with a 1:52.80. That’s almost exactly what he went in Doha.
Women’s 200 IM
A third race, and a third big swim for Katinka Hosszu on Saturday. She won this 200 IM in a 2:08.13, which is easily her best time of the season. She was actually in a huge hole to Sweden’s Louisse Hansson after the butterfly leg, which held through the backstroke, but on the breaststroke leg Hosszu took control of this race and didn’t look back.
Her teammate Zsu Jakabos and Great Britain’s Sophie Allen swam this race very evenly: they were tied to the hundredth after the breaststroke race, and ended up right there in matching 2:09.05.
Britain’s Hannah Miley was 4th in 2:09.94.
Men’s 400 Free
Hurley reminded us that he’s still got some skill in the 400, as he took his 2nd win of the day in 3:43.75. He broke away from the World Record holder Paul Biedermann of Germany only in the last 100 meters. Both sort of sat in the middle of the pack for the first 300, before bursting through, but Biedermann couldn’t hang with the Australian and finished 2nd in 3:45.14.
Women’s 50 Free
Germany’s Britta Steffen broke a tie with rival Therese Alshammar in the women’s 50 free on Saturday. Coming into the meet, each woman had won the race once so far in this series, and even with the meet on Alshammars’ home turf, Steffen’s 24.08 took the victory. Alshammar took 2nd in 24.24, followed by American Jessica Hardy getting her first cash in 24.41 for 3rd.
With the meet next shifting back to Steffen’s home in Berlin, Alshammar is probably favored to settle the score. Historically, she’s been better than Steffen in Berlin.
Men’s 200 Breaststroke
When the 2011 edition of the World Cup rolled into Europe, Germany’s Marco Koch really stepped on the accelerator in his best event, the 200 breaststroke. This year, though, he’s trending the opposite direction: his 2:06.05 was still enough to pick off Seto (2:06.65) for the win.
South Africa’s Neil Versfeld at least maintained some presence in the breaststrokes with a 3rd-place finish in 2:07.63.
Men’s 100 IM
Trinidad & Tobago’s George Bovell, in his first race of the session, won the 100 IM in 51.56, topping Australia’s To who has been so good in this race. Bovell is keeping his races to a very small schedule, mostly 50 frees and 100 IM’s, with an eye on the series prizes perhaps instead of the individual race awards. If he continues to put up swims like this (this swim earned the most FINA points of the day), he could be in line for a big pay-day in Tokyo.
To has been slightly better this season, but for Bovell that’s the 8th-best time in history.
Women’s 200 Backstroke
With the Ukraine’s Daryna Zevina sitting out this stop of the World Cup, New Zealand’s Melissa Ingram was elevated to clearly the class of the 200 backstroke field, as she ran away with a win in 2:04.84. The two Hungarians, Katinka Hosszu and Zsu Jakabos, coasted to more minor podium places in just mediocre times of 2:07 and 2:08. For both of them, this race is mostly about training for their IM’s and picking up a few easy bucks.
Men’s 50 Fly
Australia’s Matthew Targett made his debut on the podium in this series, running away with the 100 fly in 22.51. That’s the third-best time in the world this season and put him relatively-comfortably ahead of Kenya’s Jason Dunford.
Russia’s Evgeny Korotyshkin was 3rd in 23.02, and American Tom Shields was 4th in 23.42.
Mixed 200 Medley Relay
Round 3 of these mixed relays was even less exciting than the first two, with Norway winning in 1:41.83. Though that time is actually faster than the ones that Germany used to win the first two stops, there was little competition from runners-up Brazil.