Day 4 of the 2012 World Short Course Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, was very semi-final heavy; that’s in order to set up a big finals session on the meet’s last day on Sunday.
But with a whole lot of sprint races on tap, it was a fast and wild session that saw one swimmer break a World Record, and two others just miss them.
Women’s 100 Breaststroke – FINAL
Ruta Meilutyte could rightfully be called the best sprint breaststroker in the world right now, and she’s only 15-years old. She added a second gold medal from this meet with a 1:03.52 in this 100. That broke Rebecca Soni’s 2010 Meet Record of 1:03.96. Jamaican Alia Atkinson was also under the old Meet Record with a 1:03.80 for silver.
Meilutyte and Atkinson, in the shorter, smaller-margin 50, were both forced to swim all-out in each round to ensure advancement. In this 100, though, both were able to pace themselves through the semi’s much harder, which resulted in a full second drop for each.
Denmark’s Rikke Moeller-Pedersen was 3rd in 1:04.05, putting each of those three in the top-10 of all-time, and each under their National Records as well.
Australian Sarah Katsoulis (1:05.01) and American Jessica Hardy (1:05.08) are two of the best ever in this event, but neither could get onto the podium; nor could the elite Swedish breaststrokers Jennie Johansson (1:05.62) or Rebecca Ejdervik (1:06.07).
Men’s 50 Backstroke – FINAL
Australian Robert Hurley’s career has come full-circle. He started out as a great sprint backstroker, gravitated toward the middle-distance freestyles, and this year has been working hard on getting back into that sprint backstroke form. That includes through a full World Cup series where he was consistently competitive.
That hard work paid off today, where the former World Record holder in the event took his first ever world title, touching ahead of a stacked field in 23.04.
That left American Matt Grevers 2nd in 23.17 and Russia’s Stanislav Donets, the defending champion, for bronze in 23.19. That’s the second time this meet (after the 100 back final) where Donets has been out-touched by a fingernail by the monstrous American.
Brazil’s Guilherme Guido broke his own Brazilian and South American Record once again, for the third time this year, but his 23.25 wasn’t quite enough for a medal this time.
The Turkish home-crowd favorite Iskender Baslakov, swimming in his second final, was 8th in 23.49.
Women’s 50 Backstroke – SEMIFINAL
The Chinese women aren’t generally known for their sprinters; while that is changing at this meet (they went 1-2 in the 50 fly, for example), the one 50 where they’ve had the most success has to be the backstroke. That trend seems to be continuing, as defending champion Jing Zhao took the top seed in the semi-finals easily in 26.11: breaking her own Championship Record of 26.27 from the last edition of this meet.
The winner of the other heat was Polish swimmer Aleksandra Urbanczyk, followed by American teenager Olivia Smoliga, winner of the 100, in 26.57. Both swimmers will have some work to do if they what to pick off Zhao in the final.
Georgia Davies (26.84) and the Australians Grace Loh (26.85) and Rachel Loh (26.95) also made the final. Disappointingly missing was Danish swimmer Mie Nielsen, who touched 9th in 27.07. She’s had a very up-and-down meet.
Men’s 100 Free – SEMIFINAL
Vlad Morozov might be swimming alone on Sunday in the final of this 100 free. He certainly was in the prelim, turning well under World Record pace and then coasting into nearly a Meet Record in 45.79.
Lucca Dotto was 2nd in 46.83 and Tommaso D’Orsogna of Australia was 3rd in 46.89, all out of the first heat.
Without a rabbit to chase, the second heat wasn’t as swift as was the first in this race; Matt Grevers’ semi-final victory of 47.14 was good for only the 4th spot overall, followed by his teammate Jimmy Feigen in 47.26. Cuban Hanser Garcia was 6th in 47.28. China’s Zhiwu Lu broke a new National Record by half-a-second with a 47.29.
Women’s 50 Free – SEMIFINAL
Three swimmers are emerging well ahead of the field in this women’s 50 free. Belarus’ Aleksandra Herasimenia will take lane 5, center-stage, in Sunday’s final after swimming a 24.13 personal best. Denmark’s Jeanette Ottesen-Gray is the second seed in 24.25, and Germany’s Britta Steffen was 3rd in 24.27.
There’s a pack of very-talented sprinters just outside, though, including Britain’s Fran Haslall and American Christine Magnuson, who tied for the 4th seed in 24.49. Halsall is especially dangerous as she has been swimming very well at this meet.
Canadian/Georgia Bulldog swimmer Chantal van Landeghem tied for 12th in 24.81.
Men’s 50 Fly – FINAL
With a great start and a great turn, Nicholas dos Santos can win a lot of 50 meter races. That’s just what he did here by dipping .01 under his Championship Record from the semi-finals with a 22.22. His over-the-water stroke was less-than-inspiring, especially as compared to the more pure butterfliers like Tom Shields and Chad le Clos around him, but that’s what the Brazilians do well. They use good starts, good turns, good finishes, and pure athleticism to excel in 50 meter races.
Le Clos finished hard, but came up just short of a victory with a 22.26. American Tom Shields took 3rd in 22.46, which re-broke his own American Record set in the semi-finals.
France’s Fred Bousquet was 4th in 22.61 followed by China’s Wu Peng in 22.78.
Women’s 100 Fly – SEMIFINAL
The Italian women, who showed big improvements over the summer, haven’t been performing all that well at this meet. Italy’s Ilaria Bianchi, however, broke that trend with a top-seeded 56.60 in this women’s 100 fly semi-final. That’s about two-tenths slower than she was at the European Championships in November.
She and Canada’s Noemie Thomas (56.64) were the only two in this race to close in under 30 seconds on the back-50 meters of this race, and are the top two seeds by half-a-second.
Britain’s Jemma Lowe was 3rd in 57.16, with China’s Liu Zige coming in 4th in 57.24. China took 1-2 in the 50 fly, though Zige was not entered in that race.
Both Americans, Claire Donahue (57.51) and Kathleen Hersey (57.65) will be in the final, but at the same time will have work to do if they want medals. The 2nd Italian, 19-year old Silvia di Pietro, will also swim in the final with a 57.62.
Men’s 100 IM – SEMIFINAL
A World Record in this 100 IM came as no big surprise for Ryan Lochte, after he just missed it in 2010 following a much longer schedule. In just a semi-final, Lochte swam a 50.71 to take a few hairs off of the 50.76 set by Peter Mankoc in 2009 (read more about that record here).
He was fastest on both the front-half and the back-half of this IM, not leaving much hope even for Kenneth To (51.47) and George Bovell (51.66), who were within a second. Bovell and To have battled in this race many times this fall, but tomorrow it would seem that the battle will be for silver instead of gold.
Sweden’s Simon Sjodin was 4th in 52.51: a new Swedish National Record by over a second. The second American, Conor Dwyer, was 4th in 52.74.
The old World Record holder, Peter Mankoc, is in another final, taking 6th in 52.80. He had made every Short Course final in this race since 1999 before missing out in 2010 with a poor semi-finals swim; he’ll be back in here.
Women’s 200 IM – FINAL
China’s Shiwen Ye and Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu both went after this World Record, and despite neither being close in the longer 400, they both came within two-tenths of the all-time mark.
Ye used her impressive closing speed that we saw at the Olympics (though it wasn’t quite as unbelievable here as it was in London) to pull by Hosszu and win in 2:04.64. Katinka took 2nd in 2:04.72. The all-time record belongs to American Julia Smit in 2:04.60.
Between Hosszu, her countrymate Evelyn Verraszto, and Zsu Jakabos, the Hungarians now hold 9 of the 25 best swims of all-time in this event, more than any other country.
Ye and Hosszu went the 3rd and 4th best swims of all-time in this race
The two were miles ahead of the field by the time the dust settled. 400m winner Hannah Miley from Great Britain took bronze in 2:07.12. It was a surprising that she didn’t get a personal best in the swim after breaking the European record in the longer race; however she was more pleasantly surprised, saying after the race that she expected only a 4th or 5th,s a medal was very satisfying for her.
Zsu Jakabos took the final turn in medal position, but couldn’t hold it together on the freestyle (in contrast to her usual history, where she closes well).
Maya DiRado was the top-finishing American, taking 5th in 2:07.77; Melanie Margalis was 6th in 2:08.63.
Men’s 50 Breast – SEMIFINAL
Damir Dugonjic is closing-in on the Meet Record in this 50 breaststroke, and after a very good performance in the 100, he’ll take a top seed into the finals of this 50 breaststroke with a 26.27.
That placing won’t surprise many. What will, however, is that Florent Manaudou, silver medalist in the 50 freestyle, is the 2nd seed in 26.49. That’s just off of his time from the European Championships, and if he can continue to fix his start, he could challenge Dugonjic for the gold medal here.
Brazil’s Joao Gomes is a tick behind Manaudou with a 26.50, followed by a 26.51 from Aleksander Hetland and a 26.54 from South Africa’s Giulio Zorzi.
Women’s 400 Free Relay – FINAL
After getting only a bronze medal in the 400 medley relay on Friday, the American women came out with a vengeance in this 400 free relay. Megan Romano got them off to an early lead in a 52.86; Jessica Hardy slipped behind the Aussies (53.32), but the U.S. depth was unmatchable, as Lia Neal (52.44) and Allison Schmitt (52.39). Neal, despite only being a senior in high school, has been an absolutely outstanding relay swimmer for the Americans, both at this meet and the Olympics. She may be the hammer-sprinter that the Americans have been missing since a great group in the mid-2000′s started to age past the point where they were competing for individual medals (Dara Torres, Natalie Coughlin).
Australia took 2nd in 3:32.90, including a 52.32 from Marieke Guehrer on the 2nd leg: the 2nd-fastest split of the entire field.
The women from Denmark, who won their first ever World Championship relay medal on Friday, have now added a 2nd in as many days with a 3:33.51 for 3rd. Jeanette Ottesen anchored in 52.24, the fastest split of the field.
|ISTANBUL 2012 MEDALS TABLE
after day 4