In the past 12-18 months, as all of Nordic Swimming has improved, Finland has pulled ahead of their brethren from Iceland for last in the rankings of Nordic countries, and it would seem with recent results that they may be gunning for Norway’s third-chair as well. They continued their momentum at the Finnish Short Course (25m) National Championships, where they broke multiple National Records.
Emilia Pikkarainen had the best swim of the weekend with a 57.64 in the 100 fly. That ranks her 18th in the world as we near the end of the 2012-2013 short course meters season. That broke her own National Record from the fall’s World Cup by four tenths.
“It went surprisingly well,” Pikkarainen said of the swim. “I’m really glad that this kind of result as it came around a tough time in training. My swimming felt really strong.”
Strong is an understatement, as she also won the 200 fly in 2:08.41. Though that’s more than a second off of her National Record, it highlights how far the 20-year old was from anything resembling a full taper in this meet, yet still went a best time in the 100 fly.
Other records went to Matti Mattson in the men’s 200 breaststroke, where his 2:07.50 broke a 10-year old record of 2:07.61 set by Jarno Pihlava in mid-2002.
The other individual record went to Jenna Laukkanen in the women’s 100 breaststroke. She swam a 1:06.46 to knock about two-tenths of a second off of her own National Record in the event. The 17-year old is a 2011 European juniors silver medalist in the long course version of the same event. Her time here ranks her among some of the best teenage swimmers in the world, including names like Canada’s Tera van Beilen and Ireland’s Sycerika McMahon.
Laukkanen also won the 200 IM in 2:12.82 and the 200 breast in 2:21.98 – the latter of which also crushed her own National Record by a full second..
On the other end of her career from Pikkarainen and Laukkanen is Finland’s greatest swimmer in the modern era, Hanna-Maria Seppala. Like Pikkarainen, Seppala focused on just a few races, though she’s a National Record holder in a large handful of them. She won the 100 IM in 1:00.77, among the top 30 times in the world this season,
Seppala’s only other swims of this meet were on relays. She anchored Cetus’ 400 medley relay in 53.64 to a new National club record in 4:03.92, plus a 53.97 relay leadoff in their victorious 400 free relay.
The biggest star of the meet, though, was Lotta Nevalainen. She swept three shorter freestyle events in 24.80, 54.38, and 2:01.06; she also won the 50 and 100 backstrokes, and placed 2nd in the 50 fly. Along with Laukkanen and Pikkrarainen, she makes up three of four legs of a potentially very-good medley relay; beginning next fall, Nevalainen will be training in the U.S. with North Carolina State.