The USA continued their winning ways on day 3 of the 2011 Summer Universiade from Shenzhen China, and picked up three more titles. The Chinese had a mixed-bag of results, and though the New Zealanders cooled off a little, they still added to their hardware.
Mens 100 freestyle
The men’s 100 free is a race that seems to be moving more-and-more towards a race for back-half swimmers in the post-suit era. The USA’s Jimmy Feigen and Romania’s Norbert Trandafir had the two best closing legs in the field, and went 1-2 in this race. Feigen’s touch was in 49.26, and Trandafir’s was 49.41.
For Feigen, that mark was about three-tenths off of where he was at US Nationals, but still a solid mark. It’s not the “slam dunk” time that we were hoping for to establish himself as a relay favorite, but it’s good enough to keep him in strong contention going towards the 2012 Olympics. Trandafir’s time was by far his career textile-best.
In 3rd, though, was the most notable finish: that of Japan’s Shinri Shioura in 49.50. That time made him the 3rd-fastest Japanese 100 freestyler (behind Takuro Fujii, their top butterflier, and Kenji Kobase, who was 5th in this race in 49.90) despite being only a teenager. He’s got pretty good height at 6’2 (188 cm), and plenty of room to fill out a bit more. He could be the answer to the crippling freestyle leg on Japan’s otherwise top-class medley relay.
Brazil’s Nicolas Oliveira reaffirmed his reputation as a “relay swimmer,” as despite having a great anchor leg on the men’s 400 yesterday, he finished only 4th in 49.60 in the individual. The other American in the race was Bobby Savulich, who was 7th in 49.97.
Women’s 200 breaststroke
China’s Sun Ye, who was 4th at Worlds, was clearly the class of the field in the 200 breaststroke. She swam this race with an entirely different pacing than she did in Shanghai – her first 150 meters were two-seconds slower, but she made up for it on the last length with a 36.3 split that was two-seconds better than any of the other medalists to touch in a very similar 2:24.63. Though she was 3rd going into that final sprint, she made the win look relatively easy at the end.
The USA’s Andrea Kropp took 2nd in 2:26.18. That’s more than a second-and-a-half of a career-best for the Princeton star, moving her to 21st in the world. She’s suddenly a great darkhorse pick to make the Olympic team next year.
Japan’s Satomi Suzuki, the defending champiion in this event, took 3rd in 2:26.67. Canada’s Tera van Beilen was the only swimmer who was close to matching Sun’s closing 50, but came up just short of the medal stand on her final charge in 2:26.78.
Sara el Bekri of Morocco, who is by far the best swimmer in the history of the country, touched in 6th in 2:28.79. The holder of 11 of the country’s 17 long course National Records is on a precipice and aiting to break out, perhaps at next year’s Olympics (she’s been two seconds better than this time at French Nationals in March). The USA’s Ashley Wanland was 7th in 2:28.90.
Women’s 200 free
This 200 free was purported to be the race of the day, based on the entrants and how they’ve been performing in the meet, but at about the halfway mark of the race, Spain’s Melania Costa-Schmid pulled away from the field to win by about a body-length in 1:57.98. That just misses her National Record set earlier this month in Shanghai, but it is the 2nd-fastest time every swum by a Spaniard (she now owns the country’s three-best marks ever).
New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle already had the 400 and 800 gold medals in her bag, but couldn’t manage to pull off a triple. She placed 2nd in this race in 1:59.19 for silver. She held off a late charge from the USA’s Karlee Bispo, who took bronze in 1:59.31 for her first international individual medal.
France’s Margaux Farrell took 6th in 2:00.65 (she’s a dual-US-citizen, and swims collegiately for Indiana), and China’s Yi Tang placed a disappointing 8th after setting a meet record the day before in the 100.
Men’s 100 breaststroke
Lithuania’s Giedrius Titenis held true to form in the men’s 100 breaststroke and pushed to a hard-fought win in 1:00.39, which was right at his :00.25 from Worlds. Glenn Snyders of New Zealand took silver in 1:00.71. This separates the breaststroker of the meet honors, as the two tied for the win in the 200.
In 3rd was Brazil’s Joao Gomes in 1:00.78. Brazil’s breaststroke group continues to get deeper-and-deeper; perhaps not to the extent of their freestyle group at the top-end, but with Gomes’ bronze, and Felipe Lima’s 1:00.86 for 4th, the Brazilians now have three swimmers under 1:01 in this race in 2011. Only the Americans have more.
Women’s 400 IM
American/Stanford Cardinal Maya DiRado to0k a win in the women’s 400 IM by a sizeable margin in 4:40.79, but it would be hard to call the win “comfortable”. DiRado looked great through the fly and back legs, but her weakness was pretty clearly exposed on the breaststroke. She labored through that third leg, and headed into the last turn was still half-a-second behind Japan’s Miho Takahashi. Coming off of her final turn, however, she put on the jets and split a 31.47 coming home to make the win look more dominating than it really was. Takahashi finished 2nd in 4:42.28.
Austria’s Joerdis Steinegger, who has got to be one of the oldest athletes in this entire competition at 28, took bronze in 4:43.30.
The Japanese are developing a real distinct style of swimming their breaststrokes, with Takahashi and 200 champ Izumi Kato (who was 4th here in 4:43.70) both well outpacing most of their competition on the breaststroke leg. The only other swimmer to be close to them there was Canada’s Johanna Pierse (7th-4:48.32), one of four younger sisters of 200 breaststroke World Record holder Annamay.
Men’s 50 backstroke
Japan’s Ryosuke Irie won the men’s 50 backstroke in 25.11, giving him his second gold medal of the meet. Oddly enough, with all backstroke competition completed, Irie won the 50 and the 200, but failed to medal in the intermediary 100 backstroke.
In 2nd was former Cal star, and Israeli sprint-specialist, Guy Barnea in 25.21. The bronze went to Russia’s Sergey Markov in 25.42.
Men’s 800 free relay
The American men put together a solid 800 free relay of Michael Klueh, Dax Hill, Matt Bartlett, and Matthew McLean to win in 7:13.54. But one leg really stood out, and that’s McLean’s 1:47.24 anchor swim. He’s still got some work to do if he wants to earn himself a relay spot in London, but that split is about a tenth faster than Conor Dwyer swam in prelims in Shanghai (and only a few tenths off of Ricky Berens’ mark), so he’s in really good position. All-told, all four Americans were under 1:49 in this relay.
The Japanese had two very good legs to their silver-medal winning 800 free relay (7:14.66). Yuya Horihata and Sho Uchida split 1:48.1 and 1:48.0, respectively, but their other two swims couldn’t quite match up with the Americans’. The Australians in Bronze were the only other relay with four swimmers under 1:50, spearheaded by a 1:48.92 lead-off from David McKeon.
The Americans doubled their gold medal total on day 3 and took the lead in both the number of gold medals and the overall number of medals earned. For the first day of the meet, New Zealand didn’t win any golds, but they did pick up two silvers to remain in 2nd. Japan continued their quantity-attack by earning 3 more medals, though unlike the World Championships they also have 3 golds to go with it.