A few stories are developing early at the 2014 European Championships, and so far none are bigger than Yannick Agnel’s quest for some stability. He missed the final in the 400 free, which he confessed afterward wasn’t really a focus event for him, but was then left off of the French 400 free relay that wound up taking a gold medal.
On Tuesday, though, he’ll get to settle in for the preliminaries and semi-finals of his best event, the 200 freestyle, where he’s the defending World Champion and Olympic Champion. He’ll hope to put the roller coaster of the first day of this meet behind him and hone in on an event in which he’s never won a European long course medal of any color.
The other race to watch is the prelims of the women’s 100 free. Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom has been very good at conserving energy in early rounds, and she’ll have to do so again with the 50 fly final on Tuesday – a final in which she’ll have a chance at not only gold, but her own World Record. The challenge is even tougher in that her two primary 50 fly competitors, Jeanette Ottesen and Fran Halsall, have both skipped the 100 free – an event in which they are very good.
French swimmer Charlotte Bonnet, the 3rd seed coming in, is the interesting name in that women’s 100 free. With Camille Muffat now retired, the French women’s torch probably falls to Bonnet, and this will be her first test.
Katinka Hosszu starts one new event, the 100 free prelims and semi-finals, which should make for a relatively quiet day. That’s after winning gold in the 400 IM and placing 16th in the semi-finals of the 200 back on the meet’s first day.
2014 LEN EUROPEAN SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Wednesday, August 13-Sunday, August 24, 2014 (pool swimming Monday, 8/18-Sunday 8/24)
- The Velodrom, Berlin, Germany
- Local time: Prelims 9:30am, Finals 6pm (Monday-Thursday), 4pm (Friday-Sunday)
- Meet website
- Event schedule
- Live stream
- Live results
Men’s 200 Free – Prelims
- 2012 European Champ: Paul Biedermann, Germany, 1:46.27
- 2010 European Champ: Paul Biedermann, Germany, 1:46.06
- Meet Record: Pieter van den Hoogenband, 1:44.89 – 2002
- World Record: Paul Biedermann, Germany, 1:42.00 – 2009
- European Record: Paul Biedermann, Germany, 1:42.00 – 2009
Paul Biedermann, after a tactical error in the men’s 400 free, bounced back in the 200 free preliminary rounds to easily take the top seed in 1:46.62. Going out in 51.97, he was the fastest to 100 meters, and dominated both his heat and the entire field.
Meanwhile, France’s Yannick Agnel, the defending Olympic and World Champion in the event, was safely through to the semi-finals in 1:48.27. That gave him the 9th seed, which while not ideal, is a solid morning swim given by what small margins 4th through 10th were separated (less than a second).
The other top qualifier through to the semis, who will hold a middle lane, is Russia’s Artem Lobuzov, who swam a 1:47.51. A slower-than-normal start for the 23-year old says that if he gets off of the block a bit faster in Tuesday evening’s semi-finals, he should have a middle lane for the Wednesday medal round.
Dutch swimmer Sebastiaan Verschuren, on the other hand, paced his race about where he likes to for a 1:47-mid, but will need to drop on all four lengths to go the 1:45 that he’s capable of.
Dominik Kozma was the heat 7 winner with a 1:47.99 to be the 4th qualifier overall, followed by 400 free winner Velimir Sjepanovic (1:48.02).
Pieter Timmers, (1:48.06) Clemens Rapp (1:48.08), and Andrea D’Arrigo (1:48.24) round out the top 8.
The only real surprise miss was Russian Nikita Lobintsev, who was 25th overall in 1:49.55 and just the 4th-best Russian. Among those who beat him include 17th-place finisher Alexander Sukhorukov (1:48.88), who will bump into the top 16 thanks to three Germans finishing in the top 10. Robin Backhaus (1:48.28) is the victim to that rule in this race.
Women’s 100 Breast – Prelims
- 2012 European Champ: Sarah Poewe, Germany, 1:07.33
- 2010 European Champ: Yulia Efimova, Russia, 1:06.32
- Meet Record: Yulia Efimova, Russia, 1:06.32 – 2010
- World Record: Ruta Meilutyte, Lithuania, 1:04.35 – 2013
- European Record: Ruta Meilutyte, Lithuania, 1:04.35 – 2013
In a women’s 100 breaststroke that suddenly has only one real continental star participating may have found its next. Italian Arianna Castiglioni, who just turned 17 last week, earned the top seed in prelims in 1:07.50.
That was the beginning of a very good day for the Italian team. Castiglioni won heat 4 and had a better time than Denmark’s Rikke Moeller-Pedersen, who won heat 5 in 1:07.57. Moeller-Pedersen remains the big favorite in this race, but with five swimmers under a 1:08 in just prelims, she’ll be challenged more than expected with no Yulia Efimova or Ruta Meilutyte in Berlin.
Petra Chocova of the Czech Republic (1:07.66), Jessica Vall Montero of Spain (1:07.83), and Jennie Johansson of Sweden (1:07.83) were also under 1:08.
In 9th placed was Israeli swimmer Amit Ivri, who since making her first statements as a butterflier has developed into a very good breaststroker. Ireland’s Fiona Doyle, swimming in the same heat, got the 10th seed in 1:08.77.
Other noteworthy finalists includes Dutch Record holder Moniek Nijhuis, who is the 6th qualifier in 1:08.16, and Iceland’s Hilda Luthersdottir, the 15th seed in 1:09.12. Luthersdottir was the top breaststroker for the United States’ University of Florida team last season.
There were a couple of big-name swimmers left out of the final. The second Irish finisher, Sycerika McMahon, was 17th in 1:09.23. Then two swimmers from countries who have looked very good this week missed out as well: Britain’s Molly Renshaw (1:09.30 – 19th) and Spain’s Marina Garcia Urzainqui (1:09.41).
Norway’s Stina Colleou, another American-based swimmer at Utah, was disqualified.
Men’s 200 IM – Prelims
- 2012 European Champ: Laszlo Cseh, Hungary, 1:56.66
- 2010 European Champ: Laszlo Cseh, Hungary, 1:57.73
- Meet Record: Laszlo Cseh, Hungary, 1:56.66 – 2012
- World Record: Ryan Lochte, United States, 1:54.00 – 2011
- European Record: Laszlo Cseh, Hungary, 1:55.18 – 2009
Three swimmers led the way in the men’s 200 IM under the two-minute barrier, led by the four-time defending champion Laszlo Cseh of Hungary, who swam a 1:59.17 on a swift first 100 meters (55.15).
He came in ahead of heat 3 winner Markus Deibler, and heat 3 winner Robert Pavoni, who were 1:59.60 and 1:59.89, respectively.
The Spanish Record holder Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez had a 2:00.16 for the 4th seed, which is a solid heat swim within a second of his lifetime best. He’s another part of the Florida Gator training group that has swum exceedingly well at their various international meets this summer.
His teammate Marcin Cieslak, of Poland, was less successful in his debut at this meet, but he did just enough to earn a second swim: going 2:01.86 for 15th overall in the morning. He finished right among a cluster in his heat, which aside from Deibler and Pavoni was a sluggish one, along with Spain’s Albert Pug Garrich (2:01.61) and Federico Turrini (2:01.61).
Germany put another swimmer through to keep the home crowd interested. Philip Heintz is the 5th qualifier in 2:00.18, and Israel’s Yakov Toumarkin recovered from a poor prelims swim in the 100 back to qualify 6th here in 2:00.32: putting him two spots ahead of his better-known IM’ing teammate Gal Nevo (8th – 2:00.83).
Estonian Marttin Liivamagi was the biggest name to miss the final, as he placed 20th in 2:02.61, and French-American swimmer Eric Ress placed 32nd in 2:05.72.
Italy’s Matteo Pelizzari was the lone DQ, and there will be no forced scratches from the semi-finals because of triple qualifications.
Women’s 100 Free – Prelims
- 2012 European Champ: Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden, 53.61
- 2010 European Champ: Fran Halsall, Great Britain, 53.58
- Meet Record: Britta Steffen, Germany, 53.30 – 2006
- World Record: Britta Steffen, Germany, 52.07 – 2009
- European Record: Britta Steffen, Germany, 52.07 – 2009
The winners of the two fastest morning heats of the women’s 100 free separated themselves a little in prelims, with Femke Heemskerk of the Netherlands swimming a 53.55 top be the top qualifier, and Sarah Sjostrom swimming a 53.66 for the second spot.
Sjostrom is approaching a very tough double in finals, where she’s scheduled to swim the 100 free at 6:11 PM, and the 50 fly final at 6:23 PM. For that reason, she’s probably just content to be the second seed in this race, meaning she’ll be in the first heat in finals and get a few extra minutes of rest.
Those two were the expected favorites, but 20-year old Swede Michelle Coleman has come into her own this year and could be a contender. She was a 54.05 for the 3rd seed in finals, and has now swim five of the six fastest times of her career in 2014.
Coleman has been a 53-mid this season, and is probably capable of a 53-low, which means that she will push Heemskerk and Sjostrom for that gold medal in Wednesday’s final if she’s saved her taper for this meet.
Another young 20-year old, Denmark’s Pernille Blume, was 4th in prelims in 54.28.
Katinka Hosszu swam her only morning race to a 54.45 for the 5th spot, followed by Russia’s Veronika Popova (54.74), France’s Charlotte Bonnet (54.79), and the Netherlands’ Maud van der Meer (55.00).
That makes for a good diversity in the top 8, and some good names, but there’s still some wiggle room for anyone who wants to jump up and take a spot in the final. That includes Nina Rangelova, who took half-a-second off of her own Bulgarian Record with a 55.07 to be the 10th finisher in prelims. She’ll bump up to 9th in the semis thanks to the third Swede, Louise Hansson, having to miss the next round.
The Dutch also had three in the top 16 finishers in the heats, one wouldn’t be surprised to find out: Esmee Vermeulen was 11th in 55.18. She’s only 18, and though this swim wasn’t enough to earn a second swim, it is a sign of her potential to become the next great Dutch sprinter in what seems to be a revolving-door program.
Russia’s Arina Openysheva, after a really impressive relay swim, was 16th in prelims of the 100 free in 55.52. At only 15, she’s the third Russian finisher.
Those triples mean a reprieve for France’s Anna Santamans, who had originally been 17th in 55.58, but has been faster than that four times already this season alone.
The top two British swimmers were Rebecca Turner (55.88) and Shauna Lee (56.24) in 23rd and 26th places, respectively. The British women, with some exception, haven’t been able to match the overall impressiveness of their men thus far at the championship.
400 Mixed Medley Relay – Prelims
- 2012 European Champ: N/A
- 2010 European Champ: N/A
- Meet Record: N/A
- World Record: Australia, 3:46.52 – 2014
- European Record: Russia, 3:48.74 – 2014
After scratches from the French and the Czech relays, the prelims of this mixed 400 medley relay became almost meaningless for the top nations, but for swimmers looking to either prove spots for finals or ensure their opportunity at a medal with safe qualification, there was no let-up.
The Italians broke the European Record with a 3:48.57, beating Russia’s 3:49.05 set in the Netherlands a month ago. The team was Christopher Ciccarese (54.64), Andrea Toniato (1:00.40), Ilaria Bianchi (57.82), and Chiara Masini Luccetti (55.71).
With Italy’s best-known breaststroker Fabio Scozzoli no-shows at this meet so far, Toniato might have earned himself a swim in finals (though Mattia Pesce is waiting to potentially take that spot). The same goes for Bianchi, who not only proved her worth in the evening, but made herself a medal contender in the individual 100 fly with that split.
The only real change that needs to be made for Italy in finals is on their anchor leg, where there’s probably three women on the roster who could split faster. Masini scratched the individual 100 free to swim this race, which paid off for the record.
The Italians didn’t beat simply a bunch of “prelims” type relays with that swim, either. Great Britain stacked their relay to go 3:48.82 for the second seed, also under the old European Record, and a nearly full-force German relay took 3rd in 3:49.46.
The top team with a serious chance to make noise by changing their relay is the 4th-place Russians (3:51.94), but with such a big gap to move even on to the podium, they might hold back their stars like Vlad Morozov for other events. They used Nikita Ulyanov (54.76), Grigory Falko (1:02.05), Svetlana Chimrova (59.89), and Elizaveta Bazarova (55.24) in prelims.
The Turks were the lone competing relay to miss the final, placing 9th and three-seconds back of Austria for a spot in tonight’s final.
Men’s 1500 free – Prelims
- 2012 European Champ: 14:48.92, Gregorio Paltrinieri, Italy
- 2010 European Champ: 14:55.17, Sebastien Rouault, France
- Meet Record: 14:48.92, Gregorio Paltrinieri, Italy – 2012
- World Record: Sun Yang, Australia, 14:31.02 – 2012
- European Record: Yri Prilukov, Russia, 14:43.21 – 2008
Tuesday’s morning session finished with three heats of the men’s 1500 free, with the top 8 advancing to the final swum on Wednesday night.
The defending champion Gregorio Paltrinieri took the top seed in 14:54.75. Though in his heat, Hungarian Gergely Gyurta tried to match pace for the first 800 meters, Paltrinieri then separated from him, and everyone else, for the easy top seed.
His country mate, and fellow 20-year old, Gabriele Detti is 2nd in 14:59.24 as the second heat winner.
The British men had their one big event of the morning with Stephen Milne taking the 3rd seed in 15:04.86, and teenager Jay Lelliott, a surprise medalist in the 400 free yesterday, placing 5th in 15:06.88. Gyurta was between them in 15:05.13.
Richard Nagy of Slovakia (15:07.29), Pal Joensen (15:08.02), and Spain’s Antonio Arroyo-Perez (15:11.86) will round out the top 8.
The big name missing there is the 2012 runner-up in the event Gergo Kis of Hungary. He was just 20th in a dreadful 15:40.77, which was shocking after a decent 400 free swim for 8th on Monday. Kis is the defending 800 free champion as well and overall has had a pretty good season to this point – swimming a 15:14 in March and a 15:18 in May.
Other swimmers who fell include 2010 bronze medalist Samuel Pizzetti. He wasn’t going to match the swims of his Italian country mates Detti and Paltrinieri to make the final, but he’s been almost 30 seconds better than the 15:32.01 that he went in this prelim for 16th place.