The tides may be turning in the team battle at the European Championships after a relatively weak performance by the British squad on Day 3. After an incredibly strong session on Tuesday night, Team GBR only managed to secure one bronze medal on Wednesday via Roberto Pavoni and his 1:58.22 performance in the 200 IM.
On the other hand, we saw a surging Swedish team led by Sarah Sjoestroem, as she claimed gold in the 100 free in a new championship and national record of 52.67 (Old CR = 53.30, Old NR = 52.87). Team Sweden also received some support from Michelle Coleman with her bronze medal finish in the 100 free (53.75) from Jennie Johansson and her silver medal performance in the 100 breast (1:07.04), thus bringing the team to 5 total medals at the Championships (3 gold). On Thursday, the Swedes will turn to Sjoestroem once again as she swims in the preliminary session of the 100 fly, arguably her best Olympic event and also the event that she holds the European record in as well (56.06).
She is one of only two female swimmers to break 57 seconds this year with her 56.50 performance at Sweden’s National Championships last month, and judging from her performance in the 50 meter butterfly on Tuesday night (Gold, 24.98), she should be fairly comfortable swimming the 100 meter variant on Thursday morning. The other swimmer who has broken 57 seconds this year is Denmark’s Jeanette Ottesen Gray (56.96), and she will surely fight with Sjoestroem for the top seed entering semifinal action. Look for third-seeded Inge Dekker from the Netherlands (seeded 57.32) to post a strong time this morning as well.
Denmark’s Rikke Pedersen should be the class of the field in the 200 breast following her victory in the 100 breast on Wednesday night, and given that she has an almost 4 second cushion over the rest of the competition when it comes to seed times, we need not expect to see too much effort from the Dane this morning.
The men’s 100 free should be a great race to watch this morning, as the Russian men possess 3 of the top 8 seeds leading into the event, including Vladimir Morozov‘s top seeded time of 47.62 from last year’s World University Games and Andrey Grechin‘s second-placed seed time of 47.98 from the same meet. This may be the Russian men’s best opportunity to do some serious damage on the rest of the world, so it will be very interesting to see how Morozov, Grechin, and 26 year old veteran Alexander Sukhorukov (48.66, 7th seed) put themselves out there this morning. They will be tested by several other contenders including Germany’s Paul Biedermann (48.31, 4th seed), who has looked very good in his races this week, and also by an ever-present squad of French sprinters amongst others.
Finally, after a dominant showing in the 1500, the Italian distance machine may continue its dominant showing as newly-minted metric mile European record holder Gregorio Paltrinieri and 800 free European record holder Gabriele Detti get an opportunity to pace the field in the 800 free morning heats.
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
Women’s 200 Breast – Prelims
- 2012 European Champ: Sarah Nordenstam, Norway, 2:26.91
- 2010 European Champ: Anastasia Chaun, Russia, 2:23.50
- Meet Record: Anastasia Chaun, Russia, 2:23.50 – 2010
- World Record: Rikke Pedersen, Denmark, 2:19.11 – 2013
- European Record: Rikke Pedersen, Denmark, 2:19.11 – 2013
Russia’s Vitalina Simonova is the surprise leader after the prelimary session of the 200 breast with her top time of 2:25.46. She has an over one second lead over the rest of the qualifiers as Spain’s Marina Garcia Urzainqui cruised into 2nd place overall with a 2:26.43. Notably, Garcia is a sophomore at the University of California, and represented the Golden Bears last year both individually and in relays. She finished just in front of fellow countrywoman Jessica Vall Montero who touched in 2:26.80.
World record holder Rikke Pedersen from Denmark looked very comfortable as she captured a victory in the fourth and final heat, though her time still left much to be desired. Pedersen finished in a 2:27.42, and though she qualified for the semifinals tonight with a 6th place finish, she will need to be a bit more aggressive in order to come close to her personal best. On the bright side, her splits were fairly consistent, as she took the race out in a 1:12 before returning in a 1:15, and she also did not look particularly tired at the finish, so we can look forward to what the Danish superstar has to offer in the semifinal and medal rounds.
Giulia De Ascentis (2:26.88) took 4th while Fanny Lecluyse (2:27.38), Pedersen, Molly Renshaw (2:27.42), and Vanessa Grimberg (2:27.49) rounded out the top 8. Also of note, Icelandic standout Hrafnhildu Luthersdottir (2:28.07) finished just out of the top 8 at 10th.
Men’s 100 Free – Prelims
- 2012 European Champ: Filippo Magnini, Italy, 48.77
- 2010 European Champ: Alain Bernard, France, 48.49
- Meet Record: Alain Bernard, France, 47.50 – 2008
- World Record: Cesar Cielo, Brazil, 46.91 – 2009
- European Record: Alain Bernard, France, 47.12 – 2009
A pair of Luca’s out of Italy took the top two seeds in the 100 freestyle after prelims as Luca Leonardi (48.66) and Luca Dotto (48.84) will take the center lane in each semifinal heat tonight. Leonardi also had the fastest first 50 amongst all preliminary racers as he took out his race in a 23.05. A faster back half may allow him to dip under 48 seconds for the first time in his career. His seed time entering the meet was a 48.88 so it should be interesting to see if he can continue to improve as the rounds progress.
The rest of the top 8 featured some A-list names as Dominik Kozma (48.86), Sebastiaan Verschuren (48.92), Alexander Sukhorukov (48.93), Marco Orsi (48.94), Sergey Fesikov (48.97), and Andrey Grechin (49.05) filed in after Dotto.
Noticeably missing from the top 8 is Russian sprint superstar Vladimir Morozov who only touched in a 49.14 for 10th place. Even though he was less than a second off of Leonardi’s top finish from prelims, Morozov looked slightly more sluggish than usual. Those used to seeing Morozov race will notice that his 0.64 reaction time is slightly more relaxed than he usually attacks his stars, and he was only out in a 23.5 for the first 50 (compare with his 22.66 opening split from his 47.62 best time). However, we saw him improve significantly in his 50 backstroke last night between the prelims and semifinals so he may be conserving once again during prelims.
France’s Florent Manaudou was also considerably off his top form in prelimary action as he had to settle for a 13th place tie with Italy’s Filippo Magnini at 49.24. We know that Manaudou has considerably more speed left in him as he split a 47.54 off a relay start as a part of France’s winning 4×100 freestyle relay on the first night. Fellow countryman Mehdy Metella (49.68) was nearly a second off his best time, and will not receive an opportunity to compete in the semifinal due to the two entry per nation rule.
Women’s 100 Fly – Prelims
- 2012 European Champ: Ingvild Snildal, Norway, 58.04
- 2010 European Champ: Sarah Sjoestroem, Sweden, 57.32
- Meet Record: Martina Moravcova, Slovakia, 57.20 – 2002
- World Record: Dana Vollmer, USA, 55.98 – 2012
- European Record: Sarah Sjoestroem, Sweden, 56.06 – 2009
To no surprise, Jeanette Ottesen Gray (57.42) and Sarah Sjoestroem (57.80) cruised to victories in their respective heats to claim the top two seeds entering tonight in the 100 fly. Ottesen was more aggressive in her opening 50 with a 26.83 (only competitor out under 27 seconds), while Sjoestroem posted a 27.20 opening half. Most importantly Sjoestroem was strong as ever in her closing 15 meters and she looks very confident in her own ability every time she jumps in the pool.
The rest of the field was not too far behind, as Ilaria Bianchi (57.84) and Inge Dekker (57.95) also dipped under 50 seconds for the 3rd and 4th place spots respectively. The fifth through eighth spots went to Italy’s Elena Di Liddo (58.09), Belgium’s Kimberly Buys (58.41), Britain’s Jemma Lowe (58.43), and Slovakia’s Katarina Listopadova (58.64).
Katinka Hosszu finished ahead of her seed time with a 58.87 for 9th place overall. Though she is much stronger at the longer distance variant of the butterfly, the race should provide even more encouragement for the Hungarian as she tackles multiple finals swims tonight. It is worth noting that the 100 fly is actually one of the events that Hosszu does NOT hold the Hungarian national record in as Eszter Dara still holds the country’s top time of 58.39 back from the 2008 Olympic Games. Though not one of her primary races, anything is possible from Hosszu and we could see yet another national record fall provided she has enough energy tonight.
Men’s 800 Free – Prelims
- 2012 European Champ: Gergo Kis, Hungary, 7:49.46
- 2010 European Champ: Sebastien Rouault, France, 7:48.28
- Meet Record: Sebastien Rouault, France, 7:48.28 – 2009
- World Record: Lin Zhang, China, 7:32.12 – 2009
- European Record: Gabriele Detti, Italy, 7:42.74 – 2014
The Faroe Islands’ Pal Joensen outlasted his competitors in a tight heat to capture the final heat and the top time from the 800 free preliminary session in a 7:53.09. Joensen opened his race in a 3:55.68 first 400 before returning in a 3:57.41, thus demonstrating consistent pacing while also managing to outrace the Czech Republic’s Jan Micka (7:53.38) and Italy’s Gabriele Detti (7:53.51), each placing 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Hungary’s Gergely Gyurta (7:55.34), Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri (7:55.35), Britain’s Stephen Milne (7:56.40), Slovakia’s Richard Nagy (7:56.74), and the Netherland’s Ferry Weertman (7:57.80) comprised the rest of the top 8 finishers from the prelims session.
Paltrinieri, the winner and new European record holder from last night’s 1500 free race, was particulary strong in his splitting with a 3:57.06 opening 400 before returning ina 3:58.29. It should be duly noted that Paltrinieri was out in a 7:47.44 during his record-setting swim last night so he surely has plenty left in the tank for Friday’s medal round. Detti is the national and European record holder in this event, so the stage may be set for a fantastic showdown between the two countrymen tomorrow afternoon.
Another particularly interesting result came from a non circle-seeded heat as Slovenia’s Martin Bau absolutely demolished the first heat in a 7:59.76. Though he did not qualify for the final tomorrow, his best time entering Thursday was a 8:12.49, so the 19 year old surely made a statement with his opening heat swim.