Day 4 of the European Swimming Championships saw the British delegation continue to rack up medals thanks to a winning effort by Jazmin Carlin in the 800 free (8:15.54) and medaling efforts by Ross Murdoch (2nd 200 breast, 2:07.77), Aimee Willmott (2nd 200 IM, 2:11.44), Georgia Davies (3rd 100 back, 59.74), and Chris Walker-Hebborn (3rd 50 back, 25.00). They now have 15 medals overall, including 4 golds.
Meanwhile, Hungary made a significant push in the standings largely thanks to the heroics of Katinka Hosszu. By now it is well-established that Hosszu should be considered a threat whenever she jumps into the pool, and she demonstrated just that with her 2 gold medals in the 200 IM (2:08.11) and in the 100 back (59.63, tie with Denmark’s Mie Nielsen) on Thursday. Her performances in those two events plus her 1:56.58 anchor leg on Hungary’s 4×200 freestyle relay provided some serious firepower as Hungary shot to 2nd on the overall medal table with 4 goals and 7 medals overall. Hungary recorded 5 total medals on Day 4.
Day 5 will feature some great morning showdowns across the board, and the women’s 200 freestyle may prove to be one of the most exciting races to watch. Hosszu, the silver medalist at last year’s World Championships in the 200 free, will continue her onslaught in this event but she will face some serious competition from Italy’s Federica Pellegrini (2nd seed, 1:55.14) and Sarah Sjoestroem (1st seed, 1:55.04).
Sjoestroem has been absolutely on fire at these championships, and she has already shown some of her freestyle speed via her win in the 100 free (52.67, new championship record) on Wednesday and also by her scorching 1:53.64 leg on Sweden’s silver-medal winning relay last night. She has also shown time and time again how powerful her closing speed can be, so if the race is tight even in the morning, expect her to race for the win.
Pellegrini provided a very respectable 1:56.50 anchor leg on Italy’s gold-medal winning 4×200 free relay last night (including closing a 4.5 second deficit behind Sweden leading into her leg) and she was also very good on Italy’s 4×100 free relay on Monday night (53.6 anchor leg). She is still the world record holder in this event and also the silver medal winner from last year’s World Championships, so she should be able to position herself well in today’s preliminary swim.
Another great race to watch this morning should be the men’s 100 fly, where the top 11 swimmers are all seeded under 52 seconds, and within a half second of each other. Headlining the field is veteran Laszlo Cseh (51.45, 1st seed), the Hungarian national record holder and the silver medalist from last year’s World Championships. Though Cseh did not compete in the 200 fly, he was very strong in the 200 IM on Wednesday (Gold, 1:58.10). In this swim, Cseh had the second fastest opening 50 (25.31 to Steffen Deibler‘s 25.21), and still had plenty of energy to rip off a 29.08 backstroke leg immediately after (field-best). Therefore, we know his easy speed in the fly is already there, and it has always been fun to watch Cseh get the job done when it comes to racing.
He won’t have an easy time taking the top spot this morning though. Poland is very strong in the butterfly thanks to Konrad Czerniak (2nd seed, 51.46) and Pawel Korzeniowski (8th seed, 51.75), and both swimmers have already had respectable swims this week. Czerniak led off Poland’s prelim 4×100 meter free relay in a 48.43, a new Polish textile best, and Korzeniowski took bronze in the 200 fly with a 1:55.74. Look for both swimmers to be in the hunt for a middle lane in semi finals this morning.
Of course, we can’t forget about Germany’s Deibler (3rd seed, 51.54) and Russia’s Evgeny Korotyshkin (51.55, 4th seed). Additionally, Belarus’ Yauhen Tsurkin demonstrated some of his sprint butterfly speed in his tie for gold in the men’s 50 meter butterfly with France’s Florent Manaudou (23.00), so he will surely be out very fast as well. It really is anyone’s race in prelims this morning so we will have to see who is willing to put it out in there and make a statement in the morning.
The men’s 200 back will feature great young talent from a variety of nations, though Poland’s Radoslaw Kawecki may be a class above the rest. However, he was a bit off in his 100 back as he did not manage to come within a second off his 53.8 seed time and he also did not qualify for the medal rounds. Nonetheless, he is the European record holder and the meet record holder in this event from the 2012 championships, and should be in cruise control this morning.
In the women’s 50 back, Britain’s Georgia Davies will get an opportunity to shine as she is the top seed with a 27.56. She will surely be challenged by a number of swimmers including Denmark’s Mie Nielsen (3rd seed, 27.76) who shared the 100 meter back title last night with Hosszu. Also look out for Britain’s Francesca Halsall (5th seed, 28.04) and Russia’s Daria Ustinova (28.18) to be in the mix.
Adam Peaty has been outstanding so far this week, but he will have plenty of competition in the men’s 50 meter breast as he tries to set the pace for tonight’s semifinal. Slovenia’s Damir Dugonjic (2nd seed, 26.83) will surely be a force to reckon with in his signature event, and there is a slew of talent in this field as well including Ross Murdoch, Serbia’s Caba Siladji, and France’s Giacomo Perez-Dortona amongst others. All around today should provide plenty of exciting races, so let’s get ready for another great morning session in Berlin.
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 Backstroke – Prelims
- 2012 European Champ: 1:55.28 – Radoslaw Kawecki – Poland
- 2010 European Champ: 1:57.18 – Stanislav Donets – Russia
- Meet Record: 1:55.28 – Radoslaw Kawecki – Poland – 2012
- World Record: 1:51.92 – Aaron Peirsol – United States – 2009
- European Record: 1:54.24 – Radoslaw Kawecki – Poland – 2013
Peter Bernek of Hungary emerged as the top finisher from prelims as he touched in a 1:58.45. He looked very controlled with an opening 100 of 58.4 before returning in a 1:00.0.
He was able to hold off Germany’s Christian Diener (1:58.74) and Jan-Philip Glania (1:58.91) who turned in 2nd and 3rd place finishes respectively both in Bernek’s heat and in the overall standings. Finishing 4th-8th were Italy’s Luca Mencarini (1:59.47), a tie for 5th with Israel’s Yakov Yan Toumarkin (1:59.94) and Poland’s Kawecki (1:59.94), Sweden’s Matias Carlsson (2:00.00), and France’s Benjamin Stasiulis (2:00.06).
Kawecki was not exceptionally fast this morning but showed some very controlled closing speed with a 29.98 closing 50 to win the final heat. In fact, Kawecki negative split his race with a very conservative opening 100 of a 1:00.16 before returning in a 59.78. He is considerably off where he needs to be in his semifinal and medal rounds to take the title but his ease and control are very reassuring signs after how sluggish he looked in the 100. Admittedly, the 100 is not his primary distance, but his 200 performance this morning should give him some confidence as to where he stands with respect to the competition.
Overall, considering that sixteen swimmers were seeded sub-2:00 in this event, and only 6 morning swims broke that barrier, we may be witnessing some fatigue settling in on the athletes after four hard days of competition. If not, we may just be seeing a very conservative approach from all participants, and we will truly be able to compare after tonight’s semifinals.
Women’s 200 Freestyle – Prelims
- 2012 European Champ: 1:56.26 – Federica Pellegrini – Italy
- 2010 European Champ: 1:55.45 – Federica Pelligrini – Italy
- Meet Record: 1:55.45 – Federica Pelligrini – Italy – 2010
- World Record: 1:52.98 – Federica Pelligrini – Italy – 2010
- European Record: 1:52.98 – Federica Pelligrini – Italy – 2010
A scratch from Sweden’s Sarah Sjoestroem opened the way for another prelim-leading swim from Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, who looked very good from start to finish en route to setting the pace at 1:57.05. She split her race 57.2/59.7 and was a full two seconds ahead of the rest of her heat, including Italy’s Federica Pellegrini (1:59.14, 4th). Pellegrini did not appear to exert too much energy in the race despite being out only a half second or so behind Hosszu at the 100, but she never really made an attempt to chase down Hosszu following the flip at the 100. It is very likely she just wanted to do what was necessary to secure a good lane tonight, and she did just that with her swim this morning.
Heat four winner Melanie Costa Schmid from Spain took 2nd in a 1:58.60, which put her just ahead of Russia’s Veronika Popova (1:58.66). After Pellegrini, fifth through eighth place went to France’s Charlotte Bonnet (1:59.55), the Netherlands’ Femke Heemskerk (1:59.77), and both Bulgaria’s Nina Rangelova and Russia’s Viktoriya Andreeva at 1:59.77.
The absence of Sjoestroem is slightly puzzling since there is considerable time between the 200 freestyle semis and the 100 butterfly final tonight. The start time for the 200 freestyle is listed at 6:18 local time while the 100 fly is not set to go off until 7:05. Additionally, her performance on the relay last night should have been a significant motivator for her to compete int he individual this morning. Until more information is divulged, it is only possible to speculate her motives going into the finals session tonight. Perhaps she is saving for an extra special swim in her signature race tonight or other factors are in play.
Regardless, Hosszu continues to exhibit her superior resilience and versatility, so she will once again be the one to watch tonight in the semifinal rounds. She will have great competition with Popova and Bonnet flanking her sides, so all eyes will be on the center of the pool.
Men’s 100 Butterfly – Prelims
- 2012 European Champ: 51.45 – Milorad Cavic – Serbia
- 2010 European Champ: 51.73 – Yevgeny Korotyshkin – Russia
- Meet Record: 51.45 – Milorad Cavic – Serbia – 2012
- World Record: 49.82 – Michael Phelps – United States – 2009
- European Record: 49.95 – Milorad Cavic – Serbia – 2009
Despite a relatively slow start (+0.74), Laszlo Cseh was still able to retain his top seed after prelims with a 52.14 effort. He was out in a swift 24.40 before closing the race out in a 27.74, and looked like he had plenty left in the tank based off his reaction to the clock. Always a great racer, he should be out quick tonight as well.
The rest of the field is nipping right at his heels though. Germany’s Steffen Deibler finished just behind him at a 52.22 while Poland’s Konrad Czerniak clocked a 52.26 to take 3rd. His countryman Pawel Korzeniowski (54.35), Belarus’ Pavel Sankovich (52.40), Britain’s Adam Barrett (52.42), Russia’s Evgeny Korotyshkin (52.51), and Russia’s Nikita Konovalov (52.65) rounded out the rest of the top 8.
Just as expected, the field is quite tight entering the semifinal rounds. Only half a second separated the top 8 swimmers so there is still plenty of freedom for movement in the rankings before the final heat is decided. Veterans such as Korotyshkin and Korzeniowski will surely have the discipline to impress in subsequent rounds while the rest of the field will surely have something to say about it as well. Look for Deibler and Czerniak to continue to exhibit some opening speed as well tonight.
Women’s 50 Backstroke – Prelims
- 2012 European Champ: 28.25 – Mercedes Peris – Spain
- 2010 European Champ: 27.64 – Aliaksandra Herasimenia – Belarus
- Meet Record: 27.64 – Aliaksandra Herasimenia – Belarus – 2010
- World Record: 27.06 – Jhao Jing – China – 2009
- European Record: 27.23 – Daniela Samulski – Germany – 2009
Danish youngster Mie Nielsen was the sole competitor to break 28 seconds this morning and will lead a tightly packed field tonight with her 27.93 effort. Notably, she had a 0.71 reaction time, and as backstroke starts naturally tend to be faster than block starts, a 0.70+ reaction is relatively slow overall. She could trim a bit of time there alone as we already know she has the ability to swim down the rest of her competitors as demonstrated in her 100.
Georgia Davies grabbed 2nd overall with a 28.05 heat-winning effort while Spain’s Mercedes Peris Minguet won the other circle-seeded heat with a 28.24. Francesca Halsall (28.25), Arianna Barbieri (28.32), Aliaksandra Herasimenia (28.34), Aleksandra Urbanczyk (28.40) and Daria Ustinova (28.43) rounded out the top 8.
Katinka Hosszu competed in this event as well, placing 10th overall in a 28.83, thus adding to her already loaded schedule. Though this is certainly not one of her primary events, she has the capability of swimming yet another swim on Saturday night if she can chip off about a half second or three-quarters of a second from this morning’s time.
Overall nothing too exceptionally out of the ordinary here, and we will very likely see more swimmers under 28 seconds tonight.
Men’s 50 Breaststroke – Prelims
- 2012 European Champ: 27.32 – Damir Dugonjic – Slovenia
- 2010 European Champ: 27.38 – Fabio Scozolli – Italy
- Meet Record: 27.18 – Oleg Lisogor – Ukraine – 2002
- World Record: 26.67 – Cameron Van Der Burch – South Africa – 2009
- European Record: 26.78 – Adam Peaty – Great Britain – 2014
Britain’s Adam Peaty continued his assault on the field in the sprint breaststroke events as he blitzed to a 26.91 this morning. He was the sole competitor under 27 seconds and also established a new meet record along the way (old record was 27.18 from Ukraine’s Oleg Lisigor back in 2002). He was very fast off the blocks and didn’t relinquish his lead at all, finishing a full half-second ahead of the rest of the heat.
Serbia’s Caba Siladji took 2nd in a 27.25 while France’s Giacomo Perez-Dortona was third in a 27.35. Italy’s Andrea Toniato (27.44), Slovenia’s Damir Dugonjic (27.55), the Czech Republic’s Petr Bartunek (27.63), Russia’s Andrey Nikolaev (27.64), and Spain’s Henrik Feldwehr and Lithuania’s Giedrius Titenis tied at a 27.66 for 8th, thus giving us the top 8 finishes.
Peaty has been near unstoppable in the shorter breaststroke races at this competition, and judging from his composure at the end of the race, he very likely has something left in his reserves. However Damir Dugonjic did look very controlled in his swim and looked like he did just enough to win the heat and secure a spot into tonight’s semifinals, so he may prove to be more troublesome for Peaty in subsequent rounds.
Furthermore, Lithuania’s Titenis already has a pair of bronze medals this week from the 100 and 200 meter distances, so we know he is in pretty good form. It would not be too surprising to see him move up a bit after tonight’s swim.
Women’s 1500 Freestyle – Prelims
- 2012 European Champ: 16:05.34 – Mireia Belmonte Garcia – Spain
- 2010 European Champ: 15:59.13 – Lotte Friis – Denmark
- Meet Record: 15:58.54 – Flavia Rigamonti – Switzerland – 2008
- World Record: 15:34.23 – Katie Ledecky – United States – 2014
- European Record: 15:38.88 – Lotte Friis – Denmark – 2013
With the withdrawal of European record holder Lotte Friis due to possible food sickness, Spain’s Mireia Belmonte Garcia will be the number one seed entering finals as she cruised into the wall in a 16:11.22. She didn’t need to work too hard to take the second heat as she got ahead of Slovenian Tjasa Oder early and then maintained 1:04.5-1:05.0 100’s throughout.
Behind Garcia are Italy’s Aurora Ponsele (16:14.46, Hungary’s Boglarka Kapas (16:17.23), Oder (16:18.81), Italy’s Martina Rita Caramignoli (16:19.68), Liechtenstein’s Julia Hassler (16:21.06), Spain’s Maria Vilas Vidal (16:22.48), and Germany’s Isabelle Haerle (16:25.05).
Several local news outlets have released reports indicating that Friis and a number of other athletes at the Championships have complained about the food quality at the athlete hotel. So far we know that the decision for Friis to withdraw from the 1500 was a mutual decision between herself and the coaching staff, and it is a shame that we will not get to see her perform in her trademark race. Her 4th place finish in the 800 free gave us some indication that she was not at 100% as she was a full 10 seconds off her seed time in that event.