On the first day of the Canet stop of the 2011 Mare Nostrum, the second of a three-meet series, the Swedish women displayed their impressive strength.
Long-time queen of Swedish swimming Therese Alshammar pulled off an impressive day-one double that started with a win in the 50 free in 24.47. her career as of late has been remarkable for its in-season consistency, especially in the sprints, and this mark pushes her to 2nd-fastest in the world this year (only .12 behind Ranomi Kromowidjojo).
She followed that up with a win in the 100 fly, a stroke where the 50 is really her preferred distance, in 58.48. That’s not her best time of the season this year, but was good enough to pick up the win ahead of her teammate Martina Granstrom (59.05) who placed 2nd in a career-best swim. Australia’s Jessica Schipper, whose better event is day two’s 200 fly, placed 3rd in 59.18.
Though the 33-year old had been the figurehead of Swedish swimming, and one of the world’s best sprinters, for roughly 12 years, the rest of the country is building off of the road she paved. Including Alshammar’s two wins, the Swedish women picked up a total of five victories on the first day in Canet.
The women’s 200 free featured 3 out of the world’s top 6 swimmers. But the trio of Camille Muffat (1:58.19), Sarah Sjostrom (1:58.35), and Veronika Popova (1:58.43) were all shown up by a Meet Record from Swedish swimmer Gabriella Fagundez in 1:57.99. For Fagundez, that’s a career-best time (which says a lot for a 25-year old at this point of her season), and pushes her to 17th in the world rankings.
Her win was matched by her countrymate Jennie Johansson in the women’s 50 breaststroke. Her time of 30.95 just nipped her best time of the season, though not by enough to move her up from her 6th-postition in the world rankings. The 5th victory went to Joline Hostman, who tied Australian Emily Selig in the longer 200 breaststroke at 2:27.27. That’s a season-best time for Selig, and very near the same for Hostman.
The women didn’t have all of the fun on the first day in France, however. Japan’s Ryosuke Irie, who is coming off of double meet records in Barcelona earlier in the week, is looking to repeat that feat after scoring a Canet Meet-Record in 53.76. That took down the mark set last year by France’s own Camille Lacourt, who didn’t compete this year. Though Lacourt was absent, Jeremy Stravius carried the torch for the deep french backstroke group when he took 2nd in 53.94, which is also under the old record.
France’s Yannick Agnel defended home turf with a win in the men’s 200 free in 1:47.05. After initial reports back at the beginning of May that said he was planning on dropping the individual 400 free at World’s following a lung infection, his camp seems to have backed off of those plans. The latest word, according to SwimNews, is that he plans to swim both races, but will simply make the 200 his focus. Despite the win, his time spent out of the water showed a little in this race: his time was about half-a-second off of where he was last year on this race. If he were in his mid-20’s, that might not be cause for much concern, but a swimmer who turns 19 this week (June 9th) should be expecting to improve, year-over-year, every season.
Laszlo Cseh tore up the pool in Barcelona, and looks ready to do so again in Canet. He won the men’s 200 IM in 1:58.99, which is within a tenth of the time he went earlier in the week. He took the crown ahead of young Aussie Kenneth To, who finished in 1:59.89. That stands as the best time of To’s career, bettering his mark from this year’s Australian National Championships.
Cameron van der Burgh swam a solid 27.72 to win the men’s 50 breaststroke, following a Barcelona meet where he went his best ever in-season time in the 50. at just over a tenth faster.
Japan’s Takuro Fujii, ranked 3rd in the world, swam a decent-enough 52.24 in the men’s 100 fly to outpace Brazilian Kaio Almeida (52.81). Hungarian teenager Bence Biczo took the B-final in 53.94, which blows away the time that he went just a few days ago in Barcelona by a second-and-a-half. It will be interesting to see what he goes in his best race tomorrow, in the 200 fly, after that impressive display of front-end speed. At any rate, the big fluctuations in times is likely owed, in large part, to his youth and inexperience.
South African Chad le Clos (52.91) and Spaniard Rafael Munoz (53.96) also performed well in the 100.
In the women’s 800 free, the 14-year old South African wonder Michelle Weber, who is situated to be a future great in either the pool or open water in distance, blew away the field in 8:49.68.
We also got to see more swims out of Matt Targett: the former Auburn great who was off the map for at least a year before taking the best time in the world in the 50 fly at Aussie Nationals. On day 1, his event du jour was the 50 freestyle, which he took down in 22.19, which is very close to what he went at Australian Nationals and gives him a pair of top-25 swims this year.
Other winners on the day:
Yosuke Miyamoto in the men’s 400 free in 3:54.18;
Lara Grangeon defended home turf in the women’s 200 IM in 2:14.52