The final day of the final stop of the 2011 Mare Nostrum, in Monaco, was perhaps the most exciting of the entire week-long event. Things got off to a rocking start with the finals of the 50m races, each of which has been whittled down from over 20 competitors to just 2. After 5 sprint races in two days, many of the competitors still had enough left in their tanks to blast some huge times on the final day. Similarly to what we saw with Schneider-Jones in Charlotte, these head-to-head races have the potential to create some awesome times.
(Full events will be covered in a separate post; this one will be dedicated just to the sprints.)
Matt Targett won the 50 fly in 23.25 ahead of France’s Florent Manaudou (24.04). For Targett, that barely bests his time from Australian Nationals, and gives him the two fastest swims in the world this year.
The name Manaudou is not a coincidence, as he is the younger brother of the three-time Olympic medalist Laure Manaudou. This meet, where he’s had several stellar races, can serve as a good launching-point for him to break into the ranks of the impressive French sprint corps (he was already the 2007 French Junior champ in the 50 free). He was quite a bit better in the semi-final in 23.88.
Therese Alshammar won the women’s 50 fly in 25.38 ahead of Japan’s Yuka Kato in 25.98. Aslhammar’s mark bumps off Inge Dekker as the fastest time in the world this year, and Kato’s swim makes her 5th in the world this year.
Targett’s really solidified his bounceback from a brief swimming hiatus when he showed the conditioning to win a second sprint on the day: the men’s 50 free. His time of 22.13 was another personal-season-best time for him, but this time it only tied him for 15th in the world rankings.
In a great bit of symmetry, Alshammar also pulled off the fly-free double, this time over Inge Dekker of the great Dutch sprint crew. Alshammar’s final time was 24.72, not her best time of the season, ahead of Dekker’s 25.17. Dekker’s best time of the competition was a 25.06 in the semi’s, where she was favored .01 ahead of Alshammar, but Alshammar saved a little in her tank to roar back for the win in the final. Alshammar bettered her own meet record from 2009.
In an all-Japanese final of the men’s 50 backstroke, Junya Koga (24.81) got Ryosuke Irie (25.02) in the only real chance of the meet he had to beat his countrymate. Koga’s swim tied Camille Lacourt’s meet record from last year. Lacourt looked off again (like he did in the 100 backstroke yesterday) in the earlier rounds of this race, where he was no better than a 25.79. Though Koga took down Lacourt in both the event, and tied him in the record-book, he was unable to take down Lacourt’s top mark from the world rankings. He does, however, now rank second-fastest this season. That was also Irie’s best time, and puts him 6th in the world.
In the women’s 50 back, Russian Anastasia Zueva pulled off a minor-upset over former world-number-one Aya Terakawa from Japan. Zueva’s time of 27.78 moved a sliver ahead (.01) of Terakawa’s best time from Japanese Nationals as the world’s fastest time this season. Terakawa swam a 28.00, which is the 7th-best swim in the world this year.
Germany’s Henrik Feldwehr, who didn’t have the top time in any of the first four rounds of the 50 breaststroke, roared through the finals to take the win in 27.66 ahead of Norway’s Aleksander Hetland, who lost a little bit of steam to finish in 28.04 (he was 27.94 in the semis). For Feldwehr, that’s a meet record.
The women’s 50 breaststroke was the least impressive of the eight sprint finals, with Japan’s Satomi Suzuki winning in 31.71 over Switzerland’s Stephanie Spahn (32.03). However, for the 20-year old Spahn, over the course of this competition she did manage to swim her two career-best times.
Full Results from the sprint finals.