A short preliminary session marks the final day of pool swimming in Kazan at the World University Games (with open water set to go on Wednesday), with a pair of 400 meter events and a pair of relay preliminary rounds.
First, in the women’s 400 freestyle preliminary rounds, Elena Sokolova from Russia took the top seed in 4:11.71, holding off Caitlin McClatchey (4:11.84) and American Stephanie Peacock (4:12.21) for the top seed. Those three all came out of a swift first heat in the preliminaries, meaning that they probably pushed a bit harder early than some of their competitors did.
Similarly, the 3rd preliminary heat was strong as well, with Australian teenager Leah Neale coming in for the 4th overall seed in 4:12.89 and Canadian Brittany MacLean sitting 5th in 4:13.22.
The 2nd prelim, though, was the one that caught a few folks. It was won by Italy’s Martina de Memme, the swimmer who on Monday had to be carried off deck on a stretcher after winning the 800 free, in 4:13.22, but she would be the only swimmer in the heat to advance. That meant the 2nd American Chelsea Chenault was left 9th in 4:14.04 and out of the final despite being the 2nd seed overall. This was a rare non-final for the American squad at this meet.
In the only men’s preliminary race, the 400 IM, Japan’s Takaharu Fujimori took top honors in 4:19.47, ahead of American Michael Weiss (4:20.78) and Canadian Alec Page (4:20.85).
In a surprise appearance, Russia’s Semen Makovich, who swept the 200 and 400 IM’s in Poland at the European Junior Championships over the weekend, has returned home to Russia to final in this 400 IM with a 4:20.99. That’s much slower than the 4:14 that he used to win in Poznan, though, so he could challenge for gold if he can get revved up for finals.
The 2nd American, Adam Hinshaw, was 7th in 4:21.64.
In the women’s 400 medley relay prelims, with all three relays using somewhat of their “B” lineups, the Russians took the top seed in 4:04.46, the Americans were 2nd in 4:06.51, and the Canadians were 3rd in 4:07.23.
Though all will make changes in the finals, it seems as though the Russians have the most to be gained from those changes with the possibility of inserting Anastasia Zueva and Yulia Efimova into the front-half of their relay. The Americans, though, have a chance if Megan Romano ends up anchoring and popping another big split like she’s done in the other two relays thus far.
And finally, threatening the possibility of a Russian men’s relay sweep, Japan took the top seed in the men’s 400 medley prelims with a 3:37.10, leaving the Russians in 2nd in 3:37.5 and the Americans 3rd in 3:38.0.
The Russian men, however, will probably move Vlad Morozov into their backstroke leg and Andrey Grechin into their freestyle leg, which still makes them the favorite in finals.
These finals will combine with four others (women’s 50 free, men’s 50 free, women’s 50 breast, and women’s 200 fly) to form the last session in the pool in Kazan tonight.