Today was day 3 of the European Junior Championships in Serbia, and some of the world’s youngest stars conitnued to shine brightly in Serbia.
After scaring his own European Junior Record in the 200 fly semi-final, Hungary’s Bence Biczo was a little off of the pace in finals to record a two-plus second win in 1:56.25. The obvious difference between this year, when he broke the record, and last year is that this year he’s got a larger focus meet two weeks later, whereas last season this meet was his focus (and he still had about four weeks before the Youth Olympics). Despite his number-two World Ranking so far in 2011, I don’t think we’ve seen the last best-time from Biczo yet this season.
Though Biczo didn’t break a record, that didn’t keep the 2nd Championship Record of the meet from going down on Friday. It shouldn’t be surprising, however, that it was a British backstroker that did the deed, as the UK’s Lauren Quigley swam a 28.76 in the semi-finals to break the mark that her countrymate Lauren Sanders set last year.
In the final, which took place in the session, Quigley was .17 slower to finish in 28.93, which breaks an 11-year old Danish Junior Record. Unfortunately for her, that was a very significant add, as Denmark’s Mie Nielsen (who was also under the old record twice) touched first in the final in 28.81 for the gold medal. Quigley was 2nd, and Poland’s Katarzyna Gorniak was 3rd in 29.23. For Nielsen, this was her second medal of the met, in addition to a silver in the 100 free the day before.
After breaking a Serbian National Record on day 2 in the 200 fly, Velimir Stjepanovic (a Serbian National, though he’s lived and trained in Dubai for years) gave the hometown fans another thrill today in the 100 free. He scratched that 200 fly final to focus on the 100 free, and in the process earned Serbia their first medal of the meet with a 49.56 in the final. That’s a career-best time for him by seven-tenths, and breaks another Serbian Record (though just for his age group this time).
The runner-up was Belarus’ Arseni Kukharau, who just missed (by .03) his country’s 11-year old Senior National Record with a 49.83.
The British squad swept the top-two spots in the men’s 200 IM. Ieuan Lloyd took the win in 2:01.57, followed by Dan Wallace in 2:02.41. Both swimmers had solid, evenly-matched swims through the first 150m, but the difference came when Wallace’s race fell apart on the final 50m — he had the slowest freestyle leg of the field — and Leuan powered away to a win.
Greece’s Andreas Vazaios took third in that race in 2:01.51, to give the Greeks their first medal of the meet.
Their second came only two races later when Panagiotis Samilidis won the 50 breaststroke in 27.89, which is a new National Junior Record. Behind him were Germany’s Bastian Vollmer (28.52) and Russia’s Oleg Utehkin (28.54).
Lloyd, winner of the 200 IM, set himself up for another potential win in the individual 200 free when he anchored Great Britain’s 800 free relay to a win in 7:23.36. Lloyd had the fastest split of the final in 1:48.98. Russia, whose senior squad are the defending senior European Champions, took 2nd in 7:23.77.
The Russian women absolutely lit up the 200 breaststroke final, with a 1-2 finish with a pair of 2:26’s. The winner was Maria Temnikova in 2:26.29, which moved her to 18th in the world, and in 2nd was Irina Novikova in 2nd in 2:26.46. This was a big upset within the Russian federation; Temnikova dropped better than two-seconds off of her career-best time from Russia’s Junior Nationals in April, while Novikova added nearly a second from her best a week later.
In the women’s 1500 final, Spain’s Maria Vilas Vidal crushed her career-best by 24-seconds to win in 16:32.68. That time ranks her 38th in the world this season. This win continues the recent revolution in Spanish women’s distance swimming as their strongest and deepest discipline, and marks the second-straight year that a Spanish swimmer has won this event.
With six medals on the 3rd-day of competition, the Brits moved into a commanding lead in the medals standings. Though Italy only earned themselves a single medal (a silver), they were able to hang on to 2nd. Those two countries are thus far dominating the medal podiums and their 22 combined medals are exactly one-third of the total that have been handed out in Belgrade.