Day 3 of the 2012 European Championships in Debrecen, Hungary finally got fun. More National Records went down (Sweden, Greece) but the Italians and Hungarians stole the show. Having the home-team heavily involved in the outcome really got the crowd into the racing, and pulled the field to two Championship Records (along with an additional Italian National Record).
The Italians are looking like a great young program that by 2016 will be exploded way beyond their headlining power-couple Federica Pellegrini and Filippo Magnini.
Day 3 started out with a bang as Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri broke a four-year old Championship Record in the men’s 1500 free, swimming a 14:48.92 to move to 3rd in the world this year. The old record was held by Russia’s Yury Prilukov at the pre-Beijing meet in 14:50.40. That just misses Federico Colbertado’s Italian Record in the race as well – and makes him the 7th-best European in history.
Paltrinieri attacked the front half of this race like he’s never done before, which resulted in a 14-second personal best – and at only 17 years old, he’s a superstar in the making. That time is nearly identical (about half-a-second slower) than what Chinese superstar Sun Yang swam at the same age at the 2008 Olympics.
The Italians and the Hungarians dominated this race, taking the top four spots. Hungary’s Gergo Kis nailed a silver in 14:58.15 – which is a great in-season swim for him. He was building by 100, especially through the middle-section of the race- and bounced between 29’s and 30’s. There was a point between about the 900m and the 1250 mark where he really tried to push the pace on his teammate Gergely Gyurta, and though it cost him some speed at the end, it was enough to ensure himself a silver.
Gyurta was 3rd in 15:04.38, with Pizzetti 4th in 15:09.83.
Italy’s Colpertado was only a 15:34.53 in the prelims to place 15th. He has not been good the last few years in long course, and is probably gearing himself up for Short Course Worlds in December.
Other notable names inlcude Ediz Yildirimer – the Turkish National Record holder who has been attending high school in Houston and will swim for Georgia next year. He was 13th in the prelim in 15:31.78.
Men’s 200 Free
Paul Biedermann had his best swim of a tough two-week stretch of competition in this 200 free in 1:46.27 – the 6th-best in the world this year. He’s likely swimming on nothing more than pure guts, and the small natural taper that can come after two-straight weeks of competition.
Biedermann dominates this event in Europe – this win is his 5th-straight European Championships (long course and short course combined) in the 200 free, and third-straight in a 50m course.
France’s Amaury Leveaux, who might be the most versatile 50-200 freestyler in the world right now, took 2nd in 1:47.69 – about a second slower than he was at French Trials.
Hungary’s Dominik Kozma almost matched his top-seeded semifinal swim with a 1:47.72 for the bronze. In total at this meet, he’s cut almost three seconds off of his lifetime best in the race to become the second-fastest Hungarian in history.
Germany just missed another podium swim, as Tim Wallburger was 4th in 1:47.75 which is his best time of the season and solidifies his spot on a very good 800 free relay.
Swiss swimmer Dominik Meichtry was 5th in 1:48.53, while Britain’s Robbie Renwick slid to 8th in 1:49.57.
Women’s 100 Breaststroke
After finishing 2nd in the first-semifinal on Tuesday, Germany’s Sarah Poewe was jacked up. Probably more excited than you’ll ever seen a 29-year old get about a semi-final swim. But that’s because her 1:07.70 put her officially onto her 4th Olympic Team – and 3rd representing Germany.
But by no means did she blow her energy on that celebration. She came back even faster in the final with a 1:07.33 that is the fastest she’s ever been in textile and good for first-ever European Championship in long course.
Sweden’s Jennie Johansson, who in fairness is probably not as rested for this meet, took silver in 1:07.85 – slower than she was in the semi’s. Spain’s Marina Garcia Urzanqui was 3rd in 1:07.91 – the second-best time in her career. She seals up a very good-looking Spanish medley relay that should be finalists.
The other German in the finals, Caroline Runhau, went out very hard in the race (splitting a 31.66 at the turn), but slid back to 1:07.95 for 4th. Ireland’s Sycerika McMahon, who herself wrapped up an Olympic bid in the semi-finals, was 5th in the final in 1:08.72 – about half-a-second slower.
Women’s 100 Free
Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom played a game with all of us in this 100 free. She coasted through the first two rounds, including a 55.14 in the semi’s. But out of lane 7, in her last race of this Championship, she stopped messing around and broke out a 53.61 to take the gold medal in her third-best time ever.
This win is representative of a change we’ve seen in her in the last year. First, she’s really branched out her versatility – added to her 50 fly win, those are her first two major international medals ever in anything other than the 100 fly. It’s also shown an ability to swim fast in-season, over-and-over again. Since last year’s World Championships, she’s swum at least the four best 100 free times of her life.
Sjostrom snuck up on the field on the back-half of the race with impressive closing speed. At the turn, she was in a dead-heat with the two Germans Britta Steffen and Daniela Schreiber who were in mid-pool. But neither of them could even come close to her finishing speed. Steffen would finish 2nd in 54.15, and Schreiber was 3rd in 54.41. They’ll both match up with Sjostrom again in London.
Italy’s Alice Mizzau was 4th in 55.03, which is a big personal best for her. In the last 6 months, she’s gone from a 56.7 swimmer to a 55.0 swimmer, an impressive improvement for the youngster. This swim makes her the second-fastest Italian ever, behind only Federica Pellegrini.
Men’s 200 IM
On his second swim of the session, Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh wow’ed the home crowd with a 1:56.66 Championship Record in the men’s 200 IM, which is the second-fastest in the World this year behind only Michael Phelps. This swim, his fourth-straight in long course, took down his own record from 2010 of 1:57.73. In those four titles, he’s broken the Meet Record three times, with the lone exception being (surprisingly) 2008 in a high-tech suit.
He hasn’t been this fast since the Rome World Championships in 2009, and has gotten back by ratcheting down on his front-half, but swimming as good of a breaststroke split as he ever has. He’s feeling good right now.
Britain’s James Gorrard took second in 1:57.84 – which is 6th in the world this year and actually faster than he was at British Trials.
Austrian funny-man Markus Rogan took 3rd in 1:59.39, just bettering Gal Nevo from Israel in 1:59.74. Rogan’s killer backstroke leg was the difference-maker for him.
- Hungary’s defending 200 breast World Champion Daniel Gyurta took the top seed in the semi-finals in 2:10.06. Both he and German Champ Marco Koch skated their way through prelims against a lifht field before picking up steam in the semi’s, with Koch taking 2nd in 2:10.92. Greece’s Panagiotis Samilidis broke the National Record in prelims with a 2:10.61 at just 18 years old, but was about a second off of that in the semi’s in 2:11.53. That’s still good enough for the 3rd seed though.
- Katinka Hosszu is in position to win another IM gold with a 2:11.89 in the semis. She was actually a lot faster in the prelims – 2:11.10. Her USC teammate Stina Gardell is 2nd in 2:12.29 – crushing her second National Record of the meet. Hosszu’s Hungarian teammate Evelyn Verraszto was 3rd in 2:12.67. Of note, the Hungarians went 1-2-3 in the prelims, with Zsu Jakabos taking the 3rd spot, but by rule only two could advance to semis.
- Hungary’s Bence Biczo shot a warning way-south to South Africa’s Chad le Clos in the men’s 200 fly semi-final, reminding him that there’s more-than-one 200 fly prodigy in the world. He posted the top seed in the semi-final with a 1:55.77, just ahead of another youngster Serbia’s Velimir Stjepanovic. Austria’s Dinko Jukic was 3rd in 1:57.02, with Laszlo Cseh sneaking in with a 6th-place 1:57.44. Israel’s Tom Kremer, California raised and Stanford-bound, was 14th in 1:59.51.
- The Ukraine’s Daryna Zevina has the top seed in the women’s 100 back in 1:00.45, ahead of France’s Alexianne Castel in 1:00.48, but the fastest swim of the day still belongs to Arianna Barbieri of Italy. Her 1:00.28 in prelims crushed the old National Record by half-a-second. Her teammate Carlotta Zofkova also made the final, and in prelims also broke the National Record with a 1:00.76.
- Israel’s Jonatan Kopelev topped the men’s 50 back semi by a lot, with a 24.98. Italy’s Mirco di Tora was 2nd in 25.23.