Day 4 at European Juniors was a little slow in terms of finals – there were only 6, though two of them loomed larger than the rest. Both of those swims were posted by Germany’s Christian Diener, who topped a backstroke-sweep by winning both the 50 and 200 today in Serbia.
In the first men’s race of the evening session, the 50 backstroke semi-final, Diener hung back to place as the 6th-fastest swimmer (26.32) and just barely sneak into the final. Knowing how well he swam in his win in the 100 on day 1, the nature of that semi-final swim was a bit of a concern from German fans.
His next race was the 200 backstroke final about 55 minutes later, where he easily bettered the field with a solid 1:59.94 in his weakest of the three distances. This was the best time of the field by over a second. He really seemed to be conserving his energy throughout the swim, and was able to power away from his competition on the final 50 (even though he’s more of a sprinter by nature, and was swimming a triple on the session).
After that, Diener had to hustle back to the warm-up pool to prepare for his next race, the 50 backstroke final, which was another 55 minutes later. In that race, he erased all memory of his semi-final misstep by crushing a 25.40 to take the gold. That breaks the old European Junior Championships Record set by Italy’s Marco Fanti Rovetta back in 2009 at 25.49. Diener also now ranks 21st in the world in this event, and that is his 2nd-straight Junior Championship.
This year’s top Italian finisher in the race was Niccolo’ Bonacchi, who also had a great time of 25.56 for 2nd. The Italians, in fact, took two out of the top four spots in the race, with Franco Corfani Manuel finishing one spot out of the medals.
The rest of the finals on the day were all women’s races.
In the women’s 200 free, Ireland’s Sycerika McMahon barely missed her third gold-medal of the meet, but was just barely bettered by Russia’s Ksenia Yuskova, who won in 2:00.50. As so-often happens in these 200 meter races, Yuskova pulled away with a superior 3rd-leg of the race, and though McMahon was the fastest closer in the field, she couldn’t make up the ground and finished 2nd in 2:00.61.
For the second time in three years, a German swimmer won the women’s 100 fly, and in this case it was 16-year old Alexandra Wank in 59.82. Russia’s Daria Tcvetkova put up a blistering first 50 in 27.52, but was unable to hold off a great closing 50 from Wank. Tcvetkova ended up 2nd in 1:00.14.
The first repeat-champion 0n the women’s side came in the 50 free in the form of Ukrainian swimmer Nadiya Koba. She touched in a 25.76, which is considerably slower than her win in the same event from 2010 (25.46). The runner-up was Sweden’s Louise Hansson in 25.94, and Italy’s Ylenia Sciarinni was also under-26 in 25.99.
The British women’s medley relay put together four solid legs with Jessica Fullalove, Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, Georgia Barton, and Jessica Lloyd to take the win in 4:09.34.