With one day of swimming left at the 2015 Baku European Games, there has been no nation able to match Russia’s all-around dominance.
The Russians are leading the medal table by a wide margin, with nearly half (15 of 31) of the gold medals given out so far heading to Russian athletes.
Day 4 was the best day yet for team Russia with dominance in nearly every single event.
That’s no hyperbole – semifinal, final, it didn’t matter for Team Russia. In 7 medal-yielding finals on day 4, Russia took home gold in 5 of them, with some huge swims included in that tally.
Arina Openysheva is pulling a heavy load so far, and came up with her 5th gold medal of the meet with a win in the 200 free. That was a huge win over the Netherlands’ Marrit Steenbergen, the young star of day 1 and the only swimmer to beat Openysheva head-to-head so far in Baku.
But Openysheva had the Dutch sprinter’s number in the 200, and Russia actually doubled up in wins over Steenbergen when Mariia Kameneva beat her for the 50 free title. Just 16 years old, Kameneva has been another heavy lifter for Russia, earning 5 gold medals so far.
That means Kameneva and Openysheva each have more gold medals than every other country at the meet outside of Russia and Great Britain, and they each only trail the entire British team by one.
Russia also got individual wins from Polina Egorova (girls 100 fly) and Filipp Shopin (boys 50 back), and capped off the finals session by winning the 4×100 mixed medley relay.
Some of Russia’s best performances came out of semifinals and heats. In the men’s 100 fly, Daniil Pakhomov twice rattled the Junior World Record, going 52.20 in heats and then 52.13 in the semifinal. He’ll get a chance to take down that mark – and add another gold medal to Russia’s pile – tomorrow night.
And Pakhomov wasn’t the only Russian to shine in semifinals. The Russian crew qualified first 7 of 8 semifinal races, bringing their win total for the night to 12 wins in 15 events.
As esteemed SwimSwam commenter Bobo Gigi noted, the Russians have been outstanding in junior competitions for quite some time now, a sign of a bright future for the nation’s swimming future.
They’ll host the World Championships this summer with the big dogs of international swimming in attendance, where we’ll probably get a glimpse of some young talent. But over the next few years, Russia has an abundance of young speed to work with. If they can take advantage (and parlay youth success into great times as adults – no small task in swimming), Russia could be on the rise as a major player in the future of international swimming.