European Championships Day 1: Prelims Live Recap


The swimming portion of the 2021 European Aquatics Championships is kicking off with a bang: the women’s 400 IM. In this event, we’ll see some serious medley pedigree in the form of Katinka HosszuAimee WillmottZsuzsanna Jakabos, and Ilaria Cusinato

Also in action will be Adam Peaty in the men’s 100 breaststroke, an event being earmarked as one to watch given the recent performances of the names alongside Peaty on the startlist. Dutchman Arno Kamminga recently established a new lifetime best of 57.90 while competing at the 2021 Dutch National Team Trial, and so goes in behind Peaty as the second-fastest seed.

You can check out the links you need and preview pieces SwimSwam has put together here. An overview of the entry list is here and notable prelims scratches can be found here.

Women’s 400 IM

The first heat saw a tight race between Aimee WillmottBoglarka Kapas, and Ilaria Cusinato. Willmott led the way for most of the heat, but a sizzling final 75 meters from Kapas gave her the win over Willmott by just 0.16 of a second.

A strong start from the Hungarian duo of Hosszu and Jakabos saw them leading the second heat of the 400IM, though right on their tails was Spain’s Catalina Corro, who held the pace and touched in 1:02.83 at the 100m mark. As expected, Hosszu created a lead on the backstroke leg of the swim, holding onto that throughout the duration of the swim.

A seriously fast breaststroke leg from Hungarian Viktoria Mihalyvari saw her chasing down Hosszu stroke-for-stroke. She finished in second place just 0.65 behind the leader and World record holder in this event, Hosszu.

The Hungarian’s have qualified 1-2-3 into the final but due to quotas, only the top two per nation may progress to the semi-final/final. This means that Kapas and Jakabos will not swim the final and instead, Zoe Vogelmann (GER) and Sara Franceschi (ITA) – who finished in 9th and 10th place respectively – will progress.

Men’s 400 Free

The Men’s 400 free saw some standout performances, particularly coming from youngster Antonio Djakovic who swam a personal best time of 3:47.23 to head into the final in first position. His previous best stands at 3:47.89 and was posted at the 2019 European Junior Championships in Kazan, Russia.

Behind him were Norway’s Henrik Christiansen and Italy’s Gabriele Detti, who were slightly off their respective personal bests of 3:46.96 and 3:34.23. Alongside Detti as favourite to win this event is Lithuanian Danas Rapsys who is a veteran in the 400. Rapsys’ best time stands at 3:43.36, though he swam 3:48:05 this morning and goes into the final in 7th place. If these athletes are on form, this evening’s stacked final will be an extremely close race.

Women’s 50 Free

Olympic champion from 2012 in this event, Ranomi Kromowidjojo, leads the women’s field in the 50 free after a scorching 24.24 in the prelims. Her best time stands at 23.85 from the 2017 World Championships which also took place in Budapest, though her best time this season stands at 24.11 from the Dutch National Team Trials last month.

Behind her in 2016 Olympic champion Pernille Blume of Denmark, who looked as though she has plenty more in the tank after her morning swim. Clocking 24.42, the Dane had a strong finish to come in ahead of the rest of the field. Completing the top three qualifiers into the semi-final is youngster Maria Kameneva of Russia.

Of note, the 2018 European Champion in this event, Sarah Sjostrom, is not competing here in Budapest as she is still recovering from a broken elbow that occurred earlier in the year.

Men’s 50 Back

World record holder in this event Kliment Kolesnikov cruised to a time of 24.23 in the prelims and will be in pole position heading into the semi-final later on today. His best, which doubles as the Russian national and World record stands at 24.00 which he set at the 2018 European Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

He is firm favourite to win this event and has been in flying form of late. His most recent performances include a 24.08 from the Russian Olympic Trials last month which put him as world #1 for this year so far. Romanian record holder Robert Glinta posted a comfortable-looking 24.51 in the prelims and goes in second to the semis.

Women’s 100 Fly

A strong start from Sweden’s Louise Hansson in the final heat of this event saw her cruising to the top spot in 57.06. The ultra-controlled swim from Hansson came within touching distance of her personal best of 56.73 which she set while racing at the 2021 Swim Open Stockholm. That time slotted her in as #5 all-time European performer in that event as well as the second-fastest Swede ever behind World record holder Sjostrom.

Frenchwoman Marie Wattel looked strong as she swam to a 57.69 in the 4th heat. The fly, free specialist hold two gold medals from the 2018 edition of this event which she won as part of the women’s 4×100 free relay and 4×100 mixed free relay teams.

Men’s 100 Breast

As expected, Adam Peaty leads the men’s field in the 100 breast – though he had some stiff competition this morning. His time of 58.26 is a solid morning swim for Peaty. A notorious back-end swimmer, Peaty split second at the 50m mark as Italy’s Nicolo Martinenghi touched in first with 27.13 to Peaty’s 27.19.

He came back strong to win the heat though and with three men under 59 seconds in the prelims, the subsequent semi-final and final are shaping up to have some seriously exciting racing. The other man under the 59-mark was Ilya Shymanovich of Belarus who touched in 58.46. Shymanovich is the short course World record holder in this event (55.34) and has a long course personal best of 58.29 from 2019.

Arno Kamminga was a little off the pace this morning, clocking a time of 59.09 in the prelims which puts him in 4th position ahead of the semi-finals. The battle between him and Peaty is still expected to be one of the best in the meet as his recent personal best of 57.90 comes within just over a second of Peaty’s best (and world record) mark of 56.88.

Women’s 4×100 Free Relay

A fast third leg from Marrit Steenbergen helped The Netherlands in securing the fastest time of the prelims (3:38.20). Her split of 53.95 was one of the fastest in the field, bettered only by Charlotte Bonnet’s (FRA) 53.93 and Federica Pellegrini‘s split of 53.74 – the fastest of the bunch.

The Dutch team just edged out Denmark for the touch and they finished in second with 3:38.88 while Great Britain came in third with 3:39.08.

Pellegrini scratched from this morning’s 50 freestyle prelims, presumably to keep herself fresh for this relay event. Remember, there are still four wildcard spots available for relay qualification at this Summer’s Games. These Europeans act as the final opportunity for the nations that have yet to qualify as the window closes on May 31st.

You can read more about the most up-to-date relay qualification standings pre-Europeans by clicking here.

Men’s 4×100 Free Relay

The men’s relay saw the Italian team leading the way with their time of 3:12.85. A super fast lead off from Alessandro Miressi gave them an early lead over the rest of the field. His time of 47.95 came within touching distance of his pb of 47.92 which he set in Rome in 2018.

Second to them was the team from Serbia who came in with 3:13.91. Their overall time was aided massively by Louiseville Cardinal’s athlete Andrej Barna who had the fastest split of the field with his 47.74.

Although his replay split doesn’t officially count as a new personal best, it does shave a considerable amount off his lifetime best of 48.75 which he set in November last year.

Behind them were the young team Matt Richards, Joe Litchfield, James Guy, and Jacob Whittle from Great Britain, who posted 3:14.29.

Women’s 800 Free

Italy’s 1-2 finish in the women’s 800 free is no surprise as distance pro’s Simona Quadarella and Martina Rita Caramignoli lead the field. Quadarella’s pace was closely followed by Russia’s Anna Egorova throughout the majority of the race. However, halfway through Caramignoli made her move and edged ahead of her competitor.

Spain’s Jimena Perez Blanco had a stellar final 250m to touch in third place with 8:33.34, just off her personal best of 8:31.19 from the 2016 European Championships.

A tight finish between Perez Blanco and second-seed Anastasia Kirpichnikova ensued and delivered a battle between the two. Kirpichnikova didn’t manage to get her hand on the wall first but still heads into the final in 4th seed with a time of 8:3.50, just 0.16 behind the Spaniard.

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2 years ago

Sarah Sjöström will probably not swim the 100 fly at the olympics she said to swedish news today.

Reply to  Lille
2 years ago

I am a big SS fan, but I’m glad to hear this. I’d rather her rest and give her all in the 50free, her best chance to medal/win.

Serbian 🐐
2 years ago

Bout time you give my man Andrej Barna a hyperlink!

2 years ago

Why Emre Sacki did not participate?

Old Man Chalmers
2 years ago

47.95 for miressi

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Old Man Chalmers
2 years ago

That must feel great to join the 47 club, relay or not.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

he was already a member. 47.92 for the NR

Thomas Selig
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

I think Miressi’s already been 47? Maybe in 2019 (though not at Worlds)?

I seem to recall he missed the individual QT for Tokyo at Italian Trials, so he may have rested a bit for this meet to go after the time here.

2 years ago

Huge PB leading off the 4×1 for Mityukov – The Swiss 4×2 gets even more interesting.

2 years ago

Some footnotes. 1) In the Hungarian battle in the 400 IM, young Mihalivary was second behind Hosszu with a good PB improvement: 4.38.07 for her. Also Vogelmann at PB and finalist. 2) 400 free heats with many surprises (obviously, considering that almost nobody is tapered). Rapsys very fast at 200 m but with a rough second half, was finalist for a few tenths. Already said that Max Litchfield was huge. Quite unpredictable final after these heats. 3) Kolesnikov already near the WR in the 50 back northeless his usual not perfect finish. Too easy predicting that between the SF and the Final he has high chances to break the WR (first man under 24″?). 4) Interesting relays and good news… Read more »

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  nuotofan
2 years ago

How’d the dark horse woman do?

2 years ago

Sweden misses the mens 4×1 final by 0.22 and a Olympic relay spot by less than that. Broken for them especially since they had a 3x 48 legs but then a 49.97 which costed them dearly. Should’ve used Paulsson or Sjodin instead. That was their biggest chance with Seeliger and Hanson, especially given they aren’t in the 4×2.

Reply to  Nick
2 years ago

They missed an Olympic spot by 0.77 when you take into account performances in the other heats here.

Reply to  Iain
2 years ago

Sweden’s Olympic committe would probably not have sent then anyway. They think you should be able to final to go. (They are still considering if the women’s relay team should go, and they finalled in Gwangju 2019. )

Reply to  fmku
2 years ago

Well.. with a Sjostrom not healthy they might give up sendint the women team

2 years ago

Finals start at 12PM EST right?

Reply to  GATOR CHOMP 🐊
2 years ago

6 pm local time, so 12 am Est