On day 4 at the 2012 Russian Olympic Swimming Trials in Moscow, the sprinters were finally released from their cages.
Forcing sprinters to wait until halfway through the meet to crank up the heat is one of the dirty tricks of the FINA schedulers, but it didn’t seem to affect the Russian men much; especially Andrei Grechin, who first opened up a 21.82 in the semi-finals, and then matched it identically with another one in the final. That gives him the victory, the Olympic spot, and the second-best time in the world this year (faster than Cielo, but slower than Magnussen).
Only the legendary Alexander Popov, a sprinter a decade ahead of his time, has been faster for Russia, and that includes during the rubber-suit era where the latest wave of sprinters were still very young, and there was a bit of a lull in the sprint group.
Grechin ran away with this race, as much as you can in a 50, but the fight for the 2nd Olympic spot was top-notch. Sergey Fesikov just barely out-touched Vlad Morizov 22.05-22.06. For Morozov, he had his patented lightning-quick reaction time, and that’s the best time of his career, but Fesikov was just barely faster to take the 2nd Olympic spot.
Vitaly Sirnikov was 4th in 22.13; that’s a new face in this sprint crowd, so watch for him to pull an upset and knock someone out of the 100.
In the men’s 200 backstroke, Arkady Vyatchanin (1:57.42) cleared his second ticket to the Olympics, while 21-year old Anton Anchin took 2nd in 1:58.12 to establish his first Olympic appearance. That’s a lifetime best for him by over two seconds.
Vyatchanin’s swim isn’t a best, but it’s by far the best we’ve seen from him in the last three years. He hasn’t gone under 1:59 since 2009.
Ekaterina Andreeva won the women’s 200 IM in 2:13.80, but that left her half-a-second outside of Olympic qualifying. She’s only 18, though, so she’ll have another great opportunity in 2016. Daria Belyakin was 2nd in 2:13.92, she nearly caught up to the time at the end with a huge closing split, but ended up just outside of the mark.
Yana Martynova, who won the 400 IM to make the team, was only 3rd here in 2:14.91. She never really mustered up a lot of speed in the race until the final 50 meters, and by that time was too far out of the hunt to make up any ground.
Julia Efimova took her 2nd breaststroke win of the meet with a 30.15 in the 50. That’s easily the best time in the world and nearly breaks her National Record in the race (missing by just a tenth). That’s moves her to second on the all-time textile-only list behind Jessica Hardy’s textile-best from 2010.
In the 50 backstroke, Anastasia Zueva also moved to the top of the world rankings with a 27.54 win. Combining what we’ve seen in this race with her 200, look out on the 100. She’ll certainly be sub-minute, and will be close to the world-leader there too.
Elena Sokolova took the top seed headed into the women’s 200 free final with a 1:58.94. Vernoika Popova, who is the National Record holder and defending champion in this race, sloshed her way to a 5th-seed in 2:01.19; that cut it pretty close to missing the A-Final. She hasn’t been awesome in this race, but she’s certainly better than two minutes.
Nikolay Skvortsov is the top seed in the 200 fly in 1:56.97.
Full, Live Results available here.