“First of all, this time is incredible”
Day 3 finals of the European Aquatics Championships held in London were a spectacle for swimmers, coaches, and fans alike. While there were several swims of special significance, the 1500 that was swum by Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri was the most momentous.
“First of all, this time is incredible. I can’t believe that I was able to swim here so fast as we have been working very hard in training. This is good for my confidence because my goal is a gold in Rio.”
Paltrinieri swam a 14:34.04, only 3.02 seconds behind Sun Yang‘s world record, established in 2012. Paltrinieri is now the 2nd-fastest performer all-tim in the 1500, and the new European record-holder. Paltrinieri is now ranked 1st in the world going into the summer season in the 1500, pulling ahead of Australia’s Mack Horton who now sits at 2nd with a 1:39.54.
A Major Win for Verschuren
“If you want to swim a low 1:45, you had to split a low 0:51. But at the end of the race I didn’t have any more legs.” -Velimir Stjepanovic, Serbia, 1:46.26, Silver
The men’s 200 free was won by Dutchman Sebastiaan Verschuren with a time of 1:46.02. While Velimir Stjepanovic of Serbia was out in a blistering 50.77, he could not finish with the same fervor as the Dutchman, who out-split him by slightly over half-a-second on the final 50 to take the gold.
“I knew I would be strong enough on the final 50m. This is my first win at major championships and it just feels amazing!” Sebastiaan Verschuren, Netherlands, 1:46.02, Gold
Neither Verschuren nor Stjepanovic beat their semifinals times, but they still hold the 7th and 8th fastest times in the world this year, respectively, with their times from yesterday’s semis. Reigning world champion James Guy of host country Great Britain secured the bronze in a time of 1:46.42, which Guy was happy with, given that he is still in the midst of difficult training.
Meilutyte Wins Unrested
“This was pretty tight, I gave one hundred per cent. I came directly from tough training but I really enjoyed to swim in front of these enthusiastic spectators.” –Ruta Meilutyte, Lithuania, 1:06.17, Gold
Ruta Meilutyte‘s 100 breast in finals was nearly-identical her race last night in the semifinals. Only missing her semifinal time by one one-hundredth of a second, Meilutyte secured her victory over Iceland’s Hrafnhildur Luthersdottir who took silver in a time of 1:06.45. Luthersdottir’s time not only earned her silver tonight, but propelled her into the 9th-fastest spot in the world rankings.
Meilutyte is unrested for this competition, preferring to focus on Rio like other swimmers of her caliber. Given how well she drew from the crowd in London, her excitement should be amplified in Rio. Chloe Tutton picked up Great Britain’s second bronze of the night with her 1:07.50.
2 Golds and Counting
“To go under 53sec is very good, this is a great time here. I think I made my coach very happy, especially with the last metres. I did my own race, did not look at the others though it’s difficult to avoid that.” Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden, 52.82, Gold
Sarah Sjostrom, last night’s 50 fly champion, has added one more gold medal to her haul in London. Sjostrom’s 52.82 catapults her to 5th-fastest in the world this year, now ahead of silver-medalist Ranomi Kromowidjojo, who earned the silver with a 53.24. Kromowidjojo’s teammate Femke Heemskerk took bronze with at 53.72.
Sjostrom, though not out quite as fast in the first 50 meters as Dutch duo Kromowidjojo and Heemskerk who hit the half-way point tied at 25.69, finished the race much better than the rest of the field, splitting 25.80 and 27.02 (Kromowidjojo had the 2nd-fastest 2nd-50 with a 27.55). Sjostrom will be the heavy favorite in the 100 fly and the 200 free, both of which are upcoming.
A Breakthrough for Vazaios
“I’m a little bit surprised [by] the Greek swimmer, it seems we have a new rival.” Gal Nevo, Israel, 1:59.69, Silver
The gold medal in the men’s 200 IM went to Andreas Vazaios of Greece with a time of 1:58.18. Vazaios, who came into the finals as the top seed, held his spot and won the race by 1.51 seconds. The win not only scores Vazaios the 11th-fastest time in the world this year (excluding multiple performances by some athletes), but it also registers as a new Greek record.
Vazaios took control of the race during the backstroke, where he split a brisk 29.05. Vazaios, who will compete in Rio, has Olympic experience from London where he swam the 200 IM, though he did not advance to the semifinals. With the swim tonight, Vazaios has made himself competitive for a place in the championship final in Rio.