After watching an incredible eight days of racing at the FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain, there were more than just a few swimming fans who were frightened about going through withdrawal, but then came Eindhoven.
The first day of two FINA World Cup meets is showing us that many swimmers still have a lot left in them and that the level of swimming we enjoyed in Barcelona may continue throughout this week.
On the first day of competition three short course world records fell victim to three newly crowned world champions.
Hungarian superstar Katinka Hosszu started the meet off with roar in prelims swim breaking the 200 IM world record breaking American Julia Smit’s 2009 record of 2:04.60 by posting a time of 204.39.
Than came the finals where Hosszu did not knock a few tenths of a second off the world mark, but demolished her own world record by over a second winning the event in a time of 2:03.20 finishing more then three full seconds ahead of Australian Emily Seebohm who finished second in a time of 2:06.24.
Seebohm silver did not come easy though having to battle with world championships finalist and Hosszu’s Hungarian teammate Zsuzsanna Jakabos who going into the freestyle had a four one-hundredth of a second lead, but ended finishing five one-hundredths of a second behind Seebohm in a time of 2:06.29.
The 200 butterfly in Barcelona had a very exciting finish with Olympic champion Chad le Clos of South Africa having to regain his lead in the final 50 meters to finished just ahead of Pawel Korzeniowski of Poland.
What made the race even more interesting was watching le Clos watching Korzeniowski in the last 50 meters turning his head on many times to see exactly where the Polish swimmer was.
In Eindhoven le Clos did not have to turn to look for any other swimmers in the final 50 meters heading have a lead of over a second. The South African won the event in a world record time of 1:49.04 breaking the 2009 record of 1:49.11 set by Kaio Almeida of Brazil.
Russian Nikolay Skvortsov finished second in a time of 1:50.99 followed by American Thomas Shields who finished third in a time of 1:51.38.
Olympic champion Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands had to wait until the final day of the world championships to win her first title, after finishing second in the 50 butterfly and third in the 100 freestyle earlier in the competition.
She did not have to wait long at all to celebrate a win in her home country taking the 50 freestyle in a new world record time of 23.24. Kromowidjojo broke her fellow countrywoman Marleen Veldhuis’ 2008 record of 23.25 by one one-hundredth of a second.
Canadian Chantal Van Landeghem finished second in a time of 23.85 just ahead of 50 butterfly world champion Jeanette Ottesen Gray of Denmark.
Lauren Boyle, whose great swims in the distance events were over shadowed by the amazing swimming of American distance queen Katie Ledecky won the 800 freestyle in a time of 8:01.22 only 16 one-hundredths of a second off of Camille Muffat’s world record of 8:01.06 set in December of 2012.
World championships 400 medley silver medalist and 200 medley bronze medlist Mireia Belmonte Garcia of Spain started a tough evening of swimming by giving the kiwi a run for her money coming storming back in the final 100 meters finishing second in a time of 8:01.43.
Danish swimmer Lotte Friis, who finished ahead of Boyle in the both the 800 and 1500 freestyle in Barcelona, was just off the lead at the 400 meter mark, but unlike her swims at world championships by 600 meters fell three seconds back from the leaders.
Friis finished in third in a time of 8:09.84 having to watch Boyle break her 2009 World Cup record of 8:04.61.
After earning the title of world champion in the 400 IM in Spain Japanese star Daiya Seto came right back in Eindhoven and added another victory in the event. Seto who set the world cup record of 4:00.12 in October was not able to match his time, but
won the event in a time of 4:00.37.
We saw another exciting finish as American Conor Dwyer had a fast freestyle portion of the race, over taking Hungarian David Verraszto, but not having quite enough to catch Seto finishing second in a time of 4:00.57.
Verraszto finished third in a time of 4:01.53.
The 100 freestyle this year has been a joy to watch, with many great races at several significant competitions with the top competitors trading places in the world rankings.
It would not be any different in today’s event at the world cup with an incredible racing for the gold.
Watching the rise of Vlad Morozov this year has been amazing with posting impressive results at the World Short Course Championships, NCAA Championships, Russian nationals, world student games and finishing just short of winning his first world championship title in Barcelona. In Eindhoven Morozov once again used his superior speed in the first 50 turning in a time of 21.46 half a second ahead of world champion James Magnussen of Australia.
The only problem was for Morozov was the final 50 meters was very reminiscent of his 100 race in Barcelona as Magnussen made up the ground, overtaking the Russian to win the event in a time of 45.60. Morozov finished second in a time of 45.64.
2012 World Cup champion Australian Kenneth To finished third in a time of 46.62.
The outstanding racing did not stop with the battle for the women’s 200 freestyle between the 100 butterfly world champion Sarah Sjoestroem of Sweden and Katinka Hosszu, who swimming her first of three 200s on the evening.
Sjoestroem, who finished fourth in the event in Barcelona took the first 100 out in a time of 54.43 while Hosszu turned second in a time of 54.91. Hosszu made a run at the Swede in the last 50 but fell just short of Sjoestroem who won the event in a time of 1:52.26.
Hosszu finished second in a time of 1:52.32 followed by Emma McKeon of Australia who finished third in a time of 1:53.06.
South African Roland Schoeman and Italian Fabio Scozzoli raced to a photo finish in the men’s 50 breaststroke with Schoeman beating Scozzoli by two one-hundredths of a second finishing in a time of 25.86.
Scozzoli finished second in a time of 25.88 followed by Barry Murphy who finished third in a time of 26.40.
When you think of someone taking advantage of an opportunity she was given the name Alia Atkinson of Jamaica may come to mind. At the Olympics Atkinson qualified for the semi-final in a time of 1:07.39 setting a new national record. She then ended up in a swim-off with Canadian Tera van Beilen for the final spot in the final beating the Canuck by almost a full second and once again breaking her national record posting a time of 1:06.79.
In the final Atkinson then finished just outside the medals in the fourth position.
Atkinson had a great showing at the short course world championships finishing second to long course world record holder Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuanian in both the 50 and 100 breaststroke took the world cup title today in Eindhoven winning in a time of 1:03.90.
She beat out 200 breaststroke world record holder Rikke Moeller Pedersen of Denmark finished second in a time of 1:04.11. Moniek Nijhuis of the Netherlands finished third in a time of 1:04.92.
At the world championships Danish swimmer Jeanette Ottesen Gray won the 50 meter butterfly her second first world championship title, her first being the 100 freestyle world championship that she shared with Aleksandra Gerasimenya of Belarus in 2011.
In Barcelona Gray finished fourth in the 100 butterfly in Eindhoven she reversed her fate instead of finishing outside of the medals she stood on the top spot of the podium recording a time of 55.97.
Canadian Katerine Savard has had a phenomenal season breaking the Canadian record in the 100 butterfly several times this year. Even though Savard broke the national record at the world championships it was in her prelims swim. Failing to improve on the time, swimming slower in both the semi-finals and the finals left her on the outside looking in when it came to the medals finishing in fifth.
Savard did not make that mistake again today swimming faster in the final she was able to hold off the late charge by Australian Ellen Gandy finishing second in a time of 56.49 while Gandy finished third in a time of 56.58.
It was an Australian sweep of the medals in the 100 backstroke, although it was two gold and one bronze going to the men down under. Ashely Delany and Robert Hurley finished tied for the gold medal with a time of 50.42.
Mitch Larkin finished third in a time of 50.53 while world championship silver medalist American David Plummer finished fourth in a time of 50.88.
World championships double bronze medalist Aya Terakawa of Japan won the women’s 50 backstroke in a time of 26.20.
She was followed by Alekxandra Urbanczyk of Poland who finished second in a time of 26.38 and Australian Emily Seebohm who won her first medal of the evening (the 50 backstroke was swum before the 200 IM) taking home the bronze in a time of 26.64.
Before leaving his previous home base in Nice, France for Baltimore, Maryland 200 freestyle Olympic and world champion Yannick Agnel had an extremely impressive conclusion to his 2012 season setting the short course world record in the 400 freestyle swimming a 3:32.25.
The swimming world wondered how Agnel would perform after deciding to leave long time coach Fabrice Pellerin to train with Bob Bowman, the answer was quite well. Agnel won the 200 freestyle at the world championships by over a second ahead of American Connor Dwyer.
Agnel has followed that up with a world cup victory in the 400 freestyle finishing in a time of 3:37.75. It was not an easy win though as Myles Brown of South Africa hung with Agnel for the entire race finishing second in a time of 3:37.91.
Dwyer finished third in the race with a time of 3:40.65.
As we have mentioned on this site many times before it does not seem like Hungarian Daniel Gyurta will lose the 200 breaststroke in a big competition again. He followed up his world championship victory with another win at the world cup taking the event in a time of 2:01.44, over a second ahead of German Marco Koch.
Koch found himself in the same situation he was in Barcelona, collecting the silver finishing behind Gyurta. Koch posted a time of 2:02.80 followed by Michael Jamieson of Great Britain who finished in a time of 2:04.01.
30 year old George Bovell of Trinidad and Tobago found his way back on to the podium at a long course world championships by finishing third in the 50 freestyle in Barcelona. The cagey veteran, who won a bronze at the world short course championships in the 100 IM, took the event in Eindhoven in a time of 51.15.
He finished ahead of two men who finished with hardware in the 100 freestyle earlier in the evening Australian Kenneth To and Russian Vlad Morozov. To took the silver in a time of 51.31 followed by Morozov who finished third in a time of 51.50.
The women’s 200 backstroke was an incredible race between Ukrainian Daryna Zevina, Belinda Hocking of Australia and her teammate Emily Seebohm. Hocking who took the silver in Barcelona was well ahead of the field at the halfway point turning in a time of 59.89.
Her strategy made the race very interesting since this was the opposite tactic she used to make her way on to the podium at the world championships only a few days earlier.
Zevina, who won the 200 backstroke at the world short course championships, made her move in the last 50 meters to take the lead away from Hocking winning in a time of 2:02.04.
Seebohm, who collected her third medal of the evening in the event, caught her fellow Australian tying Hocking for the silver in a time of 2:02.13.
Olympic bronze medalist Canadian Hilary Calwell finished fourth in a time of 2:02.56.
In the men’s 50 butterfly world record holder Stefen Deibler of Germany was able to finished just ahead of Roland Schoeman who collected his second medal of the evening. Diebler won the event in a time of 22.17 followed by Schoeman who finished in a time 22.22.
le Clos finished third in a time of 22.62.
In the mixed 4 x 50 medley relay the German team took the event in a time of 1:39.38, followed by the Australians who posted a time of 1:40.39 and the Dutch who finished in a time of 1:41.27.
Full results can be found here.