Dutch sprinter Ranomi Kromowidjojo is absolutely on fire this week at the 2012 Eindhoven Cup in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. First on Friday she swam a new textile-best mark in the 100 free at 52.75. But she didn’t go out terribly fast in that race, so while it was easy to be excited about her 50, it had to be tempered enthusiasm until we saw how she broke out today.
Throw temperance out the window now, as she blasted a personal-best of 24.14 in the semi-finals of the 50 free to take the top seed into the finals. That’s just .01 seconds behind breaking the tie between Britain’s Fran Halsall, from the British Olympic Trials earlier this year, and her countrymate Inge de Bruijn from back in 2000 for the fastest swim ever done in textile.
Kromowidjojo made a huge leap in time in the finals of the aforementioned 100, and while I don’t believe she has that same surge in her for this 50, we could see the 24-second barrier go down for the first time in textile (much as the 53 did in the 100 just a day earlier). That will be the hype, though I’d bet a couple-of-bucks that it won’t happen. Marleen Veldhuis (24.33), Inge Dekker (24.57), Sarah Sjostrom (24.63), and Hinkelien Schreuder (25.07) were also in the top 5. Triin Aljand, a former NCAA standout (who once broke an NCAA Record in this race, and had it cancelled by about an inch) qualified for the Olympics with a 25.16 FINA A-cut, and she will also be in the final.
The men’s semifinal set up for some spectacular swims as well, with Brazilian Bruno Fratus taking the top seed in 22.00 (.01 faster in the prelims), with Stefan Nystrand taking 2nd in 22.19 and Russia’s Sergiy Fesikov in 3rd in 22.31. The hometown man Jasper van Mierlo was the fastest Dutchman in 22.44, but the final will be made predominantly of internationals. Those top four were all on season-bests this year.
As for Fratus and his 21.99/22.00, he now becomes the 11th man in the world to go sub-22 in 2012. That shows that the same times that were quality in 2010 or even 2011 aren’t going to hold a candle to the (finally) progression that we’re going to see in the men’s sprints this year. That’s already more swimmers under the difficult barrier than we saw in all of 2012, including the World Championships. The sprinters worldwide are going to have to raise their sights if they want to medal, or even final, this year.
In day 3’s finals, Sarah Sjostrom was among the event champions with a 58.08 in the women’s 100 fly. That’s not an awesome time compared to what we’ve become accustomed to for her in-season, but coming just 20 minutes after a lifetime best in the 50 free semi-finals, it’s a strong feat of rapid-bounceback. That’s going to be important in London if/when she chooses to take advantage of her versatility to load up her event schedule.
Behind her in 2nd was fellow Swede Martina Granstrom in 59.06. She’s historically a 200 butterflier, but this year has been awesome in this 100, further opening up medley relay options for the Swedes.
They were the only two to break a minute in the race. Looking further, Egypt’s Farida Osman took 6th in 1:01.29 – which is a very good time for her this time of year. She’s an intriguing prospect – at only 16, she’s got awesome speed in the 50 fly, and this year will focus on making a big move forward in her relatively-challenged 100.
In the men’s 200 free, Sebastiaan Verschuren took a win in 1:47.38 to leave no doubt about Olympic qualification after barely slipping under the “proof of fitness” time in the 100 on Friday. Close behind him was 18-year old Dion Dreesens in 1:47.61 – which despite being a two-second personal best just missed adding him as a second individual entry in this race. Also of note, in a tie for 5th, Kyle Stolk broke the 16 & under Junior National Record with a 1:51.76.
Not to be overlooked as a non-Olympic event, Bastiaan Lijesen broke the Dutch National Record in the 50-backstroke with a 24.79. Between that swim, his time from prelims, and his win from this same meet last year, he now owns the three-best times in the country’s history. The 21-year old has already qualified for London in the 100 back, and in the process seems to have wrested away the leadoff leg of the Dutch men’s medley that was 5th at last year’s World Championships and is currently their best medal hope in London.
When added to that relay, Joeri Verlinden, who affirmed his Olympic qualification with a 52.07 win in the men’s 100 fly, and that medley looks even better. Look at breaststroker Lennart Stekelenburger as the key to that race for the Orange.