The European, Baltic nation of Latvia hosts the 2014 Latvian Sprint Championships in its capital Riga this weekend, and the meet started with a bang as Nikolajs Maskalenko broke the Latvian Record in the men’s 50 breaststroke prelims in short course.
Maskalenko raced to a 26.99, which puts him within a second of the world-leader Roland Schoeman this year, and improves his own Meet and National Record of 27.03 set back in 2013.
The 21-year old Maskalenko had a very impressive summer, where he went lifetime bests in the long course versions of all three breaststroke distances at the Latvian Championships, which includes silver medals in the 50 and 100. He was part of a three-swimmer squad for the 2014 European Championships, though he failed to semi-final in both the 50 and the 100.
He also broke the Meet Record in prelims of the 100 breaststroke swimming a 55.28 for the top seed overall.
A new Meet Record also went down in the men’s 50 fly, where Deividas Margevicius swam a 24.02 to be the top qualifier into the A-Final. Other records in danger tonight include Karleen Kersa, whose 31.92 in the women’s 50 breaststroke is just .22 shy of the National Record; and the women’s 100 backstroke, where at just 14 years old, Arina Baikova was a 1:03.79.
Baikova’s time left her about six-tenths away from the National Record; Estonian Sigrid Sepp was better than that record (though not eligible, as she’s not a national), and will be looking to defend her own Meet Record set in 2013.
This Latvian Sprint Championship has become a high-profile meet on the national schedule, with many of the country’s short course records being set there in past years. It also attracts competitors from around Eastern Europe who are looking for short course meets to participate in without the expense of traveling to Asia for the World Cup series.