On the final day of the 2013 European Junior Championships in Poznan, Poland, patient fans got the swim and the race from the swimmer that they’ve all been waiting for: Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte.
The 16-year old took the women’s 100 breaststroke title in 1:05.48 to finish knocking two seconds off of the existing Meet Record.
That swim is only .01 seconds shy off of the time with which Meilutyte won the Olympic title last year, and though it’s not her own season best, it gives her a big confidence-boost as she heads toward the World Championships in two weeks. She was out in 31.1 and back in 34.3.
Not to be overlooked was an impressive second-place performance from Ukraine’s Viktoriya Solntseva in 1:07.85. She’s only 15-years old and is on the younger end of this meet, and having already improved her best time by 5 seconds in 2013 alone, she could realistically be challenging sub 1:06’s by this time next year.
Geramny’s Marlene Huether was 3rd in 1:09.20.
In other finals with big names, Russia’s Daria K. Ustinova won the women’s 100 backstroke in 1:01.14, as she overtook Britain’s Kathleen Dawson (1:02.21) coming off of the turn with a great closing 50. Ustinova, a great 200 backstroker, almost even-split the race, going 30.2/30.9.
Germany’s Laura Riedemann took bronze in 1:02.61, with Britain’s Harriet Cooper taking 4th in 1:02.96.
The Russians took a 2nd-straight win to kick off the last session of the meet when Vsevolod Zanko won the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.96. That’s the 4th-best time by any Russian this year, and a new best time for him.
That victory was an upset over Sweden’s Johannes Skagius, who in the semi-finals had the fastest time and broke the Meet Record, but added three-tenths to finish 2nd in 1:01.27.
Russia’s Ilya Khomenko was 3rd in 1:01.48; they have plenty of golds, but their minor medals continue to push them ahead in their battle with Germany for the overall medal count.
The big (or, soon-to-be-big) names from this meet continued to punctuate their medal totals on the final day of this meet with Great Britain’s James Guy winning the boys’ 200 free in 1:48.45. He’s still got his big taper meet, the World Championships, at which he’ll swim on Britain’s 800 free relay. British fans will be watching his split closely at that meet to see how low he can get after looking very good this week.
Hungary’s Dalma Sebestyen won the girls 200 IM in 2:16.10 on the strength of a strong breaststroke leg, with Great Britain picking up another medal thanks to Emma Day and her 2:16.14. Germany’s Lisa Hoepink was 3rd in 2:16.64.
Denmark, whose medal count has been unusually low after the run of success they’ve had at this meet, won their first gold of 2013 by way of a 53.61 Daniel Andersen swim in the men’s 100 fly. In a very tight finish, he bettered Austria’s Sascha Subarsky (53.73), and Italy’s Mattia Mugnaini (53.73).
Russia got back on top of the podium when Rozaliya Nasretdinova won the girls’ 50 fly in 26.56, to pair up with her victory in the 50 free earlier in the meet.
Lucie Svecena of the Czech Republic was 2nd in 26.88, and Slovenia’s Nastja Govejsek was 3rd in 26.99.
Another set of back-to-back wins for the Russians came as 17-year old Evgeny Sedov stunned the crowd with a 22.07 win in the boys’ 50 free. That’s three-tenths faster than his previous personal best and breaks his own Russian Junior Record, even with a full year to go before aging out of the junior ranks.
He’s another piece of the great Russian sprinting resurgence of the last two years.
The Ukraine’s Bogdan Plavin was 2nd in 22.43, and Fotios Mylonas was 3rd in 22.64.
Russia finished the meet with two more crushing relay victories and two more Meet Records. First, the women won the 800 free relay by a 6-second margin over the runners-up from Germany, and by a 5-second margin over Germany’s 2010 Meet Record. Maria Baklakova got better-and-better in each swim at this meet, and capped things off with another fantastic result of 1:57.90.
And then the men topped things off with a 400 medley relay win in 3:37.93, knocking a more modest, but still impressive, three-tenths of a second off of the old Meet Record. That included a 48.9 anchor from Sedov.
Final Medal Table
The Russians dominated the medal table; they were expected to win, but the way they went out and handled this whole meet was truly impressive. They won 22 out of a possible 42 gold medals at the meet, and had 11 more total medals than Germany.