The final day of competition at the 2011 Maria Lenk Trophy was full of finals, and handed out the most National Titles yet of the meet.
The last day didn’t have a ton of high-level story lines, save for one race: the women’s 100 backstroke. This race pitted the best sprint backstroker in the history of the continent, Fabiola Molina, against one of the best backstrokers in the world (she’s got two golds and two silvers in Olympic backstroking) Kirsty Coventry. Coventry has been swimming fantastically in her first major meet after a brief 2010 hiatus, but Molina has the home-pool advantage at the Brazilian meet.
Thus far, the meet has been generally dominated by the international swimmers, but this race reversed that trend. Molina pulled off somewhat of an upset with her time of 1:00.43, which is a new Championship Record and the 13th-ranked time in the world. Coventry came in 2nd in 1:00.76, which also ranks in the top 25 in the world. This 100 has never been her best event, but that fast-twitch muscle has been slow to return for her (after very good performances in the 200 back and both IM’s).
In the men’s 100 back, the other South American Record Holder Guilherme Guido won in 54.85.
The 50 fly is the only event where Cesar Cielo is likely to say he had a successful 2010 season (he was the Pan Pac Championship), and he appeared to release some of his recent frustrations with the Brazilian Federation on this race (which is a great candidate for a frustration-releasing swim). He won the race in 23.39, which is the 3rd best time in the world this year and a new Championship Record. It’s unlikely he will swim this race at World’s unless he is convinced that he can win gold, as he really wants to do well in the 400 free relay the same day.
Daynara de Paula won the women’s 50 fly in 26.55, ahead of Gabriella Silva in 26.77. De Paula’s time ranks her 13th in the world this year.
Today also played host to the Non-Olympic distance events (the men’s 800 and the women’s 1500). These are not typically events where the Brazilians are all that strong, but the presence of Tunisia’s Ous Mellouli, the defending World Championship silver medalist, brought some excitement. Mellouli won the men’s 800 in 7:58.15, which is a new Championship Record by just .05 seconds. He broke the mark of Luiz Arapiraca, who finished a disappointing 4th-place over 13 seconds back.
In the women’s 1500, open-water specialist Poliana Okimoto won the women’s 1500 free in 16:36.92. Her best bet in Shanghai likely lies in the much longer 10km open water distance.
The result of the individual 100 backstroke left an interesting dynamic in the 400 medley relay, where Kirsty Coventry and Fabiola Molina were both parts of the Minas 400 medley relay. Coventry abdicated and took the freestyle leg and Minas (along with 100 breast champion Rebecca Soni on the breaststroke leg and 100 fly champ Daynara de Paula on the fly leg) crushed the Championship Record by almost 3 seconds in 4:o4.59. This gave them the win by exactly 6 seconds over Pinheiros’ runner-up relay.
The men’s 400 medley relay was taken by the all-Brazilian Flamengo quartet of Leonardo de Deus, Henrique Barbosa, Cesar Cielo, and Nicholas Santos in 3:37.69. Despite putting Cielo on the butterfly leg, Nicholas Santos had a gutsy swim to hold off 100 free champ Bruno Fratus and Pinheiros by .01 seconds.
Minas didn’t have their best day on the final day of competition, but the huge cushion they gave themselves entering the day still made this meet an 800-point blowout. They won this meet on spectacular depth, as well as some great international pickups in Rebecca Soni and Kirsty Coventry.
1. Minas 2775
2. Pinheiros 1934
3. Flamengo 1697.5
4. Corinthians 1544
5. Unisanta 804
The official Swimmer of the Meet awards went to Ous Mellouli on the men’s side and Kirsty Coventry for the women.
Mellouli scored 4 Championship Records, 3 of which were individual, and took home a total of 5 gold medals. Despite recent heavy-meddling in the IM’s, he got back to his freestyle roots at this meet in sweeping the races from 200-1500 meters.
Coventry announced that she’s not done having a heavy-handed impact on the world swimming stage. She was upset in the 100 back on the last day, but that did little to mar her performances in the 200 and 400 IM and the 200 back, each of which she posted top-10 world times in.
And that wraps up the 2011 Maria Lenk Trophy