Tuesday kicked off the 2012 Russian Olympic Swimming Trials in Moscow, and we saw a handful of new Russian stars emerge. It appears that, unlike last year where they had brutal standards to make the World Championship Team, Russia is more closely following FINA’s guidelines for qualifying, meaning swimmers are shooting only for FINA A times.
In the women’s 400 IM, Yana Martynova, who has been nearly invisible since the 2008 Olympics, emerged with a 4:38.69 to take a dominant win. She looked very good on all but her opening 100 meters of the butterfly, and could also use a bit of a faster close, but that’s by far the best time we’ve seen from her in textile.
Another Olympic Qualifying Time was missed by only a hair by Egor Degtyarev, a 19-year old from Moscow. He didn’t have a great closing 50, and missed the automatic time by just .02 with a 3:48.94. Still, that’s a 3.5-second drop for him, and we may have seen the emergence of the next great Russian freestyler. He’s not quite as good in the 200, but he should be a 1:49 in that race.
Close behind him was another best time from Evgeny Kulikov in 3:50.80; he’d never been faster than 3:53 in his career up until this meet. No Nikita Lobintsev in this race; he’s the defending National Champion but has sat out this year with the 100 and 200 freestyles as his better bets.
Those were the only Olympic-finals of the day, but how about an interesting swim in the men’s 100 back semis. USC-trained Vlad Morozov, perhaps hedging his bets on the deep sprints, is swimming the 100 backstroke where he was the top seed in 54.89. That’s his best time in that race (he actually swam the race at last year’s meet too and was slower, which shows that he’s in good shape despite the awkward timing after NCAA’s).
It will be difficult for him to hold that top spot in finals though; he’s got a great group of swimmers chasing him. Arkady Vyatchanin was 3rd in 55.43, and Stanislav Donets is the 4th seed in 55.62. Vitaly Melnikov was in-between in the 2nd seed in 55.26.
A great sign came from 32-year old Roman Sludinov in the 50 breast final. Though not an Olympic race, he swam a 27.80, which is better than he’s been in almost 6 years. They need him to step up huge for the Russian medley (that didn’t final last year at Worlds).
In the men’s 100 fly semi-final, 24-year old Nikita Konovalov took the top seed in 51.99, which is a FINA Automatic Qualifying Time and should put him on the Olympic Team, depending on what happens in finals. For now, it ranks him 4th in the world. Nikolay Skvortsov was 2nd in 52.76.
And finally, in the men’s 400 free relay, the group from St. Petersburg that will factor huge into the individual 100 freestyle qualifying won in a dominating 3:18.66. No hugely significant times yet, though Andrey Grechin did lead them off in 49.16.
Full, Live Results available here.