The story on the 5th day of competition was the same as the story on day 1 – the Norwegians. Only now, it is a positive matter, and a bit of a distraction from the tragic loss of their countrymate Alexander Dale Oen.
Much like Dale Oen lifted his country from tragedy at last year’s World Championships, we heard echoed from his former teammates that they would do the same – band together and lift each other up now that he is gone. The emotional resiliance of this team is absolutely astonishing, and they proved it by taking two European Championships on Friday.
Men’s 800 Free
After a great day of swimming on Thursday, the Hungarians opened up Friday’s finals session with another gold medal – this one from Gergo Kis in the non-Olympic men’s 800 free. He topped the race in 7:49.46, which is second-best in the world this year behind only China’s Sun Yang.
There was a clear intent to negative-split here, as he went out in only 3:58.1 – roughly the same time in which he took out his 1500. But he closed 7 seconds faster, splitting a very fast 3:51 on the back-half.
Italian teenager Gregorio Paltrinieri, winner of the 1500, had a similar strategy, and actually was out slower in this race than the longer 1500. He was able to match Kis’ pace on the back-half until about the 650 mark – he stayed consistent and still continued to descend his splits thereafter, but not by nearly as much as the Hungarian. Patrinieri finished in 7:52.23, which was a second slower than he was in prelims.
The Ukraine’s Sergiy Frolov was 3rd in 7:52.81, which is just four-tenths off of his 5-year old National Record in the race. France’s Sebastian Rouault took 4th in 7:53.58.
Women’s 200 Breast
It would be appropriate that Norway’s first European Championship of this meet (and only third Norwegian swimmer in history to take one) would go to a breaststroker. Alexander Dale Oen’s female counterpart Sara Nordenstam put her country in the win column with a 2:26.91 win in the women’s 200 breaststroke on Friday. Tears broke out across her native country, as she honored her late teammate after her win.
Russia’s Irina Novikova earned the silver in 2:27.25; she’s the tough-luck third swimmer in a deep Russian 200 breaststroking group. She had an outstanding finish to go from 4th to 2nd in the final 50 meters, overtaking Sarah Poewe (2:27.80) and Joline Hostman (2:27.87).
Iceland’s Hrafnhildur Luthersottir almost caught them too, but came up just short in 2:27.92. That still blows away her own National Record in the event by nearly a full second; her previous best having been set in March at 2:28.87.
Men’s 100 Free
After a lackluster first two rounds of the 100 free, nobody was expecting much from Friday’s final, and that’s pretty much what the competitors delivered. Most were slower than they were in the semi-finals. One of the few to drop time was Italy’s Filippo Magnini and all it took was a 48.77 for him to earn his first individual European LC Title since 2006.
France’s Alain Bernard took silver in 48.95, followed by Romania’s Norbert Trandafir in 49.13. Amaury Leveaux stumbled the worst in this final with a 49.16, after a tough second 50 (he split only 25.66 – eight-tenths slower than he was in the semis).
Germany’s Marco Di Carli, trying for an Olympic bid, missed with a 49.18 for 6th.
The 3rd-through-7th place finishers in this race were separated by only .06 seconds, but shockingly without a tie. At least the racing was exciting, if not overly fast.
Women’s 100 Fly
The first one was so nice, that Norway struck twice. Ingvild Sinldal added a second European Championship for the Norwegians in a single day, with a 58.04 win in the 100 fly to end the session. She is a 50 meter specialist, and appropriately attacked this swim early – about a stroke ahead of the field at the turn. She came way back to the field on the home-stretch, but in the final stroke had just enough for a fingertips-first win.
Norway has never before had multiple European Champions in the same decade, let alone the same day.
Sweden’s Martina Granstrom fought back from 6th at the turn to touch 2nd in 58.07 – just missing taking over Snildal. Israel’s Amit Ivri took bronze in 58.78.
- In the women’s 200 free semis, the Italian 800 free relay champions again exerted dominance, with the top two seeds going to Federica Pellegrini (1:57.81) and Alice Mizzau (1:58.55). We know Pellegrini can be way faster (she was in the final) and it’s unlikely she’ll be challenged in the final. For Mizzau, however, that’s a best time by four-tenths. Good looking relay shaping up – Italians would’ve put 4 in the semis if there were no per-country cap. Germany’s Silke Lippok, searching for an Olympic Qualifying Time, was 4th in 1:59.07 – not there yet.
- Laszlo Cseh put out more effort in the 100 fly semi than he has in his previous race, and that landed him a 51.95 – his best time ever, in any suit. That swim ties him for third in the world this year. Unless he’s used a full taper for this meet, I think we have to start talking seriously about him challenging the Americans in one of his three best races – 200 IM, 400 IM, and 200 fly. Milorad Cavic looked outstanding too, in 52.08 for second. There was a huge disparity between the heats, as the second group took the top four seeds. Spain’s Rafa Munoz won the first heat in 52.48 – given how slow his heat was, he’s still in reach of hitting Spain’s Olympic Qualifying mark in the final.
- In the women’s 50 back semi, Italy’s Arianna Barbieri just missed breaking her second National Record of the meet with a 28.30 for the top seed. She’s got .03 to drop in the finals if she wants to get the record. Spain’s Mercedes Peris Minguet was just behind in 28.33.
- Hungary’s lined up for more hardware, with Peter Bernek taking the top seed in the 200 back in 1:56.11. But Poland’s best Radoslaw Kawecki is close behind in 1:56.68.
- Slovenia went 1-2 in the men’s 50 breast semis, but it was surprisingly Matjaz Markic with the top seed in 27.43, not his younger and more popular teammate Damir Dugonjic (27.60). But they each won their respective heats. Italy’s Mattia Pesce was 3rd in 27.63, and Norway’s Alex Hetland was 5th in 27.68.