First, let me say that it would not have been possible to follow Russian Nationals without the help of Tom Willdridge’s guide, that includes links to results, Russian translations, and live video links for the meet.
On day 2 in Moscow, it was the Russian women who were on center stage. This is a positive sign for the Russian program, as the women’s side doesn’t have anywhere near the historic, prestigious reputation as men’s side does. As an illustration of this, the women’s team throughout its history as the USSR and 1992’s Unified Team, has only won a total of 15 medals. The men’s team has won 62.
The women punctuated the festivities with a National Record from Veronika Popova (no relation) in the women’s 100 free. She took the title in 54.22 (ranked 7th in the world this year) to break the 54.70 set by Anastasia Aksenova in Rome and rubber.
Russian IM Queen Yana Martynova (holder of the 400m National Record) put up another top-8 time for the Russian women with a 2:12.05, and to blast the field by roughly 2.5 seconds. Runner-up Irina Bespalova posted a 2:14.53, which is also a FINA automatic qualifying time.
Stanislav Donets, who dominated the backstroke races at the 2010 Dubai World Championships, took a predictable win in the men’s 100 back with a time of 53.96, which ranks him 8th in the world rankings this year. He was pushed (perhaps more than expected) by Vitaliy Borisov in 54.08, which ties him with Americans Matt Grevers and Ryan Lochte for 9th in the world. Short course specialist Arkady Vyatchanin was 3rd.
Donets is a bit of an odd duck in these backstrokes. He excels short course in the 50 and 100 backstrokes (where he took the titles last year), but in long course the 200 is his strength. The time he put up in this 100 back is better than he went all of last year, which bodes well for his 200 later in the meet.
The other final on day 2 was the men’s 400 IM, won by Ilya Volovnik in 4:21.45. This time puts him in the top 50 in the world, but doesn’t clear the FINA automatic qualifying hurdle.
Day 2 will be loaded, including young star Yulia Efimova in the women’s 100 breaststroke; and two-headed monster Nikita Lobintsev and Danila Izotov in the men’s 200 free. The latter of those races will also be a battle for relay spots on the men’s 800 free, where Russia is viewed as maybe the only team that can really challenge the Americans.
Full Results from Day 2 (for those of you who Pa-Russki Available here.