In the 100 breaststroke final on day 4, Rebecca Soni won that race handily in a world-best time. Today’s 50, however, was an entirely different story, as Jessica Hardy totally rocked the reigning breaststroke queen with a winning time of 30.17. Not only is this Championship Record and the best time in the world this year, but along with her Pan-Pac win from last year (which is the textile World Record), this gives her the two best times in the world in the post-suit era. This was Hardy’s last-ditch plea for a spot in the individual 50 breaststroke in Shanghai, especially over Amanda Beard, who has a stroke not built for the 50.
Soni’s second place time was almost a second back in 31.07. The top-finishing Brazilian was Pinheiros Ana Calvhero in 32.78.
For Hardy, this win was not just impressive because of who she beat and the time she went. Though the 50 breaststroke is not a particularly strenuous event, any double will affect times, and Hardy won the 50 breaststroke just about 35 minutes after posting another win in the women’s 100 freestyle. She sent a Championship Record in that event too in 54.28, which ties her for the 8th-best time in the world and makes her the fastest American in 2011 (over Dana Vollmer). Swimming out of lane 5, with its wobbly block, didn’t seem to hurt her too badly in either race. The runner-up was Tatiana Barbosa in 55.98, which was a few-tenths slower than her top seed from semi-finals.
In the men’s 100 free, the times were spectacularly…lackluster, given the typical power of the Brazilian sprinters. Bruno Fratus was able to carry his top seed into a win, unlike in the 50, in 48.72- a big upset over Cesar Cielo. At the Brazilian World Championship Trials a few weeks ago, Cielo looked like he had figured out how to put a full 100 together, but he took a bit of a back-slide here with his runner-up time of 49.03. The good news is that Fratus’ time cleared the Brazilian World Championship qualifying time, which will give them two individual 100 freestylers. Fratus’ mark is also an important one for the cause of the Brazilian 400 free relay, where they’re shooting for a possible medal.
The 200 IM’s featured the two stars of the meet on the men’s and women’s side: Thiago Pereira and Kirsty Coventry. Pereira won his 4th individual event (and 5th overall) of the meet in a best-time of 1:57.35. This gives him a new Championship Record: which is the first record of the meet set by a Brazilian, and ranks him 2nd in the world behind Michael Phelps. In fact, even last year, only Phelps and Ryan Lochte were faster than him. Henrique Rodrigues took second in 2:00.13, which is off of his best time this season. He will join Pereira in Shanghai, as the Brazilians now have two swimmers in the world’s top 5.
In the women’s race, Coventry swam a 2:11.36, which ranks her 7th in the world this year. When London rolls around next year, she will be almost 29 years old. If she repeats her Shanghai schedule, with both backstroke and IM doubles, she will have a much more difficult schedule than most swimmers her age (American Natalie Coughlin, for example, is likely to try for the 100 free, 100 back, and some relays). If she tries to lighten her load a bit, this 200 IM might be the first on the chopping block.
Mireia Belmonte had probably her best swim of the meet in a runner-up performance in this 200 IM. Her time was 2:13.77, which is only about 2.5 seconds off of her season-best. The top Brazilian finisher was Duane Marce from Pinheiros in 2:15.42.
In another tight relay battle between the two best sprint teams, the men’s Flamengo relay won in 3:17.11, ahead of Flamengo’s 3:17.31. Pinheiros flipped the table and took the women’s relay in 3:44.98.
Among the semi-final action, Cesar Cielo got his only top semi-final seed in the men’s 50 fly, with a mark of 23.70. This was not his best time of the season (missing by .02) but a small drop could push him into the top 3 in the world tomorrow. Glauber Silva took 2nd just behind in 23.72.
1) Minas 2323
2) Pinheiros 1557
3) Flamengo 1405.50
4) Corinthians 1198