Fireworks went off in the pool in Canet-en-Roussillon on the first day of the 2013 French stop on the Mare Nostrum series, in keeping with the theme of the whole series so far.
The first race to go off was the women’s 50 breaststroke, where Danish swimmer Rikke Moeller-Pedersen won in 31.18, ahead of Germany’s Caroline Runhau (31.87) and Spain’s Marina Garcia (31.88).
That swim was just a warmup for Pedersen, whose times are being sucked downward by the Rebecca Soni-less vacuum in the women’s 200 breaststroke. In that longer event, her best distance, she would swim a 2:21.55. Stunningly, that’s a full second away from her season-best time, but keep in mind that nobody else in the world has been under 2:23.
Garcia was 2nd in that race in 2:25.34, and maybe the most impressive swim of all of them was a 2:25.76 from 14-year old Ukrainian Viktoryia Solnceva for 3rd place.
In the men’s breaststroke events, Damir Dugonjic won the 50 in 27.50, touching-out Glenn Snyders (27.61) and Cameron van der Burgh (27.66). That gives Dugonjic a clean sweep of the 2013 Mare Nostrum series in the event with a final time that’s right at where he’s been all week.
Marco Koch from Germany won the men’s 200 breaststroke in 2:10.34, touching-out Japan’s Daiya Seto in 2:11.57. For Koch, that’s actually his season-best, after being DQ’ed at Germany’s National Championship meet. That time for Koch is just a tenth slower than what the Olympic Champion Daniel Gyurta from Hungary went not-too-far-away in Rome on Saturday.
In the men’s 100 backstroke, Jeremy Stravius from France won in 53.19. That’s just a tenth shy of his world leader as Stravius continues his incredible breakout year. He’s one of the few big-name French swimmers who showed up for this meet to defend home turf (many of his elite teammates went to Rome instead this weekend), and the time was not disappointing for the home fans.
New Zealand’s Gareth Kean took 2nd in that 100 back in 54.95.
The women’s race wasn’t all that far behind in quality, with Japan’s Aya Terakawa swimming a 59.92 to win that race. This is her 4th swim under the minute barrier this year already, and we haven’t even hit Worlds yet. 2nd place went to Duane da Rocha in 1:00.75, and Canadian Sinead Russell took 3rd in 1:00.81.
Jeanette Ottesen-Gray won the women’s 50 free in 24.76, ahead of Germany’s Dorothea Brandt (25.19) and Brazilian Alessandra Marchioro took 3rd in 25.28. That’s just a tenth away from a season-best for Marchioro, who at only 19 years old is one of Brazil’s top hopes on the women’s side headed toward their home Olympics in 2016.
That’s one of two wins on the day for Ottesen, and her other was even more impressive. She took the 100 fly in 57.73. We could be in line for a world leader in the 50 fly on Sunday.
The men’s race went to Japan’s Shinri Shioura in 22.22, winning a big morale-boosting battle with South African Roland Schoeman (22.29). Though neither time was spectacular compared to the repeated 21’s we’ve seen going up around the world, for Shioura to beat a veteran like Schoeman at this stage of the year could prove valuable as Japan tries to build some semblance of a men’s sprint group to go with their huge successes just about everywhere else. For Shioura, that’s his second-straight win in the series (in Monaco, he made it to the final of the bracket-style event, but lost that race).
In the men’s 400 free, Finland’s Matias Koski won in 3:50.70 to just knock off the Ukraine’s Sergiy Frolov who was 3:50.83 for 2nd place. Koski represents Finland, but was raised largely in the United States and trains at the University of Georgia there. That’s a much better result for Koski than he had in Barcelona mid-week.
Katinka Hosszu had a relatively light day, by her standards, but her day began about halfway through the session in the 200 IM with a well-rested explosion. She swam a 2:09.75, which is her best time of the year and ranks 4th in the world in 2013. She ended up putting this race away early, and won by almost four seconds in 2:13.55.
Her day would get a lot busier at the end; she took a second race in a back-to-back with a 1:57.89 in the 200 free to beat Spain’s Melanie Costa-Schmid and her 1:57.99. Costa-Schmid was only three-tenths of a second faster at the Olympics last year.
On a third-straight race, Hosszu showed a little bit of a chip when she finished only 5th in the 800 free in 8:56. Costa Schmid won that one in 8:37.17.
The men’s 200 IM was won by Israel’s Gal Nevo in 2:02.03, with South African Michael Meyer taking 2nd in 2:02.16. The two were nearly dead-even throughout the race, but a slightly better opening 50 meters for Nevo was too much for Meyer to make up – impressive considering Meyer’s primary stroke is fly.
Chad le Clos won the men’s 100 fly in 51.64, which is a season-best time for him as well, and ranks him 3rd in the world this year. His Hungarian rival Bence Biczo, who will put up a better fight in the 200 on Sunday, was 2nd in 53.55.
And finally, Yuki Kobori from Japan won the men’s 200 free in 1:47.81. The only other two under 1:50 were Yannick Lebherz and Devon-Myles Brown in 1:49.70 and 1:49.71.