Swiss, Greek, and Estonian Records Go Down in Men’s 400 Free in Euros Prelims


At least three National Records went down in the preliminary rounds of the men’s 400 free on Monday on the first day of the 2020 European Championships.

All-time national best marks were broken by Switzerland’s Antonio Djakovic (3:47.23), Estonia’s Kregor Zirk (3:48.39), and Greece’s Konstantinos Englezakis (3:48.59). Djakovic is only 18, Zirk is only 21, and Englezakis is only 20.

Swiss Record

Djakovic was the top qualifier through to finals of the 400 free when he swam a 3:47.23 in prelims. That time broke his own Swiss Record of 3:47.89 that he did at the 2019 European Junior Championships when he was even younger – only 16 at the time.

The next-best swimmer in the country’s history is three-time Olympian Dominik Meichtry, who swam a 3:49 in 2011.

Splits Comparison:

Djakovic Djakovic Meichtry
New Record Old Record Swiss #2 (2011)
100m 54.07 55.12 55.60
200m 58.44 58.11 58.70
300m 58.06 58.72 58.01
400m 56.66 55.94 56.80
Final Time 3:47.23 3:47.89 3:49.11

As compared to his 2019 swim, Djakovic has added a lot of front-end speed, taking the race out over a second better than he did in 2019. He paid on the back-end, but still managed to drop over six-tenths of a second off his total time.

That speed is derivative of big improvements he’s already shown in 2021 in both the 100 and 200 freestyles, swimming best times of 49.14 and 1:46.78, respectively, in April at the Swiss Championships.

Djaovic’s ability to come back down at the end of the race, over the last 100 meters, was what separated him from the field in prelims. The 3rd and 4th qualifiers Gabriele Detti (especially) and Felix Auboeck both have that closing kick in them, though neither showed it in the heats.

Estonian Record

Kregor Zirk, best known for his work in the 200 free and 200 fly, furthered the gap between himself and any other Estonian ever in the 400 free with a 3:48.39 in heat 3 of the prelims session on Monday. That snuck him into finals as the 8th qualifier, just .02 seconds ahead of Great Britain’s Max Litchfield.

The swim busted through Zirk’s own previous record of 3:51.12 and marks at least the 8th time that he’s broken the Estonian Record in this event. According to SwimRankings, the only other swimmer in the country’s history to have been under 4 minutes in the race is teenager Kaspar Helde, who was a 3:59.61 in August 2020.

Splits Comparison:

Zirk Zirk
New Record Old Record (2019)
100m 55.56 55.18
200m 59.1 58.15
300m 57.89 58.86
400m 55.84 58.93
Final Time 3:48.39 3:51.12

Greek Record

The other significant National Record broken in the 400 free on Monday morning came from Greece’s Konstantinos Englezakis, who just turned 20 in March. He swam 3:48.59 to break the old National Record of 3:48.67 that was set by Spyridon Gianniotis back in 2006.

One of the country’s most accomplished swimmers ever, Gianniotis has raced at 5 Olympic Games, including winning silver in 2016 Olympics in the open water 10km event.

Splits Comparison:

Englezakis Gianniotis
New Record
Old Record (2006)
100m 54.65 56.67
200m 58.46 58.21
300m 58.48 56.93
400m 57.00 56.86
Final Time 3:48.59 3:48.67

The two swimmers’ splits are very different, mostly on the basis of Gianniotis’ endurance abilities that showed up even in the pool – though Englezakis has the better speed of the two.

That leaves Englezakis short of the FINA “A” qualifying time of 3:46 for the Olympics, but he improved his “B” cut status. He also retains the honor of fastest B-cut among Greek swimmers by holding off a best time from Dimitrios Markos of 3:49.22. Countries can only swim one swimmer in an event unless they both have A cuts.


Leave a Reply

Notify of

1 Comment
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
tea rex
1 year ago

Have to think Zirk has a couple seconds to drop from his 55-59-57-55 splits

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

Read More »