Tuesday wrapped up the Polish Long Course National Championships and Olympic qualifying in Olsztyn. The Polish standards were relatively relaxed, compared to some of their European neighbors, and only dictated a FINA “A” time, swum either at this National Championship meet or last year’s World Championships. Still, in many events (particularly on the women’s side) it would’ve taken no-less-than crushing a National Record to make the team.
On the more-powerful men’s side of the pool, the biggest performance was from Cal swimmer Marcin Tarczynski in the 100 backstroke. There, he broke a National Record with a 54.12 for the win and an Olympic spot. This is a notable development for more reasons than just the record.
Up until 2011, Tarczynski was a straight butterflier. He had a good enough backstroke to put onto a 2:00 200 IM, but that was about it. He showed his hand a bit at NCAA’s in 2011 where he swam the 100 fly and 200 back individually as a freshman, and made the B-Final in the latter. With such a crowded Polish field in the butterflies (and at Cal for that matter), however, in 2011 he made a full-force shift to the backstrokes, and this has paid off for him.
He got the opportunity to swim on the finals’ relay at Worlds last year, and blew the chance a bit, so he had something to prove in this race. He certainly did so and probably moved himself back in front of Radoslaw Kawecki (who was 2nd in the race in 55.23) for the spot as Poland’s A-backstroker. Kawecki was faster at this meet leading off Zielona Gora’s medley relay in a 54.8.
Tarczynski also won the 200 IM in 2:01.12 ahead of the 2:02.72 from veteran Lukasz Wojt. He didn’t even attempt the butterfly events, though a best time would’ve put him 2nd. This time for Tarczynski doesn’t clear the polish standards, nor did his swim from Worlds.
As for the others mentioned above, Korzeniowski had an extremely up-and-down meet. He started out very well in the 200 fly with a 1:56.64 win that puts him in the top-25 in the world this year. That’s a very good time without much pressure to swim fast thanks to his 6th-place finish at Worlds last year. The runner-up in that race was Michal Poprawa in 1:58.61; he’s a junior-national record holding 200 freestyler, as well, and this was easily his best time.
But then in the 100 fly on Monday, Korzeniowski flopped with a 53.27 for only 3rd. The race was won by Konrad Czerniak in 52.28. The defending world silver-medalist wasn’t the only swimmer who beat Korzeniowski, though. Unknown 19-year old Oskar Krupecki dropped more than a second-and-a-half and took 2nd in 52.88.
Per the standards of FINA, Korzeniowski would still be eligible based on his swim from the 2010 European Championships; per Poland, however, this would seem to leave him out of the race as he didn’t hit the A-time. This could end up being a peculiar situation though, as Korzeniowski will still be the butterflier on their medley relay.
That’s because Czerniak is also the country’s best sprint freestyler, and he had a great performance at this meet in the 50. He took the top honors in 22.04, clearing the automatic standard, and adding a potential third Olympic event to his schedule. His 100 wasn’t as good (49.35), but nothing outside of that 50 indicated he was tapered for this meet.
What Poland really needs desparately is another sprint freestyler to allow Czerniak to shift back to butterfly on the medley. They may have found the potential for that in 19-year old Kasper Majchrzak, who was 2nd in both events in 22.49 and 49.69, respectively. Those both blow away his best times. It would be a risky move, but there’s a chance that he makes a stronger relay even than the more-recognized Korzeniowski.
The big name of that men’s medley that nobody really knows is the breaststroker Dawid Szulich. He won the 100 at this meet in 1:01.82 – which is a very good in-season mark for him. He showed last year at Worlds that he’s an outstanding relay swimmer by swimming more than a second better on the relays than he did in the individual.
But he’s a sprinter, and in the 200, Slawomir Kuczko swam a 2:12.75 for the win, which is his best time since 2009.Unfortunately, it’s short of the A-standard, so he’ll be left off of the Olympic Team.
Not pictured at this meet, Florida swimmer Marcin Cieslak will take the second spot in the 200 fly, thanks to a 1:56.65 at World’s. He will also take the lone spot in the 200 IM thanks to a 1:59.7 in Shanghai.
On the women’s side of the meet, there was another National Record broken – coincidentally in the same 100 backstroke. Alice Tchorz took down the old record with a 1:01.02 that bettered the mark of Claudia Nazieblo by a solid half-a-second. Nazieblo was the runner-up in the race in 1:02.13.
Tchorz also had a good 200 backstroke time of 2:11.77, but those times will all leave her off of the Olympic squad, despite swimming at Worlds last year.
The butterfliers were, as always, the stars of this show on the women’s side, with Otylia Jedrzeczak sweeping the 100 and 200 titles in 59.21 and 2:09.36, though in this case those both missed FINA A-times. Mirela Olczak, the young star, was even more off, and swam only a 2:14.29 in her 200 fly.
So here’s the situation for the Polish federation. By their own standards, if strictly applied, they will not have a women’s team in London. Period. Neither Jedrzeczak nor Olczak broke the A-standard at worlds (though the former was close with a 2:09.01).
The workaround, however, is pretty obvious. Jedrzeczak swam a 2:07.92 at the Olympic venue test event in March, so at least a semi-final performance from her at the Olympics is clearly within range.