The European Championships in Berlin was an extremely exciting competition that saw 17 new championship records, five European and two new world records set.
After finishing third in the medal table at the 2010 European Championships (a better comparison than 2012 championships since most countries had a full complement of athletes in Budapest) Great Britain dominated the medal standings coming away for 24 medals in total; nine gold, seven silver and eight bronze. Denmark finished second with nine total medals; six gold, one silver and two bronze, followed by Hungary that collected 14 total medals; five gold, four silver and five bronze).
There were many tremendous individual performances and after having the time to reflect on those performances SwimSwam presents their the top 10 swimmers from the 2014 European Championships:
10. Jeanette Ottesen (DEN) – Ottesen collected four medals in total; gold in the 100 butterfly and 400 medley relay, silver in the 50 butterfly and bronze in the 50 freestyle. With her winning time of 56.51 in the 100 butterfly she set new a championship and national record. The 400 medley relay team made up of Mie Nielsen, Rikke Moller Pedersen, Ottesen and Pernille Blume set both the European and championship record posting a time of 3:55.62 beating Germany’s European record of 3:55.79 set in 2009 and the championship record of 3:58.43 which was also held by Germany and set in 2012.
In Barcelona Ottesen took gold in the 50 butterfly, but finished outside of the medals in the 100 butterfly. Over the last year she seen over a half second improvement in the 100 butterfly and took down world champion and overwhelming favourite coming in Berlin, Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, something she has not been able to do at a major international competition.
Although she was able to get past Sjostrom in Berlin she was not able to catch her in the world rankings finishing one one-hundredth of a second behind the Swede.
9. Jazz Carlin (GBR) – Carlin is another British swimmer who was able to convert her success at the Commonwealth Games to even greater success in Berlin. After winning the 400 freestyle and finishing second in the 800 freestyle in Glasgow Carlin took gold in both the 400 and 800 freestyle in Berlin. Carlin was also able to improve on her performances from the Commonwealth Games going from a 4:05.16 to a 4:03.24 and an 8:18.11 to a 8:15.54.
After having some reluctance on focusing on the distance events in the past Carlin came into the European Championships targeting only two events, a strategy that worked very well. She dominated the 800 winning the event by over five seconds and breaking the championship record of 8:19.29 set by Laure Manaudou in 2006. The 400 freestyle was a much tougher challenge for Carlin who battled with Mireia Belmonte Garcia for much of the race and then had to hold off a charge by Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands in the final 100 meters.
Carlin pulled out the win taking the event in a time of 4:03.24 beating van Rouwendaal by 52 one-hundredths of a second. It would have been tremendous to see a showdown between Carlin and Lotte Friis at their best, but with Friis being off her game in Berlin that will have to wait for another day.
Carlin’s times put her second in the world rankings in both events.
8. Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) – Paltrinieri came into Berlin as the defending European champion in the men’s 1500 freestyle, if he felt any pressure to repeat he definitely hid it well. The 20 year old Italian was dominant in the 1500 freestyle winning the event in a time of 14:39.93, over ten seconds ahead of silver medalist Pal Joensen of the Faroe Islands who finished in a time of 14:50.59.
With his performance Paltrinieri broke his own championship record of 14:48.92 and crushed the European record of 14:43.21 posted by Yuri Prilukov in 2008. His time was a lifetime best beating his previous time of 14:44.50 by almost five seconds and is also the fastest time recorded by any swimmer since the 2012 Olympics.
Paltrinieri also had a decisive win the the men’s 800 freestyle taking the event by just under four seconds in a new championship record time of 7:44.98. The previous record of 7:48.28 was held by Sebastien Rouault and was set at the 2010 championships.
7. Rikke Moller Pedersen (DEN) – Pedersen came into the competition as a favourite in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke and lived up to that prediction coming away with gold and championship records in both events. She took the 100 breaststroke in a time of 1:06.23 beating Yuliya Efimova‘s 2010 championship record of 1:06.32, but was not able to meet her season’s best time of 1:06.19, which she posted at the Danish Championships.
As was expected she dominated the 200 breaststroke winning the event by over three seconds in a time of 2:19.84. She originally beat Anastasia Chaun‘s 2010 championship record of 2:23.50 in the semi-finals posting a 2:22.32 and went on to break her own record in the final. The race was a bit of a disappointment for Pedersen who was on world record pace until the final 50 meters where she finished with a split of 37.01. Just as in the 100 breaststroke she was not able to meet her season’s best of 2:19.61.
Pedersen also collected a gold as part of the Danes 4 x 100 medley relay team.
6. Fran Halsall (GBR) – Halsall has had a tremendous summer, first at the Commonwealth Games where she took both the 50 freestyle and 50 butterfly, setting national record marks in both events. She was able to follow up those performances in Berlin by winning the gold in the 50 freestyle, 50 backstroke and 400 mixed medley relay while collecting bronze in the 50 butterfly and women’s 400 medley relay.
Although Halsall was not able to repeat the times that she was able to post in Glasgow she showed that she could win consistently at two major international competitions, something that we have not seen up until this point in her career.
Her two individual golds in Berlin came in dramatic fashion.
Coming into the event Halsall and Sjostrom were the only two women to have swum under the 24 second barrier in the women’s 50 freestyle. Many thought that they may challenge Britta Steffen’s 2009 world record of 23.73, but neither was able to repeat the feat of recording a sub-24 second swim in Berlin. Putting that aside the two provided an exciting head to head battle where Halsall came out on top touching in a time of 24.32 five one-hundredths of a second ahead of Sjostrom.
The 50 backstroke saw Halsall clash with teammate and Commonwealth champion Georgia Davies. She was again able to pull out a victory in a very tight race posting a 27.81 beating Davies by one one-hundredth of a second.
The British team made up of Chris Walker-Hebborn, Adam Peaty, Jemma Lowe and Halsall set a new world record in the mixed 4 x 100 medley relay posting a time of 3:44.02.
5. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) – Belmonte collected gold in both the 200 butterfly and 1500 freestyle, both in new championship record time. With her winning time of 2:04.79 she broke the championship record of 2:05.78 set by Otylia Jedrzejczak in 2002. She was also just off her best time of 2:04.78 which she recorded at the 2013 World Championships.
Belmonte repeated as the European champion in the 1500 freestyle taking the event in a time of 15:57.29 breaking Flavia Rigamonti‘s 2008 championship record of 15:58.54. Not to take anything away from Belmonte’s win, but it is hard not to imagine that if Lotte Friis was in better condition to race in Berlin that the Spaniard would not have found herself on top of the medal podium.
Belmonte showed her tremendous versatility winning silver in the 400 IM and 800 freestyle along with collecting the bronze in the 400 freestyle. Oh and did we mention that she also collected a bronze in the 5 km open water event.
4. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) – Hosszu won three gold at the championships, taking the 200 and 400 IM as well as tying Mie Nielsen for the gold in the 100 backstroke. She won the 200 IM for the third European Championships in a row. This time around she broke her own championship record of 2:10.09, which she posted in 2010 in the semi-final posting a 2:08.41 and then bettered her time from the semi-final in the final winning in a time of 2:08.11.
In the 400 IM she accomplished the same record breaking feat, bettering Hannah Miley’s 2010 record of 4:33.09 in the prelims posting a 4:31.53 and then going on to break her own record in the final winning the event in a time of 4:31.03. Heading into the final 50 meters Hosszu was ahead of Ye Shiwen‘s world record pace by half a second, but finished the final 50 meters in a time of 32.12 falling well off Shiwen’s final time of 4:28.43.
In the 100 backstroke she tied Mie Nielsen of Denmark posting a time of 59.63. Although here gold medal haul was impressive Hosszu did not accomplish a lifetime best in any of the races.
She also finished second in the 200 freestyle and won a bronze as part of the Hungarian 4 x 200 freestyle relay.
3. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) – Sjostrom came away from the championships with three gold in the 50 butterfly, 100 freestyle and 4 x 100 freestyle relay and four silver in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 4 x 100 medley and 4 x 200 freestyle relays. Although losing out on close finishes in both the 50 freestyle (five one-hundredths of a second) and 100 butterfly (one one-hundredth of a second) may have been tough for the Swede overall she was very, very impressive.
She took the 100 freestyle by almost a full second, breaking Britta Steffen‘s championship mark of 53.30 set in 2006, posting a 52.67. She also took the 50 butterfly in a time of 24.98 which was off her season’s best of 24.43, but was good enough to beat Jeanette Ottesen, who got the better of her in the event at the World Championships in Barcelona.
Her most impressive swim may have come in a race collect a gold. Swimming in third position of the 4 x 200 freestyle relay Sjostrom posted a split time of 1:53.64. Her split was the fastest put up by any woman this year and was almost three seconds faster then 200 freestyle champion Federica Pelligrini‘s split anchoring the Italian team in a gold medal performance.
Sjostrom came into Berlin with the top ranked time in the women’s 200 freestyle, having posted a 1:55.04, but scratched the event as the semi-final fell on the same night as the 100 butterfly final. Looking back now it would have been amazing to see her go head to head with Pelligrini in the event.
After winning three gold and four silver it is hard to put Sjostrom third on our list, but it is also hard to beat a man who took home four gold and another who came away from Berlin with the only individual world record in the competition.
2. Florent Manaudou (FRA) – Manaudou collected the most gold of any swimmer in the competition, capturing four in total. He took the 50 and 100 freestyle, tied for gold in the 50 butterfly and was part of a French relay team that took the championship title in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay. His impressive gold medal haul is why the Frenchman is second on our list of top 10 swimmers from Berlin.
Manaudou was on the top of his game in Berlin. He posted a lifetime best times in all of his individual events. Manaudou won the 50 freestyle in a time of 21.32, breaking the championship record of 21.36 set by Federick Bousquet in 2010. He took the 100 freestyle in a time of 47.98, improving his previous best of 48.41 by almost half a second and tied Yauhen Tsurkin of Belarus for the top spot in the 50 butterfly in a time of 23.00.
He is now currently ranked number one in the world in the 50 freestyle and number three in the world in both the 100 freestyle and 50 butterfly (tied with Tsurkin).
The French 4 x 100 freestyle relay team consisting of Mehdy Metella, Fabien Gilot, Manaudou and Jeremy Stravius posted a time of 3:11.64 breaking the championship record of 3:12.46 set by the Russians in 2010.
The 50 freestyle Olympic and World Champion showed his championship pedigree in Berlin, but he also showed an increased amount of versatility as well.
1. Adam Peaty (GBR) – The 20 year old British swimmer took both the 50 and 100 breaststroke as well as collecting two more gold as part of Britain’s men’s 4 x 100 medley and mixed medley relay teams. Although winning four golds in Berlin is an incredible accomplishment, but it was his world record breaking swim in the semi-final of the 50 breaststroke put him in the top spot on our list. Peaty took down Cameron van der Burgh‘s 2009 world record of 26.67 by posting a time of 26.62.
Peaty end up winning the event in a time of 27.00.
He also took the 100 breaststroke in a time of 58.96 beating his fellow countryman Ross Murdoch by almost a half second. Just as he did in the 50 breaststroke Peaty posted a faster time of 58.68 in the semi-final, which is his lifetime best.
Peaty did his part, posting a 58.55, in the Great Britain’s 4 x 100 medley victory. The team consisting of Chris Walker-Hebborn, Peaty, Adam Barrett and Ben Proud took the event in a time of 3:31.73. He was also part of Britain’s 4 x 100 mixed medley relay team that set a new world record in the event.