On day 1 of the 2013 Cup of Russia in Kazan, which doubles as their World Championship Trials, none of the meet’s biggest stars had finals quite yet.
The two event winners through one day of the meet include 21-year old Evgeny Kulikov from the Moscow Swim Club, who won the men’s 400 free in a lifetime best of 3:50.46. The other final in this meet that will employ prelims-semifinals-finals for races 200 meters or shorter was in the women’s 400 IM. There, Yana Martynova won in 4:41.23. That’s well off of her National Record set at the 2008 Olympics, but more concerningly it’s three seconds slower than she was even at this same meet last year.
Most of the headliners, meanwhile, were swimming in semi-finals on Tuesday evening. That included, among the highlights, the men’s 100 backstroke, where Arkady Vyatchanin took the top seed in 53.99, followed closely by Vlad Morozov (54.17) and Anton Butymov (54.68). Those top two seeds, Vyatchanin and Morozov, both train in the United States and were Russia’s representatives at last year’s Olympics. They’re both under the FINA Automatic Qualifying Time, so in finals they’ll be shooting to repeat times and hold off Butymov for those top two spots.
In the men’s 100 breaststroke, the top seed went to 20-year old Kirill Strelnikov in 1:00.60, which bettered 200 meter specialist Vyacheslav Sinkevich (1:01.25). Veteran Roman Sloudonov, now 33-years old, didn’t swim this race, which seems to be the end of a breaststroking era in the country. Sloudonov is the National Record holder in the race. Just as he falls off, bring on the rise of the young Strelnikov, who in this semi-final set a best time and hit a FINA ‘A’ qualifying mark for worlds.. In the last 12 months, he’s knocked more than two full seconds off of his personal best.
In the women’s 200 backstroke semi-final, Maria Gromova took the top seed in 2:11.16, followed by Daria Ustinova in 2:12.29. Ustinova is the 14-year old who, earlier this year, received a “reprimand” for a violation of doping rules, and then proceeded to swim World-Ranked times in both the 100 and 200 backstrokes. Both women will need to drop time in finals to hit qualifying marks. Absent from this race was Olympian Anastasia Zueva. She is the defending Olympic silver medalist in the race.
Lastly, in the sprint semi-finals, Nikita Konovalov, Evgeny Koptelov, and Evgeny Sedov hit in rapid succession from 23.50-23.64, which makes them the top three seeds headed into finals. Evgeny Korotyshkin was 4th in 23.92; he was the Olympic silver medalist in the 100 last year, so expect him to be more competitive in finals. For Sedov, that 23.64 is a new Russian Junior Record.
(Editor’s note: Three Evgeny’s in the top four semi-final finishers in the butterfly.)
In the women’s 50 fly semi’s, we saw a similarly-tight group of four led by Svetlana Chimrova (26.61) and followed by Daria Tsvetsova in 26.73. The top three are all teenagers in that race.
Full, live meet results available here (in Russian).