2017 MARE NOSTRUM TOUR – BARCELONA
The traveling show of stars kicked off the 2nd stop of the 2017 Mare Nostrum Tour today, with key players from Monaco on full display once again. Meet records went down and a world record saw a scare as day 1 wrapped up in Barcelona, Spain.
Swedish speed demon Sarah Sjostrom was in full effect today, following up her wicked-fast performances last weekend with additional scorchers today. She cranked out a new meet record in the women’s 50m freestyle, clocking the only sub-24 second time among an enormously stacked field. 23.96 is what the Olympic gold medalist produced to overtake the previous Barcelona stop record of 24.21 set by Lisbeth Trickett back in 2009.
Right behind Sjostrom were additional Olympians in the form of Ranomi Kromowidjojo from the Netherlands and the dynamic sister duo from Australia, Cate and Bronte Campbell. Kromo hit the timepad in 2nd place in a super swift 24.29 to out-do her own mark of 24.34 from Grand Prix-The Hague and check-in as the 3rd fastest time in the world. Bronte held the advantage over sister Cate for bronze, touching in 24.66 to Cate’s 24.75 for 4th.
Sjostrom continued to awe with another spectacular 100m butterfly swim to follow-up her mighty 56.20 from last weekend in Monaco. Splitting 26.70/29.57, Sjostrom touched in 56.27 to clock a new meet record and further establish herself as the absolute dominator in this event headed into the World Championships.
Russian fly ace Svetlana Chimrova scored an impressive time of her own, touching in 57.36 to come within .21 of the national record she set in April of this year. Canada’s Penny Oleksiak, the teen who surprised the world by winning 100 freestyle gold alongside American Simone Manuel at the Summer Olympics last year, finished with bronze tonight in 57.65. Oleksiak’s outing tonight is just .3 off of the 57.35 she produced at her nation’s World Championships Trials.
Winning the women’s 100m butterfly B-Final was Aussie Emma McKeon, who finished in 57.94 after a subdued 59.66 this morning. Finishing in a disappointing 6th in Rio in this event, McKeon has the credentials to be a major player in this event in Budapest if she can put together a solid race at the right time.
Notching a season-best in the women’s 200m freestyle was Dutch sprinter Femke Heemskerk, who fired off a 1:56.28 for the win tonight. Heemskerk opened in 57.90 and brought it home in 58.38 to beat out the 1:56.59 she threw down earlier this year at The Hague. Russia’s Veronika Popova proved fast enough tonight for silver in 1:57.29, while McKeon doubled up on her 100m fly B-Final victory with a bronze here in 1:57.59. Oleksiak was a DNS in this event.
Russia’s Anton Chupkov joined the world’s 100m breaststroke sub-minute club on the season, topping the field in a smooth 59.39. That beat out countryman Kiriil Prigoda, who landed on the podium last week in Monaco. Prigoda could muster just 1:01.29 here for 4th, with South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh and Italian Nicolo Martinenghi earning silver and bronze in times of 1:00.02 and 1:00.20, respectively.
The 2015 world champion in both the women’s 100m and 200m backstroke, Emily Seebohm of Australia, took on the former event tonight in fast fashion. The notched her 2nd fastest swim of the season, touching in 58.99 for gold. That established a new meet record, having surpassed the 59.37 thrown down by Mie Nielsen back in 2015. Russia’s Daria Ustinova scored silver in 1:00.46, with Canada’s Taylor Ruck also on the podium in 1:00.86.
Of note, Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu earned a time of 59.74, her fastest of the season, in the 100m back prelims before scratching the final. She instead opted to have full fuel reserves for the 400m IM final tonight, an event in which she owned the field once again. Last week we saw the Iron Lady claim a mark of 4:34.12 to be positioned in 3rd on the world rankings. The triple Olympic gold medalist wasn’t far off that performance tonight, earning a mark of 4:33.71 to take gold and bounce into 2nd place in the world rankings ahead of Britain’s Hannah Miley. Miley was strong tonight as well, earning in silver in a time of 4:38.51 ahead of Spaniard Mireia Belmonte‘s time of 4:41.76 that snagged bronze.
Aussie gold came in the form of comeback kid James Magnussen‘s victory in the 100m freestyle. He won last week in Monaco with a quiet yet solid 49.11 to beat countrymate Cameron McEvoy for the first time since 2014. But tonight the Ravenswood Club swimmer and two-time world champion in the event cranked out a 48.68 (23.93/24.75) to crack the world’s top 20 for the first time since returning to racing since Rio. McEvoy finished in 4th tonight in 48.86.
Brazilian beast Bruno Fratus continued to impress on his Mare Nostrum tour, earning a time of 48.82 for silver. He was 48.50 at the Maria Lenk Trophy this spring. He opted out of the 100m last week, but won the 50m skins event in a wicked 21.78.
Right behind Fratus tonight and just .01 slower, was come-out-of-nowhere Cuban Hanser Garcia. The 28-year-old was an Olympic finalist in this 100m free event at the 2012 Olympic Games, only to fall into obscurity. He’s back, however, inching into the world’s top 25 of the event after his 48.83 time tonight.
Another Olympian, Russia’s Yulia Efimova, brought the house to its feet in the women’s 200m breaststroke event, coming within striking distance of the world record. After laying back with a cool 2:27.19 in the morning heats to just make the final, the two-time Olympic silver medalist from Rio fired on all cylinders tonight, crushing a world-leading time of 2:19.83. That falls just .72 shy of the 2:19.11 world record held by Rikke Pedersen.
Efimova incredibly split 1:09.40/1:10.43 to wipe out her previous season-best of 2:21.35 from Russian Nationals and further set herself apart from the rest of the world in the pre-U.S. Trials timeframe leading into Budapest. Her sub-2:20 also checks-in as the 2nd fastest time of Efimova’s career, as well as now slides into the 9th slot among the world’s top 10 performances of all-time. The Russian’s eye-popping effort tonight remarkably also would have won gold in Rio.
Additional Winners Tonight:
- Mireia Belmonte of Spain touched first in the women’s 1500m freestyle, winning in 16:17.36. The 200m butterfly Olympic champion has got to be stoked that this grueling freestyle event has now been officially added to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic program.
- Taylor Dale took the men’s 50m backstroke in 25.07 over Aussie Mitch Larkin‘s 25.19.
- The women’s 50m breaststroke sprint saw Efimova take the top of the podium again, with 30.32 under her belt to beat out Swede Jennie Johansson‘s 30.41.
- Ukraine’s Andrii Govorov came within .01 of his own meet record from 2016 in the 50m butterfly, touching in 23.17 for the gold.
- Larkin comfortably won the men’s 200m back in 1:57.58.
- The epitome of old-man speed, 31-year-old Laszlo Cseh of Hungary, earned respect again with his solid 1:56.69 200m butterfly 1st place finish.
- Italy’s Federico Trunini touched in 2:01.62 to win the men’s 200m IM.
- The men’s 400m freestyle saw Aleksandr Krasnykh of Russia earn gold in 3:47.35.