Zirk Notches New Estonian Free Records; Balandin In Action In Istanbul


  • March 19th – March 21st
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • LCM (50m)
  • Results

While competing in Instanbul, Turkey over the weekend, 21-year-old Estonian swimmer Kregor Zirk notched two new national records in men’s freestyle events.

Zirk, who competes for Team Energy Standard in the International Swimming League (ISL), made his new marks happen in the 200m and 400m free here in Turkey, registering respective efforts of 1:47.99 and 3:51.12.

In the shorter race, Zirk’s time represented his first outing under 1:48, with his previous PB and Estonian standard resting at the 1:48.51 he produced at the 2019 FINA World Championships. There in Gwangju, the freestyle ace finished in 26th place.

Splits for Zirk’s 1:47.99 effort in Istanbul included 52.35/55.64 to grab the gold and make national history.

In the 400m free, the man also dipped under his own previous national record, coming in with a solid 3:51.12 to nab silver. That sliced .18 off the 3:51.30 Zirk posted in Gwangju, placing 19th overall in the process.

Taking the top prize in the 4free this weekend was host nation swimmer Efe Turan. Turan turned in a result of 3:50.95, a time that fell within a second of the national record of 3:50.07 held by Nezir Karap since 2015.

Additional top swims of the meet included performances by Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan. The 25-year-old Olympic gold medalist posted a time of 2:10.11 to take the men’s 200m breaststroke with ease.

Balandin took gold in Rio in a time of 2:07.46 but 3 years later the man placed 7th in the 2019 FINA World Championships final with a mark of 2:08.25. With the top swimmers such as Arno Kamminga and Shoma Sato logging 2:07’s and even 2:06 times outside of Olympic Trials, Balandin will need to up the speed factor with the Olympic Games just months away.

ISL speedster Emre Sakci was also in the water, taking the men’s 100m free in a time of 49.96. He also placed 3rd in the 50m free (22.80) and 3rd in the 100m breast (1:00.99).  The winner of the men’s 50m free was Alexandr Varakin of Kazakstan in 22.54 while visiting Ukrainian ace Andrii Govorov was runner-up in 22.70. Govorov did not compete in his signature 50m fly event.

The top 2 finishers in the men’s 100m breast included Berkay Oegretir topping the podium in 1:00.45, just .04 ahead of Balandin’s 1:00.49 outing.

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About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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