On day 3 of the 2012 Russian Olympic Trials, it was time for the Russian women to take some of the headlines on what was the most exciting session yet of this meet, where a FINA A-standard gets you to the games.
Women’s 100 Breaststroke
Yulia Efimova, like many of the Russians, hasn’t raced a whole lot this year; she ended up winning this 100 breaststroke in 1:07.05, though she has been faster this year. She doesn’t usually have a huge taper, and often swims fast many times in-season, but the times so far this year haven’t done much to indicate she’s got faster than the 1:06.5 she swam last year in her system.
Efimova very-nearly got nipped by 22-year old Daria Deeva, who was 2nd in 1:07.22. Deeva, though she’s a few years older than Efimova, is improving at a much faster clip headed towards London. She could leave the Russians with a very interesting decision on their medley relay. What was most impressive on Deeva’s swim was her closing 50, where she marked a 34.84. That’s world-class closing speed (only American Rebecca Soni closes that fast); if she could balance it with a little bit more coming off of the blocks, she could be a medalist.
Anastasia Chaun, who had to skip last year’s World Championships after a drug-test gone awry, was 3rd in 1:08.74. That’s a lifetime-best for her, so it seems as though she’s recovered sufficiently; her best race is the 200 and based on this swim, something in the 2:23-range would be expected.
16-year old Irina Novikova, a rising star in Russian breaststroke, swam a 1:09.95 for 5th.
Women’s 200 Back
Aside from Efimova, the other big-time name in women’s swimming is Anastasia Zueva. Like Efimova, she had no problem earning her Olympic spot in a first attempt, thanks to a dominating 2:06.59 in the women’s 200 backstroke. That’s the fastest time in the world this year, and the second-fastest swim of Zueva’s career (the only faster was at the 2009 World Championships in polyurethane).
This 200 was the weak-race on Zueva’s schedule at the 2011 edition of the World Championships, but it looks like she might be a double-medal contender in London.
Men’s 200 Breaststroke
The Russian men did add another Olympic qualifier on the day, in a bit of an upset at that, as Vyacheslav Sinkevich took the win in a FINA A-cut of 2:11.04. That’s the second time this season he’s been under 2:12, and is the fastest time of his career.
He wasn’t on the World Championship team in 2011, but even without his talent being fully recognized, the Russians were probably hoping for two in this race. Anton Lobanov swam a 2:12 for 2nd and Grigory Falko (who was swimming 2:11’s last season) was a disappointing 7th in 2:14.95.
Men’s 200 Free
For the storied Russian freestyle crew, we got our first taste in the men’s 200 free. They weren’t outstanding, but they’ll probably be ok with that based on how good they looked headed into Worlds and how flat they fell once there.
Danila Izotov took the top spot in 1:46.56, which is 5th-best in the world, and about four-tenths slower than he was at this same meet last year. (Still, that’s 8-tenths better than he was in Shanghai…).
The runner-up, who will also have an individual spot, is Evgeny Lagunov in 1:47.47, which is the best time of his career. He needed every hundreth to hold off the upstart Artem Lobuzov, who at only 21-years old swam a lifetime best of 1:47.53.
The 4th relay member would be Nikita Lobintsev in 1:47.78; Michal Polishuk and Alexander Sukhorukov will be viable relay alternates with 1:48.0’s.
The biggest semi on the day was the men’s 50 fly, where Nikita Konovalov swam a 23.26, which ties him with Cesar Cielo for the fastest time in the world.
In the men’s 200 backstroke, Arkady Vyatchanin took the top seed in 1:58.69, followed by Anton Anchon a half-second back. Nobody has hit the FINA A-time yet (Vyatchanin surely will in finals); Stanislav Donets is limping into the final once again as the 7th seed in 2:01.69. That will be his last chance at the Olympic Team.