In a fitting end to the 2011 Russian National Championships and World Championship Trials, the women’s duet of Anastasia Zueva and Yulia Efimova, who along with Viktoria Popova have been the story of this meet, dominated their final swims of the meet.
Zueva improved upon her worldwide 2nd-best time from the semi-finals yesterday (59.51) with a huge win in 59.35. This leaves her within two-tenths of Japan’s Aya Terakawa at the top of the international rankings. Runner-up Kseniya Moskvina swam a 1:01.15 that is not quite fast enough to earn her a spot in Shanghai.
Efimova, in the 200 breaststroke, also posted a top-3 time, with her mark of 2:24.17. This means that these two swimmers give the Russians a top-3 swim in every backstroke and breaststroke distance except the 100 breast, and the beginnings of a potentially great medley relay. Also in that 200 breaststroke, Irina Novikova placed 2nd in 2:25.52, which will qualify her for Shanghai and puts her 12th in the world this year.
In a very-deep men’s 100 free final, Nikita Lobintsev took the win in 48.62. This ties him for 6th-best in the world with Frenchman Alain Bernard. Behind him were Andrei Grechin (48.71) and Danila Izotov (48.77), who now rank 10th and 12th in the world. Vlad Morozov was the fastest swimmer off the blocks, but aside from that had a very lackluster first 50 that left him off of the podium. However, he did secure his first ever World Championship spot by finishing 4th in the race in a 49.11. This finish should also ensure him a 400 free relay spot in Shanghai.
In the men’s 100 breaststroke, Roman Sloudnov won in 1:00.69, 8th-best in the world. More than a decade after winning his only Olympic medal (a bronze in Sydney in this race), time might be running out on his spot as Russia’s premier breaststroker. That’s because defending European Junior Champion (and 6-time 2010 Youth Olympics medalist) Anton Lobanov is hot on his heels with a 1:00.85 that puts him 10th in the world.
The final day of competition also finalized the 50m sprints, with the men’s 50 back and the women’s 50 fly being decided. Vitaliy Borisov won the men’s 50 back in 25.17 (top 10 in the world), while defending short course champion Stanislav Donets finished well back in 25.48. Donets shockingly missed the Russian A-qualifying time, though given his earlier qualifications in the 100 and 200’s, he’ll probably be allowed to swim as a second entrant in this 50 as well.
In the women’s 50 fly, Svetlana Fedulova won in 27.02 ahead of Irina Bespalova (27.04). Though neither of these times are ranked highly at all, they’re still quite important for the Russians, as this will be their big weakness in an aforementioned medley relay.
Aleksander Tikhonov won the men’s 200 IM in 2:00.14, to just slip under Russia’s World Championship qualifying mark. Daniil Serebrenniko took the men’s 15o0 free in (15:22.62).