Hola, hola, hola.... Maria campeona! The home crowd cheered as Maria Pelaez, ESP, had the swim of her life to touch out Olympic champion Michelle de Bruin. After pulling out of both 800 freestyle and the 200 IM, de Bruin was slightly rested and had her sights on a third gold. She took the lead from the start and held it for 150 metres but struggled at the finish. An obviously inspired Pelaez kept the pressure on and finished very strongly for a new national record of 2:10.25 to de Bruin's 2:10.88.
It was an over two second drop from her previous best. The Malaga native said, "It's a dream to be a champion. It's something I never thought would happen. When you see everyone in the stands cheering for you, you think, this is my 15 minutes of fame."
Mette Jacobsen, DEN, the winner of the 100 fly, finished third with 2:11.97.
De Bruin was "very proud" to be leaving Sevilla with two golds and two silvers. Her long-winded intention, ghost-written for her and published in an Irish newspaper the day before this race, to be more open with journalists regarding her training program, came to naught. When asked about it, de Bruin suggested Coke or Pepsi don't give away their winning formula either, so why should she?
Marcel Wouda won his second I.M. gold.
The early leader, Christian Keller, GER, soon faded out of contention as eventual winner, Marcel Wouda, NED, had the lead after backstroke, splitting 57.41 at the 100. Jani Sievinen, FIN, the current world record holder, moved into second place after the backstroke leg, but couldn't gain on Wouda in the breaststroke leg.
On the final leg, Wouda had a slight lead and a fast closing Xavier Marchand, FRA, almost caught up. Sievinen faded to third.
Wouda's time, 2:00.77, was his best ever; Marchand in second broke his own French record with a 2:01.08. Only Sievinen, in third, was four seconds off his best from two years ago.
Wouda said it was a difficult race, but conceded he was satisfied, saying, "I'd like to continue this way."
Russian Natalia Mesheryakova had a great start and left little doubt as to who would touch first.. Her winning time was 25.31, ahead of Sandra Volker of Germany, who was off her best time with a 25.43.
In third was Sweden's Therese Alshammar, who is off to Nebraska to study in the fall. Her final time was a personal best of 25.78.
The winner was never in doubt. The question was whether there would be a sub 15-minute time. In a superb demonstration of pacing and technique, Emiliano Brembilla, ITA, took control after the first 100, splitting steady 100s just over the minute until the 600, and just under the minute for the next 900 metres, winning in 14:58.65. Brembilla becomes the world leader for 1997 and poses a genuine threat to the Australian supremacy in this event.
Igor Snitko, UKR, was second throughout, and finished with a time of 15:07.85, a personal best by just over seven seconds.
Graeme Smith, GBR, battled for third with Denis Zavgorodny, UKR. At 1200 metres the Ukrainian moved gradually ahead and finished third with 15:19.28. Smith, well off his bronze medal time of 15:02.48 from last year's Olympics finishined fourth with 15:22.11.
Brembilla commented, "Yesterday in the prelims it was a very easy swim. My target was to swim under 15 minutes today. I've hit my target, and I'm very happy."
He added, "The other day I was very exuberant over my 400 free win. Today I could hardly read the results I was so tired." The water temperature of 29 Celsius surely affected the final outcome.
Brembilla's splits: 100 59.04 59.04 200 1:59.60 1:00.56 300 3:00.19 1:00.59 400 4:01.02 1:00.83 500 5:01.25 1:00.23 600 6:01.31 1:00.06 700 7:01.08 59.77 800 8:00.96 59.88 900 9:00.78 59.82 1000 10:00.55 59.77 1100 11:00.43 59.88 1200 12:00.45 59.98 1300 13:00.32 59.87 1400 14:00.60 1:00.28 1500 14:58.65 58.05
The two German swimmers, Antje Buschschulte and Cathleen Rund, went after the gold. Buschschulte had the lead for three lengths. At that point Rund challenged, pulling ahead to win her first individual European title in 2:11.46.
Buschschulte was second in 2:12.05, while Roxana Maracineanu of France was right behind her in 2:12.06, finishing off a sterling meet with another medal and another national record.