On the first day at Russian nationals in Kazan, host city to the 2015 world titles, Yana Martynova became the first qualifier for this year's global FINA showcase event, while Arkady Vyatchanin and Vladimir Morozov clocked solid opening respective gambits of 53.99 and 54.17 in the 100 back semis.
The backstroke times were among several inside FINA A standard for Barcelona action. For Florida-based Vyatchanin, who had to attend a hearing before he could race because he did not attend 2001 world-titles trials and his attendance was an issues for selectors, a sub-54 provided evidence that the Russian Gator is heading back to best on backstroke after a lean period.
The women's 400IM went to Martynova in 4:41.23, inside the cut for world titles in Barcelona this summer and well ahead of Viktoria Maliutina, 4:45.23 and Yulia Larina, 4:48.23.
"I'm very happy, even though I wanted to swim a lot faster," said Martynova. "But after three months in America it was hard. Its been an experience. We had to come back early and the time difference made it hard to acclimatise. Now I have to get ready for the 200IM.
In the land of Vladimir Salnikov, all medals in the men's 400m free went to Moscow, but none made the Barcelona cut. Evgeny Kulikov won in 3:50.46, Egor Degtjarev took silver in 3:52.97, the bronze going to Dmitry Ermakov in 3:55.03.
In other action, Kirill Strelnikov set a lifetime best and raced inside the cut to book lane 4 for the final of the 100m breaststroke in 1:00.60 ahead of Vyatcheslav Sinkevitch, 1:01.25, and Anton Lobanov, 1:01.47. For Strelnikov, 21 this year, the semi marked a new high inside a 1:01.12 effort in the European Championship final last May.
Svetlana Tsimrova clocked 26.61 at the helm of the 50m butterfly semi-finals and Nikita Konovalov led the way through to the men's equivalent final in 23.50;
Olympic medallist Anastasia Zueva broke a foot last autumn and is still on the road to recovery. The 1200m is within her reach at trials this year but the 200m was too big an ask and in her absence Maria Gromova led the way to the final in 2:11.16.
St Petersburg won both closing relays, Veronika Popova, Svetlana Fedulova, Viktoriya Andreeva and a teammate on 3:44.20 at the helm of the women, their male teammates on 3:19.25, with Oleg Tikhobaev and Alexander Sukhorukov in the mix.
Day 1 finals at a glance: