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European Champs Day 1 Heats

Aug 18, 2014  - James Parrack

The Europeans are underway in Berlin and despite one of the fastest pools in the world next door, the swimming will take place in a temporary pool in the middle of a velodrome.  The competition pool is 2m deep, whereas the pool next door, which hosted the Europeans in 2002, is 3m deep.  Yesterday, Flo Manaudou, the Olympic 50m free champion, made the point that you train all year to peak at the Europeans and you find yourself swimming in a pool that might not be as quick as others.  When end of year world rankings might affect athlete funding, you want to be at the best pools you can find.


The reasons given that the swimming is in a velodrome is because there is only public seating for 1,500 in the fixed pool, but 4,500 in the velodrome (although it appears to this observer as though those numbers are somewhat massaged), and it is not possible to build a mixed zone to meet the needs of today’s competition.  Again, one wonders what is and isn’t possible in 2014.


The shock of the morning was that Paul Biedermann and Yannick Agnel are both OUT of the final this evening, finishing in 9th (missing the final by 0.07sec) and 11th respectively. The swim of the morning was Grechin’s 48.25 lead off for Russia’s 4 x 1 free relay.


The following is a summary of the heats.  Detailed results can be seen at the host site


Men: 400m Free


On top of the pile heading into the final is the British 20 year old Stephen Milne with a 3:48.62, 0.15sec ahead of Andrea D’Arrigo (ITA), with 3:50.42 from Biedermann (the world record holder at 3:40.07) and 3:50.81 from Agnel a long way off the pace.  Milne swims at the City of Perth SC in Scotland, and finished 8th in the final in Glasgow, which shows how far European 400m swimming has fallen.  By comparison, Milne was 3:46 in the heats in Glasgow.


As a side note, try looking for Milne in the British Swimming athlete biographies on their website.  In fact, I’ll save you the trouble; he isn’t there.  Even the official media guide online only shows the name, club and pb’s of the swimmers.


Women: 50m fly


The sprinters have a long walk up a slope by the velodrome and up two flights of stairs, so some won’t like it, but it is the same for everyone.  Maybe they should have some bikes on hand.


Inge Dekker (NED) will be given no gifts as she celebrates her 29th birthday today, as world record holder Sarah Sjoestroem (SWE) leads the field on 25.12 to qualify over half a second ahead of world champion Jeanette Ottesen (DEN), with Dekker and Fran Halsall all going through the motions this morning.  Double Commonwealth champion Halsall will have a tougher time to win here, but all looked strong this morning.


Former world champion Therese Alshammar was 7th fastest, a week before her 37th birthday.


Men: 100m Back


Commonwealth champion Chris Walker-Hebborn (GBR) leads the heats on 53.88 ahead of the two Frenchmen Jeremy Stravius (54.14) and Benjamin Stasiulis (54.27).  All looked strong and easy this morning so we will get a better view of how fast the final will be from the semis this evening.  Walker-Hebborn won close finish against the Australians at the Commies, and will back himself to do the same again against the French.


Women 400m IM


Katinka Hosszu (HUN) is swimming 10 events this week and started very strongly with an easy looking 4:31.53, championship record.  Even Hosszu, the world and European champion and European record holder (4:30.31) appeared surprised with the time.  Behind her on 4:36.89 is double Olympic silver medallist Mireia Belmonte (Spain), who finished 3rd in the 5k open water time trial last weekend.  Zavadova (CZE) finished 3rd at these championships 2 years ago, and is in 3rd going into the final, but watch for Aimee Willmott (GBR) after second place at the Commies in 4:33 and who will also have her eye on a medal tonight.


Men: 100m breaststroke


GBR are again particularly strong in men’s breaststroke and had two of the top three out of the heats this morning.  Adam Peaty, the 100m Commonwealth champion leads on 59.97, Daniel Gyurta (HUN) and Ross Murdoch (Commie champion on the 200m) just behind.  All three looked strong and controlled, running down the fast starting Giedrius Titenis (LTU) and Hendrick Feldwehr (GER).  Andrew Willis, 5th on 1:00.88, was shut out of this evening’s semis.


Women: 200m backstroke


Like the men’s 400m free, this event in Europe is pretty weak.  It is ‘only’ the heats of course and we will see faster this evening, but Jenny Mensing leads on 2:10.33, with 2.17.09 making the semis.  Come the worlds next year and in Rio, anyone with eyes on a final, let alone a medal, will have to be swimming a lot faster in heats if they want to progress.   Hosszu was 4th fastest after swimming the 400IM earlier in the morning.


Men: 50m fly


Andriy Govorov (UKR) worked hard for his 22.87 and was a clear leader ahead of 23.06 from Manaudou, with Steffen Deibler (GER) and Rafa Munoz (ESP) following.  Commonwealth Champion Ben Proud (GBR) looked comfortable on 23.55 as the crowd will speed up this evening.


Men: 4x100 free relay


Russia posted 3 of the top four fastest times across the field, with Grechin’s 48.25 lead off the fastest of all the splits (22.76 to his feet at 50), closely followed by Konrad Czerniak’s (POL) lead off of 48.43, but despite this, Russia were only 0.21 quicker than Italy.  Poland are 3rd, then France, then Belgium, and the stage is set for a great finish to the evening session.