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European Championships Berlin, Day 4 Finals

Aug 21, 2014  - James Parrack

Day 4 finals

It’s funny how things come in pairs: Mireia Belmonte finishing second in the 800m free and then staying at the start end to swim the 200IM in the very next race (she was knackered after the fly); Katinka Hosszu keeping her cap on the podium (twice) because she went directly from there to the blocks for the very next race; Mia Nielsen (DEN) winning the 100 back and then the very next race, team mate Viktor Bromer becoming the first Dane to win the 200m fly since... Mia Nielsen’s dad in 1987!

The main event was the swim of Jazmin Carlin (GBR) fresh from her win at the Commie Games, dominating Olympic silver medallist Belmonte in the 800m free.  The Spaniard led to 600m, crushing Carlin on every turn before the Brit caught up on every swim.  But then fatigue set in for Belmonte, and Carlin quickly pulled away, stopping the clock in 8:15.54, the third fastest time of all time.  Belmonte and Kapas (HUN) with the minor medals.

Carlin doesn’t have the best turns, nor the best stroke, as she drags her arm across the centre line when she breathes, but frankly, who cares?

So with Belmonte exhausted (why do it?  As Van den Hoogenband says, ‘I prefer quality over quantity’), and Hosszu on a colossal programme (see vdh comment), there was no challenge on her own European record, but the Hungarian won at a canter 3.33 sec clear of Aimee Wilmott (another medal for GBR), and Lisa Zaiser.

The 200m breaststroke for men was a great race.  Tactical, skilful and brutal as Marco Koch finally struck a first gold for the host nation.  Locked with Titenis over the first half, it ended up in a head to head with Ross Murdoch, the Commie Games champion and silver medal winner in the 100m, who also had to settle for second best in the 200m.  Titenis was third.

Murdoch was the last to be presented to the crowd, so he had a short time to get all his clothes off.  And in order to keep his muscles super warm, he had a lot of clothes to take off.  It took ages.   The whistle had gone and he’s just starting on his outer layers of his top half after wrestling with his socks and shoes and leggings and tracksuit bottoms.  So they’re all being called to the blocks as he as moment to slap his thigh and then he’s in the water racing.  He missed the 10 or 20 seconds you usually get, and I think need, just to get the mind ready.  I am sure he will be gracious in defeat, and the best man one and so on, and maybe it didn’t affect him at all, but I bet it did.

Hosszu had her game face on for the 100m backstroke and it appeared, from her reaction at her equal first, that this race was a particular focus.  Nielsen set the early pace with her traditional high turnover but Hosszu finshed at a charge and the pair tied at 59.63, with another medal for Britain (not another one) for Georgia Davies. 

Morozov won the 50 back by a clear margin.  Which isn’t usually the case in that event. Britain won another medal.  They stay on top of the medal table after day 4 with 4 gold among 15 medals.  15!  They are making such waves that a BBC crew decided to fly in today to put something together.  They weren’t expecting much, the Beeb.

And so to the women’s 4 x 200m free relay.  And if it was heartbreak for a DQ for Denmark on day 1, it was heartbreak for Sweden tonight.  After a colossal 1:53.64 third leg from Sjoestroem, surely enough for her third gold medal, Stina Gardell suffered a Rebecca Soni collapse in the final 25m, recorded a 2:01.51, and opened the door for Pelligrini to smell blood and out touch the Swedes for victory.  It was like watching an athletics race such was the speed of the drama.  Hosszu posted a 1:56.56 to bring Hungary past Russia and France for bronze.  The question for the Swedish coaches is why put Sjoestroem third?  Perhaps they won’t next year.

The 100m free final tomorrow is going to be epic, led by two French, Manaudou and Gilot, and then two Italians, Leonardi and Dotto, with two Russians also in the final, Fesikov and Sukhorukov (but not Morozov).  ‘We’re just going to have fun’ says Marseille coach Roman Barnier.

Elsewhere Rikke Moeller Pedersen stroked effortlessly (well, that’s how it looked) to a 2:22.32 to lead Simonova (RUS) by over a second into the final.  14 and a half strokes for 36.23 on the second 50.  That’s how easy it was.

And the women’s 100 fly will also be a showdown: Sjoestroem, Ottesen and Dekker the favourites for the medals.

James Parrack is the Eurosport commentator and co-founder of the BEST Swim Centre, Mallorca.