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European Championships Berlin, Day 5 Finals

Aug 22, 2014  - James Parrack

Day 5 Finals

A world record in the 50m breaststroke for Britain’s Adam Peaty!  Off a reaction time of 0.62, Peaty was immense in the second half and finished at breakneck speed to stop the clock in 26.62, breaking Cam Van der Burgh’s record from Rome by 0.05sec.  Peaty said, “I didn’t expect this result (nor did we!), even though I was close to the WR at the Commie Games.  It was not a perfect race due to my final glide in, so I can still improve tomorrow.”  Well, here’s hoping.

Elsewhere there was celebration for France, Denmark and Italy.  The French saw Manaudou and Gilot deliver a 1-2 in the 100m free, with Manaudou touching in 47.98, for his first time under 48 sec, but it still pales against the results from Pan Pacs (and those from Van den Hoogenband 14 years ago).  But you can only race the people around you, and the Frenchman is still learning the event.  And he is huge too, which is going to frighten someone somewhere down the line.  Luca Leonardi of Italy was third.

There were more hopes of world records, first in the women’s 200m breaststroke as world record holder Rikke Moeller Pedersen was under WR pace at the 100m mark, turning in 1.07.30.  The Dane was still on course at the 150, but drifted off the pace in the close so finish in 2:19.84, ahead of a fast finishing Molly Renshaw of Great Britain, whose 36.24 was the fastest final 50 by over three quarters of a second, coming through the field from 5th at the final turn.  Jessica Vall of Spain was third.

And still the drama unfolded.  To the women’s 100m fly was built up as an attack on the world record (perhaps only by the press) by Sjoestroem, but in the event, the Swede was out touched by Janette Ottesen by 0.01sec in a terrific finish.  Ottesen led from the start, with a faster reaction than Sjoestroem by 0.09sec and was 0.23sec clear of the field at the turn.  The surge came too late from Sjoestroem who was left to wonder what might have been as Ottesen finished in 56.61 to Sjoestroem’s 56.62.  Yet again a 100m fly race was separated by 0.01sec.  Seoul 1988, Beijing 2008 in the men, Atlanta 1996 for the women and now Berlin 2014.  Ilaria Bianchi of Italy was third.

All of which left a great start to the night relegated to half way down the piece.  The men’s 800m was another victory for the 19 year old Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) chasing down the European record of his team mate Gabriele Detti, who finished third in the race behind Pal Joensen (FAR).  Paltrinieri made it double gold after his win in the 1500, but not a double European record as he stopped the clock in 7:44.98, and just over 2 seconds away from the record.

The mixed 4x100 free relay only had 4 teams.  For the record Italy were first, Russia second and France third.  But only the Italians cared.

In the semi finals there was a swim off in the 100 fly between Laszlo Cseh and Mehdy Metella, after both clocked 52.20 in their semis.  A packed and vocal crowd stayed to see it, and the Hungarian will take his place in the final.  Both swam faster: 51.73 and 51.96 respectively.  Clearly they didn’t warm up enough.

Czerniak (POL) leads the qualifiers ahead of another fast finishing Brit Adam Barrett.

Elsehwere Pellegrini leads the field into the final of the 200m free, with Popova, Hosszu, Heemskerk and Coleman close behind and the men’s 200m backstroke is led by another Pole, Radoslaw Kawecki.

The British are the subject of much attention having been on top of the medal table for the first four days, and now stand at  4 gold among 16 medals.  Denamark have 5 golds.

Bill Furniss is the head coach of the British team and reflected on the success so far.  “Some events here are harder than others and some are a little soft, but it’s definitely better to win the medals than not to,” he said today.  “The difference for the British is that we are finishing our races very strongly and that we have implemented a policy to race more this year, which have been in two blocks during the season.  The swimmers will have raced their events 14 or 15 times this year and I think that is making a huge difference.  The challenge now is to keep this going into the worlds and Olympics, which will be much tougher.”

Furniss also thinks that swimming at every level, from age group to these championships, is far too concerned with times.  “We have to get away from times dictating everything.  Let’s just race.  Race to win, race for fourth, race the person next to you, just race.  Then look at what the times were afterwards.  In many ways the times are irrelevant.  The process is important so focus on that.. and race!”

James Parrack is a Eurosport swimming commtator and co-founder of the BEST Swim Centre, Mallorca