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European Championships Berlin, Day 6 Heats

Aug 23, 2014  - James Parrack

Day 6 Heats

Denmark are on top of the medal table with 5 golds and a nation of 5 million, they have looked abroad to recruit talent to senior staff.  It is something that national head coach, Nick Juba calls a ‘United Nations of Denmark’.  Juba is British, his predecessor was from Australia (Mark Regan), and on the coaching staff, Shannon Rollason is also Australian and they have senior coaches from Spain and Iceland. Typical of the man at the top, the atmosphere on the team is relaxed and low key, where the head coach lets his athletes and coaches do their work, while he supports and challenges their programmes and does the hard work behind the scenes.  But success in Berlin is a long way from the overall goal for Danish swimming after the team won no medals in London 2012.  Says Juba, “This is a very good meet for us considering Denmark’s record number of medals at a European Long course is 6.  We have 6 medals so far, 5 of which are gold.  And when you think about the women’s free relay, plus Pal Joensen of the Faroes, who can swim for us in the Olympics, and Lotte Friiis who is ill here, it could have been even better. But this is a meet on the way to the Olympics. Denmark has only had two Olympic medals in swimming since 1988, where Benny Nielsen won silver in Seoul in the 200m fly and Friis who won bronze in the 800m free in 2008.  So the Games is where we have to be focused.

“We created a Great Danes programme, taking a dozen of the best men swimmers and giving them the support they need and Viktor Bromer (winner of the 200m fly) is a product of that.  The challenge now is to get to the good young coaches in Denmark, and develop them.”

From the heats this morning, Berlin welcomed world record holder Ruta Meilutyte, fresh from victory in the Youth Olympics, and in Berlin in a bid to win the continental title in the 50m breast to complete the set: Olympics, youth Olympics, Worlds, junior worlds, junior Europeans and now Europeans.  And with a very easy looking 30.73 to lead the heat rankings, the Lithuanian schoolgirl, based at Plymouth College in England, is the overwhelming favourite.  Nijhuis, Johansson and Brandt will be competing among themselves for second best.

The men’s 50m free saw Morozov and Fesikov crash out under the 2 per nation rule as Tikhovaev (joint leader with Marco Orsi (ITA) on 22.18, and Andrey Grechin made the cut.  Manaudou is through in 4th and Meilutyte’s club mate, Commie Champion Ben Proud is although comfortably through.

For the women’s 50 sprint, battle will resume among Sjoestroem, Ottesen, Halsall and Alshammar in the semi’s tonight.

And worlds collide again in the women’s 200m fly, where the distance and IM winners meet the fly specialists.  Cue Belmonte, Hosszu, Willmott and Jakabos as the Olympic silver medallist in this event, Belmonte, looks for her first gold of the meet.  She also has a chance in the 1500m free tonight.

Interestingly only one swimmer from the final of the 100m fly was swimming in the 200m: Britain’s Jemma Lowe.

The men’s 4x200m free final is led by Germany, then Russia, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Belgium, France and Poland.  Only one swim under 1:47 from across the heats giving an indication that the fireworks are being saved for this evening.

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