The second last leg of the 1997 FINA World Cup in Imperia, on the shores of the Mediterranean. The city was plastered with posters announcing the competition, and in honour of the event, 17 local restaurants participated in a special week of local Mediterranean cuisine, serving up heaps of pasta from local sponsor Agnesi.
Turnout was impressive with 340 swimmers from 32 nations.
Algeria's Salim Iles, won the 100 free in 49.04, a national and African record. "I'm really happy," he said. "We decided to prepare for the World Cup instead of the Worlds in April because of the timing is better for me. I'm shaved and tapered and I thing it was the right decition. It's a fast pool and the water feels great.."
Back to rack up points in both the Sprint and Distance free categories, Claudia Poll, CRC, won the 200-400-800 free and finished second in the 100 free.
Just days after his 400 I.M. world record (pending FINA ratification) Marcel Wouda, NED, made clean sweep of all I.M. events. His time of 4:10.36 looked easy. "No, it didn't feel any easier," he said afterward. "The 400 I.M. hurts all the time." With the car keys in his pocket for the top performance in Gelsenkirchen the only challenge is to catch up to category leader Matthew Dunn, AUS, who has gone home. Dunn has 74 points and Wouda 67. "I need to sweep in Paris," he said.
Leah Martindale, BAR, won the 50 free over world record holder Jingyi Le, CHN. "During the first two meets I swam in," she said, "I was still working out a lot, and was tired. I've been resting a bit more since the Glasgow meet and it's helping."
Denis Pankratov, RUS, wasn't expected to be fast, his coach Viktor Advienko told him "It's not necessary to break the record. Just swim your best time." But Pankratov was eager to reclaim the record missing from his long list of achievements. It was denied last year for a lack of a drug test. Last weekend it slipped away after a false start in the prelims disqualified him.
In a brilliant race with his teammate Konstantin Ushkov, Pankratov stroked to a new world record of 51.93. while the crowd went wild. "What can I say? This race speaks for itself.With Ushkov ahead at the 50 I had to swim fast."
Denis Silantiev, UKR, finished second in 52.19 with Ushkov third in 52.49.
Brigitte Becue, BEL set a national record in winning the 100 breaststroke 1:08.54 added the 200 in 2:26.74 and moved to second in the points total with 59 behind leader Xue Han, CHN with 60.
The home crowd cheered Emiliano Brembilla to an Italian record in winning the 800 free with 7:47.64.