European Championships, Debrecen, Hungary, day 1 finals:
On the first day of the continental long-course showcase event, Paul Biedermann (GER), on 3:47.84 in the 400m freestyle, and Katinka Hosszu (HUN), on 4:33.76 in the 400m medley, claimed the first two titles up for grabs at the seven-day meet.
France claimed the men's 4x100m freestyle crown in 3:13.55, while Germany claim the women's sprint free relay in 3:37.98.
Men's 400m freestyle
Paul Biedermann (GER) put in a last-lap spinet to edge past 1500m men Gergo Kiss (HUN) and Samuel Pizzetti (ITA) for a 3:47.84 victory in the 400m. Kis took silver in 3:48.09, Pizzetti broke in 3:48.66. No others cracked 3:50, Britain's Robbie Renwick fourth in 3:50.46.
Pizzett held a 1.16sec lead over Biedermann with 100m to go, with Kis splitting the difference. By the last turn, the world-championship bronze medallist coached by Frank Embacher in Halle had clawed back touch to sit on the shoulders of the men flipping over first, Pizzetti still in lead, though now by just 0.36 over Kis.
Biedermann then put in a 26.82 last lap for victory, no others capable of getting inside 27sec, Kiss the swiftest of them on 27.29. The champion's winning time is his season best and 12th fastest in the world so far this year.
Biedermann established the world record at 3:40.07 at Rome 2009 world titles before the ban on booster bodysuits. Sun Yang (CHN) leads the world rankings this year with a 3:42.31 at Chinese nationals last month. It is for the clash in London with the likes of Sun and defending 400m Olympic champion Park Tae-Hwan that Biedermann is working.
Women's 400m medley
Katinka Hosszu, world champion in 2009, and Hungarian teammate Zsuzsanna Jakabos got the hosts off to a great start with a 1-2 victory on 4:33.76 and 4:35.68 respectively, the bronze going to Barbora Zavadova (CZE) in 4:38.07, Sweden's Stina Gardell locked out by 0.39sec.
Hosszu led on 'fly, Jakabos took over on backstroke, their rivals 3sec away as the race turned to breaststroke, by the end of which Hosszu had reclaimed a lead of 0.47sec over Jakabos. Just 50m later, the champion-to-be, coached by Dave Salo at Trojan in California, held a lead of almost 2sec, her mission all but accomplished.
The splits compared:
Hosszu stands at world No2 so far this season with a 4:32.82 effort from the US Grand Prix in March, the same month in which Hannah Miley (GBR) took the helm on 4:32.67. Jakabos moves up to 7th so far this season.
Women's 4x100m freestyle
The German quartet of Olympic 100m solo champion Britta Steffen (54.21), Silke Lippok (55.07), Lisa Vitting (55.33) and Daniela Schreiber (53.37), took gold in 3:37.98.
Silver and bronze went respectively to Sweden (Marko-Varga, Coleman, Sjostrom and Fagundez), on 3:38.40, bronze to Italy (Mizzau, Pellegrini, Buratto and Ferraioli) in 3:39.84.
Men's 4x100m freestyle
The French quartet of Amaury Leveaux (48.59), Alain Bernard, the Olympic solo champion who will not defend his crown this summer (48.29), Fred Bousquet (48.40) and Jeremy Stravius (48.27) took the crown in 3:13.55.
The minor spoils went to Italy (Rolla, Orsi, Santucci and Magnini, the latter on 47.97, best split of the day), in 3:14.71, the bronze to Russia (Syrnikov, Tikhobaev, Konovalov and Andrusenko) in 3:15.13, 0.21sec ahead of Belgium.
Triin Aljand (EST) led the way into the women's 50m 'fly final in 26.20, 0.02sec ahead of Sarah Sjostrom (SWE).
In the men's 100m backstroke, Helge Meeuw (GER) booked a ticket to lane 4 in 53.80, 0.09sec ahead of Aristeidis Grigoriadis (GRE), Yakov Toumarkin (ISR) next through on 54.26, world champion Jeremy Stavius in 7th on 54.79, 0.11sec inside the safety zone.
Damir Dugonjic (SLO) led Italians Mattia Pesce and Fabio Scozzoli to the centre lanes for the final of the men's 100m breaststroke in 1:00.64 to 1:00.72 and 1:00.90.
In the women's 200m backstroke, Alexianne Castel (FRA) and Jenny Mensing (GER) once again finished top 2, after having done so in heats, their respective efforts of 2:09.03 and 2:09.49 a touch ahead of two others who threaten for places on the podium, Daryna Zevina (UKR), on 2:10.17, and former champion Alessia Filippi (ITA), working her comeback way back to best on 2:10.89.
Milorad Cavic, the US-based Serbian who came closer than anyone else to toppling Michael Phelps (USA) at beijing 2008, claimed lane 4 in 23.41, Andriy Govorov (UKR) just 0.02sec away, with Amaury Leveaux (FRA) on 23.51.