WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
Led by two-time Olympian Vlad Polyakov, South Florida Aquatic Club made a successful international debut Saturday on the opening day of the 2010 Mare Nostrum Tour stop in Monaco.
Against a world-class field, Polyakov of Kazakhstan finished fourth in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2 minutes, 12.55 seconds.
His splits were 30.21 (50 meters), 1:04.05 (100 meters) and 1:37.94 (150 meters).
“Vlad is back,” said a pleased SOFLO coach Michael Lohberg. “He looked awesome. That is one of his best times in a long time. He is back on the same level with the best. I am very happy.”
Going into the race, Polyakov was seeded 13th with a time of 2:13.51.
Polyakov, expected to move up in the world rankings, was also second in the 50-meter breaststroke in 28.16 after the quarterfinal round of the two-day meet in Monaco. Russia’s Stanislav Lakhtyukhov was top seed in 28.13.
U.S. Olympian Eric Shanteau knocked off favorite Kosuke Kitajima of Japan to win the 200 breaststroke in 2:11.51 to 2:12.17. This year’s world-leading time is 2:09.21 by Japan’s Ryo Tateishi.
Shanteau was a second off his fourth-ranked season-best time of 2:10.59 he swam in Charlotte last month. Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta was third in 2:12.23.
Two other SOFLO swimmers also fared well on opening day.
Leo Andara of Venezuela was sixth in the B final of the 200-meter individual medley in 2:09.25. His splits were 27.95 (50 meters), 1:01.92 (100 meters) and 1:38.01 (150 meters).
Marco Camargo of Ecuador was tenth in the preliminaries of the 200-meter butterfly in 2:09.71. His splits were 29.07 (50 meters), 1:00.95 (100 meters) and 1:34.20 (150 meters).
In other Saturday action two swimmers set meet records.
American Rebecca Soni, ranked second in the world, set a meet record in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:06.53. Russia’s Yulia Efimova was second in 1:07.24.
Camille Lacourt of France broke a meet record in the men’s 100-meter backstroke in 53.97. Olympic gold medalist Aaron Piersol was second in 55.21.
Other winners were:
Canada’s Brent Hayden, ranked fourth in the world, in the 100-meter freestyle in 49.18 while favorite Alain Barnard of France settled for a B final win in 49.84; Camille Muffat won the women’s 200-meter freestyle in 1:58 and became only the ninth swimmer in the world this year to swim 1:58; Markus Rogan of Austria won the 200 individual medley in 1:59.77 and Shanteau was second in 2:01.05; American Dana Vollmer won the 100-meter butterfly in 58.91; Canadian 16-year-old Sinead Russell won the 200-meter backstroke in 2:10.93; and Brazil’s Thiago Pereira, who has trained in South Florida, won the 200-meter butterfly in 1:59.80.
Over a 10-day span, swimmers will compete in Monaco, Barcelona and Canet for prize money. For many it is a chance to face world-class competition without the pressure of the Olympic stage. It is also a training gauge for the upcoming Pan Pacific Championships, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and FINA World Championships later this year.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org