WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
South Florida Aquatic Club coach Michael Lohberg knew the 10-day, three-meet 2010 Mare Nostrum Tour would test his five-swimmer contingent.
But that’s exactly what he was looking for.
While illness struck among the swimmers during the second stop in Barcelona, Spain, the six-time Olympic coach was encouraged with his swimmers progress and is looking forward to the next two years of training and racing leading up to the 2012 London Olympics.
His international contingent, led by two-time Olympian Vlad Polyakov of Kazakhstan, fared well against some of the world’s best swimmers assembled in the showcase series in Monaco, Barcelona and Canet, France.
Polyakov, 26, despite the effects of a cold and fatigue, was SOFLO’s most consistent swimmer. He qualified for seven “A” finals during the six days of competition.
On Sunday in Canet, France, the second and final day of the third leg, Polyakov finished fifth in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:15.56. His 100-meter split was 1:04.79. In prelims, he qualified seventh in 2:16.91.
Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima lowered his season-best in the 200 breaststroke in 2:10.73 to win the 200 breaststroke.
“Vlad is back and competitive again with the best in the world,” Lohberg said. “His times of 28.1, 1:01.9, and especially 2:12.5 were the best without a high-tech suit in four years. He has the confidence back that you need on this level.
“Unfortunately, he got sick in Barcelona. I am sure he would have finished even stronger without that. He swam all three best times in the first meet in Monte Carlo where he was still healthy. He is happy and confident, which is crucial for the Asian Games in November and Short Course Worlds in December.
“Mission accomplished,” Lohberg said.
Other SOFLO results:
Leo Andara of Venezuela, 20th in the 200-meter butterfly in 2:05.55 and 64th in the 50-meter butterfly in 27.41.
Loai Tashkandi of Saudi Arabia, 34th in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:27.95
Arlene Semeco of Venezuela, 39th in the 100-meter freestyle in 57.74 (27.52 split)
Marco Camargo of Ecuador, 67th in the 50-meter butterfly in 27.73.
“For Arlene, Leo, Loai and Marco, all candidates for the World Short Course Championships in December, it was a chance to compete against the world’s best, evaluate their position against this level, get motivation and valuable hints for practices at home,” Lohberg said.
“Arlene made Top 8 in Monte Carlo (50 free) and was in the B-final in Canet, despite being sick.
“Loai, who missed Monaco due to visa problems, swam a best time in the 200-meter breaststroke (by three seconds).
“Leo’s performances were very solid, with the best swims in Canet (200-meter individual medley in 2:08.8 and 2:05.5 in the 200 butterfly).
“Marco was basically sick with fever from Day One on. Unfortunately, the value of the competition for him was more observing than competing.”
In other final day highlights:
American Rebecca Soni, enjoying one of the best showings for the U.S. during the tour, won the women’s 200-meter breaststroke with another 2:21 in 2:21.41.
Russian Anastasia Zueva was a double winner in the 50-meter backstroke (28.07) and 100-meter backstroke in 1:00.40 ahead of Elizabeth Simmonds of Great Britain (1:00.70). Fellow Brit Fran Halsall won the women’s 100 freestyle in 54.94.
Camille Lacourt of France knocked off Liam Tancock of Great Britain in the men’s 50-meter backstroke (25.15-25.62).
Lacourt was another double winner, capturing the 100-meter backstroke in 54.00.
Frenchman Sebastian Roualt won the men’s 1500-meter freestyle in 15:16.34. French countrywoman Camille Muffat won the women’s 400 freestyle in 4:07.16.
Therese Alshammar of Sweden won the 50-meter butterfly in 25.70. Steffen Deibler of Germany won the men’s 50-meter butterfly in 23.89.
Aussie Samantha Hamill won the 200-meter butterfly in 2:08.22 and Poland’s Pawel Korzeniowski won the men’s 200 butterfly in 1:56.56. Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh was second in the close race in 1:56.88.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com