WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
August 14, 2010
Great Britain has caught everyone by surprise including its head coach Dennis Pursley at the 30th LEN European Swimming Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
The Brits are in full training mode and did not shave or taper for this meet.
The 34-member team is using the seven-day meet more as a training gauge. The main focus is on the Commonwealth Games in India in October.
Still, the British have already equalled their best European medal haul of 13.
“I wasn’t expecting them to come here and post as many personal bests as they have done,” said Pursley, former U.S. national team director.
“I expected them to race tough but I didn’t think they would make the podium as much as they have done. In some respects we are looking beyond this meet. But when the team is swimming well it goes through the team and the others start to think they don’t want to be left out of this.”
Said Brit swimmer Robbie Renwick: “It’s been hard for the guys here without any rest and as the week has worn on we have got faster and faster due to the rest between events. It shows we are capable and we’ll go to the Commonwealth Games with confidence.”
Three more meet records fell and Russia won three gold medals Saturday night at the Alfred Hajos Pool Complex.
With one day remaining, France leads the medal count with 17 (six gold, six silver and five bronze).
Russian Evgeny Korotyshkin of Russia broke his own meet record to win the gold medal in the men’s 100-meter butterfly. His time of 51.73 bettered his previous mark of 51.89 set in March, 2008.
“My plan was to swim a fast first lap, about 24 seconds flat,” Korotyshkin said. “I finished as best as I could because I was completely exhausted in the last 10 meters.”
Joeri Verlinden of the Netherlands was second in 51.82 and Konrad Czerniak of Poland was third in 52.16.
Stanislav Donets of Russia won the men’s 200-meter backstroke in 1:57.18 knocking off Markus Rogan of Austria in (1:57.31) and Frenchman Benjamin Stasiulis (1:57.37) in an exciting race.
“I am quite tired,” Donets said. “I had a strenuous program here with three backstroke competitions. I am very pleased that it was enough to win.”
The Russian 4×200-meter freestyle relay team of Nikita Lobintsev, Daniil Izotov, Sergey Perunin and Alexander Sukhorukov won the gold medal in course record time of 7:06.71. The previous mark of 7:09.60 was set by Italy in August 2006. Germany took the silver in 7:08.13 and France took bronze in 7:09.70.
“This was a really good relay,” Izotov said. “That’s how we like it. Although the French had Yannick Agnel on their team, that didn’t bother us.”
Italy won its first two gold medals of the meet.
Italian Federica Pellegrini scored a convincing victory in the women’s 200-meter freestyle in a meet record time of 1:55.45. The world and European champion broke her own meet record of 1:56.53 in the prelims. She is the first woman this year to go under 1:56.
European junior champion Silke Lippok of Germany took the silver in 1:56.98 and Agnes Mutina of Hungary took bronze in 1:57.12.
“It’s incredible to get a medal,” said Lippok. “My legs were shaking at the start and now I am totally exhausted. I gave it everything I had.”
Fabio Scozzoli of Italy won the men’s 50-meter breaststroke in 27.38. Dragos Agache of Roumania was second in 27.47 and Lennart Stekelenburg of the Netherlands was third in 27.51.
Aliaksandra Herasimenia of Belarus won the women’s 50-meter backstroke in a meet record time of 27.64. She broke her own record of 27.98 she set in prelims. Daniela Samulski of Germany was second in 27.99 and Mercedes Peris Minguet of Spain was third in 28.01.
In the women’s 1500-meter freestyle Denmark’s Lotte Friis won in 15:59.13. Grainne Murphy of Ireland took a silver in 16:02.29 and Erika Garcia Villaecija of Spain took bronze in 16:05.08.
“I was still tired from the 800 race,” Friis said. “I think it is stupid to schedule these long distance events without a one-day break.”
Said Murphy, “I’m surprised I managed the transition from junior to senior so well. I need to calm down and digest it all.”
Two meet records were broken in the semifinals. Russian Yuliya Efimova broke her own course record of 30.54 in 30.32 and will go after her European record of 30.09 in finals.
Frenchman Fred Bousquet broke the course record in the 50-meter freestyle in 21.36. The previous record was 21.50 set by Alain Bernard of the Netherlands in March 2008.
Annika Saarnak, a University of Miami senior and Estonia national record holder, finished 49th in the 50-meter freestyle in 27.14 in her fourth and final event on Saturday. Sweden’s Theresa Alshammar, who already has the fastest time in the world this year, had the fastest qualifying time in 24.93.
Saarnak holds the fastest time in the 100-meter freestyle in Estonia in 54.78 which she set at the December 2009 European Short Course Swimming Championships in Turkey.
A record-high 591 swimmers from 43 European countries have been competing for 61 titles in the seven-day championships that end on Sunday.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.