WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
August 15, 2010
On the final night of the 30th LEN European Swimming Championships in Budapest, Hungary, France finished with a record medal count Sunday at the Alfred Hajos Pool Complex
France captured 21 medals including seven gold, to break its previous record of 15 medals.
France took the gold and bronze in the men’s 50-meter freestyle. Frederick Bousquet of France won the gold in 21.49 and Fabien Gilot took bronze in 21.76. Sweden’s Stefan Nystrand took silver in 21.69.
“I came to the European Championships to win the 50-meter freestyle and I did it,” said an emotional Bousquet.
Bousquet, who also won silver in the 50-meter butterfly, and Gilot helped France win another gold medal in the men’s 4×100-meter medley relay in a meet record 3:31.32 along with Camille Lacourt and Hugues Duboscq. The previous record of 3:34.25 was set by Russia in March 2008. Defending champion Russia took the silver in 3:33.29 and the Netherlands took bronze in 3:33.99.
“Our entire French swimming team couldn’t have dreamed of a better conclusion,” Duboscq said.
Hungary’s swimmers had its partisan crowd on its feet on the final day.
Hungary finished 1-2 in the men’s 400-meter individual medley. Laszlo Cseh won the gold medal in 4:10.95. He is only the second swimmer to go under 4:12 this year.
Teammate David Verraszto took silver in 4:12.96. Israel’s Gal Nevo took bronze in 4:15.20. It was Cseh’s second gold medal of the week.
“I knew that I would not have too much to do to win this race,” Cseh said. “That is why I swam relaxed on the last 100 meters.
Hungary had another one-two finish in the women’s 200-meter butterfly. Katinka Hosszu defended her title to win another gold medal in 2:06.71. Teammate Hungarian teammate Zsuzsanna Jakabos was second in 2:07.06 and Ellen Gandy of Great Britain was third in 2:07.54.
“I am very happy for the Hungarians that we finished one and two,” Hosszu said.
Despite a nagging back injury, defending champion Yuliya Efimova of Russia won the women’s 50-meter breaststroke in a meet record 30.29, breaking her own meet record of 30.32 set in the prelims.
“I had great back problems during the entire season,” said Efimova, defending world champion in the 50 and 100 breaststroke. “I can manage the problems in the sprints. When I get back home I will have a medical check in the hospital.”
Great Britain’s Kate Haywood took a silver in 31.12 and Jennie Johansson of Sweden took the bronze in 31.24.
Sweden’s Therese Alshammar won the 50-meter freestyle in 24.45. Hinkelien Schreuder of the Netherlands was second in 24.66 and Fran Halsall of Great Britain was third in 24.67.
It was Alshammar’s second gold of the meet.
“It’s going so well for me, so why should I retire?” said the four-time Olympian who turns 33 later this month. “The 2012 Olympics are a great goal.”
Great Britain finished with two gold medals. Rebecca Adlington won the 400-meter freestyle in 4:04.55. Ophelie Cyriell Etienne of France took silver in 4:05.40 and Lotte Friis of Denmark took bronze in 4:07.10. Italy’s Federica Pellegrini scratched from the event with a fever.
“After an awful performance in the 800, this race was very important to me,” Adlington said. “I was mentally strong enough to come back. There was no pressure on me so I went out to enjoy it. I just put my head down for the last 15 meters.”
The women’s 4×100-meter medley won the gold medal in 3:59.72 with Gemma Spofforth, Kate Haywood, Fran Halsall and Amy Smith. Sweden was second in 4:01.18 and Germany was third in 4:03.22. Russia, in third place, was disqualified when Efimova went off to early on the second leg.
Great Britain, focusing more on the Commonwealth Games in October, finished with a record 18 medals including five on the final day.
“There were a lot of question marks but they have exceeded my expectations,” said British national team director Dennis Pursley. “I had my doubts coming in but I am really proud of the way they have stepped up.”
“This was a great championships finish with a success for our team,” said Halsall, who won two gold, two silver and one bronze medal despite not being shaved or tapered. “We have such strength in depth now it is incredible. The last time we came here it was a completely different team as none of us had won hold in an individual 100 meter. For me, I never expected this. It’s amazing.”
This was the first major international meet that swimmers were not allowed to wear the high-tech bodysuits that help set dozens of world records in the last two years. Only one European record was broken by Frenchman Camille Lacourt. Sixteen men’s and 15 women’s meet records were broken by swimmers in textile suits.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.