|EINDHOVEN, Netherlands, March 18. THE first day of the 29th European Championships held in Eindhoven will feature finals in the men's 400 free, women's 400 IM and the 400 freestyle relays.
Additionally, semifinals will take place in the women's 50 fly, men's 100 back, men's 100 breast, women's 200 back and men's 50 fly.
Men's 400 free finals
Russia went 1-3 in the event as Yury Prilukov snatched the title with a time of 3:45.10, just barely touching out Italy's Massi Rosolino, who finished second in 3:45.19. Russia's Nikita Lobintsev placed third in 3:46.75, while Ukraine's Sergiy Fesenko finished fourth in 3:47.91. Fesenko's effort cleared his own national record of 3:48.49 set at last year's World Championships.
The pair of 3:45s by Prilukov and Rosolino put them at third and fourth in the world this year, respectively. Erik Vendt's time of 3:44.56 and Zhang Lin's 3:45.04 are the only efforts in front of the duo.
Additionally, Prilukov's time surpassed his previous meet record of 3:45.73 set in 2006.
Women's 50 fly semis
World record holder Therese Alshammar of Sweden paced the field with a lightning fast time of 25.91. That stands just half-a-second off her global standard of 25.46 set in 2007.
Alshammar's time also proved to be the best in the world this year by a heavy margin. Fran Halsall previously owned that distinction with a 26.83 from January.
Meanwhile, Chantal Groot and Inge Dekker of The Netherlands took second (26.04) and third (26.08), while Belarus' Sviatlana Khakhlova (26.59), Russia's Olga Klyuchnikova (26.62) and Israel's Amit Ivri (26.62) placed fourth and fifth. Denmark's Jeanette Ottesen (26.79) and Spain's Angela San Juan Cisneros (26.96) completed the rest of the championship heat.
Men's 100 back semis
Several national records fell during the semifinal round. Aristeidis Grigoriadis of Greece nipped his national record with a leading time of 54.33. Previously, he set the national standard with a time of 54.34 in 2006. Spain's Aschwin Wildeboar Faber also shot down his country's national record with a second-place time of 54.61 to clip the 54.67 set by Martin Zubero back in 1991.
Russia's Arkady Vyatchanin finished third in 54.64, with Austria's Markus Rogan placing fourth in 54.69. The Netherlands' Nick Driebergen (54.75), Croatia's Gordan Kozulj (54.93), Israel's Guy Barnea (55.05) and Russia's Stanislav Donets (55.08) snatched the rest of the championship final spots.
Notably, Driebergen's time eclipsed his own national record of 54.80 set in 2007.
Women's 400 IM finals
Italy's Alessia Filippi made a run at the world record heading into the breaststroke leg, as she was within a tenth of WR pace. Her breaststroke leg cost her, however, as she settled for winning the title in 4:36.68, the third fastest time in the year thus far behind Kirsty Coventry's 4:34.25 and Katie Hoff's 4:34.53. Filippi also made a run at her own national record, but also fell short as her 4:35.80 from 2006 withstood the assault.
Hungary's Katinka Hosszu grabbed silver with a time of 4:37.43, just touching out Russia's Yana Martynova, who placed third in 4:37.86. Martynova obliterated her national record of 4:40.14 set at last year's World Championships in Melbourne. Hosszu, however, came up shot of Eva Risztov's Hungarian standard of 4:36.17 set in 2002.
Men's 100 breast semis
Norway's Alexander Dale Oen nearly matched his national record of 1:00.11 set during prelims when he rocketed to a time of 1:00.13 to easily lead the field. From the first heat, France's Hugues Duboscq claimed the second seed heading into finals with a time of 1:00.72, while Ukraine's Oleg Lisogor placed third in 1:00.99. It will be interesting to watch during finals to see if another breaststroker can join Brendan Hansen, Kosuke Kitajima and Roman Sludnov under the 1:00 barrier.
In other action, Ukraine's Igor Borysik finished fourth in 1:01.02, while Russia's Grigory Falko took fifth in 1:01.19. The Netherlands' Thijs Van Valkengoed cleared his national record of 1:01.52 set in 2003 with a sixth-place 1:01.22. Jiri Jedlicka broke the Czech Republic's record with a time of 1:01.46 for seventh, as he cleared the 1:01.50 set by Daniel Malek in 2000. Finally, Hungary's Richard Bodor placed eighth to take the final transfer spot with a 1:01.48.
Women's 200 back semis
Finals are shaping up to be a battle with France's Laure Manaudou heading in as a favorite. Manaudou chalked up a 2:09.23 to take lane four as she posted the second-best time in the world this year behind Kirsty Coventry's 2:06.39 world record from a month ago. The performance actually wiped out France's national record of 2:09.59 set by Esther Baron in 2007. Baron, however, is not at the meet to defend her times as France elected to sit some swimmers home due to absences as a required camp.
Hungary's Nikolett Szepesi was the closest competitor as she touched in 2:09.46 for the third-fastest time in the world this year.
A Russian duo picked up the next two qualifying spots as Stanislava Komarova (2:10.64) and Anastasia Zueva (2:10.87) finished third and fourth.
Taking the outside lanes during finals will be Hungary's Evelyn Verraszto (2:10.19), Spain's Escarlata Bernard Gonzalez (2:11.01), Ukraine's Iryna Amshennikova (2:12.74) and Italy's Romina Armellini (2:14.67).
Interestingly enough, meet organizers had the world record belonging to the United States in the event. While Coventry has trained in the U.S. for quite some time, she still maintains Zimbabwe as her sports citizenship.
Men's 50 fly semis
Serbia's Milorad Cavic blistered the semifinal round en route to the first European record of the meet. Cavic dropped a 23.25 to earn lane four and wipe out the 23.38 set by Ukraine's Sergiy Breus in 2005. That represented a two-tenths drop for Cavic as he had previously set the Serbian national standard with a 23.42 at the 2007 World Championships. Cavic also joined Roland Schoeman (22.96) and Ian Crocker (23.12) as the only men under 23.30.
Cavic's time also is the fifth swiftest in the history of the event as Schoeman owns the three of the top times with the world record of 22.96 and a 23.01 as well as a 23.18. Crocker's best time of 23.12 is the third-best of all time.
Breus, meanwhile, wound up second and will have a chance to regain his continental standard during finals with a second-place 23.72.
Denmark's Jakob Andkjaer, who defected from Auburn University to focus on international competition, placed third in 23.74, while Spain's Rafael Munoz Perez took fourth in 23.76 to lower his country's national record. He'd previously set it with a 23.80 in 2007.
Other championship finalists include Croatia's Mario Todorovic (23.78), France's Amaury Leveaux (23.82), Russia's Evgeny Korotyshkin (23.85) and Croatia's Duje Draganja (23.89). Leveaux matched France's national record of 23.82 set by Fred Bousquet in 2006.
Women's 400 free relay
The Netherlands blasted the world record in the women's 400 free relay at the European Championships held in Eindhoven.
The foursome of Inge Dekker (53.77), Ranomi Kromowidjojo (53.61), Femke Heemskerk (53.62) and Marleen Veldhuis (52.62) clocked a blistering time of 3:33.62 to demolish the 3:35.22 set by Germany's Petra Dallmann, Daniela Goetz, Britta Steffen and Annika Liebs in 2006.
For complete coverage of the record, click here..
Italy's team of Erika Ferraioli, Federica Pellegrini, Maria Laura Simonetto and Cristina Chiuso placed second in 3:41.06 to crush the national record in the event previously set with a 3:42.59 in 2006.
Sweden rounded out the medal-winners with a time of 3:41.28 from the quartet of Claire Hedenskog, Josefin Lillhage, Ida Marko-Varga and Magdalena Kuras.
Men's 400 free relay
The men had difficulty living up to the world-record performance, but still wound up scaring the European record.
Sweden's team of Marcus Pihl, Stefan Nystrand, Petter Stymne and Jonas Persson ripped off a time of 3:15.41 to become the first team from the nation under 3:16. The previous national record had been a 3:16.09 set at last year's Worlds.
Italy's team of Massi Rosolino, Alessandro Calvi, Christian Galenda and Filippo Magnini pushed them the whole way, but settled for silver with a time of 3:15.77.
Hometown favorites Mitja Zastrow, Bas Van Velthoven, Robert Lijesen and Pieter van den Hoogenband touched just behind with a third-place effort of 3:15.88.
Click here to view event results PDF file.