FINA World Championships, Swimming: Day Two Finals Analysis -- July 27, 2009

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ROME, Italy, July 26.'s Priyant Pratap is providing on the spot thoughts at the FINA World Championships of each session. Here is his day two finals analysis.

The Foro Italico saw another night filled through in the stands, this time by French supporters, as many finals featured medal hopefuls from France, particularly Hugues Duboscq in the men's 100 breast. More world records tumbled, into insane territories and shock upsets saw many miss the finals, perhaps the biggest shock of all came in the men's 100 back.

The night began with Brenton Rickard shocking everyone after a sleeper year with not only the World Championship, but the world record too, in a stunning 58.58 just edging out Hugues Duboscq in 58.64. Duboscq entered Worlds saying he would swim in briefs but has since changed his mind sporting adidas to a delighted crowd. Cameron van der Burgh took bronze with 58.95, while Eric Shanteau just missed the podium in 4th position also clearing 58s with 58.98. The top seeds entering Worlds, Igor Borysik, Henrique Barbosa (and after failing to make the finals) Mark Gangloff, all finished without a medal.

The benchmark of Inge deBruijn in 56.61 is well and truly gone, and 55s now loom. 56.06 gave Sweden its first gold medal of the meet, something usually seen by Therese Alshammar, by way of Sarah Sjostrom. Jessicah Schipper also clocked a sensational Commonwealth record in 56.23 while Beijing bronze medalist in the 200 fly and favorite to win the 200 fly, Jiao Liuyang took bronze in 56.86. All women broke the 57s barrier, except Marleen Veldhuis who has now also scratched from the 100 free to focus on her 50 event later on. The Dutch team is investigating her form, as the blueprint of her fitness matches that of when she broke world records earlier in the year. She is taking three days off from competing.

In a shocking men's 100 back, Aaron Peirsol missed the final in 9th position swimming 53.22 in what was an overall noticeably slower second semi final. Junya Koga, known for his 50 back work, led the men in 52.39 with Helge Meeuw of Germany in 52.49 and Ryosuke Irie in third with 52.73. The only male backstroker now on the Australian team, Ashley Delaney (with 4 events) also missed the final. Markus Rogan gave up the 200 back training to focus on the 100 back and finished in 11th with 53.40, with all the men of that semifinal approaching him to show their support. Other qualifiers for the final are former world record holder Aschwin Wildeboer-Faber, Olympic silver medalist Matt Grevers, Montreal 50m World Champion Aristeidis Grigoriadis and dual bronze medalist from Beijing, Arkadi Vyatchanin as well as Liam Tancock of Great Britain.

As expected Rebecca Soni became the first woman to ever break 1:05 in the women's 100 breast with 1:04.84 showing more elation than she usually does. Yuliya Efimova cleared 1:06 again to clock 1:05.84, while Australia's Sarah Katsoulis swam 1:06.23 while teammate Tarnee White missed in 11th position. Canadian Annamay Pierse, Rikke Moller-Pederson, and Kasey Carlson made the final, joining Olympic bronze medalist in this event Mirna Jukic and veteran Sarah Poewe.

All eyes were on Milorad Cavic as he took the 50 fly title for the first time in 22.67, a Championship record for Serbia. Australia's Matt Targett looked for an upset in 22.73, with Auburn teammate and Melbourne bronze medalist Jakob Andkjaer taking 4th. World record holder Rafael Munoz of Spain finished in 3rd position with 22.88, 0.4s off his global mark. In the press conference, all questions were for Milorad Cavic, centered around his final with Michael Phelps in 2008, which became frustrating for Cavic.

"I'm glad to have had that swim in me with what happened last night," Matt Targett told Swimming World Magazine. "It's great to have the support of family and friends, and to do this in front of them. I've always had this event from Melbourne when I was stripped of my medal at Commonwealth Games, to now, it's sweet".

59s are a thing of the past as Anastasia Zueva took down Kirsty Coventy's 58.77 standard from Beijing. 58.48 is what stands as the current world record following the semi finals, which saw Gemma Spofforth improve on her Commonwealth record in 58.74. Emily Seebohm swam an Australian record of 59.15 after missing the finals of the 200 IM, unlike Kirsty Coventry who had to double up, and swam 59.21. Shiho Sakai and Zhao Jing also qualified alongside Elizabeth Simmonds and Hayley McGregory who tied for 7th place in 59.55. American Elizabeth Pelton who dropped the 200IM to focus on this event, missed the final in 1:00.51.

Paul Biedermann could be the first person to defeat Michael Phelps individually at this level since 2005. He led the 200 free qualifiers with 1:43.65 while Russian Izotov swam 1:45.09 alongside fellow Russian Nikita Lobintsev in 1:45.31. The Commonwealth contingent of Jean Basson and Kenrick Monk qualified, with Sebastiaan Verschuren and Sho Uchida. Sadly, Dominik Meichtry finished 9th missing the final by 0.3s.

Finally, the all rounder was used to conclude the night, which saw Ariana Kukors maintain her confidence under pressure to come away with the World Championship and world record in the 200 IM. 2:06.15 will stand as the new world record.

"It's what we have to do at this Worlds that matter," Kukors said when asked if she had pity on newcomers having to strive for her record. "Sure it's a shame they won't be able to swim in these suits, but I was expecting a big time drop and I got it."

"You have to play this meet by meet, not what's going to happen 10 years from now," Stephanie Rice said about the suits.

Rice set a Commonwealth record with 2:07.03 while Katinka Hosszu of Hungary who has spent time at USC training, created an upset beating Kirsty Coventry, 2:07.46 to 2:08.94.

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July 27, 2009 This is the type of post in the "mad as hell" vein. Not sure if this is the right place to post, but one of the items fits since it was the finals and specifically the 200 IM I watched this morning that got me rolling.
Two things happened for me today which had me shaking my head and a decision for a course of action.
First was watching these races. First off, Congratulations to Kukors who had a great RACE and has definitely worked to be on top of the world stage. However the time is simply ludicrous. Her best time coming into Worlds was a 2:10.4. Her best before that swim was a 2:12 in 07. She dropped 4.3 seconds!!! C'mon, that's 10+Under type time drops.
The suits must go.
Does she still win? Probably. But let's have a win that is in a time which is realistic to swimming over the years. Let's let Ariana win....not a suit tainting the result for so many of us now watching these events more like we are watching a car wreck than enjoying and cheering the wonderment of athletic performance.
Let's let Ariana win and then not have to face the battery of questions aimed at her suit not at her excellence. Maybe it wouldn't be 2:06....but it would be her....just her.
People have been posting that Rowdy Gaines seems "off" in his commentary. How about maybe as a former elite athlete that struggled, trained, busted his butt for tenths of a second to reach :49 seconds in the 100 and was as good as anyone today, that the term "dismayed" at what he is seeing is affecting his usually hyper style???
Second. After all the talk of FINA reverting to "old fashioned" suits, word out of Rome today that Speedo now does in fact plan to fight this. They plan to counter that FS-Pro leg suits should be allowed until Sept. 2010 to deal with 'inventory issues and production'.
But the devil is in the details. If this is allowed to happen, it once again opens the door to lawsuits and rule overturning from other manufacturers countering with legal threats to FINA. If this happens, it will effectively handcuff our sport into the current condition of swimming and suits and allow all these suits to continue (including the LZR) until it is all sorted out. Sorted out could take years in court. That means months to years of status quo (i.e. rubber suits). This is a very possible scenario. Guess we'll have to wait and see if it plays out this way.
But I have a SOLUTION for you Speedo!!! Yes, it came to me. When I heard about Speedo once again trying to inflict itself on our sport's future I walked over to my desk, pulled out a file and ripped up my Speedo contract.
There you go Speedo. I am helping you out. That's about 250 suits you won't have to worry about manufacturing anymore. I will look to one of the other companies out there who have publicly agreed that we should return to a more sane age and get back to swimmers swimming. I will support those who are trying to save us, not looking for a run around the rules to keep your profits up.
Speedo, despite your help in our sport over the's time you realize that Speedo does not = swimming. THE SWIMMERS DO!!!
I encourage all who hold our sport dear to start a grass roots effort to let Speedo know that this insanity must end NOW!!
A newspaper article paragraph today began with; "Speedo issued a strongly worded statement"…..WHAT!?!? Who the hell do they think they are? Just who is running this sport anyway? The parents, coaches, swimmers and officials or the swimsuit manufacturers? When I read this, this was one step too far. Warning us are they? Rapping our hands like defiant children? How dare you Speedo! Remember that term Speedo…."one step too far". You may find that your actions in the last 24 hours have turned your tide. I bet I am not the only coach that has read what is transpiring and is showing them the door.
Submitted by: rcoach
July 28, 2009 First I think that Kukors would down old WR in 2.08,45 even in bikini and second why new rules for suits are so hard? Not below knees, that meens that Thorpe, Hackett and other swimmers in textile suits(2000-2007) will not approve by FINA
Submitted by: alexandre
July 28, 2009 rcoach:
Well said, everything you say is exactly my feelings.
Let's hope FINA do not disappoint us again. Let's hope they make the right decisions in the interest of swimmers.
Submitted by: scotswim
July 28, 2009 alexandre:
With the previous textile suits you mention they certainly did not have the same enhancement that we see in the present suits.
The reason we want the cut of the suits reduced is to limit the possible enhancement effects in the future. In a word the less the material the less the potential problem.
Suits designed for modesty not performance enhancing.
Submitted by: scotswim
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