PHOENIX, Arizona, July 10. VLAD Morozov was the highlight of the first day of competition at the World University Games, and a big highlight at that. Swimming the third leg on Russia's 400 freestyle relay in Kazan, Russia, Morozov ripped off a 47.14 relay split that even further widened the gap between the Russians and the rest of the field in the event. The team's final time of 3:10.88 was also helped by a leadoff swim of 47.98 by Andrey Grechin, a 47.92 by Nikita Lobintsev in the second leg and a 47.84 by Danila Izotov to anchor. These four won bronze at the Olympics last year and are likely to be the ones racing this event at the world championships in 18 days in Barcelona, and that time will be very competitive for medals.
Another swimmer putting up a great relay leg was Megan Romano, who split a 52.90 as the anchor of the women's 400 free relay tonight to give the US silver in that event. Romano will be a member of the American's relay at the world championships, and if she can contribute a similar leg, it will help the United States greatly.
The Russian crowd got on its feet for local heroine Yana Martynova, who won the women's 400 IM with a lifetime best 4:39.02. Martynova had a strong back half, and held off American Meghan Hawthorne, who nearly swam a lifetime best herself with a 4:40.40.
Could we have seen another European breaststroke star emerge from the junior ranks? Viktoriya Solntseva of the Ukraine won the 50 breaststroke at the European junior championships with a 30.83 that put the 15-year-old seventh in the world. It was the high point of the first day of the meet that also saw incoming Virginia freshman Andrea D'Arrigo place third in the 400 free with a 3:51.74.
Speaking of Virginia, the university hired Augie Busch as their new swimming head coach a little more than a week after Mark Bernardino's unexplained retirement. Busch spent the last two years at the University of Houston working to rebuild that program, and started his swim coaching career at the University of Arizona under his father, Frank Busch. The university's alumni of the swimming and diving program presented a letter today putting their support behind Busch but still calling for answers about Bernardino's sudden retirement.