PHOENIX, Arizona, July 12. THE Russian world championship team continued to make the World University Games in Kazan, Russia, their playground today, as two swimmers posted times that rank them second in the world. Danila Izotov started it off with a 1:45.48 in the 200 free to tie for second globally with Yannick Agnel, who might or might not be racing that event in Barcelona. Izotov has not been a serious medal contender in the 200 free at the long course level, placing eighth at the 2011 worlds, but he's now going to be one to watch in that event.
The men's 200 free final will take place July 30 in Barcelona, as will the women's 100 breast. Yulia Efimova just gave Ruta Meilutyte a serious threat for gold today, posting a 1:05.48 in the 100 breast to jump up to second in the world. Efimova's strengths lately have come in the 200 breast, so she will be viewed as a big lock for gold there.
The finals started with a bang for the Americans, as Sean Ryan dipped under 15 minutes for the first time today, winning the gold medal with a 14:57.33. It's a four-second drop for Ryan, who missed out on making the world championship team in this event, but would have qualified for worlds in the mile had he swum that time three weeks ago in Indianapolis. He goes in now as a favorite in Kazan in the 800, and also as a threat in the open water races at the world championships.
The rest of the competition is bound to be as exciting. Tomorrow, Vlad Morozov steps up to race in the 100 freestyle prelims and semifinals, and after his 47.1 relay split, we're anxious to see what he pulls off in a flat start. He's already been 47.9 this year, and he could be trying to answer James Magnussen's 47.5 from the French Open last weekend. For the Americans, we will see Jacob Pebley and Jack Conger step up in the 200 backstroke and race each other and the world. Pebley and Conger continue to improve in the event, making the 200 back very deep in the United States. These two will be looking for times that will rank them higher in the world rankings and make a statement as the clock ticks toward Rio.
Also taking place this weekend are a few sectional meets around the United States. Ryan Murphy is the star of the sectional meet taking place in Athens, Georgia, right now, and he won the 200 IM with a lifetime best 2:01.23 to make him a possible boost for the California Golden Bears next year in that event.