PHOENIX, Arizona, July 25. MORE medals were awarded today at the FINA world championships, but the big story came out of the pool, specifically at the Swimming Technical Congress meeting, where numerous new proposals were being considered. The biggest vote of all was to decide whether to allow multiple dolphin kicks at the start of breaststroke races, a proposal that was brought up after last year's Olympics, when Cameron van der Burgh admitted to taking multiple dolphin kicks at the start of the 100 breast final on his way to the gold medal. With the vote, the ruling stays the same, and only one dolphin kick is allowed at the start, as well as the turn.
Also approved were mixed freestyle and medley relays in short course meters competition. These were tested during the FINA World Cup last year and are likely to be popular events at this year's World Cup. Another big ruling was allowing the new backstroke starting platform, which is essentially a stainless steel bar with a textured grip for better foot hold at the start. These platforms are not likely to be used in the coming weeks, as most new rulings do not take effect for at least two months. But every country will now be trying them in anticipation of their official use, most likely by the middle of next year.
In terms of medals awarded today, it should be no surprise that Russia won the duet free routine today. Svetlana Romashina, who won the solo free routine yesterday, teamed with Svetlana Kolesnichenko for the duet gold today, set to music by rock band Metallica. China once again took silver and it was Spain's duo that won bronze to the delight of the crowd.
A bit of a surprise in the order of the top two in the women's platform event today in Barcelona. Instead of defending world champion Chen Ruolin on the gold medal step, it was Si Yajie who won gold by just three points over Chen, who faltered on reverse three-and-a-half in the fourth round. Interestingly, Si and Chen were tied for second after the first dive and tied for first after rounds two and three. Yulia Prokopchuk settled for the bronze, 30 points behind Chen. The prelims and semifinals of the men's three-meter springboard took place today, and the Chinese duo of Qin Kai and He Chong, who partnered for gold in the synchro three-meter a couple of days ago, will now fight for individual gold. Also moving on to the final is Kristian Ipsen, who placed tenth.
The open water 5K team event was fast and furious, with Germany taking the gold medal. Thomas Lurz, the great open water swimming legend, was part of the trio that also included Christian Reichert and Isabelle Harle. Greece was second on the strength of Spyridon Gianniotis, and Brazil was third just two tenths back. The United States finished in eight place, a full two minutes out of gold. Everyone gets a day of rest on Friday before the 25K event.
Just about every major swimming team is in Barcelona now getting ready for the start of the meet on Sunday. Today, Germany released a statement saying Britta Steffen will not swim the 50 freestyle, as had been previously assumed would happen. Daniela Schreiber was considering giving up her spot in the 50 free to make way for Steffen, who is the world record holder and 2009 world champion.