|By Steven V. Selthoffer, Swimming World Chief European Columnist
BANJA LUKA, Bosnia and Herzegovina, May 12. THE Banja Luka Open 2012 concluded this week with some strong performances from 44 swimming clubs competing from 11 different European countries resulting in 54 meet and national records broken.
Niangkouara Nery Mantey, GRE, had the performance of the meet finishing first in the women's 50 meter freestyle with a FINA 'A' Olympic Qualifying time of 25.20 placing her in the top 25 in the world this year. Europe continues to turn out fast 50 times in the women's 50m free dominating the table standings.
In the male category for FINA points, Damir Dugonjic, SLO, racked up 1675 points with wins in a 29.18 in the 50m BR, and a 1:03.03 in the 100m BR. The female FINA high point winner went to Vozel Tjasa. SLO, with 1625 points with a 1:10.38 100m BR, and a 2:34.64 for the 200m BR.
The Banja Luka Open was an unqualified success with Niangkoura Mantey, GRE, qualifying for the London 2012 Olympic Games with the meet contributing to bringing peace and reconciliation to the region. The swim meet actually occurred against the backdrop of the 20th anniversary of the Bosnian War ceremonies that were taking place in Sarajeveo the previous weeks.
The Open showed that the millions of Euros spent on reconstruction and the building of the new swimming pool facilities and sport complex was money well spent. Few reconstruction and building programs can match the long term success that new aquatic facilities can bring in improving the lives of young children, teenagers and adults. The aquatic facilities contribute to and affect six different Olympic sports including swimming, diving, water polo, synchro, pentathlon and triathlon.
The meet was well organized and went off smoothly for the athletes. Zeljko Panić, Director, Olymp SC, Monika Duvnjak, General Secretary, and their organizing team of officials, judges, parents and volunteers should be well pleased and commended for their work contributing to the strengthening of LEN and FINA, and especially in fulfilling one athlete's dreams, Niangkouara Manty, of Greece, punching her ticket and propelling her to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Note: Special thanks to Monika Duvnjak, General Secretary, Banja Luka Open for contributing to this report. Ms. Duvnjak's first language is Serbian-Croat, we apologize in advance for any misquotes or misunderstandings.
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