2013mncaaVladimir Morozov wins the 100 freestyle.
Courtesy of: Peter H. Bick
KAZAN, Russia, July 10. THE Russians definitely put on a show during the first night of the World University Games hosted in their own country. It also didn't hurt that the hosts loaded up their teams with Worlds-bound swimmers, especially in a star-studded men's 400-meter free relay to close out the show.

Men's 400 free

In an extremely exciting battle to kick off the festivities in Kazan, Australia's Ryan Napolean edged Japan's Kohei Yamamato at the wall with a 3:48.96. He's been much faster this year with a seventh-ranked time of 3:46.26 from Australian Nationals, but he had enough in the tank to hold off a game Yamamoto. Yamamoto, meanwhile, checked in with a time of 3:49.03 for second-place honors in the middle-distance event.

1 5 NAPOLEON Ryan AUS 0.72 3:48.96
50m ﴾1﴿ 26.34 28.79 100m ﴾1﴿ 55.13 29.28 150m ﴾2﴿ 1:24.41 29.52 200m ﴾2﴿ 1:53.93 29.35
250m ﴾2﴿ 2:23.28 29.02 300m ﴾1﴿ 2:52.30 28.98 350m ﴾2﴿ 3:21.28 27.68

2 4 YAMAMOTO Kohei JPN 0.68 3:49.03 0.07
50m ﴾2﴿ 26.64 28.61 100m ﴾2﴿ 55.25 29.08 150m ﴾1﴿ 1:24.33 29.47 200m ﴾1﴿ 1:53.80 29.13 250m ﴾1﴿ 2:22.93 29.42 300m ﴾2﴿ 2:52.35 28.69 350m ﴾1﴿ 3:21.04 27.99

Japan picked up its second medal of the event with a 3:50.63 from Fumiya Hidaka, as he held off local favorite Evgeny Kulikov of Russia (3:50.72) in what proved to be two separate battles throughout the finale.

USA's Alex Wold (3:51.68), Canada's Eric Hedlin (3:52.01), USA's Jacob Ritter (3:53.68) and Australia's George O'Brien (3:54.03) also competed in the championship finale.

Women's 400 IM
Russia's Yana Martynova, who trains in Kazan, definitely blew the roof off the Aquatics Palace with a victorious effort in the women's distance medley. Martynova remained close with compatriot Victoria Malyutina throughout the initial half of the event, before powering past her and holding off the rest of the field down the stretch with a 4:39.02 for the win. That swim is just half-a-second outside the top 10 rankings in the world. Martynova finished 24th overall in this event at last summer's Olympic Games, and likely has been dreaming about this moment for the past year.

USA's Megan Hawthorne utilized a strong freestyle leg to move herself into second with a 4:40.40. She just missed her lifetime best of 4:40.00 set at World Championship Trials just a few weeks ago, but her time this evening stands as the second-best effort in her career.

Japan's Sakiko Shimizu picked up her country's third medal of the night already with a bronze-winning time of 4:42.09.

Czech's Barbora Zavadova (4:43.73), Canada's Marni Oldershaw (4:44.47), Canada's Tianna Rissling (4:44.62), USA's Sarah Henry (4:46.02) and Malyutina (4:46.18) comprised the rest of the top eight. Malyutina obviously paid for pacing Martynova in the first 200 meters as she faded badly down the back half.

Women's 400 free relay
Russia held off Team USA's Megan Romano, who nearly pulled off a Lezakesque anchor in the freestyle relay finale.

Russia pushed the pace with a huge meet record time of 3:38.15 from Veronika Popova (54.35), Viktoriiya Andreeva (54.80), Margarita Nesterova (54.33) and Daria Belyakina (54.67). That performance crushed their preliminary meet mark of 3:40.00. Meanwhile, with a monster 52.90 anchor leg from Romano, the Americans nearly made up a two-second gap to finish second in 3:38.60 from Rachael Acker (55.82), Andrea Murez (54.48), Liv Jensen (55.40) and Romano (52.90). Canada snatched third-place honors in 3:40.71 by way of Sandrine Mainville (55.19), Carolina Lapierre Lemire (54.82), Paige Schultz (55.42) and Brittany MacLean (55.28).

Australia (3:41.89), Italy (3:42.81), France (3:43.34), Japan (3:43.45) and Sweden (3:45.46) rounded out the championship field.

Men's 400 free relay
In what likely was a time trial for the World Championships later this month, the Russians put together a sensational finale with some scary splits en route to a blistering time in the men's 400-meter free relay.

Andrey Grechin set the meet record in the men's 100-meter free with a scorching 47.98 to lead off the Russian contingent. That swim vaulted him to third in the world behind only James Magnussen (47.53) and teammate Vlad Morozov (47.93). Russia now has four of the top 10 swimmers in the world in the men's 100-meter free. Nikita Lobintsev then clocked a 47.92 for the second split, before Morozov obliterated the field with a ridiculous 47.14 as the third leg.

Danila Izotov then brought home a blazing 3:10.88 with a 47.84 on the anchor as the team won by more than five seconds. That swim smashed Russia's preliminary meet record of 3:13.70 and finished just two-and-a-half seconds off the world record of 3:08.24 set by the U.S. at the 2008 Olympic Games. Tonight's time also fell just a second-or-so off the Russian record of 3:09.52 set at the 2009 World Championships as well as about the same time back from France's textile best of 3:09.93 from last summer's London Olympics.

Australia's Andrew Abood (49.61), Justi James (49.11), Jayden Hadler (48.84) and Daniel Arnamnart (48.77) finished second in 3:16.33, while Italy's Gianluca Maglia (49.78), Lorenzo Benatti (49.26), Stefano Pizzamiglio (49.14) and Michele Santucci (48.46) raced to third in 3:16.64. USA's Derek Toomey (49.76), Jack Conger (49.29), Michael Wynalda (49.03) and Giles Smith (49.52) just missed the podium in 3:17.60.

Japan finished fifth in 3:17.97, while Poland took sixth in 3:18.05. Notably, Poland's leadoff Kacper Majchrzak, who recently signed to compete for the University of Tennessee, clocked a lifetime best of 49.35 and he's not tapered for this meet as he's also focused on the World Championship later this month.

Canada (3:20.50) and Switzerland (3:21.01) finished seventh and eighth in the championship finale.

Women's 50 fly
Belarus' Aliaksandra Herasimenia is definitely the top name in the event heading into finals after she blasted semifinals with a time of 26.09. That swim just missed the Universiade record of 25.97 set by her compatriot Sviatlana Khakhlova back in 2009. Herasimenia certainly has a storied career behind her. She captured a pair of silvers in the Olympic games last summer, and won a pair of world sprint freestyle titles in the past few years. She's certainly one of the top swimmers in attendance as the World University Games continues to grow in stature.

Canada's Katerine Savard raced into second with a 26.34 after turning in a 26.36 this morning to lead prelims. Russia's Darya Tsvetkova qualified third in 26.49, while Australia's Holly Barratt finished fourth in 26.52.

Italy's Elena Gemo (26.56), Italy's Silvia Di Pietro (26.61), Canada's Sandrine Mainville (26.70) and France's Anna Santamans (26.76) earned the other transfer spots into the finale.

Men's 100 back
Japan's Yuki Shirai was the only person who managed to break 54 seconds in the semifinal heats with a 53.97 to lead the way. That swim push him just a half-a-second outside of the top 10 in the world rankings. Australia's Ben Treffers paced himself off Shirai en route to a second-seeded time of 54.10, while USA's Jacob Pebley snared third with a 54.14 to win the second semifinal heat.

Russia's Vitalii Melnikov earned a huge home-town cheer with a 54.29 to snag the fourth seed in the finale. Japan's Kuninori Tada qualified fifth in 54.51, while Russia's Vitaly Borisov (54.52), Germany's Jan-Philip Glania (54.64) and Australia's Daniel Arnamnart (54.67) rounded out the championship finalists.

Men's 100 breast
Japan's Yasuhiro Koseki nearly broke the magical 1:00 barrier in the men's 100-meter breaststroke with a leading time of 1:00.03 out of semifinals. That blistering performance rocketed him to sixth in the world rankings behind Brenton Rickard (1:00.00) and ahead of Daniel Gyurta (1:00.12) as the top man from Japan in the event this year.

Russia's Kirill Strelnikov turned in a second-seeded time of 1:00.37, just off his blazing time of 1:00.18 from this morning that ranks 10th in the world now. USA's Mike Alexandrov, on yet another international team as he's had a packed career with international team representation for both Bulgaria and the United States, qualified third tonight in 1:00.57 after he won the first semifinal.

Italy's Edoardo Giorgetti (1:00.82), Russia's Viatcheslav Sinkevich (1:00.85), Italy's Andrea Toniato (1:00.90), USA's Cody Miller (1:01.22) and Canada's Richard Funk (1:01.25) made the finale as well.

Women's 200 back
Ukraine's Daryna Zevina, who currently stands eighth in the world in the event with a 2:09.05 from the Mare Nostrum circuit, cruised her way to the top seed in the women's 200-meter backstroke finale with a 2:10.36. She definitely has more in the tank, and could give Stephanie Proud's meet record of 2:08.91 from 2009 a run during finals.

Australia's Hayle White (2:10.52) and Madison Wilson (2:10.53) qualified second and third as the Aussies demonstrated some strength in the distance dorsal out of semis, while Canada's Genevieve Cantin took fifth in 2:11.72.

Both of the Americans made the top eight as well, with Team USA being one of the scariest backstroke nations in the world with the likes of Missy Franklin, Elizabeth Pelton, Elizabeth Beisel and Rachel Bootsma all heading to the World Championships in a few weeks. Here in Kazan, Kendyl Stewart (2:11.85) and Ellen Williamson (2:12.10) placed sixth and seventh. Russia's Maria Gromova rounded out the championship field with an eighth-seeded 2:12.72.

Men's 50 fly
Ukraine's Andrii Govorov blazed his way to a 23.27 to lead semis of the sprint fly, vaulting himself to an eighth-ranked tie with Rafael Munoz Perez in the world rankings. Govorov could make a run at Jason Dunford's meet record of 23.09 from the 2009 edition.

Belarus' Yauhen Tsurkin matched Italy's Piero Codia for the second seeds with matching times of 23.49, while Russia's Nikita Konovalov (23.52) and Evgeny Koptelov (23.73) qualified fourth and fifth into the finale. Canada's Kelly Aspinall (23.75), Croatia's Mario Todorovic (23.89) and Canada's Coleman Allen (24.06) comprised the rest of the top eight.

Results: World University Games: Day One Finals

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