1999 European Championships: Day 2


By Craig Lord

Istanbul, Turkey – Anna-Karin Kammerling, an 18-year-old student from Sundsvall in Sweden, set the first world record of the 24th European championships in Istanbul, Turkey, to win the inaugural 50m butterfly title in 26.29, 0.1 better than the standard she had set at the Swedish Trials last month. The final went without the fastest qualifier, Inge de Bruin, of Holland, who opted to withdraw so that she could concentrate on her 100m freestyle final against Germany’s Sandra Voelker and Britain’s Susan Rolph on Wednesday.

DeBruijn’s teammate, Pieter van den Hoogenband, like Kammerling, was in a class of his own when he won the 50m butterfly in 23.89 ahead of Croatian Milos Milosevic at 24.17, with Britain’s Mark Foster and Sweden’s Lars Frolander tied for third in 24.29. Van den Hoogenband had not finished there. In the semi-final of the 100m freestyle, the man from Maastricht clocked the fourth fastest time ever, 48.74, to set a championship record and defeat Popov, the Olympic champion from 1992 and 1996 who has not only won the past four European titles – in times slower than that of the Dutchman yesterday – but remains unbeaten in a major championship final over 100 metres freestyle since he emerged on the international scene in 1991.

Wednesday’s final will be a blistering occasion despite Popov’s post-semi-final depression. “I can’t switch myself on,” said the man who generated the biggest cheer of the day when he stepped up for his race, so popular with swimming crowds has he become. “I’m finding it really hard to motivate myself. I feel slow in the water.”

He did not look it, his 49.24 behind the Dutchman good enough to be the envy of most other world-class sprinters and leaving the Russian seemingly unstretched. Was he simply luring Van den Hoogenband into a false sense of security? Popov winked. Perhaps his rival’s new-found speed would motivate him? “Maybe,” he smiled. The Dutchman would only say: “I’ve never seen Alex so quiet after a race…but I don’t have the medal yet so I’m not celebrating.”

The other finals of the day produced victories for Italy’s Domenico Fioravanti in the 100m breaststroke and Stev Theloke, of Germany in the 100m backstroke, while world champion Roxana Maracineanu, of France, won the 200m backstroke.

Germany ended the session with victory in the women’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay, an easy victory coming their way in 8:01.66, some 6 seconds ahead of Sweden and Romania.

Craig Lord is Swimming World’s European correspondent.

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