MOSCOW, Russia, November 9. IN the fourth stop of the FINA World Cup series, the circuit crosses over to Europe with head-to-head swimming battles occurring in Moscow, Russia. Hometown hero Nikolay Skvortsov put together an incredible effort in the men's 200 butterfly as he nearly claimed the world record, and a piece of the bounty pot in the event. He later added the 50 fly gold medal to his coffer.
Sweden's Stefan Nystrand and Therese Alshammar also had some world-class swims, while South Africa's Gerhard Zandberg picked up a pair of gold medals.
Women's 800 freestyle
Russia went 1-3 to open up the World Cup series in their homeland as Elena Sokolova snared first place with a time of 8:34.78. Meanwhile, Ekaterina Seliverstova picked up the bronze medal with a time of 8:41.78. Switzerland's Swann Oberson split the difference with a second-place time of 8:37.51.
Sokolova's win was never much in doubt as she jumped out to a two-second lead with a 100-meter split of 1:00.24, then clocked in at 2:04.29, 3:08.94, 4:14.28, 5:19.88, 6:25.75 and 7:31.71 along the way.
Sokolova's performance put her into 10th in the world so far this year behind Poland's Otylia Jedrzejczak's 8:31.56 posted last month.
Men's 100 freestyle
Sweden's Stefan Nystrand crushed the previous top time in the world this year of Roland Schoeman (47.34) with an effort of 46.60 to win the men's 100 free. The performance moved Nystrand into fourth all-time in the event behind Ian Crocker and Schoeman's world-record swims of 46.25 and Filippo Magnini's time of 46.52 set in 2005. Nystrand moved ahead of Duje Draganja's time of 46.64.
Meanwhile, Australian's Eamon Sullivan (47.09) and Andrew Lauterstein (48.24) rounded out the top three with a second and third-place finish, respectively.
Women's 200 freestyle
Sweden's Josefin Lillhage finished just shy of her season-best time of 1:55.40 clocked at the Durban stop of the World Cup, but still wound up winning comfortably with a time of 1:55.53. Lillhage posted splits of 26.94, 55.93 and 1:25.52 on the way to her first-place time.
Russia's Kira Volodina grabbed second place in a time of 1:58.07, while Taipei's Chin-Kuei Yang took third in 1:58.48
Men's 50 breaststroke
South Africa's Gerhard Zandberg returned to the World Cup series with a win when he went 27.45 in the men's sprint breaststroke event. While easily giving him the gold, he touched a bit short of his season-best time of 27.34 set at the South African Short Course Championships in October.
Russia, meanwhile, comprised the rest of the podium as Sergey Geybel placed second in 27.62 and Dmitry Komornikov snared third in 28.04.
Women's 100 breaststroke
In what might be termed the Russian Short Course Championships for the women's 100 breast, all eight swimmers in the final heat were competing in their home country.
Yuliya Efimova, however, stood head and shoulders above the rest with a time of 1:07.52, which put her into the world top 10 in the early goings of this year. She picked up an early lead as the only sub-32 front half with a time of 31.48 before bringing it home in 36.04.
Meanwhile, Ekaterina Kormacheva placed second in1:08.59, while Daria Korotenkova touched third in 1:09.50.
Men's 400 IM
A pair of Russians gave the hometown crowd something to cheer about with an exciting toe-to-toe battle. Ilya Volovnik and Alexander Tichonov wound up finishing within half-a-second of each other, with Volovnik utilizing a strong freestyle leg to overcome Tichonov, 4:11.21 to 4:11.75.
Tichonov led after the initial 100, 58.23 to 58.97, before Volovnik returned fire in the next 100, 2:01.66 to 2:02.16. Tichonov recovered by the 300-meter mark, 3:13.31 to 3:13.48, before being tracked down in the final 100 meters.
Poland's Mateusz Matczak, meanwhile, placed third in 4:13.99.
Women's 100 butterfly
Slovakia's Martina Moravcova touched first in the middle-distance butterfly event. She stopped the clock in 58.26 to lead a trio of swimmers under the 59-second mark.
South Africa's Mandy Loots (58.47) and Poland's Otylia Jedrzejczak (58.98) joined her with second and third-place finishes, respectively.
Moravcova improved upon her previous season-best effort of 58.80 set in Durban, while Loots fell off her best time of 57.86 also done in Durban. Jedrzejczak chopped a bunch off her season-best time of 59.99 set last month.
Men's 100 backstroke
The United States' Randall Bal keeps putting himself in great position to cut a big check at the end of the World Cup series with strong efforts in the circuit. This time, the globe-trotting backstroker clocked in at 50.99 in the men's 100 back. While a little bit shy of his top time this year of 50.91 set in Singapore, it is still only a second off the world record of 49.99 set by compatriot Ryan Lochte.
A Russian duo completed the rest of the podium as Arkady Vyatchanin (52.05) and Stanislav Donets (52.25) touched second and third place, respectively, lead a set of seven Russians who competed against Bal in the final.
Women's 50 backstroke
In an exciting sprint backstroke event, Ukraine's Iryna Amshennikova surfaced victorious with a time of 28.12 as she touched out Russian rival Ksenia Moskvina, who clocked a second-place 28.14.
Moskvina's teammate, Anastasia Zueva wound up grabbing third place in 28.25, just ahead of Australia's Karina Leane (4th – 28.27).
Men's 200 butterfly
Russia's Nikolay Skvortsov missed setting a world record by the slimmest of margins with the second-fastest time in history with a scorching 1:50.74 as he dominated the field in the men's 200 fly. He finished just .01 seconds short of France's Frank Esposito's mark of 1:50.73 set on Dec. 8, 2002 in Antibes, France. Skvortsov easily shattered the World Cup record of 1:51.76 set by James Hickman at the Paris stop in 1998. Skvortsov recorded splits of 25.31, 53.10 and 1:21.68 on the way to the scintillating swim.
Poland's Pawel Korzeniowski (1:54.04) and Australia's Nick D'Arcy (1:55.54) had the best seats in the house as they chased Skvortsov before finished second and third, respectively.
Women's 200 IM
Poland wiped out the medals in the women's 200 IM with a top-three sweep on the shoulders of the fastest time in the world so far this year. Katarzyna Baranowska ripped through the event with a time of 2:09.63. That effort undercut the previous season-best readout of 2:09.85 notched by Australia's Shayne Reese at the Australian Short Course Championships held in August.
Meanwhile, Otylia Jedrzejczak won another medal, this time silver, with a clocking of 2:10.52, while Aleksandra Urbanczyk pocketed bronze in 2:12.07.
Baranowska lodged splits of 28.54, 1:01.45 and 1:39.20 along the way, while Jedrzejczak touched in 28.66, 1:02.01 and 1:40.71 as she chased after her teammate.
Men's 400 freestyle
It was a mixed international bag of swimmers in the men's 400 freestyle. While the Russians finished first and third, four countries were represented in the top five.
Yury Prilukov captured the gold medal with a time of 3:42.20, with splits of 54.35, 1:51.27 and 2:48.00 along the way, while Poland's Przemyslaw Stanczuk wound up second in 3:43.55. Russia's Vitaliy Romanovich took third in 3:44.16, while Australia's Nicholas Sprenger (3:46.00) and Ukraine's Sergiy Fesenko (3:46.62) picked up fourth and fifth, respectively.
Women's 50 freestyle
Sweden's Therese Alshammar will look to make up some ground on the idle Natalie Coughlin of the United States in the overall World Cup standings as the American will not compete again until the final stop in Belo Horizonte.
Alshammar took advantage with a time of 24.21 in the splash-and-dash to win another gold medal. While not as fast as her 24.02 from Singapore, it was well ahead of Germany's Petra Dallman, who placed second in 25.01. Slovakia's Martina Moravcova rounded out the top three in 25.18.
Men's 200 breaststroke
Russia swept the top two spots in the men's 200 breaststroke as Grigori Falko won gold in 2:09.79 and Sergey Gerasimov took silver in 2:10.59. Meanwhile, Poland's Slawomir Kuczko picked up bronze in 2:11.41.
Falko and Gerasimov battled through the first half with Gerasimov leading at the 50, 29.81 to 29.91, and the 100, 1:03.11 to 1:03.38. Falko, however, had a much stronger back half as he overtook Gerasimov at the 150, 1:36.74 to 1:36.82, and never looked back.
Men's 100 IM
South Africa's Gerhard Zandberg won again, this time with a quick readout of 53.89 in the men's sprint medley event. Brazil's Fernando Silva, providing some more international flavor to the event, snared silver in 54.92, while Russia's Alexei Zatsepin took bronze in 55.07.
Zandberg fell just off his season-best time of 53.78 set at the South African Short Course Championships in October, while Silva moved into the world top 15 this year.
Women's 200 backstroke
Ukraine's Iryna Amshennikova moved into the world's top five in this young short course season with a time of 2:07.39 for the win. Her time stands only behind Fran Adcock's 2:05.37, Joanna Fargus' 2:06.81 and Sophie Edington's 2:07.30. Amshennikova posted splits of 30.43, 1:02.36 and 1:34.59 throughout the race.
A pair of Russians, meanwhile, snagged silver and bronze as Ksenia Moskvina earned second in 2:08.31 and Stanislava Komarova took third in 2:09.10.
Men's 50 butterfly
Russia's Nikolay Skvortsov followed up his near world-record swim in the 200 fly with a win in the sprint fly event when he touched in 23.28. That performance stands only behind Matt Welsh's time of 23.26 set at the Australian Short Course Championships in August as the fastest time in the world thus far this year.
Skvortsov's teammate, Evgeny Korotyshkin, walked away with the silver medal in a time of 23.49, while Australia's Andrew Lauterstein placed third in 23.64, just ahead of Russia's Alexander Padalets (23.67).