Alshammar Posts Second Fastest 50 in History

HELSINKI, July 9. SWEDEN's Therese Alshammar destroyed the competition in winning the women's 50 meter freestyle on the final day of competition today at the European Championships in Helsinki. The Swedish powerhouse sprinted to a 24.44 clocking, a championship record and the second fastest time in history. Only Holland's Inky De Bruijn has swum faster, her 24.39 standard having been set last month. De Bruijn was one of a host of European stars who bypassed this meet in favor of training for the Olympics.

Alshammar won by more than a second over Holland's Wilma Van Rijn, whose very creditable 25.46 performance was no match for Alshammar's.

Alshammar, short-course world record holder for 50 and 100 meters freestyle, had won the 100 freestyle and anchored Sweden to victory in the women's 4×100 metres freestyle relay earlier in the championships.

Spain's Nina Zhivanevskaya notched her third victory of the championship, edging 15 year-old Diana Mocanu of Romania in the 50 meter backstroke, 28.76 to 28.85 to complete her sweep of the backstroke events. The Russian-turned-Spaniard took the 50 meter title in the absence of 1999 champion, Sandra Voelker, who returned home on Friday after a controversial disqualification in the semi-final of the 100 meter backstroke.

Ukraine's Yana Klochkova picked up her third title of the championship when she won the 400 meter freestyle in 4:09.41.

Taking the lead at the start, the Ukrainian medley star battled Romania's Camelia Potec for the first half of the race, turning half a second ahead at the halfway mark. At that point Potec, who was upset yesterday in the 200 free, began to fade. Bela rus's Natalia Baranouskaya, the surprise winner of yesterday's 200 meter final, began to come on, passing Potec and edging her for the silver medal, 4:11.37 to 4:11.76.

Poland's up-and-coming superstar, Otylia Jedrzejczak, upset Denmark's Mette Jacobsen to win the 200 fly in 2:08.63, 14-hundredths ahead of the Danish veteran and the fourth fastest time in the world this year.

The 16-year-old took a narrow lead at the start, extended it to 42-hundredths at the 100 meter mark, and held off a determined charged by Jacobsen to record her first European title.

Sweden breezed to a 3-1/2 second victory in the women's 4 x 100 meter medley relay, finishing in 4:06.00. Therese Alshammar showed she's a fair backstroker as well as a freestyler, leading off for the Swedes in 1:02.42 and giving her team a sizeable lead that was never challenged.

Alex Popov recorded a championship record in winning the men's 50 free in 21.95, easily defeating Holland's Pieter van den Hoogenband (22.35) and Italy's Lorenzo Vismara (22.38) in the process.

The men's 400 meter individual medley featured a tactical race among four men that went down to the wire before Hungary's Istvan Bathazi unleashed a devastating 57.79-second final leg to win in 4:18.51.

France's Johann Le Bihan led for the firt 300 meters, with top qualifier Mickey Halika of Israel right behind him for the first two legs. Le Bihan maintained his lead at the 300, as Romania's Cezar Badita moved into second and Bathazi eased past Halika for third.
Le Bihan made the final turn still in the lead, then watched as Bathazi and then Badita (4:19.52) rushed past him.

Russia down Sweden by just over a second to win the meet's final event, the men's 4 x 100 meter medley relay, 3:39.39 to 3:40.43. Popov anchored the winning Russians in 48.51, but Sedeen's Lars Frolander recorded the best split of the event, turning in a sizzling 51.75 for his 100-meter fly leg.

HELSINKI, July 9 (Reuters) – Hungary's Istvan Bathazi produced a fine turn of speed down the final length to win the men's 400 metres individual medley at the European swimming championships on Sunday.

Germany's Kurt Boehm led through the opening butterfly leg, but Frenchman Johann Le Bihan passed him on the backstroke and stayed in front on the breaststroke.

Romania's Cezar Badita forged to the front on the first length of the concluding freestyle leg, but Bathazi charged past him on the return to win in four minutes 18.51 seconds.

Badita took the silver in 4:19.42 and Le Bihan the bronze in 4:20.50.

12:21 07-09-00

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