MONTE CARLO, Monaco, June 7. THE first day of competition at the Monte Carlo stop of the popular Mare Nostrum circuit featured an upset victory in the men’s 200 butterfly, a South African national record to win the women’s 200 free and sprint freestyle dominance by Nathan Adrian.
That 200 fly upset came at the hands of Japan’s Daiya Seto, who posted a 1:54.70 to take down reigning Olympic and world champion Chad Le Clos of South Africa. Not only did Seto beat Le Clos today, but he nearly took the global No. 1 ranking held by Le Clos, who swam a 1:54.56 at the South Africa nationals. Seto eclipsed his season best of 1:54.82 from January, and is showing consistency with his third swim in the 1:54-high range this year.
Le Clos placed a distant second with a 1:57.13, doing all he could to hold off Brazil’s Leonardo de Deus, who charged home for third with a 1:57.47. De Deus has been faster this year with a 1:56.21 to his credit.
Adrian, the reigning Olympic champion in the 100 freestyle, had a lot of racing on his plate today. Not only did he have the 100 freestyle prelims and finals, but he competed in the three “Speed Tournament” 50 freestyle elimination rounds today for a total of 350 meters of racing. He won the 100 free with a 48.67 as the only swimmer under 49 seconds today, about four tenths off his season best. Andrey Grechin of Russia was second with a 49.24 while Belgium’s Pieter Timmers took third with a 49.38.
After a 22.49 in the prelims of the 50 freestyle, Adrian settled into the “1/8 final” with a 22.51 as Grechin swam a 22.42 a little more than an hour before the 50 free final. At the end of tonight’s session, Adrian turned on a different gear to post the top time in the quarterfinal with a 22.09. His Cal teammate Anthony Ervin was second in 22.27, while Japan’s Shinri Shioura (22.51) and Krisztian Takacs of Hungary and Grechin tied with times of 22.53 to call for a swimoff to determine the final swimmer in tomorrow’s semifinal.
Katinka Hosszu raced in three championship finals, but only could muster a win in her pet event, the 400 IM, the event in which she is the reigning world champion. Hosszu was never truly challenged, keeping Great Britain’s Hannah Miley at bay and winning with a 4:33.80 to Mileys 4:35.70. Kamiko Simizu of Japan took third with a 4:38.53. Spain’s Mireia Belmonte, who holds the second spot in the global rankings with a 4:32.92, was fourth with a 4:40.33.
Hosszu led the pack in the 200 free final for 150 meters but couldn’t hold off South Africa’s Karin Prinsloo, who took the title with a 1:57.17 to Hosszu’s 1:57.30. Prinsloo was on a mission, taking down her national record of 1:57.41 from January and vaulting her up one spot in the world rankings, from 14th to 13th. Camille Muffat of France was in the hunt as well, finishing .01 behind Hosszu with a 1:57.31. And rounding out the sub-1:58 swims was France’s Charlotte Bonnet, who posted a 1:57.56 for fourth.
Hosszu didn’t have the firepower to challenge the leaders in the women’s 200 back, placing eighth with a 2:17.70 after a 2:14.37 in prelims. Elizabeth Simmonds of Great Britain took the title with a 2:10.17, beating out the 2:10.79 by Russia’s Daryna Zevina. Sonnele Ozturk, preparing to represent Germany at a home European championships, took third with a 2:12.36.
Marco Koch continues to improve on his 200 breast performance in 2014, taking a decisive win today with a 2:08.43 to win by four seconds and break the meet record. Koch beat his 2014 best of 2:08.51 from last month’s German nationals, and inched closer to his national record of 2:08.33 from 2009. He didn’t make any moves in the global standings, still sitting second to Michael Jamieson’s 2:07.79. Jamieson was second today with a relatively pedestrian 2:12.34, and Japanese rising star Yasuhiro Koseki captured third with a 2:12.78. Also getting some international experience in the event was American Josh Prenot, who was sixth with a 2:13.60, about 1.5 seconds off his lifetime best.
The first of two wins for Japan tonight came in the women’s 100 breast as Kanako Watanabe touched in 1:07.28 over world leader Rikke Pedersen’s 1:07.33. Both have swum in the 1:06 range this season. Miho Teramura of Japan placed third with a 1:08.47.
Japan’s other win came in the men’s 100 backstroke, where Ryosuke Irie and Junya Koga gave their country a 1-2 finish. Irie was easily the class of the field, winning with a meet record 53.08 to fall just short of his season best of 52.57. Koga, who trains with Club Wolverine in the United States and will be swimming at the Asian Games, was second with a 54.25, ahead of the 54.61 posted by Great Britain’s Chris Walker-Hebborn. American Ryan Murphy, fresh off his NCAA double backstroke victories, was fourth with a 54.74. Murphy’s fastest of the season is a 53.98 from the Arena Gran Prix in Austin last January.
Denmark’s Jeanete Ottesen nearly eclipsed her season best of 57.22 to win the 100 butterfly, taking the title tonight with a meet record time of 57.46. Jemma Lowe of Great Britain couldn’t match Ottesen’s opening speed, placing second with a 58.13. Liliana Szilagyi of Hungary was third with a 59.04.
Ottesen could find herself in the 50 butterfly two-person final tomorrow, as she posted the fastest quarterfinal time in the 50 fly tonight with a 26.07 over the 26.57 posted by Sweden’s Therese Alshammar. The Monte Carlo meet is serving as Alshammar’s first major meet since giving birth last summer, as the 36-year-old looks to return to form in time for the European championships.
Alshammar wasn’t able to qualify for tomorrow’s 50 freestyle semifinal, placing eighth in the quarterfinal with a 25.96. Pernille Blume of Denmark posted the fastest quarterfinal time with a 24.91 over the 25.14 by France’s Anna Santamans. Natalie Coughlin (25.31) and Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (25.49) will also be in tomorrow’s semifinal to determine the two swimmers who move on to the final.
Hungary went 1-2 as expected in the men’s 200 IM final. Laszlo Cseh took the title with a 1:59.87, his first swim under two minutes this year. David Verraszto nearly cracked two minutes with a runner-up time of 2:00.62, while Japan’s Hiromasa Fujimoro tried to split the Hungarians but fell short with a 2:00.88.
Pal Joensen of the Faroe Islands kept chipping away at the lead held by South African Myles since the start of the men’s 400 free final, but couldn’t overtake him as Brown took the win with a 3:49.57 to Joensen’s 3:50.41. The time is not far off Brown’s best of the year, a 3:49.05 swum at the South African nationals to put him on the Commonwealth Games team. It’s Joensen’s best swim of the season, but is likely setting up for a major time drop at the upcoming European championships. David Brandl of Austria tried to stay with the leaders and finished third with a 3:51.20.
Qualifiers for tomorrow’s semifinals in the remaining 50-meter events in the Speed Tournament:
Men’s 50 fly: Steffen Deibler (24.14), Taura Fujii (24.23), Hirofumi Ikebata (24.27), Nicholas Santos (24.31)
Men’s 50 backstroke: Junya Koga (25.41), Chris Walker-Hebborn (25.54), Jeremy Stravius (25.65), Ryosuke Irie (25.68)
Women’s 50 backstroke: Mercedes Peris (28.44), Arianna Barbieri (28.55), Mie Neilsen (28.56), Elizabeth Simmonds (28.97)
Men’s 50 breast: Damir Dugonjic (27.84), Joao Gomes (27.98), Fabio Scozzoli (28.06), Hendrik Feldwehr (28.11)
Women’s 50 breast: Dorothea Brandt (31.21), Rikke Pedersen (31.67), Sycerika McMahon (31.94), Katie Meili (32.13)