RIESA, Germany, Dec. 13. VERSATILE world record-holder Thomas Rupprath set the pace in the 50 meter backstroke heats this morning at the European Short Course Swimming Championships in Riesa..
The 25-year-old German, who lowered the world mark to 23.23 seconds at the German National Championships in Goslar two weeks ago, ripped through the two laps in 23.78, almost a second faster than his nearest rival, teammate Stev Theloke, the defending champion.
Emma Igelstrom, who — like Rupprath — swam at the World Cup in Melbourne only last weekend, did what was needed to qualify for the finals of the women's 200 meter breaststroke…and no more. She qualified seventh in 2:27.47.
The Swedish double world record-holder, who set a Euro mark of 2:19.85 in this event in Australia, just eked out a victory yesterday in her best event, the 50m breaststroke, edging Germany's Sarah Poewe by one-hundredth of a second in a time almost a full second slower than her world standard.
Top qualifier today was European long course champion, 16 year-old Mirna Jukic of Austria, at 2:24.61. Olympic and world long course champion Agnes Kovacs of Hungary (and Arizona State University) was second, two-hundredths behind. Defending champion, Germany's (and the University of Alabama's) Anne Poleska qualified fifth, for what is shaping up to be the meet's most competitive race.
Sweden's Stefan Nystrand, who won the men's 50 freestyle yesterday for the third year in a row, qualified fifth in 48.69 as he seeks to defend his 100 meter title. His task is made easier in the absence of long- and short course world record-holders, Pieter van den Hoogenband and Alex Popov.
Italy's Lorenzo Vismara, silver medalist behind Nystrand in the 50, was the fastest semifinalist today in 48.50. Iceland's Orn Arnasson, who won the 200m backstroke yesterday, was third in 48.59.
Chantal Groot of the Netherlands was the surprise top qualifier in the women's 50 meter butterfly in 27.01. Israel's Vered Borochovski (27.08) and world short course champion and WR-holder, Anna-Karin Kammerling of Sweden (27.14), were second and third respectively.
Hungary's Laszlo Cseh posted the fastest qualifying time for the afternoon's 400 meter IM final, clocking 4:10.56 — nearly two seconds ahead of second-place qualifiert, Dmytro Nazarenko of Ukraine (4:12.23).
The favorite, world long course champion Alessio Boggiatto of Italy, winner of this event for the past two years, was fourth overall in 4:13.60.