By Phillip Whitten
DUBLIN, Ireland, December 4. EUROPEAN records by Holland's Pieter van den Hoogenband, Great Britain's Ian Edmond and Germany's Antje Buschschulte, and a world best relay swim by the Dutch men highlighted the final day of competition at the European Short Course Championships in Dublin.
Van den Hoogenband, who had come within 0.07 seconds of Alexander Popov's 100 freestyle short-course world record on Saturday, eclipsed his own European mark in the 200 freestyle, lowering it from 1:42.45 to 1:41.89.
The Dutchman was ahead of Ian Thorpe's WR pace for the first 100 meters, as he split 23.63 at the 50 and 49.42 at the 100 versus Thorpe's 24.24 and 49.73. At the 150, Hoogie was only two-hundredths off the Aussie's record pace of 1:15.43. But he had to settle for a Euro mark when he was unable to match Thorpe's 25.67 split for the final 50.
Hoogie, however, was far from done for the night. In the meet's final event, the 200m freestyle relay, he anchored the Dutch team to a world best time of 1:25.55 with the fastest relay split of the meet, 20.73. The only other sub-21 second relay swim belonged to Britain's Mark Foster, winner of the individual 50, who split 20.81 on the relay. The fastest lead-off split was 21.71 by Germany's Carsten Dehmlow.
The old record was 1:25.87 by a US team in 2001.
The race tonight was extremely close with only eight-tenths of a second separating second from eighth place. Germany finished second in 1:26.26 while defending champ Ukraine was third, four-hundredths farther back.
European records were also set by Britain's Ian Edmond in the 200 breaststroke, and Germany's Antje Buschschulte in the 200 backstroke.
Edmond clocked 2:05.63 to destroy the European short course record of 2:06.95 set by Austria's Maxim Podoprigora in Berlin on January 25 of this year. Second at the 50 and 100 meter (1:01.68) behind teammate James Gibson, Edmond took the lead on the turn at the halfway mark and pulled steadily away as Gibson eventually fell to fourth.
Carried into second place on the cheers of the home crowd, Ireland's (and the University of Tennessee's) Andrew Bree came storming back from sixth place at the 100 and fifth at the 150 to finish in 2:08.02 and earn the host country's only medal of the championships. Dutchman Thijs van Valkengoed won bronze in 2:08.30.
Buschschulte, won won the 100 back and was second in the 50, made her last race her best one, as she clocked 2:04.23 in the double century — only eight-tenths off Natalie Coughlin's global mark — to win by more than a second and better the European mark of 2:04.44 set by Britain's Price in 2001.
Britain scored two victories this evening. Thirty-three year-old Mark Foster, who regained his 50 freestyle crown on Thursday, recaptured the 50 butterfly with a time of 23.22. Croatia's Alexei Puninski was second in 23.40 and Ukraine's Andriy Serdinov third in 23.44.
In the 200 free, Melanie Marshall came roaring from behind to overtake Belarus' Alena Popchenka and win the women's 200 freestyle crown.
Third with just 50 meters to go, Marshall had the most left for the final 50 to win in 1:55.10. Sweden's Josefin Lillhage was second in 1:55.57 while Popchenka faded to third (1:55.66).
Slovakia's Martina Moravcova extended her record tally of European short-course championship golds to 16 when she won the women's 100 butterfly in 57.25 for the fourth year in succession. Sweden's Johanna Sjoberg, second in 58.23, never really challenged Moravcova while Popchanka was 58.26.
Germany's (and the University of Georgia's) Sarah Poewe completed a 50 and 100 meter breaststroke double when she successfully defended her 100m title in 1:06.31. The South African-turned-German took no chances after Russia's Elena Bogomazova set a CR of 1:06.04 in the semis, blasting to a big lead at the 50 in 30.87, then holding off the Russian. Bogomazova was second in 1:06.63, just ahead of 200 champ, Mirna Jukic of Austria, in 1:06.68.
In other events:
* Slovenia's Peter Mankoc and Finland's Jani Dievinen tied for gold in the 100 IM in 53.35. Germany's Marco Di Carli was third in 54.06.
* Hungary's Eva Risztov led all the way to retain her crown in the 400 IM with a 4:33.57 effort. Russia's Yana Tolkatcheva hung on for second over fast-closing German 16 year-old Teresa Rohmann, 4:35.28 to 4:35.47
* Marleen Veldhuis of the Netherlands won the 50 free in 24.39, nine-hundredths in front of Britain's Alison Sheppard. France's Maria Metella, winner of the 100 meters, was third in 24.54. Austria's 33 year-old Judith Draxler became the oldest female finalist of the meet, as she placed sixth in 24.81.