DEBRECEN, Hungary, May 27. A handful of swimmers put up elite times during the final session at the 31st LEN European Championships this evening, highlighted by Britta Steffen's fourth-ranked effort of 24.37 in the women's 50 free. Steffen also led Germany's medley relay to a new Championship record.
Women's 50 freestyle
World record-holder and defending Olympic champion Britta Steffen of Germany was the class of the field, winning by almost half a second in 24.37. The Netherlands' Hinkelien Schreuder touched in 24.78, ahead of Greece's Nery-Mantey Niangkouara (24.93). Steffen moves to fourth overall in the world rankings, behind Ranomi Kromowidjojo (24.10), Francesca Halsall (24.13) and Marleen Veldhuis (24.32).
Estonia's Triin Aljand (25.01), Greece's Theodora Drakou (25.05), Belarus' Sviatlana Khakhlova (25.12), France's Anna Santamans (25.26) and Iceland's Sarah Bateman (25.38) also competed in the championship heat.
Men's 50 freestyle
In the men's splash and dash, only one swimmer cracked the 22-second mark. France's Fred Bousquet finished well ahead of the competition with a time of 21.80, just off his season best and fourth-ranked time of 21.79 from April. Sweden's Stefan Nystrand placed second in 22.04, followed by Ukraine's Andriy Govorov in 22.18.
Ari-Pekka Liukkonen of Finland, Marco Orsi of Italy and Kristian Gkolomeev of Greece all tied at 22.22 for fourth. France's Alain Bernard (22.24) and Romania's Norbert Trandafir (22.65) rounded out the top eight.
Women's 50 breaststroke
The Czech Republic's Petra Chocova held on to win a close finish in the women's 50 breast. Chocova touched in 31.25, just .02 ahead of Ireland's Sycerika McMahon. Caroline Ruhnau of Germany slipped to third in 31.35.
Spain's Concepcion Badillo Diaz (31.69), Russia's Valentina Artemyeva (31.70) and Norway's Katharina Stiberg (31.95) also broke 32-seconds. Martina Moravcikova of the Czech Republic (32.05) and Iceland's Hrafnhildur Luthersdottir (32.25) also swam in the final.
Women's 200 butterfly
After trailing for most of the race, Hungary's Katinka Hosszu put together a huge last 50 to overtake the field and successfully defend her title from 2010. Hosszu's final time of 2:07.28 just beat teammate Zsuzsanna Jakabos' 2:07.86. Sweden's Martina Granstroem took the race out fast and led at the final turn but faded to third in 2:08.22.
Spain's Mireia Belmonte Garcia (2:08.91), Germany's Franziska Hentke (2:09.01), Spain's Judit Ignacio Sorribes (2:09.14), Slovakia's Denisa Smolenova (2:10.70) and Switzerland's Martina Van Berkel (2:11.69) made up the other five finalists.
Men's 400 IM
Hungary's Laszlo Cseh, one of the top individual medley swimmers of the past decade, had no trouble here, cruising to victory in 4:12.17. That performance shot him up to sixth in the world rankings, a three second improvement from his previous best of 4:15.15 from March. David Verraszto, also of Hungary, held on for second in 4:14.23, just in front of Greece's Ioannis Drymonakos (4:14.41).
Israel's Gal Nevo took fourth in 4:16.14, with Italy's Luca Marin right behind in 4:16.46. Poland's Lukasz Wojt (4:17.36), Belgium's Ward Bauwens (4:18.47) and Ukraine's Maxym Shemberyev (4:19.24) comprised the rest of the championship heat.
Women's 400 freestyle
In one of the closest races of the night, France's Coralie Balmy just held off Spain's Mireia Belmonte Garcia, 4:05.31 to 4:05.45, for the win. Balmy led the entire way, but Garcia's comeback bid came up just short. Balmy is now fourth in the world, while Garcia sits in sixth. France's Camille Muffat still owns the top ranked time of 4:01.13, set in March. Ophelie Cyrielle Etienne of France earned a bronze medal in the event, finishing in 4:07.47.
Top seed Eva Risztov of Hungary faded to fourth in 4:07.72, followed by her teammate, Boglarka Kapas (4:08.73). Romania's Camelia Potec (4:08.91) and Italy's Martina De Memme (4:10.82) and Alice Nesti (4:11.13) competed as well.
Women's 4×100 medley relay
In the final women's event of the meet, Germany's quartet of Jenny Mensing (1:00.51), Sarah Poewe (1:07.44), Alexandra Wenk (57.74) and Britta Steffen (52.74) put together a winning time of 3:58.43, under the previous Championship record of 3:59.33, held by Great Britain. Italy's Arianna Barbiere, Chiara Boggiatto, Ilaria Bianchi and Alice Mizzau finished second in 4:01.92. Sweden's Therese Svendsen, Joline Hoestman, Martina Granstroem and Nathalie Lindborg grabbed bronze in 4:05.58.
Men's 4×100 medley relay
The men's medley relay wrapped up the meet, and Italy's Mirco Di Tora (54.40), Fabio Scozzoli (59.38), Matteo Rivolta (51.24) and Filippo Magnini (47.78) earned the victory in 3:32.80. Germany's foursome of Helge Meeuw, Christian von Lehn, Steffen Diebler and Marco Di Carli took silver in 3:34.41. Rounding out the podium was Hungary's Peter Bernek, Daniel Gyurta, Laszlo Cseh and Dominik Kozma in 3:34.57.