RIJEKA, Croatia, December 11. THE first night of finals came to a close at the European Short Course Championships held in Rijeka, Croatia with a pair of world-best times being posted on the scoreboard in bookend fashion.
Amaury Leveaux of France opened the evening with a world record in the men's 50 freestyle semifinals, while Italy's 200 medley relay set a world-best time to conclude the night's festivities.
Men's 50 free semis
Amaury Leveaux wasted no time in getting the fireworks going as he clocked a world-record time of 20.48 in the splash-and-dash. This effort cleared the 20.64 set by South Africa's Roland Schoeman earlier this year in September. Notably, Leveaux's time also eclipsed his European record of 20.80 set during prelims.
France's Fred Bousquet (21.11), Russia's Sergey Fesikov (21.27), Russia's Evgeny Lagunov (21.31), Italy's Mattia Nalesso (21.32), Italy's Marco Orsi (21.42), Croatia Duje Draganja (21.49) and Ireland's Barry Murphy (21.53) made up the rest of the championship final.
Women's 50 breast semis
Russia's Valentina Artemyeva dipped under her preliminary European record of 29.83 with a 29.77 to lead the way into the finale. Germany's Janne Schaefer placed second in 30.45, while The Netherlands' Moniek Nijuis (30.59) and Austria's Mirna Jukic (30.62) complete the top four.
Italy's Robert Panara (30.66), Italy's Ombretta Plos (30.73), Denmark's Rikke Moeller Pedersen (31.00) and Sweden's Joline Hostman (31.06) also took spots in the finale.
Men's 400 free final
Germany's Paul Biedermann emerged victorious in the middle distance event with a winning effort of 3:37.73. Italy's Massi Rosolino clinched second by touching out Denmark's Mads Glaesner, 3:39.33 to 3:39.77. Biedermann beat the meet record of 3:37.81 set by Yury Prilukov of Russia in 2005.
Men's 200 back final
In an exciting finish, Spain's Aschwin Wildeboer Faber caught up with Russia's Stanislav Donets to tie for the 200 back title with matching's 1:49.22s. Donets had stormed out of the gates, and was under world-record pace by nearly two seconds at one point, before fading down the stretch. Both erased Markus Rogan's meet record of 1:49.86 set in 2007.
Here are the comparative splits of how Wildeboer Faber and Donets arrived at the same time:
Donets: 25.29, 52.94 (27.65), 1:20.81 (27.87), 1:49.22 (28.41)
Wildeboer Faber: 26.84, 53.15 (27.31), 1:21.40 (28.25), 1:49.22 (27.82)
France's Pierre Roger completed the podium with a third-place time of 1:52.26.
Women's 100 back semis
France's Laure Manaudou ripped off a top time of 57.38 to top qualifying. Ukraine's Kate Zubkova, who is battling a pretty tough cold this week, finished second in 57.43, while Italy's Elena Gemo took third in 57.80.
Croatia's Sanja Jovanovic (57.82), Great Britain's Elizabeth Simmonds (57.99), Russia's Anastasia Zueva (58.17), Slovenia's Anja Carman (58.27) and France's Alexandra Putra (58.37) grabbed the rest of the transfer spots.
Men's 100 fly semis
Spain's Rafael Munoz Perez (50.17) and Russia's Evgeny Korotyshkin (50.41) went 1-2 in qualifying, while Croatia's Mario Todorovic (50.60) and Russia's Nikolay Skvortsov (50.62) will bracket them in the center lanes.
Serbia's Milorad Cavic (50.62), Slovenia's Peter Mankoc (50.74), Serbia's Ivan Lendjer (50.98) and The Netherlands' Joeri Verlinden (51.20) also earned spots in finals. Surprisingly, Croatia's Alexei Puninski just missed finals with a ninth-place 51.34.
Women's 200 IM final
Italy's Francesca Segat erased the European record in the women's 200 IM with a victorious time of 2:07.03. That performance surpassed the 2:07.47 set by Spain's Mireia Belmonte Garcia back at the 2008 World Short Course Championships held in Manchester.
Hungary's Evelyn Verraszto finished second in 2:07.93, while France's Sophie De Ronchi claimed third-place honors in 2:08.10.
Men's 100 breast semis
Ukraine's Igor Borysik topped the semifinal round with a 57.73, while Great Britain's James Gibson finished second in 58.29. Borysik bettered Gibson's meet record of 58.03 set back in 2003. Italy's Edoardo Giorgetti (58.31) and The Netherlands' Robin van Aggele (58.36) took third and fourth.
France's Hugues Duboscq (58.38), Slovenia's Matiaz Markic (58.61), Lithuania's Edvinas Dautartas (58.72) and The Netherlands' Lennart Stekelenburg (58.82) also made it into the finale.
Women's 200 fly final
Sweden's Petra Granlund overtook France's Aurore Mongel for the win, 2:04.27 to 2:04.73, as Mongel initially had a strong lead throughout most of the race. Great Britain's Jemma Lowe rounded out the top three with a quick 2:04.78.
Men's 200 IM final
Great Britain's James Goddard took down the field in the men's 200 IM with a top time of 1:53.46. Lithuania's Vytautas Janusaitis finished second in 1:54.51, while Spain's Alan Cabello Forns captured third in 1:55.70.
Women's 100 free semis
After having the European record set during prelims with a 51.91 by Marleen Veldhuis, the semifinalists kept some fuel in the tank during semis. Finland's Hanna-Maria Seppala earned the top seed with a 52.28, while Veldhuis took second in 52.35. Denmark's Jeanette Ottesen (52.49) and The Netherlands' Ranomi Kromowidjojo (52.75) placed third and fourth.
Russia's Anastasia Aksenova (53.41), Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom (53.65) and Austria's Birgit Koschischek (53.67) took fifth through seventh, while France's Alena Popchanka and Sweden's Claire Hedenskog set up a swimoff with eighth-place 53.87s.
Men's 50 free final
France's Amaury Leveaux couldn't match his semifinal speed, when he set the world record with a 20.48, but still touched out compatriot Fred Bousquet, 20.63 to 20.69, for the sprint king title of the meet. Croatia's Duja Draganja and Russia's Evgeny Lagunov grabbed third-place honors with matching times of 21.15.
Women's 50 breast final
Russia's Valentina Artemyeva missed Jessica Hardy's world record of 29.58 with a top time of 29.96 for the European title. Artemyeva's effort also missed her European record of 29.77 set during earlier heats. Germany's Janne Schaefer touched second in 30.37, while The Netherlands' Moniek Nijhuis took third in 30.45.
Men's 200 medley relay final
During prelims, the Russian quartet of Stanislav Donets (23.53), Sergey Geybel (26.43), Nikolay Skvortsov (22.86) and Sergey Fesikov (20.95) set a world-best time of 1:33.77 in the sprint medley relay. The effort surpassed the 1:34.06 set by Germany back in 2006, but the event is not recognized by FINA with world-record status.
The world-best mark didn't last long, and neither did the 1:33 barrier as Italy's team of Mirco Di Tora (23.95), Alessandro Terrin (25.71), Marco Belotti (22.53) and Filippo Magnini (20.72) ripped off a time of 1:32.91 to win the title. Germany's foursome of Thomas Rupprath, Marco Koch, Johannes Dietrich and Steffen Deibler and Russia's squad of Donets, Geybel, Evgeny Korotyshkin and Lagunov tied for second with matching 1:33.31s.