DEBRECEN, Hungary, December 16. THE European Short Course Championships came to a close with two European records and a relay world record. Overall, the meet featured seven world records as the continent will not focus its collective attention on the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Women's 400 IM
To open the final night of swimming at the continental championship, Italy's Alessia Filippi clocked a winning time of 4:30.46, finishing a bit short of her national record time of 4:29.86 set last month.
"After my mistake in the 800m freestyle when I miscounted the laps and gave gold away, I am now relieved that I got my gold medal in the end," Filippi told local reporters.
Meanwhile, Spain's Mireia Belmonte Garcia grabbed silver with a time of 4:31.06 that crushed her previous national record time of 4:35.18 set during preliminary action at this meet.
Rounding out the top three, France's Camille Muffat clipped her national record with a third-place time of 4:31.38. Previously, she set the French standard with a 4:31.66 last week at the French Short Course Championships.
Additionally, Poland's Katarzyna Baranowska lowered her own national record with a fourth-place 4:31.89. Her old record of 4:32.63 has stood since the Moscow World Cup stop. In fifth-place, Hungary's Katinka Hosszu nipped the national record with a time of 4:32.10 to eclipse the 4:32.26 set by Eva Risztov in 2004.
Men's 200 breaststroke
Officials are obviously paying a lot more attention to the breaststroke after recent conversations about extra dolphin kicks as a pair of swimmers (Russia's Grigory Falko, Norway's Alexander Dale Oen) drew disqualifications. While nothing has been announced on the reasoning for the DQs, breaststrokers will need to be more mindful of their strokes heading into Beijing.
Meanwhile, Hungary's Daniel Gyurta set the European record in the event with a blazing fast 2:05.49. He surpassed the previous record of 2:05.63 set by Ian Edmond of Great Britain in 2003.
"My coach told me that I am capable of swimming below 2.06 minutes," Gyurta told local reporter. "I saw Bossini in the outer lane, and this motivated me to put all my power into the last lap. Actually I wanted the gold medal, the European record is the icing on the cake!"
Italy's Paolo Bossini surged past his national record with a second-place time of 2:05.82, destroying the old record of 2:07.13 set in 2006.
Bulgaria's Mike Alexandrov did the same for his national record when he clocked a third-place 2:06.91. His previous best had been a 2:08.59 set during preliminary action.
Additionally, Denmark's Chris Christensen dropped his national record with a fourth-place 2:07.45 to undercut the 2:07.76 he'd set in prelims.
Women's 200 freestyle
Sweden's Josefin Lillhage utilized a strong last 50 meters to upset European-record holder Laure Manaudou of France. Lillhage hit the wall in 1:53.55 to challenge Manaudou's European standard of 1:53.48. She also became the first female from Sweden to dip under 1:54 as her previous national record had stood at 1:54.22 set at the Berlin World Cup stop.
"I am a bit surprised to win this race, but I had good results in the current season and that's why I could at least hope for such a result," Lillhage told local reporters. "First place at a European Championships is always nice."
Manaudou, meanwhile, settled for second after leading for the bulk of the race when she clocked a 1:54.15. Her compatriot Coralie Balmy gave France a 2-3 finish with a time of 1:54.43.
Hungary's Evelyn Verraszto picked up fourth-place honors with a national record time of 1:55.23 to nip her 1:55.77 set in prelims.
Men's 100 IM
Earlier in the meet, it looked like the European record of Germany's Thomas Rupprath was in danger, but the 52.58 withstood a strong challenge from Slovenia's Peter Mankoc. Mankoc, who owns his nation's record with a time of 52.63, wound up winning gold in 52.88.
"The eighth title in a row is quite good, but I wanted to break the European record," Mankoc told local reporters. "However, I messed up all three turns. But I was surprised that I even gained on Rupprath at the bad turns."
Meanwhile, Rupprath scored a silver medal with a time of 53.46. Notably, Russia's Sergiy Fesikov lowered his own national record with a third-place time of 54.12 to clip the 54.20 he'd set in prelim swimming.
Women's 100 breaststroke
Russian teenager Yuliya Efimova, showing some style while wearing a pink cap, became the first sub-1:05 European female in history when she wiped Emma Igelstrom's 2003 continental record of 1:05.11 from the books.
Efimova, easily outclassing the field, continued her meteoric rise this year with a first-place finish of 1:04.95, far surpassing her previous personal best of 1:05.41.
"I didn't really reckon with the two gold medals and two European records in the 100 and 200 meters here before the event," Efimova told local reporters. "I now want to attack the World records next year during the Olympics in Beijing."
In other action, Austria's Mirna Jukic grabbed second-place honors with a time of 1:06.57, just off her national record of 1:06.33, while Russia's Elena Bogomazova gave her country a 1-3 finish when she clocked a third-place 1:06.72.
Men's 200 freestyle
Italy's Filippo Magnini and Germany's Paul Biedermann staged a strong battle throughout the 200 freestyle final. Magnini, however, had just a little extra as he hit the wall in 1:43.50 to touch out Biedermann, who placed second in 1:43.60.
Initially, the pair jumped out early with Germany's Stefan Herbst and Poland's Lukasz Gasior joining them in the beginning of the race. Magnini and Biedermann, however, broke out by the 150-meter mark to make it a two-man race.
"Though I'm not totally happy with the time, the title was more important to me," Magnini told local reporters. "I shall put priority again on the 100 meters for the Olympics, though I will also compete in the 200m of course, but these I prefer to swim on short course."
Poland's Pawel Korzeniowski comprised the rest of the top three with a time of 1:44.05, while Herbst took fifth in 1:46.07 and Gasior paid for the early push with an eighth-place 1:46.81.
Women's 100 butterfly
The Netherlands' Inge Dekker tied the meet record of 56.82 set by Martina Moravcova back in 2002 with the win, but fell short of the European standard of 56.55 also held by Moravcova. Dekker also came up just shy of Inge de Bruijn's national record of 56.61.
"That's a personal best for me," Dekker told local reporters. "That was a great race."
Meanwhile, France's Alena Popchanka took hold of France's national standard with a second-place time of 57.55. She slipped past the 57.80 set by Diane Bui Duyet last weekend at the French Short Course Championships.
Poland's Otylia Jedrzejczak rounded out the podium with a third-place effort of 58.40.
Men's 100 backstroke
Russia's Stanislav Donets became the first sub-51 Russian as he challenged Thomas Rupprath's European record of 50.58. Donets, however, settled for his national standard with a scorching fast 50.61 to eclipse the 51.11 set by Arkady Vyatchanin in 2006.
"I fully prepared for these championships here, because they are very important to me," Donets told local reporters. "Now, I'm hoping to be able to transfer my performance onto the long course. We have many good backstrokers in Russia, and I first have to qualify for Beijing.'
Austria's Markus Rogan wound up taking second with a time of 51.12, off his personal-best national record time of 50.80, while Germany's Helge Meeuw completed the top three with a time of 51.56.
Women's 200 backstroke
Slovenia's Anja Carman completed a rewriting of her nation's record book as she obliterated the standard with a winning time of 2:05.20. Previously, she'd set the record with a 2:07.12 during preliminary swimming at this meet.
"It is incredible – I would never even have dreamed about winning gold here," Carman told local reporters. "I went through a long and difficult time during which I switched from freestyle to backstroke. I needed time to really get back. It is simply fantastic!"
France's Esther Baron, her nation's record holder, wound up taking second place in 2:05.57, well off her personal best time of 2:04.08. Additionally, Ukraine's Iryna Amshennikova took third in 2:05.98, also slower than her national record of 2:04.57.
Men's 50 butterfly
In a blazing fast performance, Serbia's Milorad Cavic, Russia's Evgeny Korotyshkin and Germany's Johannes Dietrich gave the crowd an exciting finish. Cavic touched out Korotyshkin, 22.89 to 22.90, while Dietrich finished third in 22.94.
The trio had been going after Mark Foster's European record of 22.87, but fell a bit short.
Cavic, however, did wind up becoming the first Serbian under 23 as his previous national record had been a 23.14 set during prelims. Korotyshkin joined him in the first category after dropping his Russian record of 23.17 set in 2005 to become the first Russian under 23. Dietrich, meanwhile, surpassed Thomas Rupprath's record of 22.95 with his third-place 22.94.
"I'm really happy to have won this very close final," Cavic told local reporters. "The Olympic program does not suit me, that's why I can't yet say which distance I'll focus on."
Women's 50 freestyle
The Netherlands' Marleen Veldhuis captured the splash-and-dash title with a time of 23.77, a quick time although tough to upstage her own world-record performance of 23.58 set during the Berlin World Cup stop.
"I have had exhausting weeks with many competitions, and in between caught a slight cold, all this cost some power," Veldhuis told local reporters. "But, when I'm on the starting block I simply want to win."
Germany's Britta Steffen clipped her national record with a second-place time of 23.80. That time eclipsed the 23.90 she'd previously set last month.
Hinkelien Schreuder gave the Netherlands a 1-3 performance when she clocked in at 24.29.
Men's 200 freestyle relay
The Swedish foursome of Petter Stymne (21.41), Marcus Piehl (20.97), Per Nylin (21.15) and Stefan Nystrand (20.66) eclipsed the country's own world record in the event, which is not recognized by FINA.
The quartet clocked a swift time of 1:24.19 to blow past the 1:24.89 global standard set by Sweden in Helsinki in 2006.
"To clock a world record again in the last race of the European Championships is simply great," Nystrand told local reporters.
France's team of Antoine Galavtine, Alain Bernard, David Maitre and Amaury Leveaux took second in 1:24.19, while Germany's contingent of Steffen Deibler, Stefan Herbst, Johannes Dietrich and Thomas Rupprath placed third in 1:26.46.