ROME, Italy, July 26. BehindTheBlocks.com's Priyant Pratap is braving the blazing sun in the outdoor facility at the FINA World Championships to give Swimming World an on site view of each session. Here is his day one preliminary analysis.
The word "suits" has seemingly become a dirty word as the FINA World Championships after the first day of preliminary swimming. But, as expected, Championship Records fell by the wayside throughout the morning.
A surprising swim by Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden saw her break the 57 second barrier, to lead qualifiers into the 100 fly tonight with 57.76, with Dana Vollmer clocking 57.15 to take 2nd place. Top seed Marleen Veldhuis swam 58.06 which placed her 12th while disappointingly, Tao Li of Singapore, a medal favorite clocked, 59.73 in 31st position.
Germany's Paul Biedermann broke the European record in the men's 400 free in 3:43.01, formerly held by Massimiliano Rosolino with 1:43.40, who missed the final in 16th place clocking 3:47.05. Also missing the final were both Australians, Ryan Napoleon and Robert Hurley, as well as American Daniel Madwed, while Peter Vanderkaay swam 3:45.40 to take the fifth position. The big shock of the morning was that Olympic gold medalist and defending world champion Tae Hwan Park, aiming to break Thorpe's luminous world record, missed the final in 3:46.04 in 12th place. The other qualifiers for tonight's final are Ous Mellouli, Zhang Lin, Mads Glaesner, David Davies, Gergo Kis and Ryan Cochrane.
Ariana Kukors put together a stunning swim to lead the qualifiers into tonight's semi-final in the 200 IM with a championship record. She was 0.07s off the world record, in 2:08.53, putting together the second fastest time in history. Ariana spoke to Swimming World after the race.
"I wanted to get in and have a good race, and see how the suit felt," Kukors said. "I'm really happy with the swim, hope to go faster and the suit feels great!"
Kukors was handed this position after Elizabeth Pelton scratched the event from her program to concentrate on her backstroke events.
"I'm really excited to have this individual race," Kukors said. "I just wanted to get in and redeem myself and have a good swim."
Katinka Hosszu was the second fastest qualifier with 2:09.12 from Hungary, while world record holder Stephanie Rice and Kirsty Coventry both dipped under the 2:10 mark. Notably, Canadian Erica Morningstar collapsed on pool deck after the race, but was taken care of and swam on Canada's relay later on in the session.
With a comeback, Roland Schoeman broke the Commonwealth record in the men's 50 fly with 22.90, while Rafael Munoz equaled that, as both checked in for the championship record. Milorad Cavic stayed under the 22s barrier in 22.93, with 2007 bronze medalist Jakob Andkjaer fourth with 23.04. Notably absent from tonight's final were Thomas Rupprath, finishing in 17th position in 23.49, and Kaio Almeida in 20th. This means that Schoeman, Andrew Lauterstein and Matt Targett will have four swims on the first day, together with the 400 free relay.
The women's 400 free saw the crowd get behind Italy's Federica Pellegrini from the moment her name was on the screen. Not disappointing, she was under world record pace in the first 200m finishing in 4:01.96, with a championship record and fifth-fastest time in history. American Allison Schmitt finished second with a 4:02.80 and in contrast, Rebecca Adlington scraped into the final with 4:05.70, possibly due to being in an early heat (4/6). Other qualifiers included world record holder Joanne Jackson, Coralie Balmy, Camelia Potec, Ophelie Etienne and Lotte Friis.
Controversy surrounded the psyche sheet on deck with the start list boasting a top-seed entry by Igor Borysik with 58.67, which is listed as the world record time. The time was also repeated in commentary by the announcer, but many on deck believe this time was never swum despite reports to the contrary about the already controversial swim. The swim took place, but was during a time trial that did not follow with a drug test.
Borysik finished in fifth, while Brenton Rickard lowered the Commonwealth and championship records by clocking a 58.98. He become the second man (ignoring Borysik's time) along with Kosuke Kitajima, to break the 59s barrier. Hugues Duboscq was the second-fastest qualifier with 59.01, a European record, with Eric Shanteau in 3rd with 59.05. American Mark Gangloff finished in 10th position with 59.67. 14 men broke the minute barrier, ranging from 58.98 to 59.95 by Yuta Suenaga.
Francesca Halsall broke the Championship and British record in the individual 100 Free in the leadoff of the 400 free relay with 53.02. Germany was the surprising fastest qualifier through the finals in 3:47.74 with all four swimmers clocking 53s performances, led off by Britta Steffen in 53.76. This does however look like its A team lineup.
The Dutch quartet who have held a winning streak at Euros, World Short Course and the Olympics, were helped by a split of 52.97 by Inge Dekker to finish in second in 3:34.94.
It is expected that Hinkelein Schreuder will be replaced by Marleen Veldhuis due to a 54.93 split, which leaves the original quartet to swim the final.
Australia swam in third, and as Meagen Nay experiences a family emergency at home after the passing of her brother in a car accident, she will decide on whether or not to continue the rest of the meet. A time trial by Cate Campbell in 53.50 means Marieke Guehrer and Shayne Reese who swam 53.47 and 53.19 will have to be decided upon by selectors on who to leave off. The U.S. just made it through in seventh with most girls (Smit, Dwelley, Geary and Magnuson) to be replaced by Amanda Weir and Dana Vollmer, and possibly Dara Torres. The other qualifiers for tonight's final were Sweden, China and Hungary.
Brazil, who entered as a strong seed, led the men's prelims in the 400 free, with 3:11.26, thanks to a stunning lead off by Cesar Cielo in 47.39, which was a Championship record. While France took second, Great Britain showed stunning form after Adam Brown clocked a 49.01, with the other three swimmers, Simon Burnett, Liam Tancock and Ross Davenport all splitting 47s. The American team finished fourth with a 3:11.64, with Matt Grevers and Cullen Jones splitting in 47s, while Ricky Berens and Garrett Weber-Gale (lead off) swam 48s. The Italians also boasted 3, 47 second splitters, and Francesco Donin should be replaced by Filipp Magnini tonight.
The South African and the Australians both swam their A teams with Lyndon Ferns breaking the 48s barrier in the lead off with 47.94. Olympic bronze medalists Australia have chosen to swim their top 4 in both sessions, with Eamon Sullivan withdrawing because of illness, and Kyle Richardson swimming a disappointing time trial. Kyle has then been left off the team, but will be given a consolation swim in the 50 free after Matt Targett declined that position. Despite a lead off of 47.77, Canada's Brent Hayden will miss the final to Russia who clocked 3:12.78.