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SHANGHAI, China, July 24. HOT off a controversial day in the open water finale, swimmers began preliminary qualifying in the pool at the FINA World Long Course Championships.
With synchronized and open water swimming in the bag, and diving about to conclude this evening, the rest of the world has some catching up to do with host China and Russia in the driver seat in the overall medal standings.
Thanks to a dominant run in diving, which may include an unprecedented 10-for-10 finish this even in gold medal opportunities, China comes into this session with 20 total medals (9G, 10S, 1B). Meanwhile, Russia utilized a gold-medal sweep of synchronized swimming to sit second with 13 total medals (7G, 3S, 3B). Germany stands third with seven medals (1G, 3S, 3B).
Women's 100 fly
World record: Sarah Sjostrom, SWE, 56.06
Textile best: Inge de Bruijn, NED, 56.61
USA's Dana Vollmer rattled her American record in the event with a scorching time of 56.97 to earn the top seed heading into semis. Vollmer's American record stands at 56.94 from the 2009 World Championships. That effort is the top time in the world this year, ahead of Alicia Coutts' swift 57.25 from April. Vollmer's time this morning stands 18th on the all-time performances list.
Coutts checked in for second with a 57.49, just off that season best effort. Meanwhile, Great Britain's Jemma Lowe touched in 57.81, nearing Fran Halsall's British record of 57.40 from August 2010, en route to the third seed tonight.
Australian record holder Jessicah Schipper qualified fourth with a time of 57.86, while China's Lu Ying touched fifth with a 57.93. Defending champion Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden checked in sixth with a 58.10 after setting the world record back in 2009 with a 56.06 for the win.
Great Britain's Ellen Gandy (58.32), Denmark's Jeanette Ottesen (58.32), China's Liu Zige (58.44), USA's Christine Magnuson (58.49), The Netherlands' Inge Dekker (58.53), Canada's Katerine Savard (58.59), Japan's Yuka Kato (58.70), Sweden's Therese Alshammar (58.71), Singapore's Li Tao (58.89) and Russia's Irina Bespalova (58.89) all made the semifinals this evening as well.
Men's 400 free
World record: Paul Biedermann, GER, 3:40.07
Textile best: Ian Thorpe, AUS, 3:40.08
China's Sun Yang, who has a top-ranked 3:41.48 to his credit from April, cruised to the top seed in this evening's finale with a 3:44.87. Sun will be looking to be the first Chinese man to win a world title in the event. Zhang Lin took bronze in 2009.
"I've met the goal I set before the race, to finish between 3 minutes 45 seconds and 3 minutes 46 seconds, so it's satisfactory," Sun said. "I'm less excited in the morning session, and I will get in better shape at night. Tae Hwan Park and Paul Biedermann are my main rivals in this event."
Meanwhile, USA's Peter Vanderkaay looked smooth en route to taking the second seed with a 3:45.02 to move to fourth in the world rankings.
Germany's Paul Biedermann, the defending gold medalist in the event, qualified third with a 3:45.18 after a strong final 50 to move to sixth in the world. Tunisia's Ous Mellouli, who won the silver medal at the 2009 World Championships in Rome, took the fourth seed in 3:45.90, and improved to seventh.
France's Sebastien Rouault (3:46.20) and Yannick Agnel (3:46.72) made France the only nation with a pair of swimmers in the finale as both swimmers jumped into the top 10 in the world rankings.
South Korea's Tae Hwan Park (3:46.74) and Canada's Ryan Cochrane (3:46.88) also made the championship eight.
Women's 200 IM
World record: Ariana Kukors, USA, 2:06.15
Textile best: Ye Shiwen, CHN, 2:09.37
USA's Caitlin Leverenz came out of nowhere to lead preliminary action with a 2:11.01, while Spain's Mireia Belmont Garcia qualified second in 2:11.38.
"It's my first time to attend the world championships," Leverenz said. "I'm very happy with it. It is a beautiful pool. There are lots of people. It's really awesome."
Hungary's Katinka Hosszu put together a 2:11.53 for the third seed, while China's Ye Shiwen, who has the textile best in the event, qualified fourth with a 2:11.63 much to the delight of the partisan crowd. Hosszu took bronze in this event back in 2009.
Australia's Alicia Coutts, who stands second in the world this year with a 2:09.68 from June, qualified fifth in 2:11.64, while world record holder and top-ranked Ariana Kukors of the USA posted a sixth-seeded 2:11.84. Kukors' season best is a 2:09.53 from June that leads the globe.
Great Britain's Hannah Miley (2:11.95) and Australia's Stephanie Rice (2:12.68) made up the top eight. Rice is the defending silver medalist in the event.
Korea's Hye Ra Choi (2:13.00), Canada's Julia Wilkinson (2:13.16), Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry (2:13.32), Hungary's Evelyn Verraszto (2:13.33), Canada's Erica Morningstar (2:13.71), Czech's Barbora Zavadova (2:14.08), Great Britain's Siobhan-Marie O'Connor (2:14.30) and Belgium's Fanny Lecluyse (2:14.97) grabbed the other transfer spots into the semifinal round.
Men's 50 fly
World record: Rafael Munoz, ESP, 22.43
Textile best: Roland Schoeman, RSA, 22.96
Just days after having his positive doping test warning confirmed, Brazil's Cesar Cielo topped qualifying in the sprint fly with a 23.26. He owns the top time in the world this year with a 22.98 from the Paris Open in June.
"I'm very happy to be here," Cielo said. "It is very hard and I got the job done and broke the ice. I'll try to swim fast and get a medal here in Shanghai. There are a lot of good swimmers, so the result is unpredictable. I try to not make mistakes. My goal is 22.9 seconds and get a position in the final, but I will see what I can do. I try to get everything together and just focus on swimming. I'm a swimmer and I'm here for the swim, I will not think other things. I'm just happy to be here."
Australia's Geoff Huegill demonstrated some speed from a veteran with a 23.27, while France's Florent Manaudou took third in 23.31.
Kenya's Jason Dunford (23.48), Germany's Steffen Deibler (23.50), Serbia's Ivan Lendjer (23.51), Poland's Konrad Czerniak (23.52) and Australia's Matt Targett (23.53) comprised the top eight qualifiers. Czerniak lowered his Polish record of 24.00 set last June, while Targett is looking to better his silver medal from 2009.
Ukraine's Andriy Govorov (23.63), South Africa's Roland Schoeman (23.64), Belgium's Francois Heersbrandt (23.73), Serbia's Milorad Cavic (23.76), Paraguay's Ben Hockin (23.82), France's Fred Bousquet (23.84) and Great Britain's Antony James (23.94) qualified ninth through 15th, while The Netherlands' Joeri Verlinden and Russia's Nikita Konovalov set up a swimoff with matching 23.96s for 16th. Cavic is the defending world champion.
Verlinden beat Konovalov in the swimoff, 23.77 to 23.84.
Women's 400 free
World record: Federica Pellegrini, ITA, 3:59.15
Textile best: Laure Manaudou, FRA, 4:02.13
Defending world champion Federica Pellegrini of Italy cruised to the top seed with a 4:04.76, and did not look worse for wear after the swim. Her top time this year is a 4:03.49 from April, and she looks to have much left in the tank for the finale this evening.
"I was very calm," Pellegrini said. "That race was really good for me. The first 200 meters was a little bit hard. In the second 200 meters, the speed was good. I slept and ate normally yesterday."
France's Camille Muffat qualified second in 4:05.62, more than two seconds off her second-ranked season best of 4:03.23. New Zealand's Lauren Boyle put on a strong performance to qualify third in 4:05.86. Boyle crushed her New Zealand record of 4:07.61 she set back in April
Denmark's Lotte Friis (4:06.31), Australia's Kylie Palmer (4:06.38). Spain's Melania Costa Schmid (4:07.02), Great Britain's Rebecca Adlington (4:07.38) and USA's Katie Hoff (4:07.93) snagged the other lanes in the finale. Costa Schmid bettered the Spanish record in the event of 4:07.09 she set in March.
Men's 100 breast
World record: Brenton Rickard, AUS, 58.58
Textile best: Kosuke Kitajima, JPN, 59.04
With the backdrop of the domestic terrorist attack in Norway this weekend, Alexander Dale Oen is in position to provide his home country something to cheer for after clocking a 59.71 in prelims to lead all swimmers. That time puts him second in the world this year, behind only Japan's Kosuke Kitajima's 59.44 from April.
New Zealand's Glenn Snyders joined the sub-1:00 time with a national record time of 59.94 for the second seed. That swim beat his previous standard of 1:00.17 set back in April 2009.
While Kitajima is the heavy favorite this year, Worlds is one place he's had a tough time since first winning the 100 breast in 2003. He finished second to Brendan Hansen in both 2005 and 2007 before taking 2009 off after doubling up for Olympic gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This morning, he clocked a 59.96 as he cruised into the third seed.
Brazil's Felipe Da Silva (1:00.01), Italy's Fabio Scozzoli (1:00.14), USA's Mark Gangloff (1:00.29), Australia's Christian Sprenger (1:00.35) and Japan's Ryo Tateishi (1:00.37) picked up the rest of the top eight spots heading into semis.
France's Hugues Duboscq (1:00.38), South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh (1:00.39), Hungary's Daniel Gyurta (1:00.40), Lithuania's Giedrius Titenis (1:00.41), Australia's Brenton Rickard (1:00.48), Germany's Hendrik Feldwehr (1:00.70), Great Britain's Michael Jamieson (1:00.79) and The Netherlands' Lennart Stekelenburg (1:00.86) also made the final 16. Rickard, Duboscq and van der Burgh are the reigning podium winners from 2009, and have some work to do if they hope to maintain that stature.
Women's 400 free relay
World record: The Netherlands, 3:31.72
Textile best: USA, 3:35.11
An epic freestyle battle is set up for this evening as the United States and The Netherlands both scared the textile best in the women's 400 freestyle relay. The two nations have been atop the world in the sprint frees, and this evening will be a heavyweight battle after the U.S. (3:35.64) and The Netherlands (3:35.76) both popped sub-3:36 times.
The U.S. relay was comprised of Amanda Weir (54.35), Missy Franklin (53.57), Kara Lynn Joyce (54.10) and Jessica Hardy (53.62), while The Netherlands had a foursome of Marleen Veldhuis (54.41), Ranomi Kromowidjojo (53.66), Maud van der Meer (54.70) and Femke Heemskerk (52.99).
China's Li Zhesi (54.47), Wang Shijia (54.60), Pang Jiaying (54.47) and Tang Yi (53.60) qualified third with a 3:37.14.
Germany (3:37.28), Australia (3:38.35), Canada (3:38.80), Japan (3:39.28) and Denmark (3:39.48) garnered the rest of the transfer spots into the championship finale this evening.
Notably, Belarus' Aliaksandra Herasimenia had the fastest 100 free leadoff with a 54.14 as her team finished 12th with a 3:43.41.
Men's 400 free relay
World record: USA, 3:08.24
Textile best: USA, 3:11.74
France has been knocking at the door for the men's 400 free relay gold at an international championship meet, but has yet to do so including the gut-wrenching loss for the French to a surging Jason Lezak at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Prelim action this year might give the French some hope to final ascend to the top of the podium as France clocked a blazing time of 3:12.09 from the foursome of Alain Bernard (48.37), Jeremy Stravius (47.87), William Meynard (48.23) and Fabien Gilot (47.62).
The U.S. turned in a 3:13.50 comprised of Garrett Weber-Gale (48.49), Ryan Lochte (48.28), Doug Robison (48.62) and Dave Walters (48.11). Meanwhile, Russia's Vlad Morozov (49.07), Evgeny Lagunov (48.12), Danila Izotov (48.28) and Sergey Fesikov (48.14) tied Italy's Luca Dotto (48.70), Marco Orsi (48.30), Michele Santucci (48.67) and Filippo Magnini (47.94) for third with matching 3:13.61s.
Australia (3:13.79), Germany (3:14.23), South Africa (3:14.72) and Great Britain (3:15.35) earned the last four spots in the finale.