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SHANGHAI, China, July 30. THE FINA World Long Course Championships are quickly coming to a close. With just four more sessions left, one of the fastest meets in history still has some time to create even more fireworks.
Last night demonstrated the amazing potential of Missy Franklin, and confirmed the mastery of Rebecca Soni in the breaststroke events. Additionally, Ryan Lochte kept on making his case for his second consecutive Swimming World World Swimmer of the Year award.
What storylines will the seventh day of prelims begin to write prior to the penultimate evening of actions?
Women's 50 free
World record: Britta Steffen, GER, 23.73
Textile best: Inge de Bruijn, NED, 24.13
Some of the swiftest swimmers in the world took to the water for the women's splash-and-dash to open the morning session. Sweden's Therese Alshammar and USA's Jessica Hardy led the way with matching 24.82s for the top seeds. Hardy showed some strong speed right before jumping in the water for the 50 breast.
Belarus' Aliaksandra Herasimenia, the 100 free co-titlist, took third in 24.85, while Germany's Dorothea Brandt also cleared 25 seconds with a 24.86 for fourth.
The Netherlands' Marleen Veldhuis (25.01) and Ranomi Kromowidjojo (25.03) finished fifth and sixth, while Canada's Chantal Vanlandeghem (25.05) and Great Britain's Fran Halsall (25.05) rounded out the top eight.
USA's Amanda Weir (25.11), Australia's Yolane Kukla (25.11), Greece's Theodora Drakou (25.13), Australia's Olivia Halicek (25.18), Denmark's Jeanette Ottesen (25.23), Canada's Victoria Poon (25.24), Bahamas' Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (25.28) and Japan's Yayoi Matsumoto (25.34) also made the semifinal round.
As previously reported, Brittan Steffen, the defending world champion and world record holder, withdrew from the entire meet earlier in the week after the 100 free.
Women's 50 breast
World record: Jessica Hardy, USA, 29.80sp
Textile best: Jessica Hardy, USA, 30.03
Just 11 minutes after her qualifying time in the 50 free, Jessica Hardy returned to the pool for her pet event, the sprint breaststroke. Hardy, the world and textile best holder turned up the speed with a scorching time of 30.20 – the 10th-fastest effort all time. The rest of the field was more than half-a-second behind her in qualifying.
"I am really happy, and excited about tonight," Hardy said. "I am definitely hoping for a good time in the breaststroke. This time made the top 16, which was the goal this morning."
Hardy will have some familiar company in the sprint breast semifinals as Trojan Swim Club training partners Yuliya Efimova (30.72) and USA's Rebecca Soni (30.72) posted matching times for the next two spots.
Sweden's Jennie Johansson (30.89) and Australia's Leisel Jones (30.93) also beat 31 seconds for the fourth and fifth qualifying spots.
Australia's Leiston Pickett (31.07), Sweden's Rebecca Ejdervik (31.19) and Great Britain's Kate Haywood (31.30) grabbed sixth through eighth.
China's Liu Xiaoyu (31.32), The Netherlands' Moniek Nijhuis (31.40), China's Zhao Jin (31.40), Czech's Petra Chocova (31.41), Ireland's Sycerika McMahon (31.49), Denmark's Rikke Pedersen (31.65), South Africa's Suzaan Van Biljon (31.96) and Estonia's Jane Trepp (32.00) earned the rest of the semifinal transfer spots.
Men's 50 back
World record: Liam Tancock, GBR, 24.04
Textile best: Camille Lacourt, FRA, 24.07
South Africa's Gerhard Zanberg clocked the only sub-25 second time of the morning with a 24.72 for the top seed. France's Camille Lacourt, the owner of the textile best time, took second in 25.03, while Germany's Helge Meeuw finished third in 25.04.
Switzerland's Flori Lang (25.12), Spain's Aschwin Wildeboer (25.14), Japan's Junya Koga (25.17), Israel's Guy Barnea (25.18), USA's Nick Thoman (25.22) and USA's David Plummer (25.22) also made the top eight.
Defending world champion Liam Tancock of Great Britain tied for 10th with Greece's Aristeidis Grigoriadis with matching 25.26s. Italy's Mirco Di Tora (25.28), Australia's Hayden Stoeckel (25.29), Australia's Ashley Delaney (25.33), The Netherlands' Bastiaan Lijesen (25.33) and Canada's Charles Francis (25.43) picked up spots in the semis.
"We are all pretty close in the 50," Tancock said. "For the semifinal, I'll step up again. I'm really confident. The training has been going well, and I'll look to make the final."
Women's 400 medley relay
World record: China, 3:52.19
Textile best: USA, 3:55.23
The United States posted a strong time in the morning as Elizabeth Pelton (1:00.19), Rebecca Soni (1:04.97), Christine Magnuson (57.54) and Amanda Weir (54.25) turned in a time of 3:56.95 to lead the way.
Russia's Anastasia Zueva, Yuliya Efimova, Irina Bespalova and Veronika Popova finished more than two seconds back with a second-seeded 3:59.08. China's Gao Chang, Sun Ye, Jiao Liuyang and Li Zhesi placed third in 3:59.44.
Australia (3:59.62), Great Britain (3:59.65), Japan (4:00.08), Canada (4:00.72) and Germany (4:00.90) snatched the other final spots.
"There was a little bit of pressure, and I was quite excited," Stephanie Rice said of her backstroke leadoff of 1:01.47. "It is one of my best times. There will be a tough race tonight. We are really tight knit as a team, and I just want to make sure I can hang with the other girls since I haven't been in a meet like this in two years."
Notably, a swimoff for the first alternate spot in the men's 50 free came down to Australia's Matt Targett downing Russia's Sergey Fesikov, 22.15 to 22.32, before the men's 1500 free heats began.
Men's 1500 free
World record: Grant Hackett, AUS, 14:34.56
Textile best: Same
China's Sun Yang, the second-fastest swimmer ever in the event with a 14:35.43 from the 2010 Asian Games, clocked an easy 14:48.13 to lead qualifying in the men's metric mile this morning. Sun will be looking to known down Grant Hackett's legendary record in the event tomorrow night.
Hungary's Gergo Kis qualified second in 14:52.72, while USA's Peter Vanderkaay (14:54.99) and USA's Chad La Tourette (14:55.59) gave the Americans a pair of finalists. Canada's Ryan Cochrane (14:55.86), Faroe Islands' Pal Joensen (14:56.66), Japan's Yosuke Miyamoto (14:57.12) and Italy's Samuel Pizzetti (14:58.30) all cleared 15:00 to make the finale.
Defending champion Ous Mellouli of Tunisia finished well out of the finalist spots with a 15th-place time of 15:13.56.