ROME, Italy, July 26. BehindTheBlocks.com's Priyant Pratap is providing on the spot thoughts at the FINA World Championships of each session. Here is his day two finals analysis.
The Foro Italico saw another night filled through in the stands, this time by French supporters, as many finals featured medal hopefuls from France, particularly Hugues Duboscq in the men's 100 breast. More world records tumbled, into insane territories and shock upsets saw many miss the finals, perhaps the biggest shock of all came in the men's 100 back.
The night began with Brenton Rickard shocking everyone after a sleeper year with not only the World Championship, but the world record too, in a stunning 58.58 just edging out Hugues Duboscq in 58.64. Duboscq entered Worlds saying he would swim in briefs but has since changed his mind sporting adidas to a delighted crowd. Cameron van der Burgh took bronze with 58.95, while Eric Shanteau just missed the podium in 4th position also clearing 58s with 58.98. The top seeds entering Worlds, Igor Borysik, Henrique Barbosa (and after failing to make the finals) Mark Gangloff, all finished without a medal.
The benchmark of Inge deBruijn in 56.61 is well and truly gone, and 55s now loom. 56.06 gave Sweden its first gold medal of the meet, something usually seen by Therese Alshammar, by way of Sarah Sjostrom. Jessicah Schipper also clocked a sensational Commonwealth record in 56.23 while Beijing bronze medalist in the 200 fly and favorite to win the 200 fly, Jiao Liuyang took bronze in 56.86. All women broke the 57s barrier, except Marleen Veldhuis who has now also scratched from the 100 free to focus on her 50 event later on. The Dutch team is investigating her form, as the blueprint of her fitness matches that of when she broke world records earlier in the year. She is taking three days off from competing.
In a shocking men's 100 back, Aaron Peirsol missed the final in 9th position swimming 53.22 in what was an overall noticeably slower second semi final. Junya Koga, known for his 50 back work, led the men in 52.39 with Helge Meeuw of Germany in 52.49 and Ryosuke Irie in third with 52.73. The only male backstroker now on the Australian team, Ashley Delaney (with 4 events) also missed the final. Markus Rogan gave up the 200 back training to focus on the 100 back and finished in 11th with 53.40, with all the men of that semifinal approaching him to show their support. Other qualifiers for the final are former world record holder Aschwin Wildeboer-Faber, Olympic silver medalist Matt Grevers, Montreal 50m World Champion Aristeidis Grigoriadis and dual bronze medalist from Beijing, Arkadi Vyatchanin as well as Liam Tancock of Great Britain.
As expected Rebecca Soni became the first woman to ever break 1:05 in the women's 100 breast with 1:04.84 showing more elation than she usually does. Yuliya Efimova cleared 1:06 again to clock 1:05.84, while Australia's Sarah Katsoulis swam 1:06.23 while teammate Tarnee White missed in 11th position. Canadian Annamay Pierse, Rikke Moller-Pederson, and Kasey Carlson made the final, joining Olympic bronze medalist in this event Mirna Jukic and veteran Sarah Poewe.
All eyes were on Milorad Cavic as he took the 50 fly title for the first time in 22.67, a Championship record for Serbia. Australia's Matt Targett looked for an upset in 22.73, with Auburn teammate and Melbourne bronze medalist Jakob Andkjaer taking 4th. World record holder Rafael Munoz of Spain finished in 3rd position with 22.88, 0.4s off his global mark. In the press conference, all questions were for Milorad Cavic, centered around his final with Michael Phelps in 2008, which became frustrating for Cavic.
"I'm glad to have had that swim in me with what happened last night," Matt Targett told Swimming World Magazine. "It's great to have the support of family and friends, and to do this in front of them. I've always had this event from Melbourne when I was stripped of my medal at Commonwealth Games, to now, it's sweet".
59s are a thing of the past as Anastasia Zueva took down Kirsty Coventy's 58.77 standard from Beijing. 58.48 is what stands as the current world record following the semi finals, which saw Gemma Spofforth improve on her Commonwealth record in 58.74. Emily Seebohm swam an Australian record of 59.15 after missing the finals of the 200 IM, unlike Kirsty Coventry who had to double up, and swam 59.21. Shiho Sakai and Zhao Jing also qualified alongside Elizabeth Simmonds and Hayley McGregory who tied for 7th place in 59.55. American Elizabeth Pelton who dropped the 200IM to focus on this event, missed the final in 1:00.51.
Paul Biedermann could be the first person to defeat Michael Phelps individually at this level since 2005. He led the 200 free qualifiers with 1:43.65 while Russian Izotov swam 1:45.09 alongside fellow Russian Nikita Lobintsev in 1:45.31. The Commonwealth contingent of Jean Basson and Kenrick Monk qualified, with Sebastiaan Verschuren and Sho Uchida. Sadly, Dominik Meichtry finished 9th missing the final by 0.3s.
Finally, the all rounder was used to conclude the night, which saw Ariana Kukors maintain her confidence under pressure to come away with the World Championship and world record in the 200 IM. 2:06.15 will stand as the new world record.
"It's what we have to do at this Worlds that matter," Kukors said when asked if she had pity on newcomers having to strive for her record. "Sure it's a shame they won't be able to swim in these suits, but I was expecting a big time drop and I got it."
"You have to play this meet by meet, not what's going to happen 10 years from now," Stephanie Rice said about the suits.
Rice set a Commonwealth record with 2:07.03 while Katinka Hosszu of Hungary who has spent time at USC training, created an upset beating Kirsty Coventry, 2:07.46 to 2:08.94.