By Oene Rusticus
EINDHOVEN, The Netherlands, December 22. OLYMPIC champion Pieter van den Hoogenband had just returned with his team from Australia (a 30-hour flight), but he still set some remarkable times at the Dutch Short Course Nationals in this weekend in Eindhoven.
He started his 200 freestyle under world record pace, splitting 23.67, 49.52 and 1:16.40, before he touched the pad in 1:43.44.
He also recorded a 100 meter freestyle split of 46.63 that led his team, PSV, to a fantastic 3:11.61 in the 400 freestyle relay. O
n Sunday he only swam in the medley relay, where he clocked 46.52 to anchor his PSV team to a Dutch team record time of 3:34.78.
"I didn’t want to surrender to the jetlag," he said. It was a challenge to break it. If this meet was in another pool where there was more competition, I might have broken my European record at the 200 freestyle."
The pool in Eindhoven is known as a surfers paradise because of the gigantic waves. The city wants to build the country's first Olympic-sized pool, but needs more funds to start building. This is one of the reasons the LEN decided to host the 2006 Europeans in Budapest instead of in Eindhoven.
Van den Hoogenband and his coach, Jacco Verhaeren, are optimistic for the upcoming World Cup meets. Hoogie wants to swim 1:41 in Berlin and has a chance to break Alexander Popov's world record in the 100m freestyle.
"Popov’s 46.74 has held long enough," he said.
Hoogie's teammate Klaas Erik Zwering set a Dutch record in the 100m backstroke starting the medley relay in 54.06. Earlier in on Sunday he won the 200 in 1:54.99, just half a second above personal best from the World Cup in Melbourne.
Hinkelien Schreuder joined the Philips pro swim team half a year ago after finishing high school. She won the 50 fly in 27.25 and approached the Dutch records in the 50 back (28.60) and the 200 back (2:11.27). The butterflyer of the team, Joris Keizer, swam 24.08 in the 50 and 52.32 in the 100 fly to win gold.
The pro-swim team TZA from Amsterdam has six great swimmers, and signed Inge de Bruijn this week to become number seven.
Thijs van Valkengoed placed seventh int the 200 meter breaststroke during last week's European Championships in Riesa. This weekend he improved his personal best time at this event by more than a second to 2:10.79. Also his 100 was very strong in 1:01.10. With the progression he’s currently making, the treble European Junior Champion should break the minute barrier in about a year. Fifteen year-old Lennart Stekelenburg broke the Junior National record of Van Valkengoed with his 1:02.34 for the 100 breast.
After several World Cup meets and starts at the European Championships, sprinter Chantal Groot added some new events to her schedule. She won the 200 fly in 2:15.17 and the 200 freestyle in 1:59.82, closely followed by last year's champion, Haike van Stralen (2:00.36). She skipped the 50 and 100 fly in favor of the 100 freestyle, where she placed second in 54.74, behind Marleen Veldhuis (54.43).
National team coach Andrë Cats pointed out the importance of the relays the coming years, especially the freestyle ones. The level is high in the country, with Suze Valen (55.08), Annabel Kosten (55.39) and Inge Dekker (55.64), who would have made the semi-finals with their times at last week's Europeans.
The 100 freestyle for men was won in 48.34 seconds by Mitja Zastrow, a German swimmer who is anxious to get his Dutch citizenship. His goal is to win Olympic relay gold with The Netherlands in Athens. Mark Veens (48.69) and Gijs Damen (49.27) might help him make that dream come true.
Van den Hoogenband skipped his personal events on Sunday because he disagreed with the Dutch Swim Association about the program in which the 50 fly and 100 freestyle were scheduled to take place within 15 minutes, events he both wanted to swim.
Madelon Baans dominated the breaststroke with her third national record within a week in the 100 meter breaststroke (1:07.96). She also won the 50 (31.72) and 200 breast (2:29.74). She got some competition from 14 year-old Moniek Nijhuis, who set a Junior National record at the 50 in 32.20 and a Dutch all-time best for her age in the 100 breaststroke (1:10.01).
Mitja Zastrow won the 50 backstroke in 24.85, while Sander Ganzevles and Bastiaan Tamminga shared the gold in the 100 in 54.75. Long distance swimmer Edith van Dijk easily won the 800 freestyle, but her time of 8:50.32 was a bit disappointing. She lost the 400 in a personal best time of 4:16.34 from Haike van Stralen (4:13.78).
The 50 freestyle produced some fast swimming, Mark Veens won the men’s final in 22,19, before Gijs Damen (22.53) and Jeroen van der Berkt (22.72). Marleen Veldhuis swam 25.19 to win the women’s 50, over the 25.45 of Annabel Kosten. Kosten anchored her team AZ&PC Amersfoort in 54.51 to a Dutch team record in the 400 medley relay (4:08.71).
Robin van Aggele won the 200 IM (2:01.35), 400 IM (4:19.35) and 1500 freestyle (15:29.78), and placed second in the 400 freestyle which was won by Thomas Felten (3:49.19).
Other winners were Inge Dekker who took the women's 100 fly home in 1:00.73, and Ralf Mertens who won the men's 200 fly with a time of 1:59.89 in the absence of Stefan Aartsen.
Thirty-six year old Ron Dekker took the 50m breast in a swift 28.17 seconds.