Lisbon, Portugal – Pieter van den Hoogenband, the flying Dutchman, will not match the six European long-course titles he won in July at the continent’s short-course equivalent at the Jamor pool in Lisbon – though through no fault of his own.
Looking remarkably fresh after his outing at the US Open in Texas last week, Hoogie, as he has become known, clocked 1:44.34 to retain his European short-course title comfortably over Italy’s Massimiliano Rosolino (1:45.22). Next up was the 4 x 50m freestyle relay but the Netherlands were no match for Sweden despite a 20.93 split from Van den Hoogenband that promoted the Dutch quarter from sixth after three men to the bronze medal behind Sweden and Germany by a fingernail at the expense of Britain.
If Pieter was the greatest among men, then top female honors on the first racing day of four belonged to Yana Klochkova, of Ukraine. In the absence of anything resembling close competition, Klochkova fell shy of the European record in the 400 meter medley, winning in 4:34.07, a championship record, despite having raced inside record pace until 300 meters. Nicole Hetzer, of Germany, was a distant runner-up at 4:37.47, with defending champion Hana Cerna third a touch behind on 4:37.74.
The men’s 400m medley title passed to Frederik Hviid of Spain in 4:08.85 in a close battle with Germany’s Jirka Letzin (4:09.85). Praising the facilities at Jamor, Hviid said that the fast pool had helped him to shave two seconds off his best time.
Mette Jacobsen, of Denmark, took revenge on her teammate Sophia Skou in the 200m butterfly by reversing the order of last year’s result. Jacobsen claimed the title decisively in 2:06.87, with Johanna Sjoberg, of Sweden, taking the silver medal at the touch from Skou.
In a program swollen by semi-finals and 50 meter races, the sprint titles on day one went to Britain’s Zoe Baker (31.40) and Germany’s Mark Warnecke (27.10) in breaststroke and Miro Zeravica of Croatia in backstroke (24.70).