By Stephen J. Thomas, Norbert Agh and Phillip Whitten
BERLIN, July 30. THE semifinals tonight at the European Championships were almost as exciting as the finals, highlighted as they were by a foot-stomping duel between Holland's Pieter van den Hoogenband and Russia's Alex Popov in the 100 free.
The Dutchman is the world record-holder, defending Olympic champion and only man ever to swim 100 meters under 48 seconds — he set the world record of 47.84 in the semifinals in Sydney. For his part, the Russian won both the 50 and the 100 free at the 1992 and '96 Olympic Games — the only man ever to accomplish that feat. Popov, "the Czar," can reasonably claim to have been the greatest swimmer of all time, but Hoogie clearly is the Heir Apparent.
Tonight, Popov got off first and held his lead for the first lap. But Hoogie caught him right before the turn, flipping in 23.23 to Popov's 23.34. Hoogie had plenty left to bring himself home. Spurred on by the roaring, capacity crowd, he touched in 47.97 — history's second fastest performance. Popov followed in 48.70, the second fastest time in the world this year and faster than his two winning Olympic 100 meter swims.
The Russian seemed unperturbed by his second-place finish to the Dutchman, who says Popov is his idol. After the race, Popov shook his hand, waved to a few friends in the crowd, and was planning on how he would swim tomorrow's final.
"Tomorrow is another day," said Popov, 30. "We'll see what happens then," Popov said. "Are you patient? Just wait and see."
University of California sophomore-to-be, Duje Draganja, of Croatia, qualified third in 49.30, while France's Romain Barnier, an Auburn grad, was fourth fastest at 49.54.
Ten swimmers broke 50 seconds in the semifinals, with 49.92 needed to make it to the final. Sweden's Lars Frolander was seventh at 49.80.
Hungary's Tamas Kerekjarto, a University of Southern California grad, leads a tightly bunched field into the finals of the men's 200 IM with his 2:00.38. Only five swimmers — Finland's Jani Sievinen, the USA's Tom Dolan, Italy's Massi Rosolino, and Hungary's Tamas Darnyi and Attila Czene have broken the two-minute barrier, but Kerekjarto is poised to become the sixth man — and third Hungarian — to accomplish the feat.
Kerekjarto, however, has a history of swimming faster in prelims or semis than in the finals, and he doesn't have much breathing room. Italy's Alessio Boggiatto is only two-hundredths behind, with world record-holder, Jani Sievinen of Finland, third quickest at 2:00.64.
All eight finalists swam under 2:02, with Slovenia's Peter Mankoc — the WR-holder for the (short course) 100 IM eighth in 2:01.57.
Kerekjarto told SwimInfo he was very happy with his swim and "glad that I worked so hard the last few years with Coach (Mark) Schubert (of USC).
As loaded as the 200 IM field is, the finalists got a bit of a reprieve when Italy's Rosolino, the 2000 Olympic champion, was disqualified during prelims.
Four women swam under 55 seconds in the semis of the 100 free (five achieved the feat in prelims), with Germany's Franzi Van Almsick leading the way in 54.48, her fastest 100 free since 1993. Slovakia's Martina Moravcova is second in 54.86. Belarus'Elena Popchenko is third (54.95) with Germany's Petra Dallman fourth (54.96).
Just making it into the final by the skin of her teeth was Sweden's Therese Alshammar, at 55.72. The short course WR-holder and defending short course world champion was fortunate Inge DeBruijn took a pass for this meet. As it was, Alshammar was only one-hundredth of a second ahead of Poland's Otylia Jedrejczak, better known aas a 200 flyer.
It took a sub-1:10 effort to make it into the finals in the women's 100m breaststroke, with Sweden's Emma Igelstrom leading the way at 1:08.14. More than a second behind is Hungary's Agnes Kovacs, the 2000 Olympic and 2001 World Championship gold medalist. Only Kovacs appears to have any chance at all of challenging the flying Swede.
DAY TWO: July 30, 2002
Men's 100 meter freestyle
(Top 8 qualify for final)
1. Pieter Van den Hoogenband (NED) 47.97 CR+
2. Alexander Popov (RUS) 48.70
3. Duje Draganja (CRO) 49.30
4. Romain Barnier (FRA) 49.54
5. Attila Zubor (HUN) 49.56
6. Torsten Spanneberg (GER) 49.71
7. Lars Frolander (SWE) 49.80
8. Karel Novy (SUI) 49.92
9. Jere Hard (FIN) 49.97
10. Rolandas Gimbutis (LTU) 49.98
11. Lorenzo Vismara (ITA) 50.16
12. Stefan Nystrand (SWE) 50.21
13. Renaat Dreesen (BEL) 50.35
14. Michele Scarica (ITA) 50.41
15. Pavel Lagoun (BLR) 50.54
16. Eduard Lorente (ESP) 50.72
+: Second-fastest all-time
Women's 100 meter breaststroke
(top 8 qualify for final)
1. Emma Igelstrom (SWE) 1:08.14
2. Agnes Kovacs (HUN) 1:09.32
3. Elena Bogomazova (RUS) 1:09.45
4. Simone Weiler (GER) 1:09.62
5. Ekaterina Kormatcheva (RUS) 1:09.81
6. Svitlana Bondarenko (UKR) 1:09.87
7. Madelon Baans (NED) 1:09.95
8. Mirna Jukic (AUT) 1:09.97
9. Carolin Bohm (GER) 1:10.17
10. Majken Thorup (DEN) 1:10.33
11. Anne-Mari Gulbrandsen (NOR) 1:10.84
12. Beata Kaminska (POL) 1:10.90
13. Sara Farina (ITA) 1:11.01
14. Tamara Sambrailo (SLO) 1:11.63
15. Natalia Hissamutdinova (EST) 1:11.93
16. Ilkay Dikmen (TUR) 1:12.49
Men's 200 meter individual medley
(Top 8 qualify for final)
1. Tamas Kerekjarto (HUN) 2:00.38
2. Alessio Boggiatto (ITA) 2:00.40
3. Jani Sievinen (FIN) 2:00.64
4. Jens Kruppa (GER) 2:01.10
5. Istvan Bathazi (HUN) 2:01.39
6. Markus Rogan (AUT) 2:01.48
7. Christian Keller (GER) 2:01.53
8. Peter Mankoc (SLO) 2:01.57
9. Ioannis Kokkodis (GRE) 2:02.08
10. Vytautas Janusaitis (LTU) 2:02.26
11. Cezar Badita (ROM) 2:02.55
12. Kresimir Cac (CRO) 2:03.70
13. Michael Halika (ISR) 2:03.80
14. Sergiy Sergeev (UKR) 2:03.90
15. Jordi Carrasco (ESP) 2:04.15
16. Xavier Marchand (FRA) 2:05.25
Women's 100 meter freestyle
(top 8 qualify for final)
1. Franziska Van Almsick (GER) 54.48
2. Martina Moravcova (SVK) 54.86
3. Elena Popchenko (BLR) 54.95
4. Petra Dallman (GER) 54.96
5. Johanna Sjoberg (SWE) 55.33
6. Aliaksandra Herasimenia (BLR) 55.45
7. Olga Mukomol (UKR) 55.71
8. Therese Alshammar (SWE) 55.72
9. Otylia Jedrejczak (POL) 55.73
10. Wilma Van Rijn (NED) 55.74
11. Hanna-Maria Seppala (FIN) 55.84
12. Mette Jacobsen (DEN) 56.06
13. Cecilia Vianini (ITA) 56.17
14. Solenne Figues (FRA) 56.34
15. Nery-Mantey Niangkouara (GRE) 56.71
16. Jana Kolukanova (EST) 57.76