BERLIN, Germany, April 27. GERMANY’S world championships trials rolled through its third day, with Britta Steffen providing the headline of the competition with her scratch from the 100 freestyle final.
Steffen, the world record holder in the 100 free with a 52.07 from the 2009 world championships, had a subpar Olympic Games, failing to defend her 100 freestyle title from 2008 with a 12th-place finish in 2012. Today, she qualified third for the final with a 55.68 in prelims, but a sudden illness forced her to withdraw from the final, according to German media reports. German national team head coach Lambertz Henning said he will keep all options open in giving Steffen a chance to qualify for the world championships in the coming weeks.
In Steffen’s absence, Daniela Schreiber won the event with a 54.31, good enough for automatic selection to the world championship roster. Second through fourth place got under 56 seconds to put Germany into the women’s 400 free relay and a chance to defend their bronze medal performance from 2011: Alexandra Wenk (55.51), Annika Bruhn (55.79) and Helen Scholtissek (55.83).
The Deibler brothers, one day after each winning titles with world-ranked times, battled in the men’s 100 freestyle final. Steffen, the oldest Deibler sibling, won with a 48.45, just off Marco di Carli’s national record of 48.21 from 2011. Markus placed second with a 48.79, while di Carli was third in 49.37. Fourth place went to Christoph Fildebrandt with a 49.59 to round out Germany’s 400 free relay. Dmitri Colupaev, who recently competed for the University of Southern California at the NCAA championships, was fifth with a 49.66.
Franziska Hentke was the only world championship qualifier in the women’s 200 butterfly with her time of 2:08.87. Lisa Hopink was well back in second with a 2:13.68, while Lena Kalla took third with a 2:14.63.
Philip Heintz missed automatic world championship qualifying for the men’s 200 butterfly, taking the national title with a 1:57.31 (FINA standard: 1:57.03). Robin Backhaus, not to be confused with the 1972 American Olympian of the same name, finished second with a 2:00.03, with Alexandre Leiss third with a 2:00.29.
Caroline Runhau got the world championship qualifying train rolling again with a 1:08.46 in the women’s 100 breaststroke, beating the standard of 1:08.63. Vanessa Grimberg just missed selection to the roster with a runner-up time of 1:09.14, and Julia Willers took third with a 1:09.92.
Hendrik Feldwehr and Christian von Lehm both will swim the men’s 100 breast in Barcelona, with Feldwehr winning the national title in 1:00.30 to von Lehm’s 1:00.68. Both competed in the 2011 world championships, with Feldwehr making it as far as the semifinals. Marco Koch, known more for his short course prowess at the FINA World Cup, was third with a 1:01.24.
Selina Hocke, 17, is on pace to sweep the backstroke events, adding the 200 title to the 50 back win from yesterday with a 2:10.65 that is also a junior record and an automatic world championship qualifying time. Jenny Mensing, the German national record holder with a 2:08.30, took second with a 2:11.36, outside of automatic world championship selection by three tenths of a second. Lisa Graf picked up third with a 2:12.14.
Yannick Lebherz, already qualified for the world champs team in the 400 IM from Thursday, added the 200 back to his schedule with a winning time of 1:56.71. The time is fourth in the world, and marks a lifetime best for the 24-year-old. Felix Wolf posted a 1:59.13 for second, missing automatic selection for worlds by seven tenths of a second. Christian Diener was third in 2:00.62.
Isabelle Harle, Sarah Kohler and Leonie Beck were never more than a second apart in splits for much of the women’s 800 freestyle race, with Harle touching first in 8:23.23 to Kohler’s 8:23.80 and Beck’s 8:32.81. All three times were under FINA’s automatic qualifying for the event, but FINA rules dictate that only Harle and Kohler will swim the race in Barcelona.
Soren Meissner posted a big win in the men’s 1500 freestyle with a 15:12.72, automatically qualifying for the world championships. Martin Grodzki, the 2011 NCAA champion in the 1650 freestyle who struggled last March in his final collegiate championship, failed to earn a spot on the world championship team, finishing second with a 15:22.80 and outside automatic qualification. Robert Nussle was third with a 15:25.92.