By Oene Rusticus
AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands, April 2. INGE de Bruijn and Pieter van den
Hoogenband set great times during the sold-out second day of the Amsterdam
Swim Cup. Hometown favourites Thijs van Vallkengoed and Ewout Holst won
their events only finger length ahead of strong international fields.
After a magnificent official opening of the meet with a synchronized
swimming team, the crowd was eager to see triple Olympic Champion Inge de
Bruijn fly though the water for 100 mters. She swam a qualifying time for Athens during the heats, clocking 58.99, but didn't hold back in the final. Over a length ahead of the field, she touched the pad in 58.46.
"I did what I came for," said De Bruijn after qualifying for Athens. "To
get back to the top of the world, it needs to be faster, but for now it's a
a good time."
In the first final, Pieter van den Hoogenband made his appearance in the 200 freestyle. He qualified already for Athens and confirmed today that he will be starting at the European Championships in Madrid next month. In between hard training sessions, VdH swam 1:46.55 on the 200, half a second faster than last week in Eindhoven.
The rest of the field didn't get under 1:50, but there was a close battle
for second between Heiko Hell and Dimitros Manganas from Greece, the German
finishing in 1:50.60 to 1:50.64 for Manganas.
Dutchman Thijs van Valkengoed, supported by his fans club from De Dolfijn
SPAX Amsterdam, finished just 0.01 ahead of his Polish rival Slawomir Kuczko in the 200 breaststroke. The triple European Junior Champion on the
breaststroke finished in 2:17.59. Romanos Alyfantis from Greece finished
third in 2:18.41.
Good backstrokers in Holland are very rare. Dutch record holder Klaas Erik
Zwering scratched his final and is concentrating more on the freestyle
events for Athens. Former German Mitja Zastrow, now swimming for The
Netherlands, has a good backstroke, but because of injuries he hasn't
performed at 100% lately. The final showed a battle between Zastrow, Sander
Ganzevles from Amsterdam, and David Ortega.
The Spaniard turned first in 27.56. The two Dutch swimmers gained in the second 50, but couldn't prevent Ortega taking gold in 56.84. Ganzevles finished second in 57.01, ahead of Zastrow (57.26).
Although the 50 butterfly is not an Olympic event, it showed a great field,
with Mark Foster from Great Britain, Igor Martchenko from Russia and two
Dutchmen, Joris Keizer and Ewout Holst battling for gold. Holst finished
best, sprinting to 24.17. Foster couldn't get his stroke rate up like Holst
did, and ended in 24.41, just ahead of Keizer (24.50). Winner of the 100 fly Martchenko finished fourth in 24.94.
De Bruijn wasn't the only woman who swam fast at the 100 butterfly. 200
World Record holder Otylia Jedrzejczak was also in the race to swim fast. The Polish swimmer finished second in 59.26, only 1.04 above her silver medal performance in Barcelona. The battle for the last Dutch Olympic ticket at this event is still undecided. Inge Dekker (1:00,31) and Chantal Groot (1:00,74) are both eager to get it.
Aleksandra Urbanczyk, a new talent from Poland, won the 200 IM in 2:17.81,
just half a second above her time from Barcelona. Otylia Jedrzejczak won the 400 freestyle in 4:14.59, just after finishing second in the 100 fly. Zoi Dimoschaki (4:16.64) and Marianna Lymperta (4:17.30) finished second and third for Greece.
The 50 breaststroke is also a non-Olympic event, but the appearance of World Record-holder Zoe Baker made this a great event. Genna Patterson of Paul Bergen's Thunderbolts dared to challenge her, but just mist finishing first. Baker finished in 32.36, but could match with her performance of last year (31.54). Patterson placed second in 32.54.