By guest writer Julia Wilkinson-Minks (2008 & 2012 Canadian Olympian)
MERSIN, Turkey, June 21. EVEN though the eyes of many swim fans are set on the commencement of the U.S .World Aquatic Trials on Tuesday, there are still other swim meets happening around the world, featuring Olympic medalists and podium threats at this summer's World Championships.
Swimming at the Mediterranean Games kicked off today in Istanbul, Turkey, somewhat of a “try-out” to prove the city's mettle as it continues to vie for the 2020 Olympic bid. This quadrennial multisport event started in 1951, and although was initially held the year preceding the Olympics, the modern games now occur the year after the Olympic Games. The Games are mainly for nations who border the Mediterranean Sea, and currently 24 countries compete in the event.
Today, action in the pool began with the women's 50-meter backstroke. Three-time Olympic backstroker Sanja Jovanovic was victorious in 28.48. Jovanovic is the former world record holder in this event short course.
In the men's 50-meter backstroke, Stefano Mauro Pizzamiglio started a roll for the Italians, winning in 25.35. His two teammates, Giulia De Ascentis and Fabio Scozzoli won the women's and men's 100-meter breatstrokes respectively. De Ascentis finished in a time of 1:08.57, Scozzoli in 1:00.86.
In the women's 200-meter IM, Anja Klinar of Slovenia took the title in 2:14.40. On the men's side, Federico Turrini won Italy's fourth gold of the evening in 1:59.35. Turrini swam the 400-meter IM at the Olympics in London, so expect him to be strong in that event later in the meet.
The Italians continued their dominance in the women's 400-meter freestyle: Martina De Memme won handily in 4:09.18, more than two seconds ahead of second place. On the men's side, Serbia's Velimir Stjepanovic narrowly defeated Olympic Gold Medalist Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia. Stjepanovic finished in 3:48.33, Mellouli was three tenths behind in 3:48.67. Stejpanovic is an Olympian in his own right, earning a place in the final and finishing 6th in the men's 200-meter butterfly last summer in London.
In the women's 400-meter freestyle relay, France dominated the field. The team of Anna Santamans, Lauriane Haag, Mathilde Cini and Beryl Gastaldello finished four seconds ahead of Greece, in a time of 3:42.37.
Julia Wilkinson-Minks is a two-time Olympian for Canada and was a finalist in the 200-meter IM at the 2008 Beijing Games. In 2010, she became Texas A&M's first ever NCAA champion in swimming when she won the 100-yard freestyle. She graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Speech Communication. Julia retired from competitive swimming following the London Olympic Games and now lives in Texas with her husband Shane.
Follow her on twitter @juliah2o