CANET, FRANCE, June 8. SLOVAKIA'S Martina Moravcova, looking more and more like one of the favorites in next month's freestyle sprints at the European
Championships in Berlin, won her third consecutive Mare Nostrum 100 free here today in as many meets.
The former Southern Methodist University star, who still holds the U.S. Open and NCAA record in the 200 yard freestyle, clocked a 55.40 to win with Sweden's Josefin Lillhage second (56.22) and Finland's Hanna Maria Seppala third (56.34).
Currently studying for her master's in business at SMU, Moravcova won at Monte Carlo last weekend, then followed up with a seasonal pr 55.01 to win at Rome — the Mare Nostrum Series' second stop — Wednesday.
She'll be looking to try and topple Holland's world record-holder and Olympic champ Inge deBruijn, now training in suburban Portland, Oregon. with Coach Paul Bergen's Tualatin Hills' club, for Queen of the Pool at Berlin in the 50-100 frees and 50-100 flys. These are all events where Inky holds the global standard.
In the men's 100 free, Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband, world-record and Olympic champ too, won in an easy (for him) 49.66. Algeria's African record-holder, Salim Iles, was a close second (49.80). During the French Championships a couple of months ago in Chalon, Iles broke the quarter-century-old African record of 49.44 by South Africa's Jonty Skinner, who swam his standard at the 1976 AAU Nationals in Philadelphia. Iles went a 49.00, third globally.
Third was Romania's Cezar Badita (50.46). Badita is coming off a two-year drug suspension and seems to be getting up to championship speed.
After winning 200 fly golds at Monaco and Rome, Poland's Otylia Jedrezjczak was taken to school tonight by Ukraine's double Olympic gold-medalist (both IMs) Yana Klochkova, who went an NR 2:10.21-2:10.39 for the win.
Her old NR was a 2:10.58 from the French Championships. If the schedule is conducive, Klochkova could be among the favorites in Berlin — where she'll have to contend with Germany's Annika Mehlhorn and Franziska van Almsick plus her Polish foe from tonight, among others.
Super K will also be among the favorites to win the 400-800 frees, again provided the schedule-makers cooperate; and the 200 free is another option off her pr 1:59.94 to take the bronze at Rome.
Third in the 200 fly here was former SMU NCAA champ Mette Jacobsen (2:11.51) whose pr is 2:08.11 — the Danish record — from this meet two years ago. At
29 she's still among the world's best 200 flyers and a strong 200 freestyler as well.
Ukraine's Denis Sylantyev, Sydney silver-medalist behind America's Tom Malchow (1:55.35-1:55.76 NR), won on the men's side with a seasonal-best 1:56.29. He'll be gunning for France's Franck Esposito, ER record-holder off his 1:54.82 a couple of months ago at the French Championships — in Berlin.
Esposito did not swim tonight although he was at Monaco and Rome, but perhaps will compete in the 100 fly Sunday.
Badita claimed his first gold of the four-meet Mare Nostrum Series, which concludes next Wednesday in Barcelona, with his 4:22.23 400 IM win. He holds his country's NR (4:17.11) from the Sydney prelims.
France got a win when 100 back record-holder Roxana Maracineanu won in 1:02.89 to Denmark's Louise Ornstedt's 1:03.55. Maracineanu's pr is a 1:01.10 from the Sydney finals.
The men's 100 back saw former University of Texas All-America, Sydney Olympian and U.S. 100 yard record-holder Neil Walker win in 57.56 to Holland's Sander Ganzevles' 57.92. An excellent sprint freestyler too,
Walker is hoping to make the U.S. Pan Pac team this summer in possibly a half-dozen events (50-100 frees, 50-100 back/fly) plus the relays.
China's 200 breaststroke world record-holder Qi Hui won for the second time in three races with a 2:26.89 meet-record over America's Amanda Beard's 2:27.64. Beard won the bronze at Sydney, touching .01 in front of her Chinese adversary for the third spot on the podium.
Russia's 100 breast World Champ Roman Sludnov won the 200 (2:14.49),and Romania's Dragos Coman won the 400 free (3:54.43) to complete the first day of competition.
– Bill Bell