VALETTA, Malta, July 6 — IT'S a long long way from Irvine to Malta but Milorad (Michael) Cavic didn't mind the journey one bit.
The Irvine Novaquatics' sprinter-flyer, who was the fastest high schooler in America this past season in the 50 free, captured his first major international gold here today when he went a pr 54.18 to win the 100 fly during Day 2 of the European Junior Championships.
The meet is open to men born 1983 and later and women born 1984 and later.
Cavic swims internationally for Yugoslavia and will represent his country at the World Championships at Fukuoka in another two weeks. He also will be a senior this fall at Tustin High in Southern California and is a stellar performer for Coach Dave Salo's Irvine-based Novaquatics' team.
Cavic barely made the finals tonight with his eighth-place qualifying time of 55.79. But in the race itself he won by nearly a half-second over Ukraine's Sergiy Advena's 54.66. Cavic's pr going into the meet had been a 54.73 from last year's Mission Viejo Meet of Champions.
Another up-and-comer who's rapidly making his presence known in the backstroke races is Hungary's Viktor Bodrogi (are you listening, Lenny?). Bodrogi won the 200 this evening in a pr 1:59.91, sixth-fastest globally and not too far off the Hungarian record of 1:59.31 by Tamas Deutsch at the 1994 World Championships in Rome.
Bodrogi, who won the 50 back opening night, had a pr of 2:00.22 that won him the gold at last year's meet in Dunquerque, France and had been 2:00.58 earlier this year at a meet in Athens during May.
The 50 free went to Croatia's Duje Draganja (23.05), far off his pr-NR of 22.68 that he won with last year. That 22.68 ranked him 30th globally, along with the current world record-holder in the 10 fly, Australia's Michael Klim, and ex-Stanford Cardinal Sabir Muhammad.
The final men's individual event, the 400 free, was won by Russia's Iouri Priloukov in 3:57.33.
On the women's side, the biggest splash was made by Austrian breaststroker Mirna Jukic, who went a meet-record 2:28.41 for the gold. Jukic's swim is just off her pr-NR 2:28.29 from the Turnier des Nations meet in Vienna last April.
Jukic's pr ranks her 13th globally and she's down from a 2:34+ last season. This win may well get her added to Austria's team for Fukuoka, where she could team up with Elvira Fischer, an All-America for Coach Paul Nelsen's Nebraska Cornhuskers this past season.
Second in the 200 breast (2:31.33) was Romania's Diana Remenyi, who won the 400 IM last night.
The 100 back was won by Denmark's Louise Ornstedt (1:03.26), who is the Danish record-holder off her 1:01.69 from the Sydney semis.
– Bill Bell