PARIS, France, August 5. THE Paris Open closed with some fireworks as Sweden's Therese Alshammar and Stefan Nystrand as well as the United States' Aaron Peirsol made some serious runs at three world records.
Steven Selthoffer's Notes and Quotes
Here are some of the notes and quote sent in by Swimming World Magazine European correspondent Steven Selthoffer. They appear in italics. Complete recaps of the final session swims follow:
Women's 50 free
In the women's 50 free prelims, Therese Alshammar, SWE, qualified first with a 25.57 followed by Britta Steffen, GER, 25.59 and Claire Hedenskog, SWE, 25.71. The good news of Dara Torres was the delight of the coaches and swimmers today discussing her amazing time and win reported by Swimming World Magazine staff, John Lohn and Dana Lawrence Lohn. Hey, 40-years-old. 24.53. New American record. Breaks her old standard from Sydney 2000 Games. A beautiful daughter… Everyone is all smiles this morning, shaking their heads discussing her accomplishment poolside. Sweden is continuing to develop great talent in the sprints with Hedenskog, Hanna Eriksson, SWE, 26.75 and others.
Men's 50 fly
Duje Draganja, CRO, clocked a morning best of 23.89 along with Sydney Olympic champion, Lars Frolander, SWE, also in with a 23.89. Dragania, is still hurting from shoulder surgery. His performances have to be placed in perspective and given credit where it is due, given the hard road back to top form he is having to navigate. At this point, as he said earlier, nothing feels right for him AND now he is leading prelims at the Paris Open, only .93 hundreths of a second behind Roland Schoeman's July 25, 2005 WR.
Talk by the pool among the coaches this morning is concerning sports governance issues. Some wanting to see changes and issues addressed in FINA, LEN… discussions about anti-doping with WADA, increasing efforts to recruit more eastern European swimmers to more U.S. universities and how successful the Paris Open is for French swimming and how it helps improve European competition on the whole.
Men's 100 freestyle
It's an event, marked not by who is present, but, who was not, Top Gun Jason Lezak, from the USA. European press have virtually ignored the DSQ. His competitors, like the Swedes, French teammates and others expressed their disapproval that he did not swim.
It's hard to imagine what would happen if Laure Manaudou, FRA, as a legitimate gold medal contender in an event, going for a world's best time the year before Beijing, if she was disqualified without any explanation, then told in advance, that her protest would be a guaranteed failure if she attempted one, and that even the protest would not yield an official explanation or justification of what allegedly occurred, and that she'd have no chance of winning the protest, and that she would be guaranteed to lose 65 Euros before it even started. Understand?
Usually, if there is a DSQ, the FINA or LEN or national officials, fine people, (we know many of them over the years,) just politely tell the swimmer(s) what went wrong, everyone can see and hear about it, it's an open process, it's on the deck, the swimmer then deals with it, whether they like it or not, and move on. It's sports. In this case, other officials, who desire to remain anonymous, and Lezak's competitors, next to him, do not agree with the call and have expressed their concerns.
One half-hour before the finals now, Sunday evening, Swimming World Magazine went to the mobile truck housing television operations for the meet. Greeted by a friendly French staff, explaining the situation of what occurred, and explaining the desire to assist Mr. Lezak to show the possible unconscious movement of what may have occurred, after the long explanation they agreed to review the tape, and we entered the truck. The ETC HDTV people were first class. Professional. Capable. And polite. Their crew was inside with the videotape operator.
Given the OK by the Director, the semifinal was re-wound and the event searched and found in real time.
The camera angle and focus was absolutely perfect. Totally clear. The camera positioned above the timing system tent caught all the action, even with the only close up, before the start, with a deck cam image of Lezak's arm pit and rib cage.
The video shows Lezak mounting the block with the field, coming down with the field, taking the block and leaving the blocks in third place. In slow motion, run in milliseconds, nearly ten times for absolute clarity and certainty, Lezak did not move.
In normal speed, there was no discernable movement that could be caught by the human eye that would disqualify him. If anything, the start was infinitely faster than other heats.
Upon digital close up, in millisecond review, nearly ten times by French video and television crew and technical experts, the semifinal showed the first perceptible movement in the hands by Lane 5 Andrey Grechin, RUS, then Evgeny Lagunov, RUS, in Lane 3. Then Lane 7, Lezak, USA, with other lanes 1 and 2 reacts to the horn and moves off the block. A clean start.
No twitch. No unconscious foot slip. No hand pull.
The running clock and digital sound board levels for the start, including the Omega Timing system reaction time showed that the field started clean.
No movement before the start.
As decided by all five French television engineers, producers, and videotape operator(s) present in the truck, they quickly and unanimously agreed without dissent, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the swimmer in question, Mr. Jason Lezak, USA, had a clean start. And they concluded that no one else in the field false started either.
Lezak, under immense stress, conducted himself professionally and firmly given the extenuating circumstances. The official, Theilenhaus, should be given credit, for trying to remain impartial, sincerely emphasizing "there is no bad intent whatsoever" two or three times, notifying him of his disqualification, politely as possible given the conflicting viewpoints. However, the damage was done, marring an otherwise beautiful day.
Women's 50 freestyle semifinals
Therese Alshammar of Sweden posted the top time with a 24.85, while Germany's Britta Steffen (25.24) and France's Malia Metella (25.39) placed second and third.
Sweden's Claire Hedenskog (25.60), France's Celine Couderc (25.64), Ukraine's Oxana Serikova (25.70), Canada's Erica Morningstar (25.71) and Ukraine's Dar'Ya Stepanyuk (25.86) rounded out the rest of the championship heat.
Men's 50 butterfly semifinals
Ukraine's Sergiy Breus, the European-record holder earned the top seed in 23.58, while Croatia's Duje Draganja (23.74), Russia's Nikolay Skvortsov (23.93) and Sweden's Lars Frolander (23.98) rounded out the top four.
Germany's Thomas Rupprath (24.00), Spain's Rafael Munoz Perez (24.14), Portugal's Tiago Andre Venancio (24.19) and Ukraine's Denys Sylant'yev (24.26) made up the rest of the title contenders.
Women's 200 IM Finals
Ukraine's Yana Klochkova won a tight race over Poland's Katarzyna Baranowska, 2:12.16 to 2:12.53, for the title, while Hungary's Evelyn Verraszto finished third in 2:14.03.
Men's 200 breaststroke Finals
Canada's Mike Brown came out on top as he held off a hard-charging Grigory Falko of Russia, 2:11.82 to 2:12.05, for the victory. Meanwhile, Poland's Slawomir Kuczko topped another close race over Ukraine's Valeriy Dymo, 2:13.16 to 2:13.63, for third place.
Women's 200 freestyle Finals
A trio of swimmers gave the fans a close finish as Italy's Federica Pellegrini emerged with a time of 1:58.19. France's Alena Popchanka (1:58.26) and Poland's Otylia Jedrzejczak (1:58.40) provided some added incentive by pushing her the whole way.
Men's 100 freestyle Finals
Sweden's Stefan Nystrand gave Pieter van den Hoogenband's world record of 47.84 a run for its money, but came up just short with an effort of 47.91 – the second-fastest ever. That knocked a considerable amount of time off his previous best time of 48.70, and also made him just the second man in history to clock a sub-48 readout.
France's Alain Bernard notched an incredibly fast time of 48.54 for second, while Canada's Brent Hayden took third in 48.79.
The event concluded with Stefan Nystrand, SWE, taking it out hard in a 22.72 never being challenged and bringing it home in a sub-48 with a 47.91 missing the WR by .07. Alain Bernard, FRA, was second in 48.54 and Brent Hayden, CAN, third with a 48.79.
Nystrand said concerning his time, "I don't know, I'm pretty amazed. I didn't think it was that fast. I was thinking I'd take it out in a 23 flat and come back in a 25.3 or .4. I didn't see anyone in the other lanes. (Smiling) I didn't believe it. It's like Christmas. I've been averaging about 3000 a workout and about 20,000m a week. I'm aiming to get stronger, but, without muscles. It's holiday time now!" Smiling and exiting the Mixed Zone area for press and athletes.
Women's 100 breaststroke Finals
Austria's Mirna Jukic claimed the women's 100 breast title in 1:08.72, while Ukraine's Yuliya Pidlisna nipped Russia's Elena Bogomazova, 1:09.47 to 1:09.48, for second-place honors.
Notably, the United States' Amanda Beard finished eighth in 1:10.64.
Men's 100 backstroke Finals
World-record holder Aaron Peirsol must have been watching compatriot Michael Phelps take two legitimate shots at his record at the USA Swimming National Championships in Indy. Phelps first clocked a 53.01 for the second-fastest time, then a 53.17 as a relay leadoff to tie for the third fastest.
Peirsol, in what might just be coincidental, matched Phelps' relay leadoff with a 53.17 to win the event going away.
Randall Bal gave the U.S. a 1-2 punch with a 54.46 for second place, while Germany's Helge Meeuw, the European-record holder, placed third in 54.55.
Mr. Peirsol, USA, and Randall Bal, USA, gave a wave to the crowd as their names were announced. They turned and undressed. Bal and Peirsol were on a mission. Knowing the events with the 100 Free that took place yesterday, without their good friend Jason Lezak, USA, it was time to set the record straight. Peirsol and Bal went out fast 25.88 and 26.73 respectively. Helge Meeuw, GER, hit third at the 50 in 26.75. But, it was the USA that pulled out strong at the 75 mark. Bal and Peirsol, Peirsol and Bal brought it home for the USA in a one-two finish, with Peirsol missing his own WR by .19 hundreths of a second.
Peirsol, tired after the event, but, sharp, "I wasn't sure what I'd do today. I'll get in some more good training." When asked about Phelps by a Japanese reporter, Peirsol said, "I understand that. I'm feeling good. It felt good this afternoon." "I wish I had another chance with the 200, we'll see. I'm confident." Referring to the 100 WR, "I need to do it again and bring it down one more time."
Women's 100 butterfly Finals
Russia swept the top-two spots in the women's 100 fly as Irina Bespalova won in 58.42 and Natalia Sutyagina picked up second place in 59.02.
Meanwhile, France's Alena Popchanka snared third place in 59.13, while the United States' Margaret Hoelzer took fourth in 59.27.
Men's 200 IM Finals
Great Britain's James Goddard led wire-to-wire with a time of 2:00.90 to capture the men's 200 IM title, while Poland's Lukasz Wojt touched second in 2:01.62. Hungary's Tamas Kerekjarto comprised the rest of the top three in 2:01.70.
Women's 200 backstroke Finals
Italy's Alessia Filippi won a dogfight with the United States' Margaret Hoelzer, 2:09.06 to 2:09.55, to clinch the women's 200 back title. Hungary's Nikolett Szepesi pocketed third in 2:12.08.
Men's 50 butterfly Finals
Sweden's Lars Frolander defeated European-record holder Sergiy Breus of Ukraine, 23.71 to 23.90, to walk away with the title. Croatia's Duje Draganja completed the top three in 24.03.
Women's 50 freestyle Finals
Inge de Bruijn's world record of 24.13 remained safe, but just barely in the women's 50 free. Sweden's Therese Alshammar dropped the hammer with a time of 24.23 and nearly wiped out the seven-year-old record set at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Alshammar's time is now the second-fastest in the world, well ahead of Marleen Veldhuis' 24.37 and her previous best time of 24.44.
Germany's Britta Steffen clocked a 24.97, narrowly defeating France's Malia Metella (24.99) for second place.
Women's 400 medley relay Finals
Russia's team of Anastasia Zueva, Elena Bogomazova, Natalia Sutyagina and Kira Volodina won in 4:04.20, while Canada's contingent of Julia Wilkinson, Chelsey Salli, Genevieve Saumur and Erica Morningstar placed second in 4:05.83.
Hungary's foursome of Nikolett Szepesi, Agnes Kovacs, Beatrix Boulsevicz and Evelyn Verraszto wound up third in 4:06.68.