MOSCOW, Russia, April 22. THE Russian National Championships came to an end with another lot of strong times, including a near textile best as well as a redemptive qualification.
Anastasia Zueva concluded a strong meet by nearly eclipsing the textile best in the women's 100 back. She charted a sterling time of 58.97 for the win, just off Zhao Jing's textile best of 58.94 from Guangzhou in 2010. The swim moved Zueva to the top of the world this year, ahead of Aya Terakawa's 59.10 from Japan earlier this month, and is the 12th-fastest effort of all time. It is also the first time Zueva has cracked 59 seconds outside of the techsuit era, when she posted a pair of sub 59s (58.18, 58.48) during the 2009 World Championships. Ksenia Moskvina finished second in 1:01.42, while Maria Gromova earned third in 1:01.46 — both outside the FINA A cut.
The men's 100 free finale proved to be lightning fast with five swimmers bettering 49 seconds, but slower than yesterday's semifinal that featured the top six under 49. Danila Izotov (48.27) and Nikita Lobintsev (48.39) placed 1-2 in the finale, both under the FINA A cut of 48.82. Lobintsev was faster during semis with a fourth-ranked 48.21, while Izotov improved from an eighth-ranked 48.44. Andrey Grechin placed third in 48.44 after clocking a fifth-ranked 48.29 during semis. Vlad Morozov (48.79), Sergey Fesikov (48.99) and Evgeny Lagunov (49.02) rounded out the top six, for what should prove to be a deep 400 freestyle relay group.
Anastasia Chaun locked down her Olympic bid in the women's 200 breast with a 2:24.13 for the win. That swim jumped her to seventh in the world rankings, and concluded what must have been a long year after having to drop out of last year's World Championships due to a blood draw injury. Yuliya Efimova checked in with a second-place 2:24.45 to earn her second swim at the 2012 London Games. That effort moved her to eighth in the world, behind Chaun's time. Irina Novikova rounded out the podium with a third-place 2:27.29.
Roman Sludnov earned a spot on the Olympic roster in the men's 100 breast with a 1:00.60 to move to 13th in the world rankings. That time clipped the FINA A cut of 1:00.79, and put Sludnov into his fourth Olympic Games, after having swum in 2000, 2004 and 2008 previously. He won the bronze medal in this event during the 2000 Sydney Games. Anton Lobanov (1:01.25) and Vyatcheslav Sinkevitch (1:01.32) finished second and third, outside the FINA A cut.
Evgeniy Kulikov topped the men's 1500 free in 15:16.19, missing the FINA A cut by more than four seconds, but earning provisional qualification under the B cut of 15:43.74. Sergey Bolshakov took second in 15:26.49, while Nikolay Bulakhov placed third in 15:31.07.
Alexander Tikhonov claimed the men's 200 IM crown in 2:00.70, missing the FINA A cut of 2:00.17, but under the provisional cut of 2:04.38. Ivan Trofimov placed second in 2:01.00, while Dimitry Gorbunov earned third in 2:01.12.
Anton Butymov won the men's 50 back in 25.45 to move to 16th in the world rankings. Sergey Makov (25.47) and Vitaly Melnikov (25.59) completed the top three. Darya Tsvetkova earned the women's 50 fly title in 26.39 for seventh in the world rankings. Irina Bespalova (27.11) and Vasilisa Vladykina (27.32) rounded out the podium.
Special thanks to Rokur Jakupsstovu of Swimmer's Daily for translation of results.