KAZAN, Russia, April 16. THE Russian National Championships kicked off today in Kazan, Russia with swimmers all vying for spots on the Russian roster for the World Championships in Barcelona later this summer.
The men's 100-meter back semifinal setup an epic battle in finals as Arkady Vyatchanin and Vlad Morozov both cleared the FINA A cut in the event. Vyatchanin led the way with a 53.99 that stands in the top 10 this year, while Morozov posted a 54.17, just outside the top 10 fresh off a jaw-dropping performance at the NCAA Championships. Notably, Anton Butymov qualified third in 54.68.
Vyatchanin is performing under some political pressure this week as the Russian Federation spoke publicly before the meet that it was not happy that he did not try to qualify for the 2011 World Championships. Vyatchanin also went public with some complaints against the Russian Federation, and the executives at the Federation were not too happy with the public nature of the comments. However, after a hearing, he was admitted to the meet this week.
The women's 50-meter fly semifinal round proved to be pretty swift, considering the top three qualifiers all cleared the FINA A cut time in the sprint fly. Svetlana Tsimrova posted the top seeded time with a 26.61, while Dania Tsvetkova (26.73) and Rosalia Nasretdinova (26.80) also cleared the A cut of 26.83. All three times are among the top 20 in the world this year, but each swimmer will likely be gunning for the likes of Ranomi Kromowidjojo's world-leading 25.80 during finals
The men's 50-meter fly semis proved to be just as fast with the top three all posting FINA A cuts. Nikita Konovalov topped qualifying in 23.50 with Evgeny Koptelov just behind in second with a 23.52. Evgeny Selov rounded out the top three out of semis with a 23.64. Konovalov and Koptelov each entered the top five in the world, just a bit behind Florent Manaudou's world-leading 23.00 from the French Nationals last week.
Yana Martinova clinched a spot on the Russian roster for Worlds in Barcelona by winning the women's 400-meter IM in 4:41.23. That swim blasted the FINA A cut, and crushed the field. It put her within the top 10 in the world this year as well. Viktoria Maliutina took second in 4:45.23, while Yulia Larina placed third in 4:48.23.
Evgeniy Kulikov pulled off a victory in the men's 400-meter freestyle event with a time of 3:50.46, but fell well short of the FINA A cut for Barcelona. Egor Degtjarev finished second overall in 3:52.97, while Dmitry Ermakov raced to third in 3:55.03.
Kirill Strelnikov blew through the men's 100-meter breaststroke qualifying with a time of 1:00.60. That swim cleared the FINA A cut in the event, and set Strelnikov up well for a Worlds-clinching effort in finals. That swim stands in the top five this year as well. Vyatcheslav Sinkevitch took second in 1:01.25, while Anton Lobanov finished third in 1:01.47.
With Anastasia Zueva scratching the 200-meter backstroke due to a broken foot suffered last October, the distance dorsal is wide open for the rest of the competitors. Zueva is focusing on the 100 later this week. Maria Gromova paced semis with a 2:11.16, while Dania Ustinova touched second in 2:12.29. Larina picked up her second third-place finish of the night with a 2:13.61 for the third seed after winning bronze in the 400 IM.
Day 1 Finals
Special thanks to Rokur Jakupsstovu for his translation help!
Men 400 free final
1. Evgeniy Kulikov 3:50.46
2. Egor Degtjarev 3:52.97
3. Dmitry Ermakov 3:53.03
Women 50 fly semifinal
1. Svetlana Tsimrova 26.61 * FINA A Cut
2. Dania Tsvetkova 26.73 * FINA A Cut
3. Rosalia Nasretdinova 26.80 * FINA A Cut
Men 100 back semifinal
1. Arkady Vyatchanin 53.99 * FINA A Cut
2. Vladimir Morozov 54.17 * FINA A Cut
3. Anton Butymov 54.68
Women 400 IM final
1. Yana Martinova 4:41.23 * FINA A Cut
2. Viktoria Maliutina 4:45.23
3. Yulia Larina 4:48.23
Men 100 breast semifinal
1. Kirill Strelnikov 1:00.60 * FINA A Cut
2. Vyatcheslav Sinkevitch 1:01.25
3. Anton Lobanov 1:01.47
Women 200 back semifinal
1. Maria Gromova 2:11.16
2. Dania Ustinova 2:12.29
3. Yulia Larina 2:13.61
Men 50 fly semifinal
1. Nikita Konovalov 23.50 * FINA A Cut
2. Evgeny Koptelov 23.52 * FINA A Cut
3. Evgeny Selov 23.64 * FINA A Cut
Women 4×100 freestyle
1. Saint Petersburg 3:44.20
2. Moscow 3:45.83
3. Novosibirsk Region 3:51.57
Men 4×100 freestyle
1. Saint Petersburg 3:19.25
2. Krasnoyarsk Territory 3:22.49
3. Moscow 3:23.24