ISTANBUL, Turkey, December 12. LITHUANIA's Ruta Meilutyte kicked off the first morning of preliminary action with a meet record at the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships held in Dubai.
Meanwhile, USA's Ryan Lochte and Hungary's Katinka Hosszu had some strong mornings, setting up multiple swims in the evening.
Men's 200 free
USA's Ryan Lochte, who is looking to become just the second person to win the men's 200 free twice at this meet to join Brazil's Gustavo Borges (1995, 1997), turned in the top time of the morning with a 1:42.41. That swim is the second best in the world this year behind Yannick Agnel's 1:41.46 from the European Short Course Championships. France sent a short squad to this meet, leaving many of its top swimmers including Agnel home.
Russia's Viatcheslav Andrusenko placed second in the morning with a 1:43.98 that puts him 13th in the world this year, while Germany's Paul Biedermann qualified third in 1:44.05. Biedermann set the world record in this event with a 1:39.37 at the FINA World Cup Berlin stop in 2009.
New Zealand's Matthew Stanley (1:44.13), Australia's Jarrod Killey (1:44.33), USA's Conor Dwyer (1:44.61), Germany's Dimitri Colupaev (1:44.84) and Paraguay's Ben Hockin (1:44.84) also made the finale.
Women's 50 breast
Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte struck down the first meet record of the competition with a sizzling time of 29.56 in the sprint breast. That time bested the 29.58 set by Jessica Hardy of the U.S. to win in 2008, and is by far the top time this year. Hardy had the previous best time with a 29.92 from the Tokyo stop of the FINA World Cup. The time broke Meilutyte's national record of 29.96 from the Stockholm stop of the World Cup, and jumped her to fourth all time in the event. Hardy (28.80), Sarah Katsoulis (29.50) and Janne Schafer (29.55) are the top three.
Jamaica's Alia Atkinson qualified second in 29.72, while Hardy took third in 29.74 to comprise the sub 30-second swims. That is the first time Atkinson has broken that barrier, downing her national record of 30.19 and moving to seventh all time in the event. Hardy, meanwhile, has a long history in the event. She is vying to become the first two-time winner ever having won in 2008. She also has a pair of top times in the event. She owns the world record with a 28.80, which is not ratified as the American record. Her American record stands as a 29.58, which was her meet record in this event.
USA Swimming decided that American records set in techsuits after Oct. 1, 2009 — when USA Swimming implemented the techsuit ban domestically – would not be ratified. This is the case even for times swum legally in international events where ban was not in effect yet.
Czech's Petra Chocova (30.13), Australia's Sarah Katsoulis (30.24), Denmark's Rikke Moller Pedersen (30.25), Sweden's Rebecca Ejdervik (30.26), Sweden's Jennie Johansson (30.34), Russia's Valentina Artemeva (30.53), USA's Ellyn Baumgardner (30.81), Australia's Samantha Marshall (30.90), Brazil's Beatriz Travalon (30.90), Finland's Jenna Laukkanen (30.95), Canada's Tera Van Beilen (30.98), China's Zhao Jin (31.01) and China's Ji Liping (31.08) also earned transfer spots into the semifinal.
Men's 100 back
Several FINA World Cup standouts turned in strong times in the morning in this event. Australia's Robert Hurley, who made quite a bit of money during the World Cup circuit, led the way with a 50.22. That performance is just off his third-ranked 50.18 season best from the Doha stop of the tour. USA's Matt Grevers, who did not participate on the World Cup tour, managed to turn in a solid 50.55 in the morning without looking to exert much effort. The gigantic swimmer's easy stroke put him fifth in the world this year in the event.
Russia's Stanislav Donets, who dominated the 50 and 100 backstroke during the World Cup circuit, checked in with a third-ranked 50.83. He owns the top time in the world this year with a 49.49 from the Tokyo stop of the World Cup.
Brazil's Guilherme Gudio (51.14), Spain's Aschwin Wildeboer (51.19), Australia's Ashley Delaney (51.19), Israel's Guy Barnea (51.30), Japan's Kosuke Hagino (51.40), Belarus' Pavel Sankovich (51.48), Poland's Radoslaw Kawecki (51.51), Hungary's Peter Bernek (51.55), Turkey's Iskender Baslakov (51.56), Italy's Damiano Lestingi (51.58), Germany's Christian Diener (51.61), Italy's Mirco Di Tora (51.69) and China's Cheng Feiyi (51.70) comprised the rest of the semifinal field.
Women's 200 fly
Hungary's Katinka Hosszu, fresh off winning more than $150,000 as the Queen of the FINA World Cup, charged to a lifetime best time of 2:04.19 in the morning. That swim cleared her previous national record of 2:04.56, and vaulted her to 17th all time in the event's history. She also came within about half-a-second of Mireia Belmonte Garcia's meet record of 2:03.59 from 2010.
Hosszu's performance at the World Cup was staggering, winning 39 individual gold medals en route to historic levels of prize money. She will be vying for some more cash this week as winners earn $5,000, second place claims $3,000 and third place picks up $2,000.
“It went pretty good, I even swam my PB,” Hosszu said. “I felt pretty good (in the water). The first race at an event is always a little weird, but I swam my PB so it went well. I want to be on the podium, so that's my goal for tonight.”
China's Jiao Liuyang raced to second with a time of 2:04.88 to move to second in the world this year, while Japan's Kona Fujita checked in third with a 2:05.42. USA's Kathleen Hersey ripped off a 2:05.45 to qualify fourth, while Canada's Katerine Savard (2:05.54), China's Liu Zige (2:05.96), Great Britain's Jemma Lowe (2:06.14) and Japan's Nao Kobayashi (2:06.91) each made their way into the final, while USA's Jasmine Tosky just missed the top eight with a ninth-place 2:07.28 out of heat two.
Men's 100 breast
USA's Kevin Cordes, who had an astonishing meet at U.S. Short Course (Yards) Nationals with American records in both the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke events, surged to the top time of the morning with a 57.66. That time put him fourth in the world this year, and put him within striking distance of the American record of 57.18 set by Mike Alexandrov in 2010 as well as Alexandrov's un-ratified top time by an American of 57.16 from 2009.
Germany's Marco Koch qualified second with a time of 58.10 as he touched out Italy's Fabio Scozzoli (58.16) in the final heat of 10. Alexandrov turned in a top-four time with a preliminary effort of 58.35, while Brazil's Joao Gomes Jr. qualified fifth in 58.43 in a tie with Japan's Koichiro Okazaki. Russia's Viatcheslav Sinkevich and Ukraine's Igor Borysik tied for seventh with times of 58.49, while Japanese prodigy Akihiro Yamaguchi, who took down the long course 200 breast world record with a 2:07.01 in September, qualified ninth with a 58.53.
Slovenia's Damir Dugonjic (58.54), Brazil's Felipe Lima (58.59), Great Britain's Michael Jamieson (58.61), Estonia's Martti Aljand (58.71), Italy's Mattia Pesce (58.86), Russia's Anton Lobanov (58.99) and Sweden's Simon Sjodin (59.03) all made their way into the semifinal.
Women's 100 back
Czech's Simona Baumrtova (57.65) and Ukraine's Daryna Zevina (57.66) turned in the top two times of the morning. Baumrtova moved to fifth in the world this year, while Zevina is the second-fastest in the world this year with a 57.07 from the European Short Course Championships. Australia's Rachel Goh holds the top time this year with a 57.02 from the Berlin stop of the World Cup.
USA's Olivia Smoliga put on a show in heat five out of lane eight, qualifying third overall with a 57.75 to move into the top 10 in the world this year. Denmark's Mie Nielsen (57.83), Australia's Grace Loh (57.89) and Great Britain's Georgia Davies (57.94) also cleared 58 seconds.
Italy's Arianna Barbieri (58.02), The Netherlands' Kira Toussaint (58.23), Goh (58.35), Spain's Duane Da Rocha (58.40), USA's Megan Romano (58.45), Great Britain's Elizabeth Simmonds (58.48), China's Zhou Yanxin (58.73), Japan's Marie Kamimura (58.75), Sweden's Michelle Coleman (58.83) and The Netherlands' Sharon Van Rouwendaal (58.86) qualified through to semifinals as well.
Men's 100 fly
After clocking a sizzling 50.16 in the morning on the back of his 200 free leading time, it looks like USA's Ryan Lochte could make a run at his record six gold medals from the 2010 Dubai meet. Australia's Brooke Hanson shares that record with Lochte. Lochte's time this morning pushed him to third in the world this year behind Chad Le Clos (49.60) and Evgeny Korotyshkin (49.98). Lochte just missed Peter Mankoc's meet record of 50.04 from 2008.
“Pretty good. The first two races at an event are always my worst,” Lochte said. “So I'm glad I got that one out of the way. All that preparation is what I do all year. When I go to a meeting all I do is race. If I win, I win. If I don't, I don't and move on to the next. There's still a lot that I have to accomplish. That is what keeps me going on a daily basis.”
China's Wu Peng, who was entered in heat one even though he is a proven competitor, ripped off a 50.49 to lead throughout most of the 10 heats. That swim pushed him to sixth in the world this year. Le Clos, meanwhile, cruised into the semifinal heats with a 50.73, while The Netherlands' Joeri Verlinden (50.81), USA's Tom Shields (50.82), Hungary's Laszlo Cseh (50.86) and Slovenia's Mankoc (50.99) all broke 51 seconds to make up the top seven.
Japan's Kazuya Kaneda (51.00), Australia's Kenneth To (51.06), Kenya's Jason Dunford (51.14), Poland's Konrad Czerniak (51.15), Italy's Matteo Rivolta (51.19), Russia's Nikolay Skvortsov (51.29), Spain's Rafael Munoz Perez (51.29), Belgium's Francois Heersbrandt (51.31) and Belarus' Yauhen Tsurkin (51.47) rounded out the semifinal field. Fred Bousquet (51.50) and Kaio Almeido (51.57) were some big names that missed the top 16.
Women's 400 IM
Great Britain's Hannah Miley turned in the top time in prelims with a 4:28.91, which is a full five seconds off her world-leading 4:23.47 from the European Short Course Championships. Meanwhile, Hungary's Katinka Hosszu, who is second in the world this year with a 4:23.91 also from the European Short Course Champs, qualified second in 4:29.22. China's Ye Shiwen, who stunned the world with a blistering freestyle leg to win the long course version of this even at the 2012 London Games, qualified third in 4:29.98 to setup a heavyweight battle in the center of the pool this evening.
“It went ok,” Ye said. “I always feel very tired at the beginning of a competition, it is always very hard. I didn't even reach my personal best. I think we [Hannah Miley] are even, so it was not a problem. It is just the heats. I hope to win the gold medal in this event. As for the others, I just want to gain experience.”
Hungary's Zsuzsanna Jakabos (4:30.88), Japan's Miho Takahashi (4:31.71), Japan's Emu Higuchi (4:32.49), USA's Maya Dirado (4:33.01) and Czech's Barbora Zavadova (4:34.67) will make up the rest of the championship finale. USA's Becca Mann finished just outside of the top eight with a ninth-place 4:34.70.
Men's 400 free relay
Italy's Luca Dotto (47.04), Marco Orsi (46.89), Michele Santucci (47.50) and Filippo Magnini (47.31) turned in a time of 3:08.74 in heat one of three and that time held up for the top seed heading into the finale. USA's Anthony Ervin (46.86), Garrett Weber-Gale (46.99), Tyler Reed (48.15) and Jimmy Feigen (46.90) tracked down the second seed with a 3:08.90 and are looking to reclaim the title after missing out at the 2010 edition in Dubai. Russia's Vlad Morozov (46.63), Evgeny Lagunov (46.95), Artem Lobuzov (47.71) and Dmitry Ermakov (47.73) rounded out the top three in 3:09.02.
Australia (3:09.23), Japan (3:09.72), Brazil (3:11.93), China (3:12.77) and Turkey (3:14.40) snared the other transfer spots into the finale with the Turkish squad getting a big cheer.
Women's 800 free relay
Team USA's Jasmine Tosky (1:58.10), Shannon Vreeland (1:55.75), Chelsea Chenault (1:54.73) and Allison Schmitt (1:56.78) turned in a top time of 7:45.36 to lead the way in the morning heats. Russia's Daria Belyakina (1:57.67), Ksenia Yuskova (1:57.64), Elena Sokolova (1:55.87) and Veronika Popova (1:56.34) placed second in 7:47.52, while Italy (7:47.95), China (7:48.28), Japan (7:50.81), Denmark (7:51.33), Great Britain (7:51.84) and Hungary (7:53.13) rounded out the championship heat.