By David Rieder
CANET, France, June 16. THE Mare Nostrum series concluded Sunday with three performances that rank in the top two in the world, two of them from Danes, to round out a strong week of performances on the Mediterranean coast.
Denmark's Jeanette Ottesen Gray kicked off the day's action with a 25.56 in the women's 50 fly. That surpasses her 25.69 from last week in Monte Carlo as the top time in the world this year. Spain's Melanie Henique grabbed second in 26.16, enough to earn the seventh spot in the world rankings, while Norway's Ingvild Snildal came in third at 26.34.
Ottesen Gray picked up a second win in the women's 100 free, clocking 54.01. That performance moved her past the Netherlands' Femke Heemskerk (54.02) for sixth in the world this year. Ottesen Gray's countrywoman Pernille Blume touched second in 54.92, while Finland's Hanna-Maria Seppala grabbed third in 55.19. Seppala has had previous success on the world stage, winning the world title back in 2003 and making the 2008 Olympic final.
Rikke Moeller Pederson added another win for Denmark in the women's 100 breast, posting a 1:06.05. That fell just behind Ruta Meilutyte's European record of 1:05.20 from last week in Monte Carlo, and Pederson now stands second in the world this year. Meanwhile, Ukraine's Viktoriya Solnceva came in second at 1:07.51, less than a tenth out of the world top-ten. Spain's Marina Garcia touched third in 1:08.16.
South Africa's Chad Le Clos blazed the men's 200 fly with a winning time of 1:55.40. He surpassed Yuki Kobori as the second-ranked swimmer in the world; only Grant Irvine (1:55.32) has swum faster in 2013. Hungary's Bence Bizco snuck into the world top-ten, clocking 1:56.66 for runner-up honors, edging Japan's Daiya Seto. Seto touched in 1:56.73 for third.
Katina Hosszu ended her week of racing with a bang, winning two more events and setting a national record. Hosszu took the women's 200 fly in 2:08.41, the eighth-best time in the world this year. Germany's Franziska Hentke stayed close to Hosszu the majority of the race and ended up touching second in 2:08.93, while Switzerland's Martina Van Berkel touched third in 2:11.58.
Hosszu put up a second world top-ten time in the women's 200 back, winning in 2:09.76. Ukraine's Darya Zevina finished second in 2:10.59, off of her sixth-ranked 2:09.50. Spain's Duane De Rocha came in a close third in 2:10.80. Hosszu also claimed a Hungarian record in the women's 50 back, clocking 28.83. Japan's Aya Terakawa edged Spain's Mercedes Peris for the win, 27.82 to 27.92, while Spain's Etiene Medeieros finished third in 28.70.
The men's 100 breast Olympic gold medalist from last year took the win in his signature event on Sunday, as South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh won in 1:00.41. Brazil's Felipe Lima finished second in 1:00.82, while New Zealands's Glenn Snyders challenged van der Burgh early in the race but ended up settling for third with a time of 1:01.45.
France's Jeremy Stravius blasted the men's 100 free to a winning time of 48.53. He trailed Cuba's Hanser Garcia Hernandez at the halfway mark, but he pulled away down the stretch. Garcia Hernandez finished second at 48.83, while Japan's Shinri Shioura grabbed third at 49.46.
South Africa's Roland Schoeman dominated the men's 50 fly, winning in 23.32. He currently holds the third-fastest time in the world this year at 23.11. France's Romain Sassot took second in 24.03, and Finland's Riku Poytakivi grabbed third in 24.25. Another South African, Gerhard Zandberg, took first in the men's 50 back. The 2007 World Champ in the event, Zandberg clocked 25.22 for the win, while Israel's Jonatan Kopelev touched out Spain's Aschwin Wildeboer for second, 25.53 to 25.59.
Spain's Melanie Costa Schmid took the women's 400 free in 4:07.59. China's Zhang Wenqing touched second in 4:10.35, and New Zealand's Samantha Lucie-Smith touched third in 4:12.41. New Zealand's Gareth Kean took the men's 200 back in 1:59.12, while France's Bejamin Stasiulis touched out Germany's Yannick Lebherz for second, 1:59.79 to 1:59.87. Japan's Ayatsugu Hirai won the men's 1500 free in 15:02.51. Ukraine's Sergiy Frolov grabbed second in 15:13.58, and France's Anthony Pannier touched third in 15:16.77.