By John Lohn
MONTREAL, Canada, July 31. THREE events put the finishing touches on the preliminary sessions of the World Championships. The men and women contested the heats of the 400 individual medley and the men’s 400 medley relay closed out affairs. Seven finals will be contested at night. Here’s a glance at how the final morning shook out.
Men’s 400 Individual Medley
Not surprising, Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh advanced to the final as the top seed, thanks to a performance of 4:14.15. The European record holder and second-fastest man in event history, Cseh is the heavy pick to capture the gold medal. He was followed in second and third by Italy’s Luca Marin (4:15.18) and the United States’ Robert Margalis (4:16.25), who each competed in Cseh’s heat.
Italy’s Alessio Boggiatto notched the fourth-fastest swim of the morning, an effort of 4:16.46 and was succeeded in fifth by Greece’s Ioannis Drymonakos (4:16.84). Gliding through the third heat, Tunisia’s Ous Mellouli and American Ryan Lochte took the sixth and seventh slots. Mellouli was timed in 4:17.21 while Lochte stopped the clock in 4:17.26. Lochte has already won bronze in the 200 I.M. and 200 backstroke and gold in the 800 freestyle relay.
Japan’s Hidemasa Sano was eighth with a time of 4:17.64 and ninth was France’s Nicolas Rostoucher (4:20.00). The defending champion, Michael Phelps decided to forego this event. Phelps is the world-record holder at 4:08.26 and the only man in history to break the 4:10 mark.
Women’s 400 Individual Medley
Almost a week after she won gold in American-record time in the 200 individual medley, the United States’ Katie Hoff secured the top seed for the final of the 400 I.M., the event that measures the world’s premier all-around swimmer. Hoff dominated her prelim race and registered a time of 4:40.91, nearly two seconds faster than the 4:42.74 of Hungary’s Zsuzsanna Jakabos, the second-fastest qualifier.
Hungary’s Eva Risztov gave her country a pair of finalists, as she covered the 400 meters in 4:42.86, slightly quicker than the 4:43.15 of American Kaitlin Sandeno. The Olympic silver medalist and American-record holder, Sandeno was followed in fifth by Australia’s Lara Carroll, who posted a morning swim of 4:43.25.
The final three positions for the final were picked up by Argentina’s Georgina Bardach in 4:44.20, Japan’s Maiko Fujino in 4:45.02 and Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry in 4:45.95. Coventry, a product of Auburn University, has already won gold in the 100 and 200 backstroke events and took silver in the 200 individual medley.
Men’s 400 Medley relay
With ease, the United States qualified first for the evening final, using the quartet of Randall Bal, Mark Gangloff, Michael Phelps and Neil Walker. The foursome posted a time of 3:36.08, well ahead of the 3:37.37 performance from Japan. During the final, the U.S. is expected to go with the squad of Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Ian Crocker and Jason Lezak. That group holds the world record at 3:30.68.
Russia secured the third seed for the final, as it was timed in 3:37.83, quicker than the 3:38.23 of Australia. Slovenia, which has enjoyed a solid meet, qualified in fifth with a mark of 3:38.40 and the sixth slot for the championship heat went to Germany (3:38.53). The final two bids for the evening went to France (3:38.85) and New Zealand (3:41.36).