MANCHESTER, England, April 13. THE final day of a fantastic FINA World Short Course Championships begins as amazing meet comes to an end on the fifth day of swimming. With 12 world records and 26 meet standards already being set, what is in store in the get-away day?
Men's 200 back
Defending champ and world-record holder Ryan Lochte will look to add another global standard to his resume this weekend after dropping a preliminary time of 1:51.06 to lead qualifying. His world record currently stands at 1:49.05, the time it took to win the event in 2006.
"I just had a good swim and I have a few more races to go, but I'm getting pretty tired now," Lochte told meet organizers. "I'm not really at my peak. I'm saving myself for the Olympics. After this event I won't be taking a break. I'll be straight back into training for the Olympics."
Austria's Markus Rogan, the European-record holder with a 1:49.86, will provide some competition after a second-seeded 1:51.57.
Spain's Aschwin Wildeboer nearly clipped his national record of 1:52.12 with a third-place 1:52.32, while Great Britain's Gregor Tait came up just short of his national record 1:52.52 with a fourth-place 1:52.56.
Randall Bal of the U.S. (1:52.58) placed fifth, while Brazil's Lucas Salatta took sixth in 1:52.85 to lower his national record of 1:53.96 from back in 2005. Russia's Stanislav Donets (1:53.34) and Australia's Ashley Delaney (1:53.61) made up the rest of the championship heat.
Women's 200 breast
One of the few world records that might be safe this year is Leisel Jones' 2003 standard of 2:17.75 in the 200 breaststroke. Russia's Alena Alekseeva topped qualifying with a time of 2:22.66, while Australia's Sally Foster grabbed the second seed in 2:22.72.
"I never save myself in a race," Foster told meet organizers. "I always go as hard as I can in every race I swim because I want to represent my country as best I can. That went really well for me. I was just outside my best. It was pretty good for a heat swim. I'll be taking just two or three days off when I get back to Australia but then straight back to our training camp for the Olympics."
China's Sun Ye finished third in 2:22.74, while Russian national-record holder Yuliya Efimova qualified fourth in 2:22.78.
Austria's Mirna Jukic touched fifth in 2:23.36, while Elizabeth Tinnon of the U.S. placed sixth in 2:24.16.
South Africa's Suzaan van Biljon (2:24.46) and Spain's Mireia Belmonte (2:24.71) claimed the final transfer spots into tonight's final. Belmonte surpassed Lourdes Becerra's national record of 2:26.13 set way back in 1998.
Men's 200 fly
Wu Peng's meet record of 1:52.36 from 2006 is on notice, while Franck Esposito's world record of 1:50.73 from 2002 could survive the record-book onslaught from this weekend.
Russia's Nikolay Skvortsov led qualifying with a time of 1:53.21, while Poland's Pawel Korzeniowski took second in 1:53.97. Both men have been near Esposito's mark, however, with Skvortsov's national record standing at 1:50.74 and Korzeniowski owning a 1:50.89.
Greece's Ioannis Drymonakos qualified third in 1:54.23 to clear his national record of 1:54.28 set in December, while Nick Walkotten of the U.S. took fourth in 1:54.29.
Romania's Ioan Stefan Gherghel finished fifth in 1:54.30, while New Zealand's Moss Burmester placed sixth in 1:54.46.
"It's been a great event, I've had a lot of finals so I've been pretty busy," Burmester told meet organizers. "I'm feeling pretty good, I've good speed and I'm really looking forward to tonight. I've got five days off once I get back to New Zealand. I'm going to go and stay with my family in Tauranga and just hang out. I think I'll be doing a bit of fishing, a bit of diving and some surfing – no training."
Russia's Maxim Ganikhin and Jeremy Knowles of the Bahamas tied for seventh with matching 1:54.48s.
Women's 200 free
The Netherlands' Femke Heemskerk paced preliminary swimming with a time of 1:55.31, a bit shy of Inge Dekker's national record of 1:54.89 from last December.
Sweden's Josefin Lillhage placed second in 1:55.53, while Great Britain's Caitlin McClatchey finished third in 1:56.20.
"I swam just OK," Lillhage told meet organizers. "You know, it's a morning swim. I just wanted to make it to the finals, that was my goal. I want to swim faster than I ever had. I think I can win a medal."
National-record holder Melanie Marshall of Great Britain touched fourth in 1:56.27, while the U.S. duo of Erin Reilly (1:56.41) and Mary DeScenza (1:56.91) finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
China's Zhu Qianwei (1:57.03) and Australia's Kylie Palmer (1:57.06) rounded out the top eight.
Men's 400 medley relay
Russia's squad of Stanislav Donets, Sergey Geybel, Evgeny Korotyshkin and Alexander Sukhorukov qualified first in 3:28.36, downing the previous national record of 3:30.21 from 2002.
Australia's team of Robert Hurley, Craig Calder, Adam Pine and Kenrick Monk finished second in 3:28.99, while the United States' contingent of Peter Marshall, Mark Gangloff, Randall Tom and Bryan Lundquist placed third in 3:29.18.
"It was my fastest time I've ever done in the morning heats, so that's good," Hurley told meet organizers. "And we qualified second, so that's a good result."
The rest of the championship final field will be comprised of Spain (3:29.36), Great Britain (3:29.40), Brazil (3:29.74), the Netherlands (3:31.46) and New Zealand (3:31.53). All five squads broke national records: Spain (3:36.84 from 2005), Great Britain (3:32.08 from 2000), Brazil (3:33.02 from 2004), the Netherlands (3:34.78 from 2005) and New Zealand (3:35.28 from 2006).
Men's 1500 free – slower heats
Australia's Nicholas Sprenger set the time to beat during finals with a time of 14:56.97 during swimming in the slower heats. Mexico's Luis Escobar heads into finals in second with a 14:59.72. Escobar became the first Mexican under 15:00 in the event as the previous national record had been a 15:12.30 by Luis Gonzalez in 2005.
Pal Joensen of the Faroe Islands sat third heading into finals with a time of 15:12.88, just off his national record of 15:10.02 set in December, while South Africa's Heerden Herman took fourth in 15:13.38 before the final heat took place.