MONTE CARLO, June 2. IT'S not nice to make double Olympic gold medalist Yana Klochkova mad — or beat her either.
Apparently still smarting from last summer's 200 IM defeat at the World Championships by America's Maggie Bowen, an event she won at Sydney in history's second-fastest time (European, Olympic and Ukranian record
2:10.68), Klochkova won her second gold of the opening meet in the Mare Nostrum Series this evening with a world-leading 2:12.95.
Yesterday she won the 400 IM in a solid 4:44.19.
Some might characterize Klochkova's swim at Sydney as the "true" world-record since the official standard, 2:09.72 by China's Wu Yanyan, was swum at the 1997 National Games in Shanghai — and questions abound about records produced there. Wu later tested positive and was banned from the sport for four years.
In any event, FINA still recognizes that time as the offical world-record so the matter is academic, at least until Klochkova goes 2:08+ this summer at the European Championships in Berlin! (or at least until Bowen goes 2:07+ this summer at the Pan-Pacs!!)
Klochkova's was the only world-leading time of Day 2 — at least in events of 100 meters or longer as several leading 50 stroke marks were swum today. Several other swimmers turned in seasonal prs that are quite close to the top.
In the men's 50 free, for example, Poland's Bart Kizierowski went a fast 22.08. That time is just .03 off his NR from Sydney and No. 2 globally to the USA's Jason Lezak's 22.00 from the U.S. Nationals last March in Minneapolis.
Kizierowski defeated Italy's Lorenzso Vismara in the finals, 22.08-22.45 — the latter's best for 2002.
In the semis Super K won one heat, 22.75-23.32 over the Czech Republic's Ivo Banda. The other semi saw Vismara defeat world record-holder Alex Popov when the latter false-started.
The format for the stroke 50s and the 50 free is unique. The field starts with two heats of eight swimmers each, then the fastest four from each
section advance to the quarters. Then those eight (four and four) swim again to determine the semi finalists, then those four swim again to determine the finalists — which is a two-swimmer match-race.
Hey, Athens organizers, are you reading this? This'd be a really great showcase for the 50-100 frees and the stroke 100s at your little meet in two years, although this setup exists somewhat now with the two semifinal heats.
But say you had 64 entries in a 100 free race or even double that total. Top X advance, then Top Y, then Top Z, then Top whatever until eventually there's just the final 2 remaining. Woudn't that create tremendous fan interest, not to mention TV interest?
In any event, back to reality. In the women's 50 free, Australia's Jodie Henry showed she's ready to give Great Britain's Alison Sheppard a run for Queen of the Sprints at the Commonwealth Games next month in Manchester with her pr-NR 25.40 win. The old Aussie record was 25.62 by Sarah Ryan.
Henry's time ranks her third globally with Sheppard No. 1 off her Commonwealth record 24.96 from the British Trials in April.
Henry defeated Holland's Chantal Groot, 25.40-25.96 for the title, and won her semi over another Dutchwoman (Wilma Van Rijn), 25.56-26.03. Groot
defeated Aussie Alice Mills in the other half of the bracket.
Poland's Otilya Jedrzejczak, fourth at Sydney in the 200 fly with an NR 2:07.81, won here in a seasonal pr 2:10.59, fourth globally. She's fastest among currently active Euro women in this event but will be challenged by Klochkova at Berlin.
Spain's Nina Zhivanevskaya, who's been around since at least the European Championships in Sheffield nine years ago when she was swimming for Russia, won the 100 back in 1:02.02. Second was defending Olympic champ Diana Mocanu of Romania (1:02.55).
In the 200 breast, America's Amanda Beard, a former University of Arizona All-America and Sydney bronze medalist with a pr 2:25.35, went a seasonal-best 2:27.05 to win, fourth globally and fastest U.S. clocking.
Whom did Ms. B defeat? None other than China's world record-holder and current world-leader, Qui Hi, who was runner-up in 2:28.08.
Yes, it's only June and yes, Qi's wr is nearly four seconds faster than Beard's pr and yes, Qi's been 2:23+ earlier this season: but a win is a win
is a win, and this has to be a confidence-builder for the American, who is hopeful of a rematch this August at the Pan-Pac Championships in Yokohama.
The U.S. team for that meet will be selected at the U.S. Nationals in Ft. Lauderdeale in 10 weeks. Interetsingly, Beard deprived Qi of a spot on the
podium at Sydney by .01 but Qi got the world-record (2:21.99) less than eight months later at last year's Chinese World Championship Trials in Hangzhou April 13.
America's Kristy Kowal, able to train fulltime now that her student-teaching assignment has been completed (she's training for a career in elementary
education), was third (2:30.01) Kowal holds the American record with her 2:24.56 that won her the silver medal at Sydney.
Slovakia's Martina Moravcova won the 100 free (55.34) and now ranks sixth. Her pr-NR is 54.45 from the '00 Euro Championships in Helsinki, which got her the silver. Second was Henry (55.75). She's been 55.33 at the AUS Trials in March at Brisbane.
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On the men's side, Sweden's 100 free silver-medalist Lars Frolander advanced a place in the 100 fly with his 53.29, and eanks sixth globally. He'll be trying to achieve a rare "Triple Crown" this summer via a win at Berlin, which would give him consecutive golds at the Olympics, World and European Championships.
Frolander's been king of the Euro sprint flyers for the past three years, having won back-to-back continental 100 titles in '99-'00. However, he
recently lost his Euro record (52.00) to Germany's Thomas Rupprath, who swam 51.88 at the German Nationals just last week — history's second-best
And Yugoslavia's Michael Cavic, who turned 18 last Friday, went a pr 53.30 at the U.S. Nationals in March and is making noises about crashing the big time. He'll be attending a training camp in Split, Croatia this summer run by sprint guru Mike Bottom. Bottom coached Anthony Ervin and Gary Hall to the 50 free Sydney gold and Ervin to golds in the 50-100 frees at the World Championships last summer.
(The last man to have such a streak going was Popov, won won the 50-100 frees at the Barcelona Olympics, the following year's European Championships, the '94 Worlds, the '95 ECs and then at Atlantaq.)
In the 200 back, Japan's Takashi Naakano swam a pr 2:00.74 for the win with China's Yi Rui (2:01.25) second. The 100 breast was won by Russia's 200
champ Dmitri Kormonikov (1:02.03) with Ukraine's Oleg Lisogor — Fukuoka 50 champ — second (1:02.29).
Holland's Pieter van den Hoogenband won the 200 free in 1:47.70 and Romania's Dragos Coman the 400 free (3:52.80).
Hoogie holds the Euro record (1:45.35) from Sydney, a time that also brought him the gold. His pr this season is 1:46.78 that ranks him third. His Euro record ranks him second all-time (performer) and fifth on the all-time performances' list. Only Australia's Ian Thorpe (wr 1:44.06 plus three other 1:44s-1:45s) has swum faster.
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In the stroke 50s, Lisogar won the men's breast over Malek, 27.76-28.37. On the women's side, Britain's Zoe Baker, continental recorde-holder, just edged Kowal, 31.70-31.71. This reversed the outcome from Fukuoka, where Kowal got the silver (31.39) while Baker took home the bronze (31.40).
In the men's backstroke, America's Lenny Krayzelburg, world-record holder (24.99), handily defeated Croatia's Ante Maskovic, 26.05-26.48. The semis
were even more interesting, with King K (as opposed to Super K) defeating America's Neil Walker, 25.76-26.28; and Maskovic defeating countryman Gordan Kozulj, 26.46-26.37.
On the women's side, Germany's Sandra Volker, world record-holder (28.25), won over the Czech Republic's Ilona Hlavacova, 28.85-28.87.
In the 50 fly, Finland's Jere Hard won over former University of Nebraska Big 8 champ Adam Pine, 24.02-24.69. Pine will represent Australia at Manchester.
Moravcova swept to her third gold with her 27.22-27.60 win over Sweden's Joanna Sjoberg.
The respective wrs are 23.44 by Australia's Geoff Huegill from Fukuoka and 25.64 by Holland's Inge deBruijn from the Speedo Grand Prix in Sheffield two years ago. Moravcova's pr-NR is 26.81 from the '00 Euro Championships.
When Inky set her 100 fly wr (56.61) at Sydney she split 26.67, which is among the Top 30 performances of all-time. Not bad, but seven weeks before The Big O's, Inky did a 56.64 at a meet in Seattle (then the wr, now second-performance all-time) and split 26.35 — seventh-best performance ever.
The Series resumes Tuesday in the Eternal City (Rome), then goes to Canet in France over the weekend and concludes next week in Barcelona –site of next
summer's World Championships.
– Bill Bell