Arno Kamminga, Kristof Milak Pop Big Times at Mare Nostrum Stop in Barcelona

Kristof Milak

Arno Kamminga, Kristof Milak Pop Big Times at Mare Nostrum Stop in Barcelona

The final stop of the three-leg Mare Nostrum Series opened in Barcelona on Saturday, with a handful of big names producing strong performances in the leadup to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Hungary’s Kristof Milak and the Netherlands’ Arno Kamminga were the headliners, turning in their latest prep work before next month’s Games.

A challenger for the podium in both breaststroke events in Tokyo, Kamminga went short and long in Barcelona. After winning the non-Olympic 50 breaststroke in 27.06, Kamminga returned later in the session and easily won the 200 breaststroke in a Mare Nostrum record of 2:07.23. Kamminga was out in 28.96 and hit the midway point in 1:01.42. It was the back half of Kamminga’s race that stood out, as he posted third and fourth 50s of 33.15 and 32.66.

For Milak, who won the European title in a personal best of 50.18 last month, the Hungarian cruised to victory in the 100 butterfly with a time of 50.95. The favorite for Olympic gold in the 200 fly, Milak is looking to challenge American Caeleb Dressel in the 100 fly. In Barcelona, Milak easily turned back South Africa’s Chad Le Clos, who was second in 52.24.

Brazil’s Bruno Fratus, twice a medalist in the 50 freestyle at the World Championships, won his best event in 21.73, that effort ahead of the 21.89 turned in by the Netherlands’ Thom De Boer. Meanwhile, Spain’s Hugo Gonzalez, a Cal-Berkeley standout who is coming off a strong showing at the European Championships, set a Mare Nostrum record in the 100 backstroke. Gonzalez checked in at 53.08, more than two seconds clear of Dylan Carter (55.27).

Dutchwoman Kira Toussaint enjoyed a strong evening, as she advanced to the podium in a trio of events. Toussaint opened her program with a triumph in the 50 backstroke, clocking 27.42. She followed with a runnerup finish in the 50 butterfly, as her time of 27.21 trailed only the 27.10 posted by Spain’s Alba Guillamon. For good measure, Toussaint was third in the 200 backstroke, which was won by Austria’s Lena Grabowski in 2:10.96.

Focusing on solely the 100 breaststroke for the Olympic Games, after failing to qualify for the 200 breaststroke at the Russian Trials, Yuliya Efimova went 1:06.44 in the shorter distance to beat Spain’s Jessica Vall (1:07.43). Katinka Hosszu, Hungary’s reigning Olympic champion in the event, won the 200 medley in 2:13.11.

In other action, Sweden’s Victor Johansson won the 1500 freestyle in 15:19.12 while Joan Luis Pons got to the wall first in the 400 individual medley, on the strength of a mark of 4:14.85. The Czech Republic’s Barbora Seemanova won the 100 freestyle in 54.24 and Mexico’s Maria Mata went 2:09.93 to win the 200 butterfly. Spain’s Cesar Castro won the 200 freestyle in 1:47.89 and the women’s 400 free went to Portugal’s Tamila Holub in 4:11.87.