Rapsys Roars To Meet-Mark 3:33.20 Victory Over 400m: Hozzsu Wins 60th Title At European Championships

Danas RAPSYS of Lithuania on his way winning in the men's 400m Freestyle Final during the 20th LEN European Short Course Swimming Championships in Glasgow, Great Britain, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (Photo by Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK)
Danas Rapsys on his way to victory at the European Championships in Glasgow with the third swiftest 400m free ever- Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

European Short-Course Championships

Glasgow, Day 1 Finals and Semi-Finals

Danas Rapsys, the Lithuanian who stopped the clock first in the 200m freestyle at the World Championships in July only to find himself disqualified, scorched a 3:33.20 victory over 400m freestyle on the opening day at the European Short-Course Championships at Tollcross in Glasgow.

Katinka Hosszu won her 60th international title of a 15-year career, Benedetta Pilato set a new world junior record of 29.32 in the 50m breaststroke with Vladimir Morozov setting a new European mark of 25.51 in the men’s equivalent before anchoring the Russia 4x50m freestyle quartet to victory.

Kira Toussaint was not to be outdone as she set her second championship mark of the day in the 100m backstroke semi-finals, her 55.17 also a Dutch record.

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Rapsys lost the gold in Gwangju in the summer that granted Sun Yang, of China, the second of his controversial victories that week. Both titles to the Chinese star were followed by podium protests from rivals who did not believe he should have been competing given a pending challenge against him from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

On World Cup tour after World Championships, Rapsys set the fastest time in the world over 200m freestyle in the long-course pool. It was scant consolation. Today, he claimed the short-course continental 400m title in blistering fashion.

At the half-way mark, Rapsys was less than a second shy of the 2012 world-record pace of Yannick Agnel, present in Glasgow as a commentator for a French broadcaster.

By the close of play, Agnel’s 3:32.25 had survived, Paul Biedermann‘s Germany record of 3:32.77 remained second swiftest all-time from a time of shiny suits in 2009, while Rapsys broke the championships record set by Biedermann in 2009 at 3:34.55, the Lithuanian’s 3:33.20 top of the season world rankings and inside his personal best off 3:34.01, in which he claimed the world short-course title a year ago.

Rapsys, who dropped out of the International Swimming League to focus on Cup and Championship waters,  was almost 5sec clear of next home, Thomas Dean, of Britain, cheering the home crowd with a 3:37.95 personal best, the bronze to Olympic bronze medallist Gabriele Detti, of Italy, in 3:38.06

Rapsys gave a fist-pump as he told Swimming World: “The time was really good. I thought I can go like 34 or something and that was 33 so I am really happy. It was (because of) my coach and my team: they did everything and I just followed them.”

Having consigned Biedermann’s record from 2009 to history, Rapsys added: “I think swimming has evolved to the next level so I think that is why (all these records are being lowered).”

Katinka Hosszu of Hungary celebrates after winning in the women's 400m Individual Medley (IM) Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 28 July 2019.

Photo Courtesy: PATRICK B. KRAEMER

Hosszu led from start to finish for what was ultimately a clear victory in 4:25.10 ahead of fellow Hungarian Zsuzsanna Jakabos (4:28.76) and Ilaria Costinato of Italy who got bronze in 4:29.13.

Hosszu was leading Jakabos by 0.94 at halfway before turning on the turbo in the second half of the race to win by 3.66secs.

As well as it being her 60th international title, it was also Hosszu’s 90th international medal and her 50th short-course medal at world and European level.

Hosszu was taken aback by the extent of the silverware that she has collected, saying: “I heard that.

“I don’t like to count especially with internationals so once I am done I’ll look back. Every time I step on the blocks I feel like everyone wants to win, it doesn’t matter what you have and I feel I am hungry if I don’t count how many I have.

“If I had had to guess I don’t even know what number I would have said so once I am done I will look back and count and probably be pretty shocked because it is already crazy to me.”

The 30-year-old’s first international medal came at the 2004 European short-course in Vienna, Austria, on 12 December 2004.

What are her memories of the 15-year-old Katinka embarking on her international journey that day?

“I really loved the 400IM and I got the bronze. It’s just how much you can handle pain and how much you can work hard, that is what counts in the 400IM and I really liked that idea. I remember I was maybe fifth going into the freestyle so I really had to fight for the bronze and I was pretty excited to get it.”

Radoslaw Kawecki produced a second 100 of 56.07 to overhaul early leader Christian Diener in the 200m backstroke in 1:49.26, 0.79secs ahead of the German with fast-finishing Luke Greenbank of Great Britain taking bronze in 1:50.09 after a sizzling final 50 of 27.34.

It was the Pole’s fifth European short-course gold in that event and seventh medal overall and, while not overly thrilled with his time, there was no doubting the emotion.

He said: “I’m really happy because I won again, it’s a European gold but the time isn’t that good, it should have been better.

“My plan is 125m is slow and the last 75 is strong.”

There was no let-up for Morozov who had two races in 13 minutes: his 50m breaststroke followed by the 4x50m freestyle where he joined Vladislav Grinev, Mikhail Vekovishchev and Kliment Kolesnikov.

His quick turnaround affected him not a jot as he unleashed the quickest split in the field of 20.25 to anchor the quartet home in 1:22.92 as Poland claimed silver in 1:23.74 with Italy third in 1:24.50.

Tomo Zenimoto Hvas of Norway leads the qualifiers into the men’s 100m butterfly in 49.91, .01secs ahead of Vekovishchev.



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