Daniel Gyurta, Emese Kovacs Provide Spark at European Junior Championships

By Oene Rusticus

ANTWERP, Belgium, July 19. THE second day of the European Junior Championships in Antwerp marked another pair of Championship records. Daniel Gyurta bettered his 200 breaststroke time from yesterday, while Emese Kovacs set the record in the 200 butterfly to 2.08.55.

The 100 backstroke was a great duel between Britain's Marco Loughran and Italy's Damiano Lestingi, last year's winner. Loughran had the better start, but Lestingi was leading halfway until Loughran approached in the last 25. The race was decided at the finish, when the Brit touched the wall first by only 0.01. Both swimmers set great times, 55.63 and 55.64. Felix Wolf grabbed bronze for Germany in 56.64.

Daniel Gyurta won the 200 breaststroke in a Championship record of 2.10.71, in by far the strongest breaststroke field ever in the European Junior Championships. But, his time was only 0.09 faster than his silver-medal time in Athens, so the 18-year-old hasn't made that much progression in the last three years.

Alexey Zinovyev collected silver for Russia in 2.12.48. Italy's Luca Pizzini finished just a bit faster that his teammate Edoardo Giorgetti in the battle for bronze (2.14.34 to 2.14.76).

Pizzini's second bronze in this event after Mallorca 2006. Giorgetti won this event last year, although he swam faster, he left empty-handed this time.

The 1500 freestyle was won by Maciej Hreniak from Poland. But his 15.10.78 was only one second faster than his bronze medal performance last year. He did work hard in his mile, and fought waves like he would in the ocean.

Upgrading his stroke rate is almost impossible, maybe someone can teach him the value of distance per stroke? Luca Baggio (15.22.17) and Davide Sitti (15.28.00) took home the remaining medals for Italy.

Emese Kovacs decided the women's 200 butterfly under water, where she gained a meter on the rest of the field on each turn. The Hungarian produced a high quality 2.08.55 and broke the Championship record set in 2004 by Caterina Giaccheti by more than a second. The battle for silver was won by Germany's Nina Schiffer (2.11.98), closely followed by Andriana Terzi from Greece (2.12.39).

Russia's Elena Sokolova took a comfortable lead in the 400 freestyle, and finished first in 4.12.53. Margaux Fabre from France had a strong last 100 to collect silver in 4.15.11. Bronze went to Britain, when Sasha Matthews finished in 4.16.45, just ahead of the rest of the field.

Lizzy Simmonds easily won the 200 backstroke in 2.12.36. The British swimmer finished seventh in this event just a few months ago in Melbourne and is one of Britain's hopes for London 2012. Russia's Oxana Shlapakova finished second in 2.14.72, while Zuzanna Mazurek just out-touched her team-mate from Poland Iwona Lefanowicz in the battle for bronze (2.16.36 to 2.16.65).

The 100 freestyle sprint had many contenders, as the top 8 in the semis finished within one second. Nathalie Lindborg turned first for Sweden in 26.87, but the field moved as one to the finish wall Ukraines Kateryna Dikidzhy touched first in 56.51 to grab gold, just ahead of Germany's Lisa Vitting (56.75). Orsolya Tompa from Hungary won bronze in 56.81 just 0.01 seconds ahead of Lindborg,

The big swimming nations dominated the women's 400 freestyle relay. Germany won gold in 3.47.85, ahead of Great Britain (3.48.99) and Russia (3.49.59). The fastest split was set by Lisa Vitting (55.52).

Lizzy Simmonds at European Junior Championships