BUDAPEST, Hungary, August 10. FRANCE'S Camille Lacourt wowed the crowd at the European long course swimming championships with the second-fastest performance ever in the men's 100 backstroke, coming within inches of Aaron Peirsol's world record.
Lacourt, whose previous best before the meet was a 53.29 from this spring's French nationals, posted an amazing 52.11 in the final, putting Lacourt within reach of Piersol's 51.94, set last year at the USA Swimming nationals. Moreover, the time is also a European record, eclipsing Helge Meuw's 52.27 from 2009, and puts him at the top of the world rankings for 2010. It also lowered his meet record of 52.58 from yesterday's semifinals. Liam Tancock of Great Britain is the only other person in the world to break the 53-second barrier, doing so at the British nationals last spring with a 52.85.
The French took the top two spots on the podium, with Jeremy Stravius swimming a 53.44. That time secures Stravius as the fifth-fastest performer in the event this year, just barely faster than the 53.47 he swam in semifinals yesterday. Tancock, not fully rested at the meet and focusing mainly on the Commonwealth Games, took third with a 53.86. Tancock was originally not in the final, finishing in ninth place after semis, but moved into the final when Markus Rogan of Austria scratched.
Alexander Dale Oen improved on his world-leading time in the men's 100 breast today with a 59.20 in the final. He also reset his meet record, which had stood at 59.29 from the semifinals. Hugues Duboscq of France, who was the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist behind Dale Oen in this event and the silver medalist at last year's world championships, earned the silver here with a 1:00.15. Fabio Scozzoli of Italy won the bronze with a 1:00.41.
Here's what happened in other finals events today:
Men's 50 butterfly
World record holder Rafael Munoz of Spain won the event with a 23.17, two-hundredths slower than his semifinal time. France's Fred Bousquet also swam slower than his semifinal time, but still managed to earn the silver medal with a 23.41. Third went to Russia's Evgeny Korotyshkin with a 23.43.
Women's 50 butterfly
Therese Alshammar, the world record holder from Sweden, took yet another European title, winning with a 25.63. Jeanette Ottesen of Denmark won the silver with a 25.69, and rounding out the podium was Melanie Henique of France with a 26.09.
Women's 200 backstroke
Elizabeth Simmonds and Gemma Spofforth gave Great Britain a 1-2 finish in this event, with Simmonds taking the gold in 2:07.04. Spofforth, a recent guest on The Morning Swim Show, took the silver with a 2:08.25. Duane da Rocha of Spain took the bronze in 2:10.46.
Sarah Sjoestroem, the world record holder in the 100 fly, will occupy lane four in the 100 freestyle final tomorrow, qualifying with a time of 54.01. Femke Heemskerk (54.09), Francesca Halsall (54.16), Aliaksandra Herasimenia (54.25), Evelyn Verraszto (54.29), Josefin Lillehage (54.60), Daniela Schreiber (54.71) and Katarzyna Wilk (54.95) also qualified for the final.
Yulia Efimova of Russia almost improved on her third-ranked time of 1:06.66 in the semifinals of the 100 breast, taking the top seed into the final with a 1:06.80. Denmark's Rikke Moeller Pedersen moved up to sixth in the world with her 1:07.49 for second place. Joline Hoestman of Sweden is now 12th in the world with her third-place qualifying time of 1:07.85. The rest of the final field will consist of Sarah Poewe (1:08.49), Caroline Ruhnau (1:08.63), Michela Guzzetti (1:08.69) and Anastasia Chaun (1:08.79).
The host nation will be cheering for Laszlo Cseh in the 200 IM final tomorrow. The Olympic silver medalist posted a time of 1:58.33 in the semifinal for the top seed. The time moves him into the fourth spot in the world rankings, behind Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps and James Goddard. Goddard, who swims for Great Britain, withdrew from the meet a few weeks ago to recover from a flu-like virus. Rogan took the second spot for the final with a 1:59.17, just five-hundredths off the time he posted at the Barcelona stop of the Mare Nostrum series that ranks him sixth in the world. Gal Nevo (1:59.67), Simon Sjoedin (1:59.72), Joe Roebuck (1:59.74), David Verraszto (2:00.43), Markus Diebler (2:00.68) and Marcin Tarczynski (2:00.89) completed the top eight.
France's Yannick Agnel did not qualify for the men's 200 freestyle due to unusual qualifying standards at the French nationals, so the anticipated matchup with Paul Biedermann will not happen. Biedermann, the world record holder in this event from Germany, posted the fastest semifinal time with a 1:46.88, well off the 1:45.84 he swam last month at the German nationals. Danil Izotov will occupy lane five in the final after posting a 1:47.78, tying him with the USA's David Walters for the 17th-fastest performer in the event this year. Rounding out the final eight for the final are Nikita Lobintsev (1:47.85), Robbie Renwick (1:47.94), Sebastian Verschuren (1:48.39), Glenn Surgeloose (1:48.53), Gianluca Maglia (1:48.68) and Dominik Meichtry (1:48.92).