European Championships, Day 1 Finals: Katinka Hosszu Wins 15th European Title; 400 Free To Martin Malyutin

Katinka Hosszu 400IM European Championships
Katinka Hosszu: Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

Katinka Hosszu claimed her fourth 400IM title and 15th overall and Martin Malyutin won a shock 400 free gold from lane seven on the first night of finals at the European Championships.

The 32-year-old led throughout to touch in 4:34.76 with Britain’s Aimee Willmott and Hungarian 17-year-old Viktoria Mihalyuari tying for second in 4:36.81.

Malyutin took over on the penultimate length to spring a surprise in 3:44.18 ahead of Felix Auboeck (3:44.63) and Danys Rapsys (3:45.39).

Great Britain won the women’s 4×100 free in a British record of 3:34.17 despite Femke Heemskerk‘s 51.99 blast for the Netherlands.

Kliment Kolesnikov returned from setting a new 50 back world record of 23.93 to anchor the Russian quartet to victory in the men’s equivalent in a championship record of 3:10.41 with Alessandro Miressi setting an Italian record of 47.74 on the lead-off.

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Katinka Hosszu 2021 European Championships

Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

Hosszu won the first of her titles in Debrecen, Hungary, in 2012 and mounted a successful defence in the subsequent editions in Berlin in 2014 and London two years later before going on to win the Olympic crown in Rio de Janeiro.

Hosszu qualified fastest from the morning heats in 4:37.42 ahead of Mihalyuari who, with the two-per-nation rule, had eclipsed fellow Hungarians Boglarka Kapas and Zsuzsanna Jakabos, who was fifth at Glasgow 2018.

Out in 29.32 for the first 50, Hosszu was never seriously challenged and went into the freestyle leg in with a 2.46sec lead over Willmott who had occupied second spot throughout.

Hosszu came home for a dominant victory in the fastest time in the world this year as behind her a battle royale unfolded.

Splits: 1:02.43/2:13.11/3:30.99/4:34.76

Willmott, who had been in second spot throughout, held a lead of 0.79 over Mihalyuari going into the final turn but the Hungarian unleashed a final 50 of 30.74 to stop the clock with the Briton.

Hosszu said:

“I knew I needed these championships and all the other coming competitions in order to be in top shape for the Olympics.

“I’m working like this, I need races, races, races to be on top.

“This swim was painful but it had to be. Before the event I told everyone, there was a time in my head which I had to achieve in order to be content with myself.

“I can tell you now that it was under 4:35 – so it’s a calming win.”

Malyutin In Seventh Heaven

Martin Malyutin 2021 European Championships

Martin Malyutin: Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

Antonio Djakovic set a Swiss 400 free record of 3:47.23 in the prelims to book lane four alongside Henrik Christiansen, who won silver in Glasgow.

Danys Rapsys, out in lane one, turned first at the 100 before Felix Auboeck took over to lead through the halfway mark.

The Austrian was still ahead at 300 with Malyutin second when the Russian made a move with a 27.52 penultimate 50.

He pulled away with a last 50 of 26.60 to add European gold to his world 200 bronze he shared with Britain’s Duncan Scott.

He said:

“I feel really happy. I think I was really prepared for this race. The result is also very cool.

“This is a step up from Glasgow and the time is one second better than the one I clocked at the Russian championships. This is a great start for the summer.”

GB Women Hold Off Heemskerk Blast; Kolesnikov Anchors Russia

Great Britain women European Championships

Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

There are still relay berths up for grabs for Tokyo with Budapest representing a chance to qualify teams before the qualification period ends on 31 May.

The women’s 4×100 free was up first with the Netherlands quartet favourite for gold and Ranomi Kromowidjojo handed over to Kira Toussaint – the backstroke specialist – in first place ahead of Denmark and Britain after an opening leg of 53.56.

Anna Hopkin had other plans though and a superb turn and underwater propelled her into first with a 53.59.

Abbie Wood went 53.90 to hand over to Freya Anderson on the anchor leg with Britain 0.20secs ahead of France and the Netherlands third 0.92 adrift.

Heemskerk though set about obliterating that deficit and in the second 25 of the final 50 drew level with the Briton.

Anderson though was not about to relinquish top spot and she stopped the clock at 3:34.17, a new British record and inside the Olympic consideration time.

Netherlands were 0.12 behind despite Heemskerk’s 51.99 blast with France third in 3:35.92.

British splits:

Lucy Hope: 53.89

Anna Hopkin: 53.59

Abbie Wood: 53.90

Freya Anderson: 52.79

Anderson said:

“I knew we were close second or third and I really gave my best for the team.

“We are very, very happy and it’s an added plus we have set a new national record.”

Wood – who came to international attention at the ISL held in the very same Duna Arena – added:

“We’re surprised! We came here to do the best we could but also to make ourselves more visible in respect with the men’s team.

“The result is very good – this a new British record but this also qualifies us for Tokyo.”

Kolesnikov had 45 minutes between lowering his 50 back world record before returning to the Duna Arena pool for the final event of the night.

Italy led after the first leg following Miressi’s national mark but Russia went ahead and led Italy by 0.22 at halfway.

Vladislav Grinev went 47.49 to hand over to Kolesnikov whose 47.10 blast brought them home in the new championship mark.

Russia 4x100 free 2021 European Championships

Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

Behind them a battle for second was unfolding.

Italy had gone into the water with a lead of 0.35 over the British quartet but Duncan Scott, the national record holder, went 24.73 on his second 50 in a split of 47.19 to take second in 3:11.56, a new British record, eclipsing the previous mark from the super-suited era of 2009.

Italy claimed bronze in 3:11.87.

Russian splits:

Andrei Minakov: 48.18

Aleksandr Shchegolev: 47.64

Vladislav Grinev: 47.49

Kliment Kolesnikov: 47.10

Kolesnikov said:

“Of course, this is a very good start, and I hope to do the same in all races I’m going to swim here.

“I’m focusing on each distance and I will try to my best in all events.”

Minakov added:

“I’m happy and satisfied with this gold medal. This is my first senior European Championships but our target is the Olympic Games. I’m excited to be in Budapest but it’s a part of our training cycle.”

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