European Junior Championships: Germany Tops Medal Count, Russia Second

ANTWERP, Belgium, July 10. THE top junior swimmers across Europe took to the waters July 4-8 at the European Junior Swimming Championships in Antwerp, Belgium. Finals were contested in the 15-16 age group for girls and the 17-18 age group for boys, with a total of six championship records falling over the course of the five-day meet.

Day One
Russia's Iuliia Larina brought home the first gold medal of the meet after winning the girls' 400m IM in 4:44.70. Spain's Maria Vilas Vidal made a late charge but came up just short, finishing second in 4:45.48. Chloe Tutton of Great Britain swam a 4:48.47 for third.

Gabriele Detti of Italy swam the only sub-3:50 time in winning the boys' 400m free in 3:49.67, about a second and a half in front of Great Britain's Matthew Johnson (3:51.04). Guy James, also of Great Britain, placed third in 3:51.84.

In the boys' 50m fly, Croatia's Mihael Vukic posted a sterling time of 23.96, the only time under 24 seconds. Benjamin Proud of Great Britain slipped in for silver at 24.11, while Maximilian Oswald of Germany earned bronze with a 24.21.

Not long after finishing second in the 400m IM, Spain's Maria Vilas Vidal posted the top time in the girls' 800m free, winning in 8:42.41 to just beat out Hungary's Nikoletta Kiss (8:43.03). Flora Sibalin, also of Hungary, came in third at 8:45.00.

In the lone relay of the day, Russia's foursome of Alexey Amosov, Stepan Surkov, Maksim Startcev and Aleksandr Popkov teamed up to produce a winning time of 3:20.82 in the boys' 4x100m free relay, ahead of Germany (3:21.18) and Poland (3:21.96).

Day Two
The boys' 100m back turned into a three-man race between Russia's Andrei Shabasov and Italy's Fabio Laugeni and Niccolo Bonacchi. Shabasov flipped fourth at the halfway point, but his back half speed propelled him to victory, as he touched in 55.24. Laugeni came in second at 55.31, while Bonacchi wound up third with a 55.63.

Italian Diletta Carli separated herself from the pack at the 250m mark and never looked back, stroking her way to a new championship record of 4:09.36 in the girls' 400m free. Heidi Grein set the previous record of 4:10.54 way back in 1986, ten years before Carli was even born. Ksenia Yuskova of Russia touched nearly three seconds back in 4:12.28, followed by France's Camille Gheorghiu (4:12.64).

In the girls' 200m fly, Hungarian Liliana Szilagyi took the race out fast and held on for the win in 2:10.53. Germany picked up silver and bronze in the event with Elena Czeschner (2:12.10) and Rosalie Kaethner (2:14.45).

Mariya Baklakova of Russia turned in the quickest time in the girls' 100m free, a 55.08. Germany's Anna-Stephanie Dietterle slipped in for second at 55.42, followed by Amelia Maughan of Great Britain, who touched in 55.64.

Russia kept the ball rolling as Marat Amaltdinov won the boys' 200m breast in the next event. Amaltdinov swam a 2:13.15 to defeat Great Britain's Ross Murdoch (2:14.53) and Georgia's Irakli Bolkvadze (2:15.46).

After winning the 400m IM on night one, Russian Iuliia Larina doubled up with a second victory in the girls' 200m back. Larina swam a 2:11.07 to easily outdistance Ukraine's Iryna Glavnyk (2:12.87) and Italy's Ambra Esposito (2:14.45).

Italy's Gabriele Detti added the boys' 1500m free title to his win in the 400m free from the night before, touching in 15:11.41 for the win. Rob Muffels of Germany took silver in 15:18.82, with Spain's Antonio Arroyo Perez rounding out the podium with a third place effort of 15:21.89.

Russia's quartet of Mariya Baklakova, Rozaliya Nasretdinova, Valeriia Kolotushkina and Ksenia Yuskova had the best time in the girls' 4x100m free relay (3:43.12), in front of Great Britain (3:45.18) and The Netherlands (3:45.51).

Day Three
Five of the eight finalists in the boys' 200m fly broke the 2-minute barrier in the event, but it was Great Britain's Matthew Johnson who got to the wall first in 1:58.50. Russia's Andrey Tambovskiy snuck in for second at 1:59.25, while Tobias Zajusch touched out two other swimmers for bronze with a 1:59.78.

Molly Renshaw of Great Britain captured the girls' 200m breast title with a solid outing of 2:27.66. Hungary's Anna Sztankovics had a strong second 100m to finish second in 2:28.63, while Great Britain's Sophie Taylor picked up her first medal of the meet with a third place effort of 2:29.55.

Maximilian Oswald of Germany improved upon his third place finish in the boys' 50m fly on day one with an impressive victory in the 100m free. Oswald smashed through 50 seconds with a 49.68. Stepan Surkov of Russia hit the pads second in 50.27, with Oscar Ekstroem of Sweden in third (50.35).

Albert Puig Garrich of Spain collected his first hardware of the weekend with a 2:00.95 in the boys' 200m IM, comfortably in front of Greece's Andreas Vazaios (2:01.73) and Germany's Phillipp Forster (2:01.94).

The second championship record of the meet fell in the girls' 50m back, at the hands of Denmark's Mie Nielsen. Nielsen swam a 28.51 to erase Lauren Quigley's 28.76 from last year from the books. Anna-Stephanie Dietterle of Germany also bettered the previous time with a 28.73 for second. Jessica Fullalove of Great Britain won the bronze in 28.99.

Ukraine's Oleg Utekhin earned the victory in the boys' 50m breast, finishing more than half a second ahead of the field in 27.57. Ross Murdoch of Great Britain recorded a 28.09 for silver, with Sweden's Johannes Skagius (28.41) in third.

Antonia Beck Leonie claimed the girls' long distance freestyle title with the top performance in the 1500m free. She finished in 16:29.12, three seconds ahead of Germany's Lena-Sophie Bermel (16:32.67) and eight ahead of Spain's Maria Vilas Vidal (16:37.25).

Italy's foursome of Andrea Mitchell D'Arrigo, Gabriele Detti, Damiano Corapi and Riccardo Maestri lowered the European Junior Championships record in the boys' 4x200m free relay with a 7:19.56, dipping under the previous mark of 7:19.98, held by Great Britain. Germany (7:23.19) and Russia (7:23.79) filled out the remaining spots on the podium.

Day Four
Great Britain's Joseph Patching held off a late charge by Italy's Luca Mencarini to win the boys' 200m back, 1:59.45 to 1:59.66. Mencarini outsplit Patching by more than seven tenths on the last 50m but couldn't close the gap. Danas Rapsys of Lithuania won the bronze in 2:00.12.

Mariya Baklakova of Russia couldn't match her championship record of 1:58.26 from the girls' 200m free semis, but she still had enough firepower to top the field in 1:58.59. Italy's Diletta Carli (1:59.75) and Denmark's Mie Nielsen (1:59.91) also swam sub-2:00 times, earning the second and third spots on the podium.

Russian Svetlana Chimrova just missed the championship record in the girls' 100m fly, but she still won the event by a sizeable margin in 59.07. Hungary's Liliana Szilagyi picked up second in 59.91 while Denmark's Christina Munkholm was third with a time of 1:00.24.

In the boys' non-Olympic distance 800m free, Rob Muffels of Germany swam the only sub-8:00 time of 7:59.43 for the win. Antonio Arroyo Perez of Spain (8:01.65) held off Poland's Marcin Kaczmarski (8:02.13) for the silver.

Anna-Stephanie Dietterle of Germany added another medal to her collection, winning the girls' 50m free in 25.40, just .12 off Francesca Halsall's meet record from 2006. Rozaliya Nasretdinova of Russia placed second in 25.65, while Slovenia's Nastja Govejsek was third in 25.68.

In the boys' 50m back, Niccolo Bonacchi of Italy just missed the meet record of 25.40 with a time of 25.46, still comfortably ahead of second place finisher Tomer Zamir of Israel (25.76). Viktar Staselovich of Belarus and Nikita Ulyanov of Russia swam matching 25.88s to share the bronze medal.

In the final relay, Russia's team of Iuliia Larina, Anna Belousova, Valeriia Kolotushkina and Mariya Baklakova bested the championship heat with a 4:07.61. Great Britain followed in 4:08.40, with Germany close behind in 4:08.80.

Day Five
The final night of competition was a busy one, with two semifinals and 11 finals on the schedule. Great Britain's Matthew Johnson got things started with his second win of the competition in the boys' 400m IM. Johnson, who earlier won the 200m fly, finished in 4:17.26, well in front of Germany's Kevin Wedel (4:21.50) and Russia's Semen Makovich (4:21.86).

After lowering the 50m back record earlier in the meet, Denmark's Mie Nielsen dipped under the 100m back championship record of 1:01.33, held by Elizabeth Simmonds, with a time of 1:00.87. Great Britain's Jessica Fullalove touched second in 1:01.72 while Italy's Ambra Esposito was third (1:02.57).

Moldova's Danila Artiomov came out on top of one of the closest races of the meet in the boys' 100m breast. Only four one-hundredths separated the top three finishers, while three tenths separated the top four. Artiomov finished in 1:01.60, followed by Johannes Skagius of Sweden (1:01.61) and Craig Benson of Great Britain (1:01.64).

Hungary's Anna Sztankovics moved up from her silver medal performance in the girls' 200m breast to win gold in the 100m. Sztankovics touched in 1:08.43, ahead of two Germans in Margarethe Hummel (1:09.33) and Julia Willers (1:10.02).

In the boys' 200m free, Riccardo Maestri of Italy took over at the halfway point and pulled away to win in 1:48.62. Germany's Maximilian collected another medal with a second place effort of 1:49.55. Austria's Christian Schereubl rounded out the top three in 1:49.67.

Dalma Sebestyen gave Hungary its second victory of the night with a win in the girls' 200m IM. Sebestyen touched in 2:16.09, almost a second ahead of Ukraine's Iryna Glavnyk (2:17.06). Reka Gyorgy, also of Hungary, held off two other swimmers for bronze with a time of 2:17.20.

Greece's Andreas Vazaios took the boys' 100m fly out fast and barely hung on for the win with a 53.43. Michal Poprawa of Poland was four tenths behind Vazaios at the 50m mark but had the fastest second 50m of the field, finishing just a hair behind in 53.48. Spain's Albert Puig Garrich garnered third in 53.77.

The girls' 50m fly race came down to two swimmers, with Svetlana Chimrova of Russia and Louise Hansson of Sweden neck and neck the entire way. At the finish, Hansson came out ahead, 26.53 to 26.62. Elena Czeschner of Germany wound up third in 27.14.

Maximilian Oswald of Germany ended his meet on a great note with another individual victory in the last individual event of the meet. Oswald outsprinted the rest of the competition in the boys' 50m free with a winning time of 22.28, just .02 off the meet record. Ukraine took second and third with Volodymyr Suschyk (22.60) and Bogdan Plavin (22.63).

In the last girls' relay, Russia's Mariya Baklakova, Ksenia Yuskova, Anastasia Guzhenkova and Valeriia Kolotushkina claimed the 4x200m free relay by almost five seconds in 8:06.85. Italy took second in 8:11.56 while Spain was third (8:11.94).

Italy's team of Fabio Laugeni, Andrea Bazzoli, Francesco Giordano and Giacomo Ferri came from behind to win the boys' 4x100m medley relay in 3:41.36, just ahead of Russia's 3:41.49. Great Britain earned bronze in 3:42.84 to close out the meet.

Germany topped the overall medal count with 23 (six gold, 10 silver, seven bronze), while Russia came in second with 21 (12 gold, six silver, three bronze).