European Long Course Championships: Close Calls, Fast Times On Second Night

DEBRECEN, Hungary, May 22. THE second night of sizzling racing is complete at the European Long Course Championships being held in Debrecen, Hungary. Several top five times in the world were posted during tonight's session.

Men's 50 fly
Spain's Rafael Munoz Perez raced to victory in the sprint fly with a top time of 23.16 out of lane seven. That swim jumped him to fifth in the world behind only Cesar Cielo (22.76), Nicholas dos Santos (22.79), Fred Bousquet (23.02) and Matt Targett (23.11) this year.

Bousquet earned second-place honors with a 23.30, a bit short of his third-ranked season best from Brazil last month. Belarus' Yauhen Tsurkin rounded out the podium with a third-place 23.37. Tsurkin smashed his national record of 23.90 set last year in Brest.

Russia's Nikita Konovalov (23.43), Serbia's Milorad Cavic (23.53), Ukraine's Andriy Govorov (23.53), Serbia's Ivan Lendjer (23.68) and France's Amaury Leveaux (23.80) rounded out the championship heat.

Men's 100 back
Greece's Aristeidis Grigoriadis trumped Germany's Helge Meeuw, 53.86 to 54.06, for the continental title. Grigoriadis bettered his season best of 53.89 from earlier in the meet that had pushed him to 15th in the world this year. He jumped to a 12th-ranked tie with his swim this evening.

Meeuw, on the other hand, fell short of his 53.80 set during semis, that ranks 11th in the world. Plenty of the top European swimmers in the event did not compete in Hungary with the likes of Camille Lacourt (52.75), Liam Tancock (53.16) and Germany's Jan-Philip Glania (53.50) each in the top four in the world this year.

Israel's Yakov Yan Toumarkin finished third in 54.14, while Hungary's Peter Bernek (54.77), Russia's Vitaly Borisov (54.78), Italy's Micro Di Tora (54.78), France's Jeremy Stravius (54.96) and Hungary's Richard Bohus (55.00) also vied for the title. Toumarkin downed the Israeli record of 54.22 set by Guy Barnea back in 2009.

Women's 50 fly
Just minutes after earning a spot in the women's 100 free finale, Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom captured the women's sprint fly continental crown with a 25.64. Her performance pushed her to second in the world behind only Denmark's Jeanette Ottesen's 25.29 from Brazil last month. Ottesen did not compete in this event in Hungary this week.

Estonia's Triin Aljand raced to second in 25.92 to move to fifth in the world rankings behind Inge Dekker's 25.90 from Nancy in January, taking down her national record of 26.16 set at the 2009 World Championships in Rome. Norway's Ingvild Snildal placed third to round out the podium with a 26.16, vaulting to seventh in the world rankings with her effort.

Poland's Anna Dowgiert (26.38), Italy's Silvia Di Pietro (26.44), Greece's Kristel Vourna (26.52), Italy's Ilaria Bianchi (26.55) and Israel's Amit Ivri (26.77) comprised the rest of the championship field.

Dowgiert's semifinal time of 26.36 clipped Agata Korc's Polish record of 26.45 set back in 2008 in Dubrovnik. Vourna twice lowered the Greek record. First, she clocked a 26.63 in semis to down the 26.73 set by Eirini Kavarnou back in 2009 in Athens, before her faster time in the finale.

Men's 100 breast
Against the backdrop of Alexander Dale Oen's untimely passing, and just a day after his birthday, Italy's Fabio Scozzoli touched out Ukraine's Valeriy Dymo, 1:00.55 to 1:00.68, in the 100 breast. Scozzili improved to 18th in the world rankings with the swim, while Dymo moved to 23rd. Italy's Mattia Pesce placed third in 1:00.93 with Germany's Marco Koch finished just behind him in fourth with a 1:00.99.

Russia's Kirill Strelnikov (1:01.12), Israel's Imri Ganiel (1:01.33), Slovenia's Damir Dugonjic (1:01.51) and Portugal's Carlos Esteves Almeida (1:01.57) placed fifth through eighth to complete the championship heat. Almeida downed his national record during semis with a 1:01.19, besting the 1:02.13 he set at the 2011 Shanghai World Championships.

Women's 200 back
France's Alexianne Castel topped the distance dorsal with a time of 2:08.41, moving to ninth in the world. Laure Manaudou still has the top time from France this year with a 2:08.06 from French Nationals in March. Castel bettered her previous season best of 2:08.57 also set in March.

Germany's Jenny Mensing, who stands eighth in the world with a 2:08.30 from Germany earlier this month, took second in 2:09.55, while Spain's Duane Da Rocha Marce wound up third in 2:09.56 to take 14th in the world rankings. Da Rocha Marce just missed Spain's national record of 2:09.53 set by Nina Zhivanevskaya back in 2000.

Ukraine's Daryna Zevina (2:09.57), Ireland's Melanie Nocher (2:10.75), Czech's Simona Baumrtova (2:10.85), Italy's Alessia Filippi (2:11.20) and Slovenia's Anja Carman (2:12.51) also competed in the finale. Nocher twice downed her Irish record of 2:11.74 set in Dublin in 2010. First, she posted a 2:11.68 in semis before lowering the mark under 2:11 with her finale swim.

Germany picked up the top two spots in the women's 100 freestyle with Daniela Schreiber (54.53) and Britta Steffen (54.71) going 1-2 in qualifying out of the second heat. Steffen has been much faster this year with a fourth-ranked 53.65 from German Nationals earlier this month, while Schreiber has yet to crack the top 25, and will be looking to do so in the finale. Greece's Nery-Mantey Niangkouara (54.98) and Italy's Alice Mizzau (55.07) gave semifinal two the top four spots, while Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom led the first semifinal with a fifth-seeded 55.14.

Sweden's Jennie Johansson (1:07.65) and Germany's Sarah Poewe (1:07.70) led the way in the women's 100 breast. Johansson has some more in the tank, as she is ranked sixth in the world with a 1:07.10 from the British Trials in March. Poewe improved to 16th in the world with his swim, besting her season best of 1:07.90 from German Nationals. Germany's Caroline Ruhnau earned the third seed with a 1:08.011, off her ninth-ranked 1:07.28 from Germany earlier this month. Notably, Ireland's Sycerika McMahon posted a 1:08.37 to qualify fifth, matching her prelims time that downed her Irish record of 1:08.79.

Following a trend for the evening, the second semifinal dominated overall qualifying in the men's 200 IM. Hungary's Laszlo Cseh ripped off a 1:57.80 much to the pleasure of a partisan crowd. That effort vaulted him to fourth in the world rankings behind only Michael Phelps (1:56.32), Thiago Pereira (1:57.11) and Ryan Lochte (1:57.63). Sweden's Simon Sjodin (1:59.44) and Israel's Gal Nevo (1:59.62) also cleared 2:00 out of semifinal two. Sjodin moved up to 22nd with his swim, and clipped his national record of 1:59.72 set in Budapest in 2010. Austria's Markus Rogan topped the first semifinal with a fourth-place 2:00.58.

Hungary's Dominik Kozma earned the top seed in the men's 200 free semis with a 1:47.59, while Germany's Tim Wallburger placed second in 1:47.90. Germany's Paul Biedermann (1:47.92) and Switzerland's Dominick Meichtry (1:48.35) earned the third and fourth seeds.

In preliminary qualifying, Italy's Samuel Pizzetti topped the men's 1500 free with a 15:10.26, while Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri (15:11.06) and Hungary's Gergely Gyurta (15:15.01) placed second and third.