European Long Course Championships: Norway Wins Both Women’s Gold Medals on Day Five

DEBRECEN, Hungary, May 25. OLYMPIC roster spots and the prestigious title of European champion were on the line in the fifth day of competition at the European long course championships.

FINALS
Men's 800 freestyle

Three men battled for the win in the session's opening race. Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri, Hungary's Gergo Kis and Russia's Sergiy Frolov were neck and neck for 600 meters before Kis turned on the afterburners and produced a 55.06 final 100 to win in 7:49.46 to the delight of the home crowd. The time ranks second in the world in the non-Olympic event, behind Sun Yang's 7:47.11. Paltrinieri, the winner of the 1500, placed second with a 7:52.23, just a bit slower than this now-third-ranked time of 7:51.97 from March's Italian nationals. Frolov was just behind in third with a 7:52.81, good enough for fifth in the world.

Defending champion Sebastien Rouault of France (7:53.78), Italy's Gabriele Detti (7:56.16), Russia's Evgeny Kulikov (7:59.90), Ukraine's Maxym Shemberyev (8:00.96) and Austria's David Brandl (8:03.28) also competed in the final.

Women's 200 breaststroke
Sara Nordenstam of Norway, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist, won today's European title in 2:26.91. The win, though, is dampened with the fact that the time is two hundredths of a second off automatic Olympic qualifying. Russia's Irina Novikova was second in 2:27.25. Germany's Sarah Poewe, the 100 breast champion, led for the first half of the race, but fell back to third with a 2:27.80.

Other swimmers in the final included Sweden's Joline Hoestman (2:27.87), Iceland's Hrafnhildur Luthersdottir (2:27.92), Serbia's Nadja Higl (2:28.24), Ukraine's Ganna Dzerkal (2:28.37) and Belgium's Fanny Lecluyse (2:30.12).

Men's 100 freestyle
Filippo Magnini of Italy prevented France's Alain Bernard from successfully defending his European title, taking the win in 48.77, which moves him up to 23rd in the world. Bernard, swimming in lane 1 and looking for redemption after losing the chance to defend his Olympic title, held on for second with a 48.95 after leading at 50 meters. Romania's Norbert Trandafir placed third with a 49.13.

France's Amaury Leveaux (49.16), Hungary's Dominik Kozma (49.17), Germany's Marco di Carli (49.18), and Belgium's Pieter Timmers (49.19) and Dieter Dekoninck (49.42) also raced in the final.

Women's 100 butterfly
Norway earned another gold medal, with Ingvild Snildal winning in a time of 58.04, moving her up a spot to 12th in the world after ranking 13th with her 58.07 from semifinals. Sweden's Martina Granstroem placed second with a 58.07, a time which is now 14th in the world. Amit Ivri of Israel earned the bronze with a 58.78.

Italy's Silvia Di Pietro (58.95), Greece's Kristel Vourna (58.98), Hungary's Zsuzsanna Jakabos (59.06), Slovakia's Denisa Smolenova (59.24) and Liliana Szilagyi (59.76) rounded out the final field.

SEMIFINALS
Women's 200 freestyle

Federica Pellegrini did just enough to earn the fastest lane in tomorrow's final with a top time of 1:57.81, just a shade off her season best of 1:57.10 from the Italian nationals that ranks her eighth in the world. Teammate Alice Mizzau qualified second for finals with a 1:58.55, while Patricia Ortega put up the third-fastest time of 1:58.95. Silke Lippok of Germany (1:59.07), Slovenia's Sara Isakovic (1:59.55), Ophelie Etienne of France (1:59.66), Hungary's Evelyn Verraszto (1:59.72) and Agnes Mutina (2:00.15) rounded out the top eight.

Men's 100 butterfly
Serbia's Milorad Cavic had a deja vu moment in today's semifinal, leading for most of the race before being out-touched at the wall. Hungary's Laszlo Cseh, not known for being a sprint butterflyer, got to the wall first with a 51.95. Cseh is now in a three-way tie for third in the world with Germany's Benjamin Starke and Tyler McGill of the United States. Cavic finished .13 behind with a 52.08, which is a little faster than he swam at the British Olympic Trials, which also served as the Olympic venue's test event. Cavic is now in a tie with Russia's Nikolay Skvortsov for tenth in the world.

The rest of tomorrow's final will be occupied by Serbia's Ivan Lendjer (52.34), Russia's Nikita Konovalov (52.38), Spain's Rafael Munoz (52.48), Matteo Rivolta of Italy (52.52), Bence Pulai of Hungary (52.56) and Slovenia's Peter Mankoc (52.65). With the automatic Olympic qualifying standard set at 52.36, it appears that the top three swimmers earned their place in London with today's swim.

Women's 50 backstroke
Italy's Arianna Barbieri posted the fastest qualifying time in the non-Olympic event with a 28.30, which puts her 10th in the world. Spain's Mercedes Minguet qualified second with a 28.33, while Jenny Mensing of Germany, the 100 backstroke champion, was third with a 28.47.

Also in the final will be Croatia's Sanja Jovanovic (28.52), Simona Baumrtova of the Czech Republic (28.57), Italy's Carlotta Zofkova (28.65), Poland's Klaudia Nazieblo (28.72) and Bulgaria's Ekaterina Avramova (28.78).

Men's 200 backstroke
Hungary's Peter Bernek was fastest in the semifinals with a 1:56.11, moving him up from sixth in the world to third behind Ryosuke Irie (1:54.02) and Jan-Philip Glania (1:55.87). Poland's Radoslaw Kawecki was second overall with a 1:56.68, now putting him fifth in the world. Germany's Yannick Lebherz posted the third-fastest time with a 1:58.23, well off his 1:56.84 that now ranks him seventh globally.

Also qualifying for the final were Israel's Yakov Toumarkin (1:58.33), Hungary's Gabor Balog (1:58.43), Italy's Sebastiano Ranfagni (1:58.86), France's Benjamin Stasiulis (1:59.09) and Germany's Felix Wolf (1:59.41). The top five swimmers surpassed the automatic Olympic qualifying standard of 1:58.48.

Men's 50 breaststroke
Slovenia posted the two fastest qualifying times in today's semifinals in the non-Olympic event. Matjaz Markic and Damir Dugonjic will be the top two seeds with respective times of 27.43 and 27.60. Italy's Mattia Pesce qualified third with a 27.63. Norway's Aleksander Hetland (27.68), Italy's Fabio Scozzoli (27.73), Czech Repiblic's Petr Bartunek (27.89) and Greece's Panagiotis Samildis (27.92) instantly earned spots in the final.

Romania's Dragos Agache and Ukraine's Valeriy Dymo tied with matching times of 27.99 for eighth place, prompting a swim-off that was won by Agache with a 28.14. Dymo posted a 28.26 in the swim-off.