European Short Course Champs Off to Swift Start

HELSINKI, Finland, December 7. THE first day of the European Short Course Championships featured a world record in relay action and pair of continental standards in individual competition, courtesy of Arkady Vyatchanin and Otylia Jedrzejczak. Here's an event-by-event rundown of the first-day races.

Men's 400 Freestyle Final

The European-record holder, Russia's Yury Prilukov took top honors over a pair of Polish swimmers. Prilukov was timed in 3:39.02, more than a second off his continental mark, but fast enough to hold off Przemyslaw Stanczyk (3:39.92) and Pawel Korzeniowski (3:40.40). Italy's Massi Rosolino, looking for his 50th international medal, was fourth in 3:41.60.

Men's 200 Backstroke Final

Russia made it back-to-back gold medals when Arkady Vyatchanin blazed 1:49.98 to become just the second man in history to crack the 1:50 barrier in the distance dorsal. Vyatchanin clocked 54.03 for the opening 100 meters and brought the race home strong enough to lower Markus Rogan's Euro record of 1:50.43, on the books for one year.

While Vyatchanin finished off Ryan Lochte's world mark of 1:49.05, the Russian had no trouble dispatching Germany's Helge Meeuw, who earned silver in 1:53.45. The bronze medal went to Romania's Razvan Florea, a longtime staple on the international scene who was timed in 1:53.71.

Women's 100 Backstroke Semifinals

France's Laure Manaudou led qualifiers into the final of the 100 back behind a swim of 58.04. That time was quicker than the 58.30 registered by Germany's Antje Buschschulte and the 58.63 of Ukrainian Iryna Amshennikova. Germany's Janine Pietsch qualified fifth for the final, but could be a medal factor in the championship final.

Men's 100 Butterfly Semifinals

Germany's Thomas Rupprath paced the semifinals of one of his prime events as he negotiated the 100 fly in 51.60, slightly quicker than the 51.65 of Slovenia's Peter Mankoc. Milorad Cavic was the third-fastest qualifier, going 51.82, and Ukrainian Andriy Serdinov, the Olympic bronze medalist in the 100 fly, was fourth in 51.94.

Women's 200 Individual Medley Final

Leading from the start, Poland's Katarzyna Baranowska mined gold with a performance of 2:09.47. Baranowska split 27.98 for the opening butterfly leg and maintained her advantage to the final touch. She was followed for the silver medal by France's Camille Muffat (2:10.83) and the bronze medal was collected by Poland's Aleksandra Urbanczyk (2:10.89).

Men's 100 Breaststroke Semifinals

A short-course standout, the Ukraine's Oleg Lisogor made himself the favorite for gold in the final when he highlighted qualifying in the 100 breast with a showing of 58.86. The second slot for the championship heat was occupied by Norway's Alexander Dale in 58.92. Lisogor is the Euro-record holder with a mark of 57.57 from January of this year.

Women's 200 Butterfly Final

Continuing Poland's spectacular day, Otylia Jedrzejczak crushed the European record in the distance fly when she won the race in 2:04.94. Off the world standard of 2:04.04, set by China's Yang Yu in 2004, Jedrzejczak broke the Euro record of 2:05.77, held since 2000 by Germany's Annika Mehlhorn. The silver medal went to Hungary's Beatrix Boulsevicz (2:06.73) and bronze was won by Britain's Jessica Dickons (2:07.36).

Men's 200 Individual Medley Final

Despite his inability to lower his European record in the 200 I.M., Hungary's Laszlo Cseh had no trouble besting the competition in one of his prime events. Cseh touched the wall in 1:54.43, a little less than a second off his continental record of 1:53.46. Cseh was followed in second place by Lithuania's Vytautas Janusaitis (1:56.20) and third went to Hungary's Tamas Kerekjarto (1:57.12).

Women's 100 Freestyle Semifinal

The Netherlands' Marleen Veldhuis led the way into the championship heat with the only sub-53 effort. Veldhuis went 52.85 and was followed by France's Alena Popchanka (53.10) and Sweden's Josefin Lillhage (53.37).

Men's 50 Freestyle Final

With a pedestrian time of 21.53, Spain's Eduard Lorente took the gold medal ahead of Serbia's Milorad Cavic, who was timed in 21.60. France's Julian Sicot claimed the final medal with a swim of 21.68. The European record in the event is 21.10, held by France's Fred Bousquet.

Women's 50 Breaststroke Final

The two-lap breaststroke sprint actually turned out to be a runaway as Germany's Janne Schaefer collected the gold medal in 30.43, plenty faster than the 30.88 of Britain's Kate Haywood. Russia's Elena Bogomazova was the bronze medalist in 30.98.

Men's 200 Medley Relay Final

The German quartet of Helge Meeuw, Johannes Neumann, Thomas Rupprath and Jens Schreiber lowered the world record that Germany already owned. The foursome was timed in 1:34.06, under the old mark of 1:34.46 from 2003. Finland was second in 1:34.95 and the Italians were third with a time of 1:35.20. Meeuw split 23.66 on the backstroke leg and Neumann went 26.86 for the breaststroke. Rupprath handled the fly in 22.30 and Schreiber anchored the freestyle leg in 21.24.