Italians and Russians Command Second Day of European Junior Champs

PALMA DE MALLORCA, Spain, July 7. THE second day of the European Junior Championships in Palma de Mallorca was highlighted by championship records from Federico Colbertaldo and the Russian 800 freestyle relay team. Great Britain took home several medals, but the Italian and Russian anthems were heard most often.

The silver medalist in the 200 freestyle, Italy’s Federico Colbertaldo barely qualified for the final of the 400 freestyle. But from lane 8 he led the field to a stunning 3:49.12, a new championship record. Russia’s Alexander Selin (3:50.94) and Nikita Lobintsev (3:51.90) swam great races, but couldn’t match the performance of the Italian.

Damiano Lestingi took home the second gold for Italy in the 200 backstroke. With a solid, fast stroke, but high and still on the water, he won the event in 2:00.32 Portugal’s Pedro Oliveira (2:02.75) and Andriy Nikishenko (2:03.50) had to stay at a distance. The field in the 100 butterfly was tight until the last half a pool length when Joseph Natullo took the lead and touched the pad first in 54.07, closely followed by Croatia’s Mario Todorovic (54.20) and Dominik Straga (54.51), who shared bronze with Yauheni Lazuka from Belarus.

The 50 freestyle sprint was a great race to watch when the field stormed to the finish. Norbert Trandafir from Romania had the best finish and the only sub-23 performance, 22.80, leaving Sergey Fesikov (23.16) from Russia and Yoris Grandjean (23.16) from Belgium close behind him. Two countries dominated the men’s breaststroke, Poland and Italy. Slawomir Wolniak had the best finish and won the event in 1:02.40 while Edoardo Giorgetti took silver for Italy in 1:02.61. Pjotr Galka finished third in 1:03.12, just ahead of Luca Pizzini from Italy, who went 1:03.26.

Poland also placed the first two swimmers in the women’s 200 breaststroke final, but the swimmers were unable to prevail. Poland’s Katarzyna Dembniak led the field until the 150 meter mark, just ahead of Sweden’s Hanna Westrin. But suddenly, there was Anna Kuzmicheva, winner of the 50 breaststroke. The Russian had the best final 50 and took over the lead to finish first in 2:30.85. Dembniak barely finished second, just ahead of Katelin Bor from Hungary who also had a strong finish (2:32.13 to 2:32.32).

Britain’s Francesca Halsall was by far the best in the field of the 100 freestyle with a swim of 55.47. The event was more about who finished second. Ophelie Etienne from France won the race of the rest of the field in 56.80 while Daryna Stepanuk from Ukraine split the bronze with Nathalie Lindborg in 57.00 .

The 100 backstroke was a great battle between two British and two Russian swimmers. Lizzie Simmonds led the field at the start, but was passed halfway by Anastasia Zueva. The strong Russian kept the first position and finished in a solid 1:02.32 while Simmonds finished second in 1:02.79, leaving bronze for her teammate Georgia Davies (1:03.87).

The 800 freestyle was another Russian win. Elena Sokolova had to fight a fierce battle with Italy’s Giulia Bolgiani. Sokolova led the whole race but the Italian came closer and closer as they had to fight until the finish. Sokolova won the event by only .12 (8:43.53 to 8:43.65). Monika Mocnik took home the bronze for Slovenia in 8:49.03.

The 50 butterfly sprint was won by Lena Hiller from Germany, ahead of Lise Soule from France, who out-touched Holland’s Ranomi Kromowidjojo in the race for silver. The final event on the second day in Mallorca was the men’s 800 freestyle relay. Russia only had one real competitor, the clock, and wanted to break its championship record set during the previous edition of the European Juniors in Budapest 2005. Russia succeeded with great splits of 1:50s in a total time of 7:23.02. It took quite a while before Italy (7:27.80) and France (7:29.96) won the remaining medals.