Jose Finkel Trophy Meet: Cesar Cielo and Jessica Hardy Top 50 Free Semifinals

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, September 21. THE year 2010 almost saw its first sub-20 second short course meters 50 freestyle today from Cesar Cielo at the Jose Finkel Trophy meet in Rio de Janeiro.

Cielo put up a fast time of 21.00 in the semifinals of his pet event today, cementing him as the fastest in the world in the early goings of the short course meters season. The time also broke the meet record he shared with Fernando Scherer. Last week at the FINA World Cup meet in Rio, he posted a 21.08 to win the event there. Cielo told media members at the meet today that his goal is to break the 21-second barrier and swim a time faster than his long course world record of 20.91, which he set last December. It's possible he's also eyeing Nicholas dos Santos' national record of 20.74, which he swam in Berlin last November. Dos Santos will be next to Cielo in tomorrow's 50 free final, seeded with a 21.71 as the third seed. Bruno Fratus will be the second seed in the event with a 21.64 in the semifinals.

Jessica Hardy of the United States will go into the women's 50 free final tomorrow as the top qualifier with a time of 24.54. Brazilian national record holder Flavia Delaroli-Cazziolato is second with a 24.78, and Daiane Becker will take the third seed into finals with a 25.20.

In finals action, Sweden's Carina Hostman took the gold medal in the women's 200 breaststroke with a 2:21.67, the third-fastest swim of the season so far and a meet record. Agustina de Giovanni posted a second-place time of 2:26.17 and Michele Schmidt took the bronze in 2:30.23.

In the men's 200 breaststroke, Felipe Silva, the national record holder in the 50 and 100 breaststrokes, took the longer event in a meet record time of 2:05.61. Tales Cerdeira was touched out for the gold, finishing second in 2:05.67. National record holder Henrique Barbosa settled for bronze with a 2:06.65.

The women's 200 backstroke saw Hungary's Evelyn Verraszto take the event easily in 2:07.68, a new meet record. Fernanda Alvarenga finished second in 2:11.32, while Larissa Cieslak was third in 2:13.74.

Markus Rogan of Austria, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the 200 back, won the event here with a meet record time of 1:52.15. Fabio Santi took the silver medal with a 1:53.59 and Lucas Salatta finishing third in 1:53.98.

Chile's Kristal Kobrich, the bronze medalist in the 1500 free at the 2010 Pan Pacific championships, won the 800 free today in 8:22.99. She finished well ahead of open water star Poliana Okimoto, who posted a second-place time of 8:27.77. Sarah Correa was third in 8:48.99.

The men's 1500 free title went to Lucas Kanieski with a time of 14:49.40, less than a second off Matheus Ribeiro's national record of 14:48.62 set last year. Finishing second in the race was Luiz Arapiraca with a 15:00.28. Rounding out the podium was Esteban Paz with a 15:12.66.