Kathleen Baker Turns The Heat Up On Hosszu With Nice 2:08 Ahead Of Katinka 2:11 In 200IM

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Kathleen Baker Photo Courtesy: Harry How

The bull run got broken when Katinka Hosszu was pipped by Canadian Sydney Pickrem over 200m medley at the FINA Champions’ Series in Beijing last month.

Not since 2013 had anyone beaten the Hungarian Olympic champion of 2016 in that event. Like buses, if you wait long enough, two come at once. This time, it was Kathleen Baker‘s time – and the American delivered a faster effort and a much bigger dent: 2:08.75 to 2:11.72, third home at the Nice leg of the Camille Muffat Golden Tour in France, Fantine Lesaffres, for the hosts, in 2:12.32.

Hosszu had the sort of last laugh to watch for: 31.04 down the last lap, perhaps just to remind the challenger there’s more in the tank yet. Not nearly enough this day, though.

Baker came home in 32.15 on freestyle – but then she’d done a lot more to up front: 27.90, 59.43, 1:36.60 and 2:08.75, just shy of the 2:08.32 best that makes her the second-fastest American in history. Baker’s effort was inside the 2:08.79 in which Maya DiRado claimed bronze for the USA at Rio 2016 behind a battle between Hosszu and Britain’s Siobhan-Marie O’Connor  that ended closer than anyone had expected, a 2:06.58 Olympic record to a 2:06.88 Commonwealth record.

January just gone. Beginning February. Olympic Year. Things are hotting up. Hosszu is usually the one putting pots on the boil at this time of year. Not this season. Baker, who has put behind her a rib injury sustained last April, had chosen her target for finals. After a minute clocking in 100 backstroke heats, the Olympic silver medallist withdrew, leaving the final for the Olympic champion, Hosszu.

The Hungarian was in no mood to make hay: eighth on 1:04.59, her swim down leaving Sweden’s Michelle Coleman to claim the win in 1:01.03, Lila Touli, of CN Marseille on 1:01.95, third place to Turkey’s Ekaterina Avramovo, 1:02.12, 17-year-old Pia Murray, of Britain, on 1:02.54 and with the rest able to say forever more, with or without clarifications and footnotes, “that was the day I finished ahead of the Olympic champion”.

Elsewhere, American Kendyl Stewart, Baker’s Team Elite Aquatics mate, clocked 58.72 in the 100m butterfly to keep Belorus’ Anastasiya Shkurdai at bay, on 58.87. Hosszu was close, on 59.45, before she headed into the 200 IM clash with Baker.

Henique In A Hurry: Makes Maiden Sub-25 Voyage To Take Freestyle Dash

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Melanie Henrique celebrates her first big win for France over 50m butterfly at the European Short-Course Championships in Glasgow, December 2019 – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

When Mélanie Henique pondered upping sticks from her home in Amiens in favour of a new journey with the Cercle des Nageurs de Marseille in 2015, her best 50 free was a 25.8.

By the end of 2016, it was 25.1. By this time last year, she’d shaved a slither off that, for a 25.05 career high.

Today in Nice, Henique had the edge on a swimmer much faster on paper, Coleman, 24.86 to 24.96, with Charlotte Bonnet, in her home pool, on 25.25 and French record holder Anna Santamans on 25.41.

The win and gain left Henique precisely where she had been on the all-time French rankings: fourth behind Santaman (24.59); Olympic medallist Malia Metella (24.58, 2009) and Bonnet (24.66).

Home-Pool Win For Desplanches

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Jeremy Desplanches – Photo Courtesy: Swiss Swimming

Nice-based Swiss medley ace Jeremy Desplanches pleased his home-pool crowd and his partner Charlotte Bonnet with a 4:14.76 win over David Verraszto in the 400m medley, the Hungarian on 4:16.37. Though Desplanches was ahead the whole way, battle was close throughout, half a second splitting the rivals with freestyle to go. A 57.90 to 59.03 difference settled the matter.

In the 100m backstroke, Apostolos Christou, of Greece, clocked 54.08 to get the better of Yohann Ndoye Brouard of Dauphins D’Annecy, on 54.35, and Amiens’ Mewen Tomac, on 54.71.

In dash finals, Alina Zmushka of Belarus look the 50m breaststroke in 31.44. Next home was Russian Tatiana Belonogoff on 31.47 and 16-year-old Angharad Evans, of Britain, on 31.63.

Theo Bussiere, of Marseille, took the win in the men’s equivalent in 27.83, Turkey’s Huseyin Emre Sakci on 27.98, American Michael Chadwick, of Team Elite, on 28.14.

The session came to a close with Greek teen Konstantinos Englezakis at the helm of the 400m free final in 3:49.27, Tunisian Ayoub Hafmaoui on 3:49.90, Hungarian Balazs Hollo on 3:50.96.