Katinka Hosszu Tops Olympic 200IM Dress Rehearsal With Win Over Pickrem & Ye In Shenzhen

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Katinka Hosszu - Photo Courtesy: Arena

FINA Champions’ Series, Shenzhen, Day 2

There was no doubting the race of the day as Shenzhen’s leg of the Fina Champions’ Series concluded in China: a dress rehearsal for the Olympic 200m medley final come the Tokyo 2020 Games, assuming three of key podium protagonists make it through to the big moment.

Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, Olympic Champion of 2016, China’s Ye Shiwen, Olympic Champion on 2012, and Canada’s Sydney Pickrem the bronze medallist at World titles in Gwangju this year when Hosszu, making histiory with a fourth straight win, and Ye finished ahead of her in that order.

The top three stayed the same today but Pickrem topped Ye after Hosszu played cat to their mouse before snapping them up for breakfast down the last lap on freestyle on her way to a tight 2:10.42 to 2:10.84 triumph. That kept Hosszu’s seven-year winning streak alive, 2012 the last full year in which Hosszu did not win a global 200m medley race.

Ye clocked 2:12.35, her teammate Yu Yiting 2:14.14. The pace will be much faster in Tokyo come July. Today was about test, pride and money in the early days of Pro-swimming – in the first season of the International Swimming League -already changing the habits and the priorities of some but not all of the world’s best swimmers.

The ebb and flow:

  • 29.04; 1:02.30; 1:40.09; 2:10.42 (30.33) Hosszu
  • 28.22; 1:01.92; 1:39.95; 2:10.84 (30.89) Pickrem
  • 28.98; 1:01.66; 1:40.34; 2:12.35 (32.01) Ye
  • 28.25; 1:03.25; 1:42.74; 2:14.14 (31.40) Yu

Ye was on the shoulder of the top two at the last turn but faded off the pace on the way home. That flow stands in stark contrast to events at London 2012: as a teen, Ye became the first woman swimmer in history to swim any part of a 400m medley in an Olympic final as fast as or faster than counterparts in the men’s final of the same race.

Hosszu said:

“I had four races tonight. I think we’re not really used to such a fast field in January. So it’s definitely exciting, everyone needs to get ready in these days in January. It’s fun for myself, since I just came off a training camp. It’s still hard to get up and race… I actually skipped Christmas this year. I went to a training camp right after the short course Europeans. So, I’ve been training for the past four weeks. I was really happy with some races and respective times”.

Hosszu had already raced a few times before the medley fight today, her first win of the session leading an Hungarian sweep in the 200m butterfly, Hosszu on 2:07.68, ahead of national teammates Liliana Szilagyi and Boglarka Kapas, the World champion, on 2:08.21 and 2:09.46.

Hosszu paced herself throughout, speed when required followed by ease when required. Ye’s teammate Yang Junxuan produced one of several wins for the hosts, her 1:55.52 in the 200m freestyle including a strong back half of 29.59 and 29.83 sweeping her past Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey, on 1:56.88, Dutch challenger Femke Heemskerk on 1:58.23 and Hosszu swimming down in her fourth match of the day, the clock at 2:06.30.

Andrei Minakov At The Double

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Andrei Minakov – Photo Courtesy: FINA / Budapest 2019

There was also a double on the day for Stanford-based Andrei Minakov, who toppled his Russian teammate Vladimir Morozov, also based in the U.S., 48.94 to 49.02 in the 100m free. Minakov started the session with victory in a tight 100m butterfly tussle, Minakov’s 51.73 keeping Australian Matthew Temple at bay by 0.19sec.

In the fly, Oleg Kostin, another from Russia, and Michael Andrew, of the USA, raced home outside the 53sec mark, while Italian Marcelo Chierighini and Belgian Olympic medallist Pieter Timmers concluded the entertainment in that order on 49.38 and 49.45.

Minakov said: “Two victories in one night is very challenging. I did not compete since last autumn, I just stayed at home and did not go to any competitions. I was just swimming, practicing and recovering. So, I was full of energy coming here. I am fresh from competition and did specific preparation work for the Champions Swim Series. Next, we will do training camp and get faster and faster”.

China’s Liu Xiang thrilled the home crowd with a 24.04 win in the 50m freestyle ahead of International Swimming League queen of Skins Ranomi Kromowidjojo, the double Dutch Olympic sprint champion of 2012, on 24.42. Efforts of 24.70 and 24.84 from Heemskerk, and Sweden’s Michelle Coleman brought the dash to a close. Liu said:

“I got a cold after I arrived here three days ago, so I did not expect to win with a time equalling my personal best, the Asian record. I think I am in a good shape because I improved my physical a lot during the winter. I was in self-doubt after I lost the rematch in the semi-finals and missed the final at the Gwangju Worlds in 50m free. But now, I regained my confidence”.

Kromowidjojo was back in later for her own win, on 25.78 in the 50m butterfly, Jeanette Ottesen, of Denmark, on 26.20, with Italian Elena di Liddo on 26.69 and Coleman on 27.20 in her third race of the day.

Sun Yang, the Chinese freestyler who tested positive for doping in 2014 and is now awaiting a verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport after a hearing last November over a World Anti-Doping Agency challenge to the swimmers conduct during a test visit in September 2018, clocked the 23rd best 400m freestyle effort of his career for a 3:44.07 win over Lithuania’s Danas Rapsys (3:46.62).

That reversed the order of finish in the 200m yesterday. Third home in the 400m, on 3:48.11, was China’s second man in the race of four, Ji Xinjie, with Hungarian Dominik Kozma home in a time outside the best efforts of Katie Ledecky.

More Triumphs For Dutch Record-Breakers of The Season Kamminga & Toussaint

A day after taking down his Dutch 100m breaststroke record, Arno Kamminga held off Marco Koch, the 2015 World champion for Germany, 2:09.00 to 2:09.81 in the 200m. Koch chased down Kamminga on the third lap with a 33.18 to his rival’s 33.85 split but Kamminga was biding his time and came home in 32.74 to keep the German, on 33.21, at bay.

Olympic champion Dmitry Balandin, of Kazakstan, and Josh Prenot, the American who followed him home at Rio 2016, stopped the clock at 2:13.58 and 2:13.60 respectively, slower than the winning pace at the 1984 Olympics (and every Games since).

Kamminga was back in action later in the 50m, his 27.40 good for third behind efforts of 27.28 and 27.39 from Ilya Shymanovich, of Belarus, and Joao Gomes Jr, the Brazilian on his second career beyond a doping ban, his national teammate Felipe Lima on 27.74.

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Kira Toussaint – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Kamminga’s national teammate and another Dutch swimmer who has spent the past half year taking an axe to the national-records book, Kira Toussaint held off China’s Fu Yuanhui 59.52 to 1:00.17 in the 100m backstroke. Coleman and Olympic champion Hosszu brought the race to a close in 1:01.23 and 1:03.24, the latter reflecting the Hungarian’s main medley mission. Toussaint said:

“It was a very tough race. That’s very hard. But I’m actually really happy with the time. I’ve never been so fast in January. It’s great to swim fast after a break for Christmas. I had 10 days off for Christmas and then we started back up on January 6, just a week ago. I got some lifting during the vacation to stay fit, I think that’s very important to do something. I like the direct-final format because I think people will swim faster races and have more rest. You can even still do some training in the morning while the final takes place in the evening. That’s what I like about it, that you can easily fit it in your training schedule”.

China’s 100m backstroke World champion Xu Jiayu took the dash in 24.63 ahead of a 24.91 from Romanian Robert Glinta, Apostolos Christou, of Greece, and Michael Andrew, of the USA, on 25.01 and 25.08 respectively.

In almost every line-up, the pace of traditional events in a format based on solo performances (and measured in age-old fashion on the clock) reflected the in-training nature of an event missing its mark by a wide margin: the series was announced to great fanfare last year as the place where we would see the Olympic and World champion(s), the World Record holder and the prevailing World No 1 all in one race.

Hard to achieve that where the likes of Adam Peaty would have had to have occupied all four lanes in the 100m breaststroke and Michael Phelps would have had to have made a comeback alongside others, while the by-invitation-only mechanism to get round all of that and ensure four swimmers in each line-up highlights the compromises that have to be made when the best in each race stay away.

Where the Olympic champion was in the race, winning ways and their best pace were not a part of the picture this day.

The men’s 200m backstroke started the program and produced three just under the 2-min mark, Canadian Markus Thormeyer at the helm on 1:59.02, Adam Telegdy, of Hungary, on 1:59.15 and American Jacob Pebley on 1:59.95.

Martina Carraro, of Italy, pipped China’s You Jingyao, 1:06.85 to 1:07.59 in the 100m breaststroke, Alia Atkinson, of Jamaica, and Pickrem, the Canadian racing soon after the medley clash with Hosszu and Ye, on 1:08.15 and 1:09.59.

The series now moves on to Beijing at the weekend.

 

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