Kazan 2021: Luc Kroon Wins 400 Free As Netherlands Takes Three Medals; 50 Back CR For Kliment Kolesnikov

Luc Kroon Kazan 2021
Luc Kroon: Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia

Luc Kroon won 400 free gold as the Netherlands made three trips to the podium during the opening finals session of the 2021 European Short-Course Championships in Kazan, Russia.

A scorching leg of 20.46 by Thom De Boer propelled the Dutch men’s 4×50 free quartet past Italy to gold after the women had won silver.

The other final saw Viktoria Gunes claim the women’s 400IM title in a Turkish record.

Other highlights saw Kliment Kolesnikov set a championship record of 22.57 in the 50 back to go within 0.35 of Florent Manaudou‘s world record of 22.22 that has stood since 2014.

Perfect Timing Guides Kroon To Victory

None of the 2019 medallists – Danas Rapsys, Tom Dean and Gabriele Detti – were competing in the men’s 400 free meaning there was to be a new champion.

Marco de Tullio led the field into Tuesday’s final in 3:40.77, 0.01 ahead of the Netherlands’ Kroon (3:40.78), Henrik Christiansen (3:40.85) and Florian Wellbrock (3:41.09).

Matteo Ciampi led at halfway, one place ahead of fellow Italian De Tullio, the pair still leading the way with 100 to go.

KROON Luc TOR Toronto Titans (TOR) ISL International Swimming League 2021 Match 7 day 2 Piscina Felice Scandone Napoli, Naples Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Luc Kroon: Photo Courtesy: Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

But it was Kroon who came back on the final 25 to seize the gold in 3:38.33 – a new Dutch record – ahead of Ciampi (3:38.58) and De Tullio (3:38.80).

He said:

“I feel really good, this is the first international short-course competition of my career.

“I came here with big goals and after the prelims I saw my time and thought maybe I could get a medal. So I’m very happy that I did.”

Ciampi turns 25 on Wednesday and he described the silver as “a very nice birthday gift for me”.

He added:

“I’m satisfied, though I wanted to win. But at the end the second place is okay.

“For me, it is important to get an individual medal at an international competition.

“This is a good incentive that I’m on the right way. Towards the end of the race, I regained my good energies.”

De Tullio finished 10th in the 400 free at the Tokyo Olympics and bronze in Kazan was another marker on the road back.

He said:

“I’m very happy with the result. I have regained the desire for swimming as the Olympics went really bad. Afterwards I made a lot of changes, I changed the coach and the club.

“I would like to thank everyone, the whole staff for supporting me and making me a better swimmer. For me, it’s a great feeling to look forward to not just racing but also training. And of course, this was a great start for the championships.”

Gunes Claims Victory In Record Time

Katinka Hosszu‘s absence meant there would be a new champion for the first time since Mireia Belmonte won in Herning, Denmark, in 2013.

Hosszu won the last three editions but it was her fellow Hungarian Zsuzsanna Jakabos who shared top spot in the heats with Turkey’s Gunes.

Jakabos won her first senior international medal in the 400IM at the European showcase in Trieste in 2005, a year after she had reached the first of her five Olympics.

That’s one of four bronze medals over the long medley as well as silver in Glasgow two years ago and gold in Eindhoven in 2010.

Jakabos led after the fly leg with a 0.24 advantage over Maria Ugolkova, the Swiss who has had a fine World Cup series.

The Hungarian extended that 1.06 over Ajna Crevar at halfway but the Serbian reduced that to 0.03 at 250.

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Viktoria Gunes; Photo Courtesy: Singapore Swimming Federation

Come the 300 mark and Gunes had gone ahead of Crevar and Sara Franceschi and the Turkish swimmer managed to hold off her rivals in the closing metres to take the win in a national record of 4:30.45.

Crevar and Franceschi couldn’t be separated and tied for second just 0.02 behind Gunes in 4:30.47.

Gunes said:

“I’m very satisfied with this gold medal. It was a very good race, clocked a great time, and now I’m a little bit tired.”

Crevar added:

“I’m overjoyed, happy with the result, it is a surprise. I changed coach and really wasn’t expecting the first big result so soon.

“We did a huge work and went through a lot, ups and downs so it is a surprise. I’m so happy!”

Franceschi said:

“It was a very strong race but I’m very happy. This time is a new personal best for me, so it’s a very beautiful day.”

De Boer Guides Netherlands To Gold

A final leg 0f 20.46 by De Boer propelled the Netherlands past Italy and into the gold-medal position in them men’s 4×50 free.

The Netherlands led after Jesse Puts‘ opening leg of 21.10 and at halfway following Stan Pijnenburg‘s 20.74.

However, Italy overtook Kenzo Simons (20.59) to lead by 0.17 going into the final 50 thanks to Lorenzo Zazzeri‘s 20.24.

De Boer though had other ideas and guided his team on to the top of the podium in 1:22.89, a new national record that sliced 1.54secs from the previous mark of 1:24.43 set at the Amsterdam Christmas Meet in December 2020.

Italy was second in 1:22.92, one place ahead of Russia who were anchored home by Kolesnikov in 20.45, the quartet touching in 1:23.35.

Netherlands 4x50 free Kazan

Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia

Puts said:

“The race was awesome, it was my first swim here so to become a European champion right away is incredible.

“I swam the first leg, it was fine, I can go faster but that was all I could give today though it all worked out at the end.”

Alessandro Miressi, who swam an opening leg of 21.20 for Italy, said:

“We swam a very good time. It was a nice race, it’s a great incentive for tomorrow.

“As a team we were really very good. At the end, we lost by 0.03 which is a shame but we are happy anyway.”

While double Olympic backstroke champion Evgeny Rylov was dissatisfied with his split of 20.99, Kolesnikov said: “Everything was great and we are really satisfied.”

Russia Set National Record En-Route To Gold

Sarah Sjostrom guided Sweden to first place after the opening leg in 23.35 narrowly ahead of Poland’s Katarzyna Wasick after the first leg.

Sweden remained ahead by just 0.01 of Russia at halfway but the latter took the lead and came home first.

Russia 4x50 Kazan

Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia

There was a delay of a few minutes until the result was confirmed with the host nation quartet of Rozaliya Nasretdinova, Arina Surkova, Maria Kameneva and Daria Klepikova winning in a new national record of 1:34.92.

She may have won gold but Nasretdinova said: “I’m not really happy with my time and I definitely want to improve in the individual event.”

The Netherlands (1:35.47) and Poland (1:35.94) took silver and bronze respectively.

Women’s 50 Free Semis

Katarzyna Wasick had clear water between her and the rest of the field in the first semi which she won in 23.42, 0.12 outside her Polish record of 23.30.

Sjostrom was in lane four in the second semi, powering off the wall into the second 25 to qualify fastest in 23.37.

Maria Kameneva was third fastest overall in 23.79.

Men’s 50 Back Semis

Michele Lamberti turned first in the opening semi and a fine underwater propelled him to the touch in 22.79, as he sliced 0.12 from the Italian record he set in the morning.

Kolesnikov was in lane four, resplendent in his customary pink cap and unshaven.

The Russian set a new championship record of 22.57, lowering his own mark of 22.64 from Glasgow 2-19.

Lamberti was second swiftest with Apostolos Christou (22.87) the third man inside 23secs.

Kristof Milak squeezed through to Wednesday’s final in eighth in 23.50, 0.01 ahead of Tomas Franta.

Women’s 100 Breaststroke Semis

Evgeniia Chikunova was fastest through in the first semi in 1:04.53 ahead of defending champion Martina Carraro.

Arianna Castiglioni – silver medallist two years ago – posted the fastest time overall in the second semi to book lane four in 1:04.31.

Chikunova will take her place in lane five as second through with fellow Russian Nika Godun third swiftest in 1:04.64 and Carraro next through.

Men’s 100 Fly Semis

Tomoe Zenimoto Hvas lowered his Norwegian record that had stood since Glasgow two years ago to 49.22.

He lifted himself on to the lane ropes and raised his arms to the heavens.

Milak was in the following semi and it wasn’t until the final couple of metres that he headed the field, grabbing first by 0.02 in 49.71 ahead of Jakub Makerski (49.73).

For Milak, it means two races, two finals in his first short-course international.