European Juniors: Lithuanian Gold Rush, CRs & Titles For Sara Curtis

Mantas Kauspedas: Photo courtesy: European Aquatics

European Juniors: Lithuanian Gold Rush, CRs And Titles For Sara Curtis

There was a Lithuanian gold rush that had the Lazdynai Pool on its feet at day two of the European Junior Swimming Championships in Vilnius.

Kristupas Trepočka got the Lithuanian ball rolling with victory in the men’s 200m freestyle before Mantas Kauspedas set a national record of 24.68 en-route to the men’s 50m backstroke title.

Smilte Plytnykaite won the women’s 50m breaststroke to follow in the slipstream of Ruta Meilutyte, three-time world champion and world record-holder.

Sara Curtis also had a superb day started with a Championship 50 free record of 24.67 in prelims as she took 0.20 from Daria Tatarinova’s standard of 24.87 from the 2021 edition in Rome.

The Paris-bound 17-year-old returned in the evening to win the 50m backstroke and head the 50 free semifinals before anchoring the Italian 4x100m mixed freestyle quartet to gold in 3:28.34 for her second Championship record of the day.

Golden Night For Lithuania

Trepočka was a member of the Lithuanian men’s 4x200m freestyle squad that won gold at the European Aquatics Championships in Belgrade last month.

Kristupas Trepočka: Photo courtesy: European Aquatics

The 18-year-old was ahead by the halfway mark and extended his lead thereafter to come home in 1:47.74.

Ahmet Burak Isik of Türkiye was second in 1:48.04 with Nicholas Castella of Denmark taking bronze in 1:48.41.

“It was very special for my heart,” Trepočka told European Aquatics, “I have to say a big thank you for the support from the swimmers, from the coaches and other people who have supported me in this journey for this medal.

“I’m very thankful for this (medal), I know I can do better, much better in the future and it would be nice to see me take the next steps. I think this is just the start.”

Kauspedas set a Lithuanian record of 24.95 in the Tuesday prelims and he demolished that in the final, slicing a further 0.27 for a time that would have clinched bronze in Belgrade last month.

The 16-year-old hoisted himself on the lane rope and slapped the water as the crowd celebrated Lithuania’s second gold of the evening.

Kliment Kolesnikov’s Championship record lives to fight another day, six years after the Russian went 24.52 in Helsinki, Finland.

Daniele del Signore of Italy was second in 25.34 with Czechia’s Jakub Jan Krischke third in 25.53.

Plytnykaite is the defending 100m freestyle champion but on Wednesday she took the 50m breaststroke in 31.27.

Great Britain’s Jasmine Carter, the youngest swimmer in the field, took silver in a 31.39 PB with Nayara Pineda Lopez third in 31.46.

Double Gold For Curtis

In the women’s 50 back, Curtis had a superb start in lane six with the Italian claiming a comfortable victory in 27.94.

Martine Damborg of Denmark was second in 28.27 with Great Britain’s Blythe Kinsman taking bronze in 28.29, 0.01 ahead of Anna Maria Borstler of Germany in 28.30.

Curtis posted 24.73 for top spot in the 50 free semis before returning for the mixed 4x100m freestyle, the final event of the evening.

Women 50m Freestyle

Sara Curtis: Photo Courtesy: Istvan Derencsenyi/LEN

Vlaho Nenadic led off Croatia in 48.83 for first place ahead of Carlos D’Ambrosio who clocked 49.12.

Lorenzo Ballarati guided Italy into pole position in 49.12 with Cristiana Stevenato splitting 55.52 to hand over to Curtis in top spot, albeit with only a 0.08 lead over Germany.

Julianna Dora Bocska steered Germany into the lead at the final turn but Curtis scorched to a 28.90 final 50 and an anchor leg of 54.74 for victory.

Italy’s time of 3:28.34 was a new Championship record, cutting 0.09 from Germany’s 3:28.43 standard from 2019.

It was also Curtis’ third gold medal of Vilnius 2024 after Italy retained their women’s 4x100m freestyle title on the opening night.

Germany was second in 3:28.83 with France third in 3:29.11.

Curtis told European Aquatics: “I’m very, very proud of these races and I’m so happy to be here at this competition & championships and it makes me very happy.

“I’m very excited for freestyle too (tomorrow) but we will see what I can do.”

Abraham Rattles 200 Free CR; Mihalache Flies To Gold

The session got underway with the women’s 200m freestyle where Minna Abraham led throughout to upgrade 2023 silver to gold.

Abraham arrived in the Lithuanian capital having won three golds and as many silvers in Belgrade last month.

Out in 27.36, Abraham extended her advantage throughout for a dominant win in 1:57.52, a PB and just 0.01 outside Isabel Gose’s Championship record of 1:57.51 from Kazan 2019.

Rebecca-Aimee Diaconescu squeaked into the semis by 0.01 in 16th and was eighth into the final but that mattered not a jot as she won silver from lane eight in 1:58.97 with Dora Molnar claiming bronze from lane one in 1:59.45 to make it a Hungary 1-3.

Vlad-Stefan Mihalache: Photo courtesy: European Aquatics

Vlad-Stefan Mihalache of Romania led from the start of the men’s 200m butterfly and was 0.35 ahead of second-placed Samuel Kostal at the final turn.

The Slovakian ate into the deficit down the last 50 as the pair went stroke for stroke but it was Mihalache who touched first in 1:57.42, 0.20 ahead of Kostal who took silver in 1:57.62.

Mihalache got up onto the lane ropes and slapped the water before removing his cap, pointing to the Romanian flag and placing it over his heart.

Third was Hungarian David Antal, the 15-year-old splitting 30.55 for the swiftest final 50 to touch in 1:57.67.

Blocksidge Dominates In 1500

Amelie Blocksidge, the British senior champion in the 800 and 1500m freestyle, was seeking her first European junior title after coming second in the longest race in the pool last year behind Merve Tuncel.

Emma Vittoria Gianelli of Italy led after 300m when Blocksidge took the lead.

By 500m she was 1.36secs ahead of the Italian who was being tracked by senior continental champion Vivien Jackl.

The 15-year-old extended her lead to 6.39secs at 1000m with Jackl moving into second.

Blocksidge was metronomic, extending her advantage length by length as Jackl and Gianelli fought it out for the minor placings behind her.

With 250m to go, Blocksidge was 8.89secs ahead of the Italian and came home in 16:10.23 for Great Britain’s first gold of the Championships.

Gianelli took silver in 16:17.19 with Jackl third in 16:19.22.

Nusrat Allahverdi claimed Türkiye’s first title of the meet with victory in the men’s 50m breaststroke in 27.60.

He was followed by Germany’s Subajr Biltaev (27.78) and Maksim Manolov of Bulgaria (27.89).

 

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