Nicolo Martinenghi Wins 100 Breaststroke Battle; Florian Wellbrock Goes Third All-Time In 1500 At European SC

Nicolo Martinenghi Kazan
Nicolo Martinenghi: Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia/Giorgio Scala

Nicolo Martinenghi won the 100 breaststroke in a mighty tussle that ended with two Olympic medallists on the podium at the European Short-Course Championships in Kazan, Russia.

Ilya Shymanovich had rattled his world record in the semis with Arno Kamminga matching his Dutch mark.

The Belarus swimmer was ahead at halfway but he was overhauled by Martinenghi who won in an Italian record of 55.63.

Shymanovich clocked 55.77 for silver, 0.02 ahead of Kamminga whose time of 55.79 was a national record.

Florian Wellbrock went third all-time in the 1500 free and Szebasztian Szabo won the 50 free.

Kira Toussaint claimed an emotional 200 back win, Svetlana Chimrova clinched the 200 fly and Russia won the women’s 4×50 medley relay which also featured a freestyle split of 22.94 from Sarah Sjostrom to propel Sweden to second.

Martinenghi Wins First Senior Title

This four-length race was set to be a thriller with all three medallists from Glasgow lining up.

Kamminga won at Tollcross two years ago ahead of Shymanovich and Fabio Scozzoli but the Belarus swimmer had gone within 0.11 of his world record in the semis when he posted 55.45, the third-fastest time in history and a championship mark.

Kamminga had matched his Dutch record of 55.82 in the semis.

Shymanovich led at halfway in 25.95 – 0.07 outside WR pace – ahead of Martinenghi and Emre Sakci who both turned in 26.03 with Kamminga in sixth, 0.53 off the lead.

There was a sprint down the final 25 and it was Martinenghi who got the touch ahead of Shymanovich.

Kamminga propelled himself to third after a second 50 of 29.31, the fastest in the field.

100 Breaststroke Kazan

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Martinenghi said:

“I’m overjoyed and very, very satisfied. At the end, the world record from yesterday night (in the relay) helped me a lot. I don’t know how I did it today but I’m enjoying every second of it.

“This is my first individual gold at an international championship.

“Last night we celebrated a little bit, also my team-mates as it was Michele Lamberti’s 21st birthday, it was a kind of team-building, a great way to get even more united.

“The time is a personal best, almost a second faster than my previous mark, amazing!

“This is going to be very demanding and a long season so I’m taking is step-by-step. I had a short break after the Olympics and went back to training rather quickly. So I’m satisfied with where I am at this time of the season. I like swimming short-course, it is fun, but also difficult.”

His joy contrasted with Shymanovich who has collected world and European silver but is yet to claim a title.

He said:

“I’m not really happy but at the end it’s a good result. My rivals are strong so I should be content with this silver – and you know, sport is just sport.”

Kamminga added:

“Of course, I wanted to win but it’s still a new personal best time so I’m feeling good. It was not a perfect race, I know I can go faster but I’m still happy about it.

“The other guys were way better at the start. They are sprinters and I was aware of that. I also knew I had to get it done at the end.”

Wellbrock Goes Third All-Time

Eyes were on world record-holder Gregorio Paltrinieri and Wellbrock in the centre lanes and they were soon in a two-man race.

Wellbrock, who won the open water in Tokyo, was always narrowly ahead but the Italian sat on his shoulder.

The German led by 0.73 with 400 to go at which point he upped the pace, going to his feet, and extended his lead from there to win in 14:09.88, to go third all-time behind Paltrinieri (14:08.06) and Mykhailo Romanchuk (14:09.14)

Paltrinieri, the champion in 2019, stopped the clock at 14:13.07 with Sven Schwarz winning a sprint finish for bronze in 14:26.24 to make it a German one-three.

Florian Wellbrock Gregorio Paltrinieri Kazan

Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia/Giorgio Scala

Wellbrock said:

“It was a really good race, it’s a new national record by 13 seconds and I’m getting closer to the world record. It was a tough race and I’m pretty happy.

“I had only two weeks of rest after the Olympics and I already started training right away as we have a lot of events, now the short-course majors and then the long-course World and Europeans next year and of course the open water events.”

Gold For Szabo Ahead Of “Cool-Headed Beast” Zazzeri

Szabo led from start to finish to take the title in 20.72, a personal best, the Hungarian claiming his second title of the meet following 100 fly gold.

Lorenzo Zazzeri of Italy took silver in 20.84 with Morozov sharing bronze with Pawel Juraszek in 20.95 as six men went inside 21secs.

Szabo said:

“Going to details does not make too much sense in this event.

“I’ve just tried to focus on my start and on my turn, otherwise there is not much you can do as you can’t see how the others swim.

“I knew if I could do everything well, that should be good for the podium. Winning the 100m fly yesterday gave me an enormous boost. I’ve raced a lot this season and that gave me some confidence.

“Also, we returned to the old regime in training and that led to significant improvement in my times.

“You know, when you see you are a second faster with the altered workload than previously, that’s an incredible push – I guess I’m enjoying the benefits of all these changes.”

Zazzeri anchored the Italian men’s 4×50 medley relay to gold in world-record time with a split of 20.21 on Wednesday.

He outlined his plan for the race which was to be “a cool-headed beast,” saying:

“After yesterday’s world record, we had some trouble to fall asleep. The adrenaline and the emotions ran sky-high.

“But at the same time that also gave me the push and the confidence to go for more.

“My goal today was to be like a cool-headed beast in the pool, to be explosive, yet relaxed and swim calmly.

“After the Olympics my goal was to put focus on my individual career. And this meet is a real stepping-stone towards that.”

Emotional Triumph For Toussaint

Defending champion Margherita Panziera and 2019 bronze medallist Toussaint were in the centre lanes with the Netherlands swimmer posting the fastest time in the semis.

The Italian, who won the 200 at the last two long-course Europeans in Glasgow and Budapest, was seeking her third straight podium finish after finishing third in 2017.

Toussaint turned first at 50 and was just 0.12 ahead of Panziera at the halfway stage.

The Dutch swimmer accelerated and was a body length ahead at 150 and was in full control as she claimed the title in 2:01.26, a new national record.

Kira Toussaint 200 Kazan

Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia/Giorgio Scala

Panziera now has a full complement of medals with silver in 2:02.05 with Lena Grabowski coming from fourth at 150 to take bronze in an Austrian record of 2:04.74, as she sliced 0.68 from her semi time of 2:05.42.

It was an emotional moment for Toussaint who missed 2018 world short-course after a failed doping test turned out to be a false positive.

She said:

“I’m so happy right now. I used to hate the 200m back but I started doing it to improve my 100m.

“I’d never expected to get close to 2:01 so I’m so happy that I’ve just achieved that.

“I was very excited to race today, this is a very special moment, I love the pool and competing here.

“My goal for this season is the World Championships this December because in 2018 I was sent home.

“I always told myself that this one in 2021 will be my revenge, that’s why I’m here and do this race.”

Chimrova Flies To The Top

Lana Pudar led at halfway of the 200 fly ahead of Ilaria Bianchi with Chimrova in third, 0.87 adrift.

The Russian accelerated and was ahead with 50 to go, breathing to her left with her eyes on the Italian who was catching with each stroke down the final 25.

Helena Rosendahl Bach had also turned on the burners and she moved on Chimrova’s shoulder but it was the Russian who got her hand to the wall first in 2:04.97.

Rosendahl Bach took silver in 2:05.02 after a final 50 of 32.82 – the fastest in the field – with Bianchi adding to her 2019 second place with bronze in 2:05.43.

Chimrova said:

“I’m very tired, I had a lot of competitions and I’m not really satisfied with my time but very happy with this gold medal.

“I’ll go forward to get better results, I started very fast here and the second half of the race was really difficult, that’s why I’m exhausted now. This season has been very difficult for me, especially after the Olympics, I didn’t take a normal rest so I’m a bit tired.”

Tchorz Blazes To Victory

In the absence of Katinka Hosszu, who swept the IM events in Glasgow, a new champion would be crowned.

Sjostrom had posted the fastest time in the semis but it was Alicja Tchorz of Poland out in lane seven who had the best start.

She led at halfway ahead of Maria Kameneva and Sjostrom and despite the expected surge of the Swede, Tchorz won in 57.82, taking 0.49 off her national record set back in 2015.

Kameneva was just 0.01 behind as she replicated her 2019 silver in 57.83 with Sjostrom third in 58.05.

Russia Win Women’s Medley Relay

Toussaint put the Netherlands into the lead with a first 50 of 25.91 before Nika Godun guided Russia into first with a fly leg of 29.47.

Arina Surkova maintained their lead (24.49) before Daria Klepikova‘s anchor leg of 23.81 saw them home in 1:44.19.

An astonishing final leg of 22.94 from Sjostrom propelled Sweden from fourth to second in 1:44.32 with Italy third in 1:44.46.

Men’s 200IM Semi-Finals: Vazaios Into Pole Position

Andreas Vazaios heads the field into the final as he seeks to replicate his title-winning form from Glasgow two years ago.

The Greek swimmer set the European record of 1:50.85 en-route to gold in 2019 and on Thursday he booked lane four in 1:53.08.

Alberto Razzetti was next through in 1:53.39 with Daniil Pasynkov leading five men on 1:54 and Ilya Borodin rounding out the qualifiers on 1:55.87.

Women’s 100 Free Semi-Finals: Sjostrom In Lane Four

None of the medallists from Glasgow are in Kazan and Sjostrom led the way, all superb underwaters and power, in 52.21.

The Swede looked at the board and then hopped out of the pool to prepare for her 100IM final.

Marrit Steenbergen clocked 52.22 with Katarzyna Wasick third through in 52.41.

Men’s 100 Backstroke Semi-Finals: Kliment Kolesnikov On Course

The two-per-nation rule – where only the fastest two swimmers from a single country can progress from the heats – meant there was no Evgeny Rylov or Michele Lamberti following the morning session.

Kliment Kolesnikov went second all-time in the 50 back on Wednesday and he looked ominous in the 100 prelims.

He was just 0.06 outside his European record at halfway and touched in 49.15 for lane four in tomorrow’s final.

Glasgow bronze medallist Robert-Andrei Glinta (49.81) and Apostolos Christou (49.98) were next through with the trio the only men inside 50secs.

Women’s 200 Breaststroke Semi-Finals: Chikunova Rattles WJR

Defending champion Maria Temnikova won the first semi in 2:19.20 but Russian team-mate Evgeniia Chikunova went within 0.51 of her world junior record of 2:17.57 in the second race to lead the way in 2:18.08.

Kristyna Horska of the Czech Republic was third through in 2:20.04 with 2017 champion Jessica Vall – who turns 33 later this month – also progressing with 2019 bronze medallist Martina Carraro.

Men’s 200 Fly Semi-Finals: Kristof Milak Takes Flight

Kristof Milak was leaving absolutely nothing to chance after being locked out of the medals by one place in the 100.

He reached halfway 51.79 – matching the European record split of fellow Hungarian Laszlo Cseh – before touching first in 1:51.33.

Antani Ivanov of Bulgaria was second through in 1:51.89, 0.08 outside his national record, with Russia’s Egor Pavlov booking his spot in 1:52.07.

Women’s 50 Backstroke Semi-Finals: Pigree Leads The Way

Toussaint returned to the water after taking 200 gold and the world-record holder won the first semi in 26.07.

But it was Analia Pigree who booked lane four in 26.05, 0.04 outside Beryl Gastaldello‘s French record, after nailing the touch.

Maaike de Waard was third through in 26.10.