Russian National Championships: Plenty of FINA A Cuts Posted in Finals; Anastasia Zueva, Yuliya Efimova Shine in Semis

MOSCOW, Russia, April 18. THE second night of Olympic qualifying at the Russian National Championships held in Moscow featured a slew of FINA A cuts as well as some near world-leaders in semis.

Maria Novikova touched out Irina Bespalova, 2:13.55 to 2:13.79, for the women's 200 fly crown. Both swimmers missed the FINA B cut of 2:13.46, leaving Russia void of Olympic qualifiers in the event. Sofia Gutnik rounded out the podium with a third-place 2:14.87.

Alexander Tikhonov turned in a 4:15.24 to win the men's 400 IM, and eclipse the FINA A cut of 4:16.46 to earn a spot on the Olympic roster. His effort jumped him to 15th in the world rankings as well. Dimitry Gorbunov (4:20.88) and Andrey Krilov (4:21.15) finished distant second and third in the distance medley.

Evgeny Korotyshkin clipped Nikolay Skvortsov by the slimmest of margins, 52.07 to 52.08, in the men's 100 fly finale. Both times bested the FINA A cut of 52.36 to give Russia a pair of qualifiers in the event. The two moved to sixth and eighth, respectively, in the world rankings with the swims. Nikita Konovalov finished a hard-luck third-place with a 52.15, clearing the FINA A cut but not being within the top two times. His performance moved him to 11th in the world this year.

Veronika Popova claimed the women's 100 free title in 55.15, missing the FINA A cut of 54.57, but bettering the FINA B cut for provisional qualification of 56.48. Margarita Nesterova (55.91), Natalya Lovtchova (56.05) and Viktoria Andreeva (56.08) rounded out the top four in the finale.

A pair of swimmers made the FINA A cut (54.40) in the men's 100 back with both Arkady Vyatchanin (53.91) and Vlad Morozov (53.93) snaring Olympic bids with a close battle in the finale. The two moved to 12th and 13th in the world with their times, and locked down spots at the 2012 London Games. Vitaly Borisov placed third in 54.80.

Danila Izotov nearly swam to a FINA A cut in the men's 200 free semifinals with a 1:47.96. The automatic qualifying mark stands at 1:47.82, and Izotov is within easy striking distance of the standard during finals. Artem Lobuzov (1:48.07), Alexander Sukhorukov (1:48.09) and Nikita Lobintsev (1:48.10) finished second through fourth, while Mikail Polychuk (1:48.13) and Evgeny Lagunov (1:48.27) qualified fifth and sixth.

Yuliya Efimova, an Olympic medal contender for 2012, cruised in the women's 100 breast semis with a 1:06.92. That performance far surpassed the FINA A cut of 1:08.49, and vaulted Efimova into fifth in the world rankings. Only Jessica Hardy (1:06.12), Satomi Suzuki (1:06.80), Rebecca Soni (1:06.88) and Leiston Pickett (1:06.88) have been faster. Efimova trains with both Hardy and Soni at Trojan Swim Club throughout the year. Daria Deeva took second in 1:08.81, just missing the second FINA A cut of the semifinals, while Anastasia Chaun placed third in 1:09.15. Chaun is bouncing back from an injury sustained during a blood draw in 2011 that likely caused thrombophlebitis shortly before the 2011 World Championships.

Vyatcheslav Sinkevitch raced to the top seed in the men's 200 breast semis with a 2:11.98. He only has to shave a bit of time off in finals to clear the FINA A cut of 2:11.74. His semi time moved him to 24th in the world rankings. Oleg Kostin (2:13.19) and Marat Arnaltdinov (2:13.35) placed second and third in the event.

Anastasia Zueva shot to second in the world in the women's 200 back with a sterling 2:07.56. That performance easily beat the FINA A cut of 2:10.84, and is behind only Belinda Hocking (2:06.68) for the top time in the world. Meagen Nay was bumped to third in the world with a 2:07.83. Maria Gromova will be vying for the second Olympic spot with a 2:11.26 from semis. Yuliya Larina (2:13.45) and Polina Lapshina (2:13.83) have some time to make up.

Special thanks to Rokur Jakupsstovu of Swimmer's Daily for translation of results