Strong Start to European Junior Champs

By Oene Rusticus

PALMA DE MALLORCA, Spain, July 6. DURING the first day of the European Junior Championships in sunny Palma de Mallorca, Hungary’s Gergo Kis set a championship record in the 400 individual medley while the Russian team won three events as Anna Kuzmicheva sprinted to first in the 50 breaststroke, while the team took both relays

It was Britain’s Robbie Renwick who won the first final, the 200 freestyle. Swimming in lane 7, his stroke looked impressive but at every turn he let his competitors come beside him again. Italy’s Federico Colbertaldo came close, but watched Renwick win the event in 1:49.26, to the 1:49.94 of the Italian. Ioannis Giannoulis (GRE) took home the bronze in 1.50.91.

The Hungarians David Verraszto and Gergo Kis gave a great show in the 400 IM, finishing first and second. Up to the breaststroke both swimmers were equal, but in this stroke Kis passed his teammate and had only the clock to compete with. Kis finished in 4:16.82 and beat the championship record of Laszlo Cseh, which was set in 2003. Verraszto took silver in 4:19.30, ahead of Poland’s Mateusz Matczak.

The 50 backstroke sprint was won by Ivan Tolic from Croatia, although he zigzagged through his lane in the open air of Mallorca .Denmark’s Mathias Gydesen out-touched Damiano Lestingi (ITA) in the battle for silver as the rest of the field finished close together.

The women’s breaststroke sprint was a great battle between Sweden’s Hanna Westrin, who had the better technique, and Russia’s Anna Kuzmicheva, who showed more power and won the event in 32.52 to 32.61 for Westrin. Luiza Hryniewicz from Poland just out-touched the rest of the field in the battle for bronze (32.93).

The competition between Jessica Dickons and Mireia Belmonte in the 400 IM was solid, with Dickons swimming under the watchful eye of Britain’s National Performance Director Bill Sweetenham and Belmonte supported by the Spanish crowd. It was the breaststroke that gave Belmonte the decisive lead, and she finished first in 4:46.24 to the 4:51.58 of Dickons. Hungary’s Eszter Dara won bronze over Katarzyna Zolnowska from Poland by just .03.

Just moments before the 400 IM, Dickons competed with her teammate Jemma Lowe in the 200 butterfly. Side by side, the two British girls led the field, only followed by Nina Dittrich in lane 8 The event was decided in the final 100 when Dickons showed more power and finished first in 2:10.07, just .15 above the championship record of Caterina Giacchetti set last year. Lowe finished second in 2:11.59 while Dittrich from Austria took bronze in 2:12.84.

As in every great championship, the relays are great to see how strong the different nations really are. Great Britain has come to Mallorca with a strong squad, as we noticed in the individual events. But the Russians put on quite a show, as they won both relays on the first day. When Sergey Fesikov finished the 400 freestyle relay first for his team, the Russian bear awoke again and showed the audience that the Russians were the strongest in the pool.

The men’s effort also gave their women’s 800 freestyle team wings, and after a fierce fight with the British girls, they won in 8:11.76. Britain was left with two silver medals, while Italy went home with bronze in both the men’s 400 and the women’s 800 freestyle relays.