2021 LEN EUROPEAN AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
The penultimate finals session from Budapest will be an action-packed one with 11 events on the docket, including finals in the men’s 800 free, 50 breast and 200 back, the women’s 100 free and 200 IM, and the mixed 400 free relay.
Katinka Hosszu has the opportunity to make history in the women’s 200 IM – a sixth straight victory would mark the longest streak in an individual event at the LC European Championships, men or women. Hosszu’s run of five in a row in the event is tied with fellow Hungarian Laszlo Cseh, who won five straight in both the men’s 200 IM (2006-14) and 400 IM (2004-12).
Israel’s 17-year-old breakout star Anastasia Gorbenko may have something to say about that, however, having qualified first out of the semi-finals in 2:10.35. Great Britain’s Abbie Wood should also be a factor.
In the men’s 800 free, Gregorio Paltrinieri, the winner in 2014 and 2016, will look to reclaim his title from defending champion Mykhailo Romanchuk. Romanchuk beat Paltrinieri head-to-head earlier in the meet in the 1500 free.
The women’s 100 free crown is up for grabs with the winner of the last four titles, Sarah Sjostrom, absent as she heals up from an elbow injury. In her absence, the Dutch duo of Femke Heemskerk and Ranomi Kromowidjojo will duke it out, with France’s Marie Wattel and Brits Freya Anderson and Anna Hopkin also in the mix. Heemskerk has notably won a medal in four of the last five championships in this event, but has never stood atop the podium.
Adam Peaty will shoot for four straight in the men’s 50 breast, which would tie Oleg Lisogor‘s record in the event (2002-08), and Luke Greenbank will look to upend defending champ Evgeny Rylov in the men’s 200 back after lowering the British Record in both the prelims and semis.
This morning’s prelims featured a few swims worth mentioning – Kristof Milak tied the Championship Record in the men’s 100 fly (50.64), and Benedetta Pilato broke the meet, Italian and World Junior Records in the women’s 50 breast (29.50).
Men’s 800 Free Final
There was nothing in the men’s 800 free final early on, with two-time winner Gregorio Paltrinieri inching his way into the lead around the 300m mark. Defending champion Mykhailo Romanchuk refused to let the Italian get away, and the two duelled it out over the final 100.
As we’ve seen before, Romanchuk had more finishing kick at the end, taking out Paltrinieri on the final 50 in 27.70 to win it by a full second in 7:42.61, just off his Ukrainian Record of 7:42.49. Romanchuk moves into second in the world rankings this season, trailing only Paltrinieri’s 7:41.96 from April.
Paltrinieri touched second in 7:43.62, his fifth straight medal in the event, while his teammate Gabriele Detti won his third medal in the last four championships with bronze in 7:46.10. Detti improves his season-best of 7:46.58, but falls one spot in the rankings due to Romanchuk’s swim.
Norwegian Henrik Christiansen takes fourth for the second straight championships in 7:47.99.
Jose Paulo Lopes set a Portuguese Record and hit the FINA ‘A’ cut in 7:52.68 to place sixth.
WOMEN’S 100 FREE FINAL
Femke Heemskerk‘s fifth medal in the 100 freestyle at the European Championships is her first gold, as the Dutchwoman executed a strong race to win it in 53.05, elevating her into fourth in the world this season.
The time ties Heemskerk’s third-fastest ever, having only been faster on a pair of occasions in 2015 (52.69 is her PB). She had won a medal in four of the last five championships with two silvers and two bronzes.
France’s Marie Wattel tied her best time on the nose in 53.32 to win silver, closing faster than everyone in 27.34. Anna Hopkin led at the 50 in 25.56, and managed to hold off Ranomi Kromowidjojo by .01 for bronze in 53.43.
MEN’S 50 BREAST FINAL
- European Record: 25.95, Adam Peaty (GBR), 2017
- European Championship Record: 26.09, Adam Peaty (GBR), 2018
Adam Peaty, mustache and all, made it four straight in the men’s 50 breaststroke, using his patented up-tempo stroke rate to accelerate ahead of the field and touch first in a time of 26.21, taking over the #1 time in the world this season.
Belarusian Ilya Shymanovich, who missed his National Record by .01 in the semi-finals, was about a tenth slower in 26.55 for silver, while Italian Nicolo Martinenghi rounds out the podium in 26.68. Shymanovich was eighth in this event in Glasgow.
Women’s 200 Back Semi-Finals
- European Record: 2:04.94, Anastasia Fesikova (RUS), 2009
- European Championship Record: 2:06.18, Margherita Panziera (ITA), 2018
- FINA ‘A’ Cut: 2:10.39
- Margherita Panziera (ITA), 2:07.61
- Lena Grabowski (AUT), 2:08.60
- Katalin Burian (HUN), 2:08.89
- Cassie Wild (GBR), 2:09.31
- Africa Zamorano Sanz (ESP), 2:09.89
- Eszter Szabo Feltothy (HUN), 2:09.97
- Katie Shanahan (GBR), 2:10.84
- Daryna Zevina (UKR), 2:11.73
18-year-old Lena Grabowski charged home in 31.58 to smash her Austrian Record for the second time today in the first semi of the women’s 200 back, clocking 2:08.60 to lower her prelim mark of 2:09.12.
Great Britain’s Cassie Wild led the heat the majority of the way and still hit a sizable best time of her own in second, clocking 2:09.31 to crack 2:10 for the first time. Wild went a best of 2:10.94 at British Trials in April.
Defending champion Margherita Panziera cruised to the top seed for tomorrow’s final from the second semi, surely riding some momentum after claiming silver in last night’s 100 back re-swim. Panziera posted a time of 2:07.61, holding her splits steady at 32s over the final 150. The Italian ranks second in the world this year with a time of 2:05.56 set in late March.
2018 bronze medalist Katalin Burian of Hungary was second in the heat for third overall in 2:08.89.
Men’s 50 Free Semi-Finals
- European Record: 20.94, Frederick Bousquet (FRA), 2009
- European Championship Record: 21.11, Ben Proud (GBR), 2018
- FINA ‘A’ Cut: 22.01
- Kristian Gkolomeev (GRE), 21.60
- Florent Manaudou (FRA), 21.67
- Ari-Pekka Liukkonen (FIN), 21.72
- Thom De Boer (NED), 21.80
- Ben Proud (GBR), 21.84
- Alessandro Miressi (ITA) / Lorenzo Zazzeri (ITA), 21.86
- Maxime Grousset (FRA), 21.95
Two-time champion Florent Manaudou blasted a season-best time of 21.67 to win the first semi in the men’s 50 free, leading a tight field that saw six swimmers break 22 seconds. Finland’s Ari-Pekka Liukkonen was a close second in 21.72. Manaudou won back-to-back golds in 2014 and 2016, while Liukkonen won bronze in Berlin seven years ago.
Greece’s Kristian Gkolomeev overtook Manaudou time in winning the second semi, blasting a time of 21.60 to mark his fastest swim since the 2019 World Championships. Gkolomeev won silver in 2018.
Thom De Boer of the Netherlands touched second in 21.80, .06 off his PB, and defending champion Ben Proud was third in the heat to safely qualify for the final in 21.84. This was Proud’s second-fastest swim since the beginning of the pandemic.
Women’s 50 Fly Semi-Finals
- Melanie Henique (FRA), 25.53
- Emilie Beckmann (DEN), 25.64
- Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED), 25.71
- Arina Surkova (RUS), 25.75
- Maaike De Waard (NED) / Jeanette Ottesen (DEN), 25.81
- Anna Ntountounaki (GRE), 25.93
- Sara Junevik (SWE), 26.00
Current world #2 Ranomi Kromowidjojo led the first semi-final of the women’s 50 fly in 25.71, with Russia’s Arina Surkova (25.75) joining her under 26 seconds. Kromowidjojo has been 25.32 this season, done back in December, while Surkova set the Russian Record of 25.62 in November of 2019.
France’s Melanie Henique defended her top seed from the prelims in the second semi, clocking 25.53 with Denmark’s Emilie Beckmann close behind in 25.64 for the second seed. Beckmann won silver in 2018.
Anna Ntountounaki broke the Greek Record in 25.93, qualifying seventh overall.
Men’s 100 Fly Semi-Finals
- European Record: 49.95, Milorad Cavic (SRB), 2009
European Championship Record: 50.64, Piero Codia (ITA), 2018 / Kristof Milak (HUN), 2021
- FINA ‘A’ Cut: 51.96
- Kristof Milak (HUN), 50.62 CR
- James Guy (GBR), 50.96
- Josif Miladinov (BUL), 51.10
- Jakub Majerski (POL), 51.18
- Noe Ponti (SUI), 51.43
- Szebasztian Szabo (HUN), 51.45
- Mikhail Vekovishchev (RUS), 51.50
- Federico Burdisso (ITA), 51.66
Kristof Milak lowered the Championship Record that he tied in this morning’s prelims by .02, splitting 23.72/26.90 en route to a time of 50.62 in the men’s 100 fly semis.
Milak leads the world rankings this season with his 50.47 swim from March.
Great Britain’s James Guy became the third man to break 51 seconds this season from the first semi, putting up a very strong 50.96 to lead Bulgarian standout Josif Miladinov (51.10) and Poland’s Jakub Majerski (51.18). Miladinov swam a Bulgarian Record of 51.08 in December.
With Guy’s splits initially unavailable, Majerski actually came back faster than anyone (other than Guy potentially), including Milak (26.90), in 26.87.
Guy was the bronze medalist in 2018, while that year’s champion, Piero Codia of Italy, won’t defend his title tomorrow after missing the final in 11th (51.86).
Women’s 50 Breast Semi-Finals
European Record: 29.48, Ruta Meilutyte (LTU), 2013 European Championship Record: 29.50, Bendetta Pilato (ITA), 2021
- Benedetta Pilato (ITA), 29.30 WR
- Yuliya Efimova (RUS), 30.25
- Sarah Vasey (GBR), 30.35
- Ida Hulkko (FIN), 30.39
- Arianna Castiglioni (ITA), 30.44
- Sophie Hansson (SWE), 30.53
- Veera Kivirinta (FIN), 30.76
- Tatiana Belonogoff (RUS), 30.84
Pilato also breaks the European Record of 29.48, set by Ruta Meilutyte in 2013, and re-lowers the Championship, Italian and World Junior Records she set in this morning’s prelims (29.50).
Pilato is the second swimmer to set a world record at these championships, with Kliment Kolesnikov doing so twice earlier in the meet in the men’s 50 backstroke.
Pilato was the silver medalist in this event at the 2019 World Championships behind King, and now has a chance to become Italy’s first European LC champion in this event tomorrow night. The 2019 European SC champion in this event, Pilato entered the meet with a best time of 29.61 set in December.
Defending champion Yuliya Efimova qualified second overall for the final, nearly a full second back of Pilato in the same semi in a time of 30.25. That time moves the Russian veteran up into third in the world.
It was Great Britain’s Sarah Vasey winning the first semi in a time of 30.35, just off her 2017 PB of 30.30, and 2018 bronze medalist Arianna Castiglioni will have a chance for a second straight medal after going 30.44 for fifth overall.
100 breast winner Sophie Hansson should be a factor in the medal conversation tomorrow as well, qualifying sixth in 30.53 and after going a best of 30.46 in the morning.
Ema Rajic, a member of the Cal Bears in the NCAA, broke her Croatian Record for the second time today in 31.04 to tie for 13th overall.
MEN’S 200 BACK FINAL
- European Record: 1:53.23, Evgeny Rylov (RUS), 2021
- European Championship Record: 1:53.36, Evgeny Rylov (RUS), 2018
- FINA ‘A’ Cut: 1:57.50
Coming into this race full of confidence after lowering the British Record twice on Friday, Luke Greenbank blasted out to an early lead in the men’s 200 back final, flipping in 55.49 at the 100 and maintaining the top spot at the 150 turn.
Evgeny Rylov, who was looking to defend his 2018 title, sat third with 50 to go, but picked up the stroke rate and nabbed Greenbank at the touch for gold in 1:54.46, with the Brit back for silver in 1:54.62.
Rylov currently ranks first in the world with his European Record of 1:53.23 set in April. Greenbank was a shade off his semi-final British Record of 1:54.43, which has him third in the world.
Roman Mityukov ran down France’s Yohann Ndoye Brouard, who was up near Greenbank for most of the race, on the final 50 for a new Swiss Record of 1:56.33. Brouard was .04 back in 1:56.37 – also the previous Swiss Record.
WOMEN’S 200 IM FINAL
- European Record: 2:06.12, Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 2015
- European Championship Record: 2:07.30, Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 2016
- FINA ‘A’ Cut: 2:12.56
Anastasia Gorbenko continues to dazzle here in Budapest.
The 17-year-old Israeli swimmer lowers her National Record yet again in a barrier-busting 2:09.99, using a 31.33 freestyle leg to run down Abbie Wood, hold off Katinka Hosszu and win gold in the women’s 200 IM.
Gorbenko set the previous National Record in yesterday’s semi-finals at 2:10.35. She wins Israel’s first medal in the pool at these Championships, and just their second female medal in pool swimming in the history of the event. The other came from Amit Ivri, who won bronze in the women’s 50 fly in 2012.
Wood had snatched the lead from Gorbenko on the breaststroke leg, splitting 37.26, but Gorbenko’s straight arm finish got the job done by a mere four one hundredths over the Brit, who won silver in 2:10.03.
Wood ranks second to Australia’s Kaylee McKeown (2:08.23) in this season’s world rankings with her 2:09.23 from British Trials.
Hosszu, who had a chance to set the all-time record with six straight wins in this event, is denied, settling for the bronze in 2:10.12. The current Olympic and World Champion put up a valiant effort, closing faster than anyone in the field in 31.07, but simply ran out of pool. It does mark a new season-best for her, however.
Mixed 4×100 Free Relay Final
- European Record: 3:21.81, Netherlands, 2017
European Championship Record: 3:22.07, France, 2018
- Great Britain, 3:22.07 =CR
- Netherlands, 3:22.26
- Italy, 3:22.64
The session closed out in wild fashion as three nations duked it out for gold in the mixed 400 free relay.
With the Italians holding the lead through the final exchange, Great Britain’s Freya Anderson anchored in a quick 52.88 to run down Silvia Di Pietro (53.84), while also holding off Femke Heemskerk (51.73), to give the Brits the gold in 3:22.07.
That time ties the European Championship Record set by France in 2018, and crushes the British Record of 3:27.37 established in the heats. It’s also Great Britain’s first medal in this event, which only started being contested in 2014. It’s also the country’s fifth relay gold medal of the meet, having swept the mixed relays in addition to winning the two women’s free relays.
Federica Pellegrini was 53.58 on the third Italian leg, but she was mowed down by Heemskerk, who posted the fastest relay split of her career.
Heemskerk’s 51.73 helped give the Dutch the silver medal in 3:22.26, joined by Stan Pijnenburg (48.55), Jesse Puts (48.39) and Ranomi Kromowidjojo (53.59). Italy, fourth in 2018, were a close bronze in 3:22.64.
Poland was next up in fourth (3:25.59), while Denmark was disqualified.