Olympic silver medallist Evgeny Korotyshkin left nothing to chance on his way to a world eason-leading 51.53 victory in the 100m butterfly on a penultimate day of Russian nationals in Kazan today that saw Vladimir Morozov thunder inside 22sec with a 21.72 in the 50 free semis before a 27.69 win in the 50m breaststroke.
Out in 23.82, the sole sub-24 in the final, Korotyshkin, coached by Andrea Di Nino at the ADN Swim Project in Italy, came home in 27.71, his winning effort just 0.09sec shy of the 51.44 it took him to win the Olympic silver medal behind Michael Phelps (USA) in London last year. The heat is on for Barcelona this summer and the first FINA l/c World Championships without Phelps since 1999. Korotyshkin's time topped Chad Le Clos' 51.79 at South African nationals.
The silver in Kazan went to 200m winner Nikolay Skvortsov in 52.07, Nikita Konovalov taking bronze in 52.08. If the top three times in the race represented world No 1, 3 and 4 slots so far this season, France's Jeremy Stravius on 52.04 at French nationals, they also locked out three other sub 53sec efforts, Evgeny Koptelov, about to leave his teenage years behind, at the helm of those on 52.26. The junior final went to Alexander Kudashov in 54.33 at the helm of three others in 54s.
The men's 50m freestyle final shaped up to be the highlight of the last day of nationals in Kazan. After watching Sergei Fesikov take the first semi of the 50m free in 22.26, Morozov, 100m champion in Kazan and at world s/c championships last December, thundered back a 21.72sec reply a thump and thrust ahead of the rest in the second line-up, his previous best of 22.06 knocked for six.
Morozov's time is third best in the world this year behind Olympic champion Florent Manaudou (FRA), 21.55, and Olympic 100m champion Nathan Adrian (USA), 21.70.
Morozov In Motion:
If the 20-year-old coached by Dave Salo in California and based at Swim Torrance with coaches Mike Kauffman and Jon Carroll on his way up is ready to make waves in the lanes next to Manaudou, Adrian, Cullen Jones, Cesar Cielo and Co, then look at the next wave in Russia: Evgeny Sedov, 17 this year, on a scorching 22.38, that a significant step up on his way to senior contention. Last year, Sedov set a best time of 22.95, 0.03sec inside his best at 15.
At the same age, Morozov's best was 22.86, while Alex Popov's best at 19 was 22.87. Today, Popov's 21.64 Russian record of 21.64 - the world record between 2000 and shiny suits - survived the latest assault but trembled for the first time at home.
As if the second-best Russian 50 free ever were not enough, Morozov returned to the fray and upset the breaststroke dashers with a 27.69 victory ahead of Oleg Utekhin, in 27.95 for silver and 100m winner Kirill Strelnikov, on 27.97. "Its starting to be painful" tweeted Team Marseilles, home of Manaudou and other sprinters of Gaul, with a nod to Morozov
In other action in Kazan, In other action in Kazan, Florida Gator Arkady Vyatchanin was a class apart in the 200m 1:57.54. The silver went to Anton Anchin in 1:59.09, bronze to Dmitry Maltsev in 2:00.81.
National record holder Veronika Popova, St Petersburg, took the 200m freestyle crown in 1:57.41 ahead of teammate Viktoriya Andreeva, on 1:58.54, the bronze going to Elena Sokolovain 1:59.88, with Ksenia Yuskova, 16, on 2:00.44 for a possible berth in the 4s200m freestyle in Barcelona this summer.
Olympic medallist Anastasia Zueva managed to keep 14-year-old 200m bolter Saria Ustinova at bay 28.50 to 28.69 in the 50m backstroke final, the bronze going to Mariya Gromova in 28.73, 0.03sec ahead of Margarita Nesterova.
The women's 800m freestyle went to Anastasia Krapivina, 18, in 8:45.52, after a close battle with Elizabeta Gorshkova, on 8:46.33, the Moscow swimmers keeping at bay former national record holder Anastasia Ivanenko, St Petersburg, back from a doping ban and on 8:57.63.
In the concluding men's 4x200m freestyle relay, Moscow took the crown in 7:18.53 ahead of St Petersburg, on 7:26.18.
Set up for tomorrow:
Having seen Valentina Artemyeva lead the first line-up of the 50m breaststroke in 31.35, Yulia Efimova claimed lane 4 for the final in 30.67. In the 200m butterfly, Yana Martynova booked lane 4 for the final in 2:12.78, Daria Shmakova, on 2:13.84. In the 50m freestyle, Svetlana Fedulova (Knyaginina) clocked lifetime best of 25.13, just 0.03sec shy of the Russian record that is shared by Natalia Mesheryakova from 1994 before she tested positive and was suspended for doping, and Veronika Popova.