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European Championships Berlin, Day 3 heats

Aug 20, 2014  - James Parrack

Europeans day 3 heats

The consensus in the media room after this morning’s heats was that the news was... there was no news.  After an exciting first two days, we arrived at a set of heats of mostly 200s and the women’s 800 and the fact is, the event slows down a little.  The top half dozen in every event know they can swim a little off their best and still comfortably make the top 16 times.

But not for some.  The day 3 heats rewarded those who took the race by the scruff of the neck, rather than those who sat back and waited for a strong finish.  It’s a recently observed phenomenon called the Stjepanovic effect after the Serbian opened up close to a 3 second lead at the midpoint of his 400m free victory on day 1 and never looked back. 

So it was for 21 year old Viktor Bromer of Denmark in heat 2 of the men’s 200m fly, who was 1.7sec clear of the field at the 100m and continued his form to lead the rankings with a 1:55.43 Danish record.

So it was for Marco Koch (GER) in heat 3 of the men’s 200m breaststroke, 1.3sec clear of Britain’s winner of two golds last night, Adam Peaty, at the 100m turn, and who stayed ahead of others to lead the morning with 2:09.11.  For the British men’s breaststrokers, Andy Willis and Ross Murdoch survived, as Peaty’s 2:12.4 was not enough to progress to the semi’s despite being the 8th fastest time.  Up to four can swim in the heats but only the fastest 2 can progress.

Katinka Hosszu and Mireia Belmonte continued their busy programmes, with Hosszu leading the qualifiers in both the 200IM, her 2:11.06 was over 2 sec clear of the rest (Belmonte was 4th), and the 100m back, her 1:00.08 just a shade ahead of the young, tall and talented Mie Nielsen (DEN), daughter of the more famous Benny Nielsen (silver in the 200m fly in Seoul in 1988), at least for the time being.

Belmonte was in again in the 800, finishing in second overall to Commonwealth Champion Jazmin Carlin, who set the time to beat with an 8:22.70, off a 4:09.77.  But in the final, watch the turns of Carlin and Hungary’s defending champion Boglarka Kapas.  Carlin will come up to breathe at around 4m with a moderate streamline off the wall, whereas Kapas will be tightly streamlined and come up at 7m or so.  If Kapas can hold onto the pace, the turns will make the difference.

We found out that events of 400m or longer are only circular seeded if there are 4 or more heats.  With 3 heats, only the last two are seeded.  Which meant that heat 1 of the 800m was turned into the Czech national championships with 3 Czech swimmers together on their own.  They put the music on for that one.

The men’s 50m back is an odd event in my view; 8, or 10 swimmers create a lot of splash and then all finish at exactly the same time 50m later.  Guy Barnea (ISR) and Vladimir Morozov (RUS) both stopped the clock at 24.99, 0.05sec in front of Jeremy Stravius.  The wheel of a roof here isn’t helping some and there were some arm crashes into the lane lines again today.   And a camera at the 15m line would help the rest of us see whether all the starts are legal or not because my feeling is that one or two are beyond the limit here.

On a side note, Nicolas Graesser was listed in heat 4 of the 50m back as representing USA!  I think he’s German.

On Eurosport, one of the points we always make is how close it is to make the cuts from heats to semis, or from semis to finals, or even between 4th and 3rd, or silver to gold.  This morning provided more examples, not just the 50 back, which will always be very close, and today 17th was 0.04 behind 16th, but in the longer events too.  The women’s 800: 9th was 0.49sec from making a final; men’s 200m fly, 17th was 0.07 sec from making the semis and 18th place was only 0.05 further back; women’s 200IM: 0.12sec separated 16 from 17, and in the men’s 200m breaststroke the difference was 0.03sec.  That’s why starts, turns and finishes are very important.

And to finish off the morning, the official event programme has a picture of the British flag, the Union Jack, and underneath it says: England/Great Britain.  It is a disgrace.  But then if you are of the mindset that it’s a good idea to put a major swim meet in the middle of a velodrome rather than the competition venue next door, you probably don’t mind annoying the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish in the process.

James Parrack is Eurosport's swimming commentator and co-founder of the BEST Swim Centre, Mallorca