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World SC Doha, Day 4 finals

Dec 6, 2014  - James Parrack

World SC Doha, Day 4 Finals

 And still the world records are tumbling; 5 on the day and 3 WR in the first 3 swims of the day 4 finals in Doha.

The first event was the men’s 4x50m free saw a world record 1:22.60 from Russia, who led the USA from start to finish.  Morozov leading off with a 21.01 to Josh Schneider’s 21.05, but then three splits under 20.63 saw off the Americans, who all split 20. High, as Italy finished in third.

Alia Atkinson (JAM) took gold in one of the biggest surprises of the week after equalling Rute Meilutyte’s world record 1:02.36 to take gold ahead of the Lithuanian, who had to settle for silver 0.1 sec behind, reversing their finishing positions from the 50m.  Atkinson won thanks to her turns and underwater work, which were nothing short of sensational, passing the Olympic champion in a storming final 25m.  It took an interminable length of time for Atkinson to realise that the winning time was hers!  Atkinson was at Texas A and M, where she won the NCAA title in the 200 breast in 2010, and is now a special projects manager at the ISHOF and swims in south Florida.  Moniek Nijhuis (NED) added another bronze to the one she won in the 50m.

Then the man of the meet, Flo Manaudou in the 50m back final, where the Frenchman is getting better with every swim, whatever stroke it is.  The winner of the 50m free yesterday was a dominant winner, setting a world record 22.22 sec.  A big splash, but tonight, no big splashes from the winners.  A little throwing of the arms, but no chest thumping water bashing emotion this evening.

The big man was back in action shortly after in the 100 free semis, qualifying third fastest into Sunday’s final behind the Brazilians Cesar Cielo and Joao de Lucca.

Staying with the sprints, Chad le Clos (RSA)broke the streak, setting only a championship record to win the men’s 50m fly.  His 21.95 too good for Nicholas Santos (BRA) with Govorov (RUS) in third.  For a man who made his name in 200m fly long course, he generates astonishing speed.  What chance the rest of the world when a 200 fly swimmer can go that fast?  The speed of hand movement from the front of the stroke through to the hips is an amazing skill.

But with Katinka Hosszu back in the water in the women’s 200IM, we only had to wait 2:01.86 for another world record as the Hungarian led from start to finish, and finishing 4.01 sec clear of Siobhan-Marie O’Connor (GBR) who added another silver to her and the British tally, which now stands at 6 for the championships.  That’s 4 gold and 4 WR for Hosszu this week. No underwater view of the breaststroke pullouts in this race.  Olympic bronze medallist Melanie Margalis finished third.

And the 5th world record of the session, making 15 for the first four days of competition came in the final event, the mixed 4x50m free.  Russia of course led in the early stages with Sedov (20.59) and Morozov (20.65), with Brazil in close attendance.  Cielo leading with a 20.65 for Brazil, and the team remained in second until a -0.02 takeover and a 23.25 from Abbey Weitzeil of the USA took 1.04 sec from Russia in the final 50m to deliver victory in a WR 1:28.57.

It is always M, M, W, W, these days, except for Ukraine, who opted for M, W, W, M.  They came 6th.  The win for the USA marks the first victory in the women’s programme so far in Doha for an individual or team outside of Europe.

On a separate note, FINA clarified the breaststroke pullout rules before the world championships started, stating that the fly kick can not start until the hands have separated at the start of the pullout.  But without underwater video cameras, how can any judge possibly tell?  The breaststroke pullouts have always been an area of controversy and I am not at all convinced that all the pullouts in Doha are legally performed, not least the double kick from Hosszu in the 400IM final.  And while we are at it, put cameras at the 15m mark as well please to check the backstroke and fly starts and turns.

James Parrack is Eurosport's swimming commentator and co founder of the BEST Centre, the swim training centre in Mallorca.