Two WRs: Leveaux 45.12 100 Free; Filippi 8:04.53 800 Free
Dec 12, 2008 - Craig Lord
Rijeka - Euro s/c Championships, Day 2 finals and semis:
The second session of finals opened with Olympic silver medallist Alessia Filippi (ITA) crushing American Kate Ziegler's world s/c record in the 800m freestyle final to set the 97th global and 115th European standard of the year in 8mins 04.53.
An hour later, Amaury Leveaux (FRA) blew the world of sprinting apart when he whacked 0.57sec off teammate Alain Bernard's world record in the second semi-final of the 100m freestyle. Through at the 50m in 21.84, he came home polaris-like in 45.12. Take that. Coach Lionel Horter will surely place a monument to the bodysuit on his front lawn back home in Mulhouse.
In 1994 Alex Popov, the great Russian Sprint Tsar, clocked a world record of 46.74. He would have been about 3.8m behind Leveaux here. It was ten years before Ian Crocker took 0.49sec off Popov's mark. Since then, Roland Schoeman equalled Crocker beyond Stefan Nystrand became the first man inside 46sec, with a 45.83. Where it took 13 years to get 0.91sec beyond Popov, it has taken a year and three weeks to go a further 0.71sec deeper down the timewarp to that 45.12 that drew an audible intake of breath from all present before the gut-instinct roar of applause and cheers erupted as it has long done in a time-honoured tradition of celebrating anything that is extraordinary. Extraordinary hardly does the job this time.
Here's what's happened in techno fast-forward year among male sprinters:
All-time top 10, Jan 2008:
After Rijeka semis (2007 best time behind country code):
Leveaux leapt on his lane rope, slapped the water and then eased himself out of the pool wearing a bodysuit (no brands, who cares) and a broad smile.
After a blistering battle with Coralie Balmy (FRA), who led for the first 600m of the race, Filippi wiped 3.47sec off Ziegler's 2007 mark. Balmy also swept inside the old world record, in 8:05.32, while the first two women home also confined the 8:08.25 European record of absent Brit Olympic champion and world s/c champion Rebecca Adlington to history. The bronze went to Olympic bronze medallist Lotte Friis (DEN) in 8:09.91.
The splits compared:
Filippi's previous best was 8:12.84, while Friis had a best of 8:12.27. Good gains. And what of Balmy? 8:17.65 a year ago. Wow!
Lubos Krizko (SVK) set a European record of 23.15 in the semis of the 50m backstroke, with Aschwin Wildeboer (ESP) on 23.22 and also under the old mark of 23.27 he shared for a day with Thomas Rupprath (GER), also through to the final, in which he and teammate Helge Meeuw staged a poignant protest. They raced in adidas brief and, naturally enough, got hammered, wiped out in the latest headlong rush into a future that many feel certain would not have come to pass for a few years yet had compression, polyurethane and neoprene not become part of the fabric of the sport.
Rupprath and Meeuw finished 5th and 8th respectively. They were mostly beaten out of the turn. Rupprath was never off the podium between 2002 and 2007 in this event at world and European levels. He won most of his races. The title here went to Stanislav Donets of Russia in 23.22. The German federation is sponsored by adidas and insists that its national team must wear that brand of suit in international waters, even though the giant German suit maker has not loaded its suits with the technology that is driving the sport to speeds that may not have been seen for years in a hi-tech bodysuit-free pool. German swimmers want one of two things: an end to high-tech trickery and an unlevel playing field - or the freedom to race in a future that is already here.
The 117th European record of the year fell in the 100m breaststroke, the crown going to Igor Borysik (UKR) in 57.33, off a 27.08 50m split. He came home in 30.25, the fastest in the final. Silver went to Olympic medallist Hugues Duboscq (FRA) in 57.64. and bronze to James Gibson (GBR) in 57.91. The medallists best times before today: 57.73 for Borysik (and 57.74); 58.14 for Duboscq (59.37 in 2007); 58.02 for Gibson in 2003.
The fifth European record of the session fell to local hero, Croatia's Sanja Jovanovic in 56.87 in 100 back. Kateryna Zubkova (UKR) took silver in 57.01, and bronze to Laure Manaudou (FRA), in 57.16. Behind them came four other women inside 58sec: Gemo (ITA), 57.35; Simmonds, (GBR), 57.51; Anastasia Zueva (RUS), 57.83; and Alexandra Putra (FRA), 57.93. Jovanovic said: "After my bad results at the Olympics I seriously thought about retiring. I'm happy I didn't. It's fantastic to win the gold medal here at home with such great crowd support."
The sixth European record of the year fell to Milorad Cavid (SRB) in 49.19sec in the 100m butterfly, that effort for the Olympic silver medallist behind Michael Phelps just 0.12sec off the world record. Cavic swam in an Arena Revolution (pre-alterations made to cope with the challenge presented by technology from Speedo and TYR ), a suit devoid of fast panels and much of the high-tech trickery that has transformed the sport. Cavic's victory and record were a mark of the exceptional talent and desire to win of the man who fell just 0.02sec shy of keeping Michael Phelps from his eight golds in Beijing. He knew it. Climbed on the lane rope and clipped the fabric on his suit, perhaps to make the point.
Cavic said: "Beijing gave me the motivation to carry on to the next round of meets. I know I can do it - I'm now very close to Phelps and to Ian Crocker's world record."
The seventh European record of the session fell to Hinkelien Schreuder (NED) in 25.21 in the 50m 'fly, ahead of Jeanette Ottesen (DEN), who collected her second silver of the evening after finishing second in the 100m freestyle (see below).
The new-look top 10: