Dubai, world s/c championships, day 3 heats
Men's 400m freestyle
One of the highlights of a session of 10 finals must surely be the 400m freestyle final after heats that produce seven men between the 3:39.64 of Oussama Mellouli (TUN) and the 3:40.77 of Sebastien Rouault (FRA). In the fight for a place in the battle, the man on the edge will be world l/c champion and record holder short and long, Paul Biedermann (GER), on 3:41.44 this morning. That locked out Federico Colbertaldo (ITA) by 0.24sec. In the mix Peter Vanderkaay (USA), Mads Glaesner (DEN), Ahmed Mathloudi, setting up a chance for Tunisia to take two podium places, Yannick Agnel (FRA) and Nikita Lobintsev (RUS).
Women's 400m freestyle
The women's 16-lapper promises to be a nail-biter too. All the main guns looked to be at relative ease this morning, lane 4 going to Olympic silver medallist Katie Hoff (USA) in 4:00.37. Either side of her will be Coralie Balmy (FRA), 4:00.73, and Kylie Palmer (AUS) 4:01.45, while world l/c champion Federica Pellegrini will keep company (and probably set the pace) the other side of Balmy, after winning her heat in 4:02.44 ahead of Chloe Sutton (USA), on 4:02.77. Patricia Castro and Erika Villaecija, 800m champion yesterday, gave Spain two places, while Li Xuanxu (CHN) completed the picture on 4:05.25. Among those locked out 800m free world l/c champion and just outside the medals yesterday, Lotte Friis (DEN), on 4:06.24, while Katie Goldman (AUS) was well off best in 4:07.72. Down the list in 15th and making a respectable appearance was medley ace Hannah Miley (GBR) on 4:07.17.
Men's 200m medley
With 200m free and 400m medley crowns on his head and the first solo world record of the new textile era in tow, Ryan Lochte (USA) remarkably fresh as he cruised in lane 4 for the final in 1:53.39 for lane 4. Either side of him will be Markus Rogan (AUT), on 1:53.66, and Henrique Rodrigues (BRA), on 1:53.96. In the hunt for medals too is Tyler Clary (USA), 1:54.69, the final eight closed by Australian Tommaso D'Orsogna in 1:55.41. The casualty of the morning, Laszlo Cseh (HUN), on 1:55.47 for 10th.
Women's 100m breaststroke
The morning after setting up the triple title challenge with victory in the 50m, Rebecca Soni (USA) fired a 1:04.64 shot across the bows of those who might deny her. Closest through to semis beside her were China's Ji Liping, on 1:05.32, Olympic champion Leisel Jones (AUS), 1:05.36, and European champions long and short, Yulia Efimova (RUS), 1:05.68, and Moniek Nijhuis (NED), 1:05.75. Scandinavians Jennie Johansson (SWE) and Rikke Moeller Pedersen (DEN) also dipped below 1:06. The seal to the semis was frozen at 1:07.26 by the bane of tongue-tied commentators, Iceland's Hrafnhildur Luthersdottir. That locked out Annamay Pierse (CAN) on 1:07.45.
Women's 200m backstroke
American teen Melissa Franklin claimed lane 4 for the final in 2:03.26 ahead of Alexianne Castel (FRA), on 2:03.51, and Zhou Yanxin (CHN), on 2:04.37. Also in the hunt for medals are Daryna Zevina (UKR), on 2:04.62, and Sharon Van Rouwendaal (NED), on 2:04.63. Hungarian Zsuzsanna Jakabos locked out the rest in 8th in 2:06.50.
Men's 50m butterfly
Silver medallist in the 100m yesterday, Albert Subirats (VEN) led the way through to semis on 22.79 ahead of Commonwealth champion Jason Dunford (KEN), 22.80, and Glauber Silve (BRA) 22.85. Among those safely through Geoff Huegill (AUS), on 22.92, world record holder Steffen Deibler (GER), on 23.10, and Wu Peng (CHN), who in common with many Chinese here, raced in the first heat of folk with no entry times, clocking 23.12. There is provision in FINA rule to allow long-course time conversions as entry times for those without short-course times to go off. China seems to have decided not to avail itself of that facility here and many of its swimmers are racing in heat one way ahead of the developing country athletes. Scraping in to the semis were Roland Schoeman (RSA), European champion Rafa Munoz (ESP), on 23.25, for 14th, Olympic 100m champion of 2000 Lars Froelander (SWE) and 100m champion of yesterday Evgeny Korotyshkin (RUS), who locked the rest out on 23.35.
Men's 50m backstroke
It took 23.41sec to wake everyone up, Sun Xiaolei, 24, roaring in the first heat with no entry time on his way to matching thechampionship record of Liam Tancock from 2008. The Brit clocked 23.41 on his way to the crown at home in Manchester, while the world mark in shiny suit belongs to Peter Marshall (USA) at 22.61. At the time Tancock was winning, Sun's best was 23.73, an effort he matched in February last year at the Japan Open.
Sun's standard survived eight heats and 15 minutes: in the last of 10 heats, Stanislav Donets, Russian winner of the 10m crown here yesterday ,claimed the top spot with 23.24. Those two were first through ahead of Nick Thoman (USA), on 23.49. Among those safely through Aschwin Wildeboer (ESP) and Camille Lacourt (FRA), while Arkady Vyatchanin (RUS) just scraped through in joint 15th with John Tapp (CAN), on 24.20. Among those locked out, Ryosuke Irie (JPN) in 20th on 24.32.
Men's 200m breaststroke
World l/c champion Daniel Gyurta (HUN) claimed lane 4 for the final in a championship record of 2:04.46, inside the 2:04.98 clocked by Brendan Hansen (USA) at Indianapolis 2004. Either side of Gyurta tonight will be Naoya Tomita (JPN), also inside Hansen's standard on 2:04.93, and Germany's Marco Koch, 2:05.00. In the hunt for medals are Neil Versfeld (RSA), Grigory Falko (RUS), Eric Shanteau (USA), Brenton Rickard (AUS) and Hugues Duboscq (FRA), who locked out the rest in 2:06.36. Down and out in 24th was world record holder Christian Sprenger (AUS), on 2:09.52.
Women's 4x100m medley
China's Gao Chang (56.41), Zhao Jing (1:04.72), Guo Fan (57.44) and Li Zhesi (52.12) set a championship record of 3:50.69 to claim lane 4. The record gone was the 3:51.36 of the USA at Manchester 2008. Some fascinating developments in world swimming right now. Australia, on 3:52.73, and the USA, on 3:53.66, will be either side of China this evening, with Sweden, Canada, Russia, Italy and Brazil also making the grade.
And that concludes the entertainment for this morning. Ten finals tonight no less, with five tomorrow as organisers celebrate their gala dinner, with an avalanche of 14 finals due Sunday.