Dubai, World s/c Championships, day 4 semi-finals:
Men's 100m freestyle
The drama in the first semi saw defending champion Nathan Adrian take a tumble with a 46.99 for 5th. Out front was Olympic champion Alain Bernard (FRA) on 46.71, followed by Stefan Nystrand (SWE), on 46.75, Luca Dotto (ITA), on 46.93, with Nikita Lobintsev (RUS) inflicting the fourth wound on the champion in 46.98.
Pride dented, the champion would live to see a new day as defending champion. In the second semi, sprint emperor Cesar Cielo (BRA) broke a head and shoulders clear out of dive on his way to a blistering 21.59sec split at the half-way that placed him 0.13sec under world-record pace. Gone the buoy from suits that prop the drop of those whose opening speed is a little too lofty, the man still looked strong down the third lap and emerged from his last turn half a body up on Fabien Gilot (FRA).
The grit in the man of Gaul coincided with the pain of the pace setter but while Gilot clawed back a big wave, Cielo hung on for a championship record of 46.01, 0.1sec up on the hunter behind him who had set the standard at 46.62 in heats. In third was Matthew Abood (AUS) on 46.61, Adrian's 46.98 good enough for a defence from the wing. Cielo looked up, was relatively pleased but indicated that there was more to come.
The world record of 44.94, set by Amaury Leveaux (FRA) in the first flush of 100% shiny suits in December 2008, is likely to be a stretch too far. Cielo said as much: "Honestly, I don't think so. I think 44.90 is out of reach for us right now."
Danger all around, Cielo was asked about Bernard and replied: "Well, he finished faster than me this morning and tonight and I was like 'no, no, no, that's my finish'. he's the Olympic champion and he knows when to bring it on so I'm going to have to be on my game - but it's great fun when you're in shape and swimming fast."
Cielo also said: "I made a plan for the race and followed it. If I had known I was close to the world record (at 50) I would have given it up and saved my energy for the final. I was a bit nervous but that's a good thing and it made me ready for a good swim.
Defending champ Adrian noted the importance of his journey: "This is a great meet to work through some adversity. I'm having a tough time against some great competition and I think that's what we came here to do."
Women's 50m freestyle
Dutch sprint ace of the year Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) set the standard in the first semi with a 23.71, Jessica Hardy (USA) closest on 24.17, Triin Aljand (EST) next through in 24.32. The second semi went to Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, of the Bahamas, in 24.08, 0.01sec ahead of Li Zhesi (CHN), with Hinkelien Schreuder (NED) on 24.16, and Dorothean Brandt (GER) on 24.27. Victoria Poon (CAN) claimed the last spot in the final on 24.40.
Women's 50m backstroke
The 26.37 championship record of Sanja Jovanovic (CRO) from 2008 was matched in the first semi by China's Zhao Jing, before Rachel Goh led the second semi in a distant 26.68, leaving the pack to wonder sbout silver and bronze as they head to bed tonight. The door to the final was closed by Fabiola Molina (BRA) in 27.13.
Women's 100m butterfly
In 55.99, Therese Alshammar (SWE) set herself up for the 69th international career medal that would deliver another record: a joint ownership of the record tally of prizes at world s/c titles (multiple championships) of 18 medals with Jenny Thompson (USA). Either side of her in the final will be Felcity Galvez, the Australian who fell a fingernail shy of the Swedish champion in the 50m here in Dubai, on 56.19, and Christina Magnuson (USA) on 56.55. In the mix, Liu Zig (CHN), Olympic 200m champion, on 56.63, 50m bronze medallist Jeanette Ottesen (DEN), 56.74, and Inge Dekker (NED), 56.85. The last two places went to Lu Ying (CHN) and Dana Vollmer (USA). Among those locked out was Sarah Sjoestrom (SWE), world long-course champion.
Men's 100m medley
Ryan Lochte (USA) set up gold No 4 in the second semi with a sizzling 50.81 championship record just 0.05sec shy of the world record he will surely now target with a vengeance in lane 4 tomorrow as the championships draws to a conclusion. Lochte's draw like a magnet to a new world, just two from the first semi made the grade for the final, and will be either side of him tomorrow, Markus Deibler (GER) on 52.08, Kenneth To (AUS) on 52.16. On Lochte's wake came George Bovell (TRI), Takuro Fujii (JPN) Sergey Fesikov (RUS), John Tapp (CAN) and Henrique Rodrigues (BRA) on a 52.790 that by 0.1sec locked out world record holder from the last december of non-textile suits, Peter Mankoc (SLO).
Men's 50m breaststroke
The 26.14 championship record set by Cameron Van Der Burgh (RSA) survived the semis, Felipe Silva (BRA) claiming lane 4 in 26.22, the meet mark holder on 26.31, with Dutchman Robin Van Aggele claiming a berth on the other side of the man in the middle, on 26.41. In the mix, Fabio Scozzoli (ITA), Mike Alexandrobv (USA), Aleksandr Triznov (RUS), Roland Schoeman (RSA) and Aleksander Hetland (NOR).