Spanish Open, Malaga, Day 3 finals:
Mireia Belmonte, coached by Fred Vergnoux at sabadell near Barcelona, just missed the 400IM podium at the world titles in Shanghai last year. Today in Malaga she made known her intention of hitting her target in Olympic year with a 4:33.91 Spanish record inside the 4:34.91 she set a year ago on the way to a 4:34.94 in the world-title final.
The winning time lifted Belmonte from 6th to 4th on the world rankings so far this year with an effort that came hot on the heels of a 4:32.83 by 2009 world champion Katinka Hosszu (HUN) over at the Indianapolis Grand Prix in the US yesterday.
The Trans-ocean Ides of March compared:
Blair Evans (AUS) is ranked just ahead of Leverenz on that list with a 4:36.21. The best breaststroke splits are those of Miley and Leverenz.
The minor spoils in Malaga went to Claudia Dasca, Belmonte's Sabadell clubmate, on 4:40.75, and Beatriz Gomez, on 4:46.95. Dasca then dashed off to get ready for the 1500m free.
In other finals:
Women's 200m breaststroke
Marina Garcia, of local club Mediterraneo, raced inside FINA A cut for Olympic selection in 2:26.37, off a 1:10.06 half-way split that sealed victory for the 17-year-old long before the clock stopped.
Garcia set the Spanish record of 2:25.05 as a 15-year-old when shiny suits where the fit of the season in 2009. Her textile best since is a 2:25.79. The minor spoils in Malaga went to Jessica Vall, on 2:29.20, and Concepcion Badillo, on 2:29.98.
Men's 200m breaststroke
Melquiades Alvarez, of Sant Andre, led from start to a 2:14.10 victory ahead of Mario Cortes, on 2:15.78, and Sergio Garcia, on 2:16.38. The winner's time was well outside FINA A cut for London 2012 but inside FINA B consideration cut.
Men's 400m medley
Eduardo Solaeche, of Canoe, led from start to a 4:19.31 triumph after being shadowed all the way by Sabadell-based Tunisian Taki M'rabet, on 4:19.89. The bronze went to Carlos Vives in 4:22.10.
Men's 100m freestyle
After finishing 1-2 in the butterfly dash at the start of the session, Poland's Konrad Cerniak and Paraguay's Ben Hockin went a same-order 1-2 again, on 49.70 and 49.97, off respective splits of 23.74 and 24.17. No others cracked 50sec Spain's top four all on 50-plus, the possibility of a 4x100m free relay all but gone, with FINA to confirm the top 16-nation cut in June.
Women's 100m freestyle
Joint world champion Aliaksandra Herasimenia (BLR), who had won the 'fly dash in a lifetime best (see below) earlier in the session, dominated proceedings with a 54.03 win, off a 26.03 split. Melanie Costa, Salle, on 55.75, led the Spanish top 4 home, Patricia Castro on 55.83, Maria Fuster on 56.05 and Marta Gonzalez on 56.90. Two of those have a chance of making the London 2012 relay cut should Spain make the top 16 come the June deadline.
Dash (non-Olympic) finals
World record holder Rafael Munoz having withdrawn the day after missing the Olympic 100m FINA A cut by a small margin, the men's butterfly went to Cerniak in 23.62, ahead of a 24.19 from Hockin.
Herasimenia (who served a doping ban 2003-05) set a meet record of 26.52 in heats and won the 'fly dash final in 26.05, that crushing her previous best, a 26.61 from 2009 set in a shiny suit that enhanced performance but have since been banned.
In other non-Olympic events, Juan Tolosa took the 800m freestyle in 8:29.86, while Claudia Dasca claimed the 1500m free in 16:42.66.