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Lebherz First To Make German 2012 Squad

May 10, 2012  - Craig Lord

Yannick Lebherz, of Potsdam, became the first swimmer at Germany's Olympic trials to qualify for London 2012 with a 4:14.90 victory in the 400m medley in Berlin this evening. 

The first day of action ended with Britta Steffen leading the Berlin Neukolln 4x100m freestyle relay to a 3:44.52 victory with a 53.65 opener, the Olympic champion's time the 4th best in the world so far this year on a ranking led by a stunning 52.75 from Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED).

Steffens' effort, an encouraging return to top flight racing, is the 13th best of her career - on a list led by that otherworldly 52.07 world record from the last season of shiny suits now banned - but her third-best ever in textile after the 53.30 at which she established the world record in 2006, and the 53.57 in which she claimed bronze at the 2007 world championships in Melbourne.

In the men's 400m medley, the FINA A cut of 4:16.46 was well within a man who has held the German record at 4:14.08 for the past year and clocked 4:15.53 in morning heats today. Matched on butterfly by 17-year-old Kevin Wedel, both on 57.95, Lebherz was in a race against the clock from that point onwards, a 2:01.42 half-way split leaving him 5sec up on the pack. 

The champion maintained that margin of lead on breaststroke and pulled away a touch further on freestyle, leaving silver for 17-year-old Jacob Heidtmann, of Elmshorn, on a German age record of 4:21.11 just 0.09sec ahead of Wedel. The efforts of those who took the minor spoils in the medley was the theme of the day: Germany's future.

In the boys 800m freestyle, Poul Zellmann, a 16-year-old from Magdeburg, set an age-group record of 8:04.70 to claim victory some 25sec ahead of next best, Munich's Max Nowosad.

The girls 1500m also produced an age record as Leonie Beck, 14 and from Wuerzburg, stopped the clock at 16:41.69, Antonia Massone, of Saar Max Ritter (named after the former FINA president), the last inside 17mins, on 16:59.06.

The senior women's 400m medley was won by Katharina Schiller, 28 this year, in 4:44.52, all others over 4:50, 1997 born Emily Siebrecht 5th in 4:53.83 in an event in which standards stand in stark contrast to those that can be found in senior waters these days in Japan (seven faster than the German champion so far this year), Australia, Britain (both with four faster than the German champion) and elsewhere. The winning time, a lifetime best for Schiller inside her 2008 high of 4:45.32, fell shy of the 4:41.75 FINA A standard.