Olympic champ Ruta Meilutyte at helm of the 2013 world rankings with a dominant 1:06.75 in the 100m breast; Michael Jamieson on 2:10.43 to lead 200 breast ranks; Ranomi Kromowidjojo on 24.56 50 free
Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte, in her 16th year, stormed to the helm of the 2013 world rankings with a dominant 1:06.75 victory, off a 31.16 split, in the 100m breaststroke on day three at the British Gas International in Leeds.
The minor spoils went to Moniek Nijhuis (NED) 1:08.40 and Siobhan-Marie O'Connor, of Bath Uni, on 1:08.42 but there was no doubting who stole the show. From block to annual world pace-setter, Meilutyte looked confident, smooth and in charge of her own show.
Base at Plymouth leander and Plymouth College, she emerged from the race to say that it was "great to have everyone support me, especially my coaches (led by Jon Rudd), teammates, family and schoolmates."
She had watched training partner and fellow teen Ben Proud win the 50m butterfly earlier and was soon to see another teammate, Harry Ackland wipe 3sec off his best 200m breaststroke for a 2:18.37 win in the youth final. Meilutyte noted: "There are so many talented people training together [at Plymouth]. It's great to have people to train head to head with and have goals to reach together." Rikke Pedersen (DEN) had held the world ranks held at 1:07.15.
Rudd's take on Meilutyte's fabulous effort: "I enjoyed that swim!" No wonder.
Meilutyte was not the only Olympic champ making waves. Dutch Double Olympic sprint champion Ranomi Kromowidjojo continued to assert her authority, her 24.56 victory in the freestyle dash lifting her to second in the world so far this year.
Close by were Loughborough's Fran Halsall, on 24.77, and Denmark's Jeanette Ottesen, 25.36. Only Cate Campbell's 24.46 Down Under in January at the height of an Aussie summer tops Kromowidjojo's effort so far this season, while Halsall is No3 on the 2013 list, the northern winter still with us.
Olympic silver medallist Michael Jamieson, fell just shy of one of two targets in the 200m breaststroke, a sub-2:10 swim but victory delivered his second aim in 2:10.43 at the end of a solid swim that will surely fill the Bath, Scotland and Britain ace with confidence on the way to world titles in Barcelona.
With that effort, Jamiseon, coached by Dave McNulty, edged ahead (by 0.03sec) of the man who pipped him for gold in world-record time at London 2012, Daniel Gyurta (HUN), on the early 2010 world ranks led by Marco Koch (GER).
This time last year, Jamieson booked his place on Britain's Olympic team with his first sub-2:09 effort. He was disappointed: he knew he had more to give in terms of time. At the Games, he lived up to his own expectations and exceeded those of others with a silver medal a hand behind a world record from Hungarian Daniel Gyurta, the two on 2:07s.
In the midst of hefty training and a few days after descending from altitude training in the Sierra Nevada, Spain, Jamieson's 2:10 holds much promise, as does the 2:11.42 of training partner and fellow Olympic finalist Andrew Willis. He just held off Darmstadt and Germany's Marco Koch, on 2:11.64 after a 2:10.53 effort in Luxembourg and a 2:10.40 at a domestic meet.
Long, streamlined and confidant, Jamieson turned first at the 50m in 29.22, to 29.72 for Willis and 29.94 for Koch. At the half-way, Jamieson had established a solid lead, turning in 1:02.05 and maintaining his lead at the last turn, on 1:35.90. The two closest to him got closer but the damage had been done.
After the race Jamieson, with a nod to his opening speed, said: "I paid for it towards the end, I think, but at this stage of training that is what it is all about. I am just trying to test myself. That front-end speed is exactly what I am trying to improve on in the next couple of years and in order to do that I am going to have to keep forcing myself to be uncomfortable on the first 100. I love racing in finals and trying to swim fast drives me; I think the fact that I really enjoy it helps me to get up for the evening swims and post good times when it matters.”
He added that his post Olympic season had been about "trying to prove I wasn't just a one-hit wonder". He had not rested for the meet but was feeling "fit and looking to get quicker for the summer", with trials in June and the world-titles proper and a rematch with Gyurta and Co in Barcelona a month later.
In other finals:
Men's 200m freestyle
James Guy, the Millfield teenager going from strength to strength, had his mind set on action at the European Junior Championships in Poland in July. After a two-second personal best for a 1:48.28 win over Olympic swimmers Robbie Renwick, Glasgow, on 1:48.65, and Dutchman Sebastiaan Verschuren, on 1:49.42, Guy may be heading to hotter waters in Barcelona come July and world senior titles.
After the race, Guy, who gave Renwick a tough test in the 400m and boasts some very fine skills, said: "That's a 2sec pb. I'm really pleased. I went for the time, not the win. I saw Robbie coming at me down the last 50 but thought 'Come on, come on' and pushed him out. It was a really good race." With some of Britain's long-term members of the 4x200m free team, such as david carry and Ross Davenport, having retired after London 2012, Guy may well be on the cusp of a breakthrough into senior waters.
On the season ahead, Guy noted that the target was European juniors but said that he would "give it a go" come world-title trials a month later in June.
Men's 400m medley
Roberto Pavoni, of Loughborough University, lived up to his status with a confident win in 4:19.23 at a time of heavy training. The minor spoils went to 17-year-olds Matthew Johnson, a 17-year-old from City of Sheffield, on 4:20.96, and Max Litchfield, of Doncaster Dartes, on 4:21.44, their times granting a passport to the European Junior Championships.
Johnson led the way on butterfly, on 58.63, and was still in close contention after backstroke as Xavier Mohammed, City of Coventry, took the lead in 2:05.77, with Pavoni, a year ago the first British swimmer to qualify for action in the pool at a home Olympic Games, and the early leader a fingernail away. From there, the race was Pavoni's: on 3:19.30 after breaststroke, he had established a lead over more than a second and was never going to be caught. Johnson, sixth after breaststroke, fought back for second place and could be a dangerous man if his breaststroke can be stepped up.
On poolside, Olympic 10km bronze medallist Cassie Patten (with a nod to the winner's dad Mauro and his vocal support for his son) told Pavoni, she'd never met a prouder parent. "My dad's amazing," said Roberto through a broad smile. "He takes me everywhere for all my competitions. There's not a person on this poolside who doesn't know him."
Women's 200m butterfly
Olympic finalist Jemma Lowe, of Swansea, clocked 2:10.28 in heats but did not race the final. The win went to Tilly Gray, of Loughboro Uni, in a personal best of 2:10.78. She was followed home by Elena Sheridan, on 2:11.01 and Alys Thomas, on 2:11.63, with busy Hannah Miley clocking 2:11.66 out on the wing in lane 1.
Gray paid plaudits to her coaches Matt Bowe and Ian Hulme and said that she was looking forward to seeing how far she could step up at world-champiopnship trials come June. The youth final went to Shauntelle Austin, of Blackpool Aquatics, in 2:14.68.
Men's 100m backstroke
Chris Walker-Hebborn, Ellesmere Co, on 54.80, imposed a rare domestic defeat on Liam Tancock, of Loughborough Uni, on 55.00, third place going to Bastiaan Lijesen (NED), on 55.27.
Although in lane 1, Olympic finalist Tancock, of Loughborough University, was hardly a dark horse and all eyes were on the 50m world champion down the first length. The scoreboard hinted at what was to come as Tancock's 26.46 split left him training Walker-Hebborn, the 200m winner at the meet, on 26.29. The muscle-man in the field, Tancock cannot produce anything resembling peak speed at times of heavy training, though for Walker-Hebborn, early season form will have boosted his confidence for the summer world-title trials ahead in June.
There will be plenty of tight racing in the mix on that occasion, among names in the frame Walker-Hebborn's former training paryner Down Under, Marco Loughran, on 55.51 unshaved and unrested.
As Walker-Hebborn noted on his effort: “I’m really happy with that swim, I know everyone is in different phases of training at the moment but it’s good to come here and take two wins so I’m really happy. It helps a lot having my Bath ITC teammates here swimming the way they are and it’s nice to be up there getting good swims in too. We have a great network of staff and swimmers so things are looking really good."
The youth final went to Jack Ness, City of Aberdeen, in 58.29, a best time by half a second.
Men's 50m butterfly:
Benjamin Proud, a junior at Plymouth Leander, clocked 24.10 for the win over Adam Barrett, 24.45, and Jack Marriott, 24.49. Proud picked up silver behind Anthony Ervin in the 50m free yesterday. His plans: "Just keep training hard and wait for nationals in June."
Paralympic swimmers were also in action at the meet, the following courtesy of British Swimming:
London 2012 Paralympian Daniel Pepper landed his third gold medal of the meet as he claimed the MC 200m Individual Medley title on day three of the British Gas International Meet in Leeds.
The Stockport Metro swimmer (SM14) clocked 2:22.18 to take gold on 917 points ahead of SM6 swimmer Sascha Kindred (City of Hereford) and Swansea University’s Jack Thomas who finished in 2:45.93 and 2:25.28 for 874 and 859 points respectively.
Pepper will look to qualify for his second IPC World Championships at next month’s British International Disability Championships in Sheffield.
“It was a really hard swim, but I’ve not swum that quickly in a long time so I’m really pleased with my time. I’m pleased with how I’ve swum in all my races so far really.
“If you put the gold medals to one side the swims behind them were actually really good for this point in the season. I’m going to take a lot of confidence from that and more forward to the World Championship qualifiers in Canada next month.”
Aquabears swimmer Natalie Massey (SM14) won the women’s event, clocking 2:38.84 to take gold with 901 points.
SM14 swimmer Chloe Davies (Trowbridge) improved on her personal best from the heats to capture silver in 2:39.73 (886 points) while Romford Town swimmer Amy Marren (SM9) also set a European Record of 2:35.20 for bronze.
Twelve-time Paralympic medallist and Manchester Aquatics swimmer Matt Walker (S7) swept to MC 50m Butterfly gold, setting 33.20 for a point score of 701.
The meet concludes tomorrow.