2017 European Short Course Swimming Championships, Copenhagen (DEN)
Russia strikes three times, Scozzoli beats Peaty and the 50m ER
Russia couldnâ€™t have had a better start, claiming three gold and a silver medal on the opening day of the LEN European Short Course Swimming Championships in Copenhagen. Italyâ€™s Fabio Scozzoli managed to beat breaststroke king Adam Peaty in the dash as well as the European record. Hungaryâ€™s Katinka Hosszu clinched her 75th international medal at major events.
Russian swimmers did a majestic job in the Royal Arena on the first day of the European Short Course Swimming Championships. Seventeen year-old Kliment Kolesnikov began the quest by upsetting Radoslaw Kawecki (POL). The Russian passed the winner of the past four editions over the last 50m, gaining almost a full second on him and reached for the wall first with a new junior world record (1:48.02).
Aleksandr Krasnykh came next in the 400m free, he was a cut above the rest as he built a winning margin of 1.63 sec over title-holder Peter Bernek (HUN). The Russian triple was completed in the session-ending 4x50m free relay which also saw another junior WR from Kolesnikov who clocked 21.24 in the opening leg â€“ his team went on earning a safe win.
Kirill Prigoda also had a shot on gold but he had to settle for silver as Italyâ€™s Fabio Scozzoli was back in business. The 29 years old dash specialist won back-to-back titles in 2011-2012 but faded from the big scene in the past couple of years. Now he geared up, with 25.62sec he broke his own European record (set in 2013) and kept Prigoda and GBâ€™s Adam Peaty at bay. Peaty, unbeaten in long-course majors since 2014, is still shy of a major short-course title, in Netanya 2015 he missed the first place by 0.01sec, now by 0.08sec.
Ruta Meilutyte was the other big returner: the Lithuanian had a less spectacular period since her golden spell in 2012-2013 but after missing the podium in Rio and Budapest now she seems to be on the right track again. She finished 0.18sec ahead of the Finnish title-holder Jenna Laukkanen.
Last but not least, Hungaryâ€™s Katinka Hosszu enjoyed an easy race in her beloved 400m IM. She admittedly missed her greatest rivals, world record-holder Mireia Belmonte (ESP) and Siobhan Oâ€™Connor (GBR) while retained her title with ease, the gap was 3.99sec. This was the 75th medal at the international stage for the three-time Olympic champion (at Olympics, World and European Championships) â€“ the first came 13 years ago at the short-course Europeans, in the 400m IM, on 12th December when she finished third in Vienna. That time she clocked 4:35.41 â€“ here her winning time was 4:24.78 (in Netanya she broke the WR with 4:19.46), kind of showing the improvement she made ever since and especially in the last five years.
The preceding opening ceremony was worthy of the first-ever sport event held in the Royal Arena. As LEN President Paolo Barelli put in his opening speech: â€œFour years after a wonderful championships in Herning, we are here again in Denmark. And looking around in this magnificent Arena, we are already sure: we made the right decision when LEN awarded this event to the Danish Swimming Federation once more.â€
President Barelli also recalled the fantastic achievement of European athletes in 2017. â€œYou can take any statistics into consideration, number of medals, number of finalists, special awards, participation â€“ you will find that in aquatics Europe is the best and the strongest continent among allâ€ he said. The president added that these successes also meant a strong obligation for LEN. â€œWe are committed to create a perfect environment in all our events and to support the athletes our National Federation in all possible ways.â€
Tickets for the ten sessions are available at: http://www.ticketmaster.dk/
Press release from LEN, photos courtesy ofÂ Deepbluemedia / Giorgio Scala