Blasts from the new generation: amazing swims from Kolesnikov and Milak
The new generation made its mark again: after setting new WRs in the 50m back, today Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov won the 100m free with a brilliant swim and clocked a new Championship Record. Soon Hungary’s Kristof Milak blasted a second best-ever time in the 200m fly (another CR) while Ukraine’s Mykhaylo Romanchuk could finally claim a long-course title in the 1500m free. Among the women, Kira Toussaint of the Netherlands could finally win a long-course European gold (in the 50m back) and Sweden’s Sophie Hansson also debuted on the top of the podium after the 100m breast. The Magyars’ new medley wonderkid Hubert Kos set a new junior WR in the 200m IM, and the Russian men’s 4x200m free relay also bettered the CR. Hungarian man of eternity Laszlo Cseh became the first swimmer in history to swim at 10 long-course European Championships.
Mykhaylo Romanchuk was the one who halted Gregorio Paltrineri’s fantastic winning streak in the 1500m free – the Italian was unbeaten for four years at all major events before the Ukrainian managed to best him at the 2017 shortcourse Europeans in Copenhagen. So he was set to dethrone the king in longcourse too but Germany’s Florian Wellbrock upended both of them in Glasgow 2018, then again in Gwangju 2019. Now the German took part only in open water so it was a kind of now-or-never time for Romanchuk and he didn’t miss the chance. He led all the way, Paltrinieri – a bit exhausted after her triple-gold campaign in the lake last week – couldn’t keep up with him and had to settle for the silver.
Kliment Kolesnikov already gave strong proof that he had been fired up for this meet: after cracking two world records in the 50 back in the previous two days, the Russian was outstanding in the 100m free as well. He went out fast and even though Italy’s Alessandro Miressi pushed hard from behind, Kolesnikov could keep 0.08sec from his advantage while setting a new Championship Record (47.37). The bronze also went to the Russians as Andrei Minakov came third.
Soon it turned out that 21 year-old Kolesnikov is not a machine but very human. Some ten minutes after his winning rally, he had to swim the 100m back semis but he didn’t have enough gas left in the tank and came last. Moreover, lactate-acid flooded his body at such pace that he collapsed on the deck, had to receive first aid and even his victory ceremony needed to be rescheduled to give him more time to recover. Though once he walked off with the gold in his neck, he insisted that he would continue to chase this double at the Olympics too.
Kristof Milak, from the very same generation, didn’t face the same challenge as he bowed out in the 100m free prelims a day earlier (though had serious plans in that event beforehand). Thus the Hungarian Flyer had to focus on his pet event only, the 200m fly – and soon he showed what that meant. At the halfway mark it seemed to be a tight contest between him and Italy’s Federico Burdisso (only 0.07sec separated them), then Milak switched gears… He gained a full second on his rival alone over the third lap, then came a terrifying finish when he left the pack behind to stop the clock at 1:51.10. It’s the second best ever effort in history, only 0.47sec away from his incredible WR from 2019. Six weeks ago Milak stormed to 1:51.40 in this pool, under Michael Phelps’ once legendary 1:51.51 shiny-suited WR from 2009. As of now, the Hungarian holds five out of the ten all-time bests, Phelps has 4 but three of those came in shiny suits while Milak swam all in textile.
The two women’s finals staged today saw new champions emerging. Kira Toussaint was considered a short-course specialist but now the Dutchwoman could finally clinch gold in the 50m pool too. After silvers in relays from 2018, she could win the backstroke dash with a dominating swim.
With Sarah Sjostrom still rebuilding her strength after her unfortunate winter accident, the Hansson siblings remained Sweden’s hopes here. Louise could not fill the gap fully a day ago as she came third in the 100m fly, but now younger sister Sophie stepped up and earned a magnificent win in the 100m breast. While her winning margin was 0.44sec, the battle for the minor spoils was much tighter as the next four hit the wall in a span of 0.22sec – Arianna Castiglioni and Martina Carraro grabbed the medals at the end. They were two of the six Italian medal winners in this day, though none of those were gold (four silver and two bronze).
It was Russia all the way in the men’s 4x200m free relay, they were leading right from the beginning, mostly by 2-3 seconds. Over the homecoming leg, Britain’s Duncan Scott tried to create a miracle but he could just reduce the gap to 1.13sec, securing the silver ahead of the Italians.
Two Hungarians made more headlines in the 200m IM – Laszlo Cseh set a historical record in the morning: when he dived to the pool in the prelims, it marked his 10th appearance at long-course European Championships. His first dates back to Berlin 2002, when one-third of the current field were not even born. And the 35 years old still has it: he qualified for the finals. Moreover, the Magyars already came up with their next potential ruler of the medley: 18 years old Hubert Kos inherited Cseh’s usual lane, the No. 4., for the final after setting a new junior world record (1:56.99) in the semis.