2021 European Short-Course Swimming Championships, Kazan (RUS) – Day 6, Summary

WR for Shymanovich and the Dutch, ER for Paltrinieri, Sjostrom grabs 4th gold

The 25th-anniversary edition of the European Short-Course Swimming Championships couldn’t have ended in a more festive way: records fell in succession.

First Ilya Shymanovich from Belorussia equaled the world record in the 50m breast, then Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri smashed the 800m free European record and the Netherlands bettered the global mark in the mixed medley to finish the meet on a high. The Dutch came second in the medal chart where Russia finished atop with 11 titles. However, the Team Trophy went to Italy whose swimmers collected an amazing 35 medals in total. The best performer award was shared in the men’s field between the two WR-tiers Shymanovich and Szebasztian Szabo of Hungary – among the women, Anastasia Kirpichnikova’s near-WR swim in the 1500m free earned her the top prize, 25,000 Euros – she finished the event with three titles after winning the 400m free today. Sarah Sjostrom was even better in terms of parading on the podium, she finished with four titles and six medals altogether.

Ilya Shymanovich was really pissed off after failing to win the 100m breaststroke, where, based on his semi-final performance (second-best all-time), he may have set his eyes on the WR – instead, he did not even come first. Then he kind of made up that ‘loss’ by winning his least favorite 200m – and Sunday he managed to get what he was supposed to earlier: a world record. Interestingly, just like Szabo a day earlier in the 50m fly, he equaled it in the dash (25.25) – again, matching one of the last standing marks from the shiny suit era (held by Cameron van den Burgh since 2009), and he also beat the ER, set by Emre Sakci last November. The Turk got the silver here, 0.14sec behind the Belorussian.

The premiere of the men’s 800m brought one of the most brilliant races of the week, an amazing duel between Florian Wellbrock and Gregorio Paltrinieri. In the 1500m, the German had the upper hand but Paltrinieri had proved earlier that now the 800m suits him better (he was second in that event at the Olympics and Wellbrock came 4th there, and it changed for the 1500m). It was a shoulder-by-shoulder battle all the way, apart from a short spell, the Italian was in front and managed to hold off Wellbrock’s attacks to claim the historical first title in 7:27.94 minutes to bring down Yannick Agnel’s European Record from 2012 too (Grant Hackett’s giant WR from 2008 is still further away). Only 0.05sec separated the two greats at the wall and it also offered a rare scenario: the six freestyle titles went to six different swimmers.

The 100m was landed by Kliment Kolesnikov who did a clean job by outpacing the whole field in both legs and the Russian rocket beat Italy’s Alessandro Miressi by 0.26sec. Kolesnikov rather focused on this event now and let his other favorites go, so in the 100m IM it was Italy’s veteran warrior Marco Orsi who was outstanding once more and the 31-year-old claimed another gold after 2017, leaving no chance to 200m IM champion Andreas Vazaios of Greece to catch up with him. Austria’s Bernard Reitshammer stunned even himself to clinch the bronze from lane 8.

The 200m back race opened up after the withdrawal of Olympic champion Evgeniy Rylov who said that due to his illness prior to the event he didn’t feel himself fit enough to race at his expected level (signs already showed that earlier). Pity, we would have loved to see his showdown with the event’s king Radoslaw Kawecki who thus had no problems maintaining his extraordinary streak. The Polish claimed his 7th (!) title in this event and it was his 9th podium in a row since 2009 – the title eluded him only 12 years ago and in 2017 (when Kolesnikov focused on backstroke). An amazing feat by Kawecki whose underwater work is still incredibly efficient – his Italian chasers Lorenzo Mora and Michele Lamberti couldn’t cope with it, they trailed by 1.27 and 1.80sec respectively.

On contrary, the young guns ruled the field in the 400m IM, the long-course European champion from May Ilya Borodin added the first short-course title to his treasury and he did it in style: set a new junior world record, safely ahead of Italy’s Alberto Razzetti and Hungary’s Hubert Kos.

As for the women, the new schedule put the 200m and 400m free finals in this last session which somewhat divided the field. The shorter title went to Marrit Steenbergen to further boost the Netherlands’ golden tally – she was no match for the others, Czech Barbara Seemanova came further 0.83sec adrift while Katja Fain delivered Slovenia’s first medal here.

Soon, in the 400m final Anastasia Kirpichnikova completed her treble in the longer distances – actually, achieved the same (400-800-1500m) as Italy’s Simona Quadarella at the long-course Europeans in the spring. The Italian missed the podium this time, it was fellow Russian Anna Egorova – also training with Kirpichnikova in France – who was a distant second while Isabel Gose took the bronze. This was a heroic effort from the young German as she was the only one swimming the 200m some 15 minutes earlier.

The two dash events saw the experienced ones’ triumphs. Italy’s Arianna Castiglioni finally managed to touch the wall first – she had a great collection of silver and bronze medals and now she came first in the thriller where the top four hit the wall in a span of 0.16sec. Castiglioni, swimming on lane 2, out-touched team-mate and title-holder Benedetta Pilato by 0.09sec, who was 0.05sec faster than Russia’s Nika Godun.

And finally came the last act of the Sarah Sjostrom Show: the Sweden sprint queen could complete her usual ‘speeding four’: won the 50m-100m free and the 50-100m fly. This evening she could even set a new CR in the fly dash, beating Holland’s Maikee de Waard convincingly, by 0.47sec. To have the usual daily tie, Italy’s Silvia di Pietro and Greece’s Anna Ntountouaki shared the bronze.

The session-ending mixed medley produced an unforgettable ending to the meet. It was a fantastic contest since the teams set up different orders among their respective male and female swimmers. Before the anchor leg, only 0.01sec separated Italy and Russia in front but they had a female for the freestyle while the Dutch had 30-year-old Thom de Boer who started off with a fantastic (and risky) – 0.01sec takeover and managed to bridge the 3sec gap he faced. His amazing 20.15sec split gave Holland a 0.21sec winning margin at the end; Italy edged out the Russians by 0.03sec for the silver.

Indeed, that decided the second place in the medal ranks as the Netherlands and Italy were tied 7-7 before this final – Russia already secured the top spot by claiming 11 titles. The Dutch came second while Italy finished third but their 35 medals overall and the other fine performances ensured that they clinched the Team Trophy again.

Press release courtesy of LEN, images courtesy of Deepbluemedia / G. Scala


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