Golden finish for Sjostrom and the Italians
Three titles in two hours secured a worthy end of the magnificent season of Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom. Italy also clinched three golds on the closing day which helped them to retain the Championship Trophy. Russia topped the medal table with nine golds as their medley relay crowned the meet in the Royal Arena by winning the men’s title with a new world record.
Sarah Sjostrom’s season ended in style: the Swedish superstar, who already earned the best female swimmer’s award from FINA after her glorious summer, finally captured gold in Copenhagen too. Three in a single session, in fact. After slight struggles in her earlier events, including a bowing-out from the 50m fly final, she stroke gold in her trademark event, the 100m fly, drew luck to her side in the 50m free and helped Sweden to an unexpected triumph in the women’s medley relay.
In the fly she was a cut above rest, claimed her third straight title by a 0.97sec winning margin. The 50m free was the usual tight affair between Sjostrom and Ranomi Kromowidjojo – two years ago the Dutch out-touched the Swede by 0.07sec in Netanya, this time the tiniest gap possible (0.01) separated them but it favoured Sjostrom here. Then came the medley relay where Sjostrom rocketed Sweden in front over the fly leg and they kept the advantage till the end.
Italians also had something to cheer for in the closing session. The previous two days saw a great medal boost, Italians earned eight on Friday and Saturday in total but none of them were gold (four silver and bronze respectively). However, on Sunday they made up the missed ones, rushed to three back-to-back titles which helped them to clinch Championship Trophy once again.
Luca Dotto did a clean job and retained Italy’s title in the 100m free – the 2015 winner Marco Orsi, after a sickness-forced transformation, came first in the 100m IM. Then came an upset as Simone Sabbioni denied Russia’s teenage sensation Kliment Kolesnikov’s backstroke triple by out-touching him in the 50m back by 0.02sec.
The young Russian, winner of the 100m and 200m titles, got some consolation soon in the men’s 4x50m medley relay when he was 0.3sec faster in the opening leg than he was in the individual final, clocking a way better time and posting another junior world record. The relay cracked the senior world record, securing a worthy ending to the meet.
This crowned the Russians’ performance too: just as in the last edition in Denmark (Herning 2013) they topped the medal table. Another gold was delivered by Aleksandr Kharlanov in the 200m fly where title-holder Laszlo Cseh came only fifth, leaving the Royal Arena empty-handed (for him Denmark brought bad luck as Herning and Copenhagen are the only events in his 15 year-long carrier where he didn’t win any medals).
Hungary came second behind the Russians with a slightly weaker medal-haul than they achieved in Netanya which had put them atop in 2015. Though the 6-time champion Katinka Hosszu enjoyed a rest day, the Magyars still celebrated a victory, courtesy of Boglarka Kapas. The four-time European champion of London 2016 left behind her ‘short-course demons’ and finally stepped on the top of the podium for the first time in her career. She won a fine duel against the 800m victor Sarah Koehler (GER) in the 400m free. History was made in this event as Julia Hassler got the first-ever major international medal for Liechtenstein by finishing third.
Spain also got its first gold after Jessica Vall Montero won the women’s 200m breast. Former ruler of the event, Rikke Moller Pedersen heated up the stands by clinching silver – and the capacity crowd of 6,500 also loudly cheered for the bronze-medal winning swim of Pernille Blume in the 50m free and the Danish medley relay’s silver. The hosts finished with 3 silvers and 4 bronzes – though in the pool they didn’t earn gold but at the stands, the future generation got two: Adam Peaty’s generous gesture on the previous day was repeated by Sarah Sjostrom who also gave one of her golds to an amazed youngster in the front rows, setting a kind of tradition for inspiring the future generations.
Copenhagen will be remembered for this and several other reasons as the event goes down as one of the best ever in LEN history. European Aquatics now head to Glasgow, site of the following long-course Europeans in August 2018 and the next short-course Europeans in December 2019.
Women’s 200m breaststroke
Jessica Vall Montero, Spain, 2:18.41
“I think I had the worst start ever in my life. I had good feeling during the race, I saw Rikke at the turns and I gave all I had.”
Rikke Moller Pedersen, Denmark, 2:19.53
“I enjoyed the race, it was well controlled, a very good swim. It was so great to race here!”
Fanny Lecluyse, Belgium, 2:19.68
“My tactic was to have 5-6 strokes per lap. I started well but the last 25m were really hard. I’m happy with the bronze medal but not with my time as I have 2:18 from the past which I wanted to do here again.
Men’s 100m freestyle
Luca Dotto, Italy, 46.11
“This is my first gold in short-course, this medal was missing from my collection. I am very happy, the whole season was very good so this an incredible end for this year.”
Pieter Timmers, Belgium, 46.54
“I’m really happy, but I hoped I was going to win. Still, I’m satisfied with the second place, it’s a new national record so the time is really good.
Duncan Scott, Great Britain, 46.64
“I’m improving my skills on 100m and I’m becoming better and better from race to race. I think, I’ve beaten my personal best.”
Women’s 100m butterfly
Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden, 55.00 – CR
“I went out really strong, and that was exactly what I wanted to do. I’m happy that after some less satisfying races I could still prove that I am the queen of the butterfly.”
Marie Wattel, France, 55.97
“I had very good feelings before this final. I’ve managed to correct the little mistakes I made at the turns in the heats and the semis. This has paid off.”
Emilie Beckman, Denmark, 56.22
“I’m absolutely speechless… Definitely this is the biggest experience in my life to swim in such an atmosphere in front of the home crowd.”
Men’s 100m IM
Marco Orsi, Italy, 51.76
“Last year I had a mononucleosis so my body was dead. Before that I was a freestyler and now I can win in medley. It took a lot of hard work to achieve this result. It was a crazy race, I loved it and I’m really-really happy.”
Sergei Fesikov, Russia, 51.94
“It was so tough. Yesterday I got injured during the relay, we tried to fix it but it wasn’t too successful. It’s fine, though, so there no need to worry that much.”
Kyle Stolk, Netherlands, 51.99
“It was very close. Throughout the race I tried to catch up with Fesikov but I didn’t see Marco Orsi.”
Women’s 400m freestyle
Boglarka Kapas, Hungary, 3:58.15
“I’m a bit relieved as I went through a lot of ups and downs. Well, mostly downs… It was a good swim, good speed, though I made a horrible mistake at one of the first turns when I touched the wall almost with my knee… I just hoped that it wouldn’t count. Thanks God, I managed to keep the speed and went on applying the race plans.”
Sarah Koehler, Germany, 3:59.12
“I definitely wanted to break the 4min barrier. This is a very nice improvement for me, compared to the Berlin World Cup a couple of months ago. I finished second but it’s not a shame to finish second to a swimmer of a calibre of Boglarka Kapas.”
Julia Hassler, Liechtenstein, 4:02.43
“I didn’t expect this! I just tried to go with Kapas and it worked. It’s an amazing feeling I simply cannot believe it!”
Men’s 200m butterfly
Aleksandr Kharlamov, Russia, 1:50.54
“In the finals everybody wants to win so you have to do your best. The only goal I set in my mind before the race was to touch in first. It paid off and I also lowered my personal best by half a second.”
Andreas Vazaios, Greece, 1:51.23
“It was a cool race. I expected of being fast but not as fast as I managed to. It was an incredible feeling that I could swim with my idol Laszlo Cseh and it’s amazing that I could beat him. This is my personal best so I’m really happy with my time and this silver medal.
Tamas Kenderesi, Hungary, 1:52.25
“I cannot believe it, I’m so happy. After this year I finally achieved a good result, I’m yet to believe that. I didn’t dare to tell beforehand that I hoped for a medal, it didn’t work before the Worlds. To get one in short-course it’s somewhat amazing. Should be a boost for next year.”
Women’s 50m freestyle
Sarah Sjostrom, 23.30 – CR
“This race is all about the little details. Today all favoured me as I was lucky at the last touch. I was unlucky sometimes on the previous days so something came back today.”
Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Netherlands, 23.31
“What a nice crowd! This is a great experience to race with Sarah and Pernille in this environment. I’m happy with my silver.”
Pernille Blume, Denmark
“It was pretty good, I’m satisfied with my bronze medal. It was such an amazing experience to swim in this Arena.”
Men’s 50m backstroke
Simone Sabbioni, Italy, 23.05
“Before the race I got really angry. This is the feeling you need to win the 50m. It gives you the power, the strength, the speed. I felt my legs after the turns but anger took over again and it lifted my spirit enough to win this race.”
Kliment Kolesnikov, Russia, 23.07 – WJ
“To be honest, I don’t really like the 50m back. Because it only shows how lucky you are. I missed the touch at the end and probably that cost me the gold medal. It’s pretty good though to have this time, it’s a world junior record, but it would have been better if it had come with the gold.”
Jeremy Stravius, France, 23.12
“I have to admit that my championships results so far reflect to the work I’ve done in practice. This means that we have not prepared for the short-course properly.”
Women’s 4x50m medley relay
Sweden (Hanna Rosvall), 1:44.43
“I cannot find words… This is my first medley relay in a senior event and I could improve my personal best with half a second… What a race it was! We didn’t count on winning the gold just wished to get a medal. But everyone did her best, improved the splits and this gave us the win.”
Denmark (Pernille Blume), 1:45.00
“It was so amazing, that’s my favourite and best European Championships ever. The audience was really great and probably they pushed us into the second place.”
France (Mathilde Cini), 1:45.35
“What could I ask more than to finish these championships in this way for our French team!”
Men’s 4x50m medley relay
Russia (Vladimir Morozov) 1:30.44 – WR-ER
“Before I jumped in I saw that the world record is not out of reach so I swam faster and faster and stronger. It was really good, it’s a perfect finish for these European Championships.”
Italy (Simone Sabbioni), 1:31.91
“The 4x50m relay to short to feel anything in the water. We just jump in and swim as strong as we can. Dotto and my already had swims today so it was a bit hard for us but we overcame that and we are really happy with the silver medal.”
Belarus (Pavel Sankovich), 1:32.06
“This is a fun race, 50s in a relay in short-course is really exciting. It’s nice to take a medal here. From a personal point, I have to confess I didn’t do my best because I’m a little bit tired as it was my 10th race in two days.”