Five more titles for Russia, Selin (GER) blasts junior ER in 50m free
The last day brought the first continental mark at the European Junior Championships in Kazan: Germany’s Artem Selin set a new junior ER in the 50m free. Russia amassed 5 more titles on Sunday, thus finished the event with 37 medals, 15 of them gold. Germany and Italy followed them on the medal charts with 7 titles apiece.
Champions, Day 5
Men. 50m free: Artem Selin (GER) 21.83 EJ/CR. 200m free: Robin Hanson (SWE) 1:46.93. 100m breast: Aleksandr Zhigalov (RUS) 1:00.75. 100m fly: Andrei Minakov (RUS) 51.66. 400m IM: Apostolos Papastamos (GRE) 4:15.18. 4x100m medley: Russia 3:35.97
Women. 100m back: Daria Vaskina (RUS) 1:00.17. 100m breast: Kayla van der Merwe (GBR) 1:17.12. 50m fly: Anastasia Shkurdai (BLR) 26.23. 200m IM: Zoe Vogelman (GER) 2:13.78. 4x200m free: Russia 8:01.62
Russia was a modest 5th on the medal table in 2011 with only two titles – but seven years ago the first pack of talent stormed to the scene in Antwerp (BEL), jumped to the top of the medal chart with 12 golds and 21 medals and haven’t let the other nations take over the first place ever since.
This time they finished with 37 medals and 15 titles – the total number is the second best effort in history (only the 2015 edition surpassed it in Baku, where they got 42), though the number of titles is kind of moderate compared to 2015 (23) and 2013 (22).
This last day brought them 9 more podiums including five victories. Three individual golds were claimed in the 100m finals: Aleksandr Zhigalov paired this win with his 200m triumph in the breast. It was a tremendous race where he managed to stun the others from lane 7, especially Netherlands Caspar Corbeau whom he also beat over the longest distance by 0.16sec, now by 0.02sec. Here the first four hit the wall in a span of 0.09sec and just like in the 50m, the bronze was shared.
Daria Vaskina made the 50-100m double in the backstroke, she was no match for the others. And youth Olympic champion Andrei Minakov finally could win the 100m (after coming third in the 50m, where he had been the title-holder) – then he also part of the Russian medley relay’s win. That completed the hosts’ golden rush, just before that, their 4x200m female free relay also was a distant winner, so they clinched 6 out of 8 relay titles.
The highlight of the day was Germany’s Artem Selin’s blast in the freestyle dash, he set the meet’s only junior European Record (21.83) and was just 0.08 shy of the WR. Compatriot Zoe Vogelmann edged out their Israeli rivals by 0.02sec to win the 200m IM, this gold placed his team ahead of Italy on the medal charts, to the second position. In fact, this was the second time that Israel had the silver and bronze medallists in the same event and apparently the other one was in the men’s 200m IM…
The men’s 200m free produced the race of the day if not the meet: it was a fabulous battle which seemed to be contested by the 100m champion Matthew Richards (GBR) and the 400m winner Antonio Djakovic (SUI) but at the end the laughing third, Sweden’s Robin Hanson reached for the wall first.
Kayla van der Merwe delivered a gold for the Brits in the 100m breast as she managed to pass the two Russians Anastasia Makarova and Evgeniia Chikunova – they finished ahead of her in the 200m but now Kayla was the fastest among the three this time.
The last day saw two more completed doubles: Greece’s Apostolos Papastamos added the 400m IM crown to his 200m win with ease, while Belorussia’s Anastasia Shkurdai came first though Naele Portecop was clearly in front but took perhaps one stroke too many at the end, leaving France without a title in Kazan.
Russia earned the Team Trophy, just like in the other already concluded age-group Europeans in artistic swimming and diving. The next LEN event for the young talents is already under way, the girl’s U15 water polo championships, a couple of hundreds kilometres away in Kirishi (RUS).
The next edition of the European Junior Swimming Championships shall take place in Aberdeen (GBR), in July 2020.
Quotes from the winners
Apostolos Papastamos (GRE), 400m IM
“I’m really happy, I’ve made the IM double but what really matters that I made the Olympic cut today. So from now on, I can live the Olympic dream. The race went as we planned with my coach. I can say, it was the perfect race.”
Daria Vaskina (RUS), 100m back
“The time was not bad but it’s not that good. So I’m not really happy. Little smile, for the gold medal. But only a little.”
Aleksandr Zhigalov (RUS), 100m breast
“Even if it looked tight, I felt much better than over the 200m race. I felt more confident, more relaxed. During the first days of the championships we were too nervous, perhaps paid too much attention to the public. As we were approaching the end, we found the way to gain strength from their support. I think today the crowd was a factor in my victory.”
Kayla van der Merwe (GBR), 100m breast
“It was really exciting, before and during the race. I didn’t expect this gold as our focus is not on this meet bur rather on the World Championships so this win is simply awesome.”
Robin Hanson (SWE), 200m free
“It was a great race with two great rivals. It was the last 50m I trusted the most that it could help me to be in front. Though I know I have to work and learn a lot to be better and more consistent, for example with my turns.”
Zoe Vogelman (GER), 200m IM
“It was an amazing swim, I felt so good during the whole race. During the breaststroke we were kind of in one line but over the freestyle I didn’t see the Israeli girls so I just swam as fast as I could. Then at the wall, after the touch I looked at the scoreboard, so my time, which was amazing… Then I saw the No 1. in front of my name… And I was like, hey, what’s going on?!”
Andrei Minakov (RUS), 100m fly
“During the first days we felt a kind of pressure but now it’s all good to race in front of our people. It was a good swim, went according to the plans though the World Championships in July is the most important event of the summer. But my preparations is at the stage I expected earlier, so it’s all good.”
Anastasia Shkurdai (BLR), 50m fly
“It was kind of normal, I’m happy for my win but the time is not the one I really wished for. But the focus is on the World Championships and there I will achieve what I’m planning.”
Artem Selin (GER), 50m free
“I expected to win this title, this is my event and I was only 0.08sec from the junior world record. No problem, I will make it next year.”
Russia 15 12 10 37
Germany 7 5 5 17
Italy 7 5 4 16
Great Britain 2 4 4 10
Belarus 2 0 1 3
Greece 2 0 1 3
Switzerland 2 0 1 3
Hungary 1 3 2 6
Sweden 1 1 1 2
Czech Rep 1 0 2 3
Ukraine 1 0 2 3
Spain 1 0 0 1
Israel 0 3 2 5
Netherlands 0 3 1 4
France 0 2 3 5
Turkey 0 2 3 5
Bulgaria 0 1 0 1
Lithuania 0 1 0 1
Portugal 0 0 1 1
Finland 0 0 1 1
Championship Trophy (Top 10)
1. Russia 1504, 2. Great Britain 902, 3. Italy 863, 4. Germany 827, 5. France 690, 6. Hungary 648, 7. Turkey 506, 8. Spain 423, 9. Poland 373, 10. Greece 329