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2017 European Short Course Swimming Championships, Day 1

Russia strikes three times, Scozzoli beats Peaty and the 50m ER Russia couldn’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.

Italy’s Fabio Scozzoli managed to beat breaststroke king Adam Peaty in the dash as well as the European record. Hungary’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 – his team went on earning a safe win. Kirill Prigoda also had a shot on gold but he had to settle for silver as Italy’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 GB’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, Hungary’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 O’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) – 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 – 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: “Four 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.” President Barelli also recalled the fantastic achievement of European athletes in 2017. “You can take any statistics into consideration, number of medals, number of finalists, special awards, participation – you will find that in aquatics Europe is the best and the strongest continent among all” he said. The president added that these successes also meant a strong obligation for LEN. “We are committed to create a perfect environment in all our events and to support the athletes our National Federation in all possible ways.”

Flash Quotes, Day 1

Men’s 200m backstroke

Gold Kliment Kolesnikov, Russia, 1:48.02 – WJ, EJ, CR “This was a very hard final, because I pushed hard, following my feelings from my prelims. I felt that I could break a junior world record. The gold medal is the icing on the cake.

Silver Radoslaw Kawecki, Poland, 1:48.46 “I have been so tired after this season and I’m not happy now because of the second place. It would be much more better to come first but Kolesnikov was better now.”

Bronze Danas Rapsys, Lithuania, 1:49.06 “I’m happy, that’s my personal best. I’m really satisfied with the bronze medal, the swim was pretty good.”

Women’s 400m IM

Gold Katinka Hosszu, Hungary, 4:24.78 “The final wasn’t that inspiring as there were many big names missing. Racing without world-class opponents is a bit strange though I was satisfied with my swim and I’m really happy with this gold medal.”

Silver Lara Grangeon, France, 4:28.77 “This medal came as a kind of surprise, because I’m not really training for individual medley. My quote is: ‘If you have the will, you can’.”

Bronze Fantine Lesaffre, France, 4:28.77 “The changes in my private life and in my club and coach brought a lot of balance for me. I feel very relaxed in my head and this my best time, improved by two seconds.”

Men’s 400m free

Gold Aleksandr Krasnykh, Russia, 3:35.51 “I am happy since I won but not satisfied with the time. I started really slowly it could have been much more better.”

Silver Peter Bernek, Hungary, 3:37.14 “This year, just like in Windsor, I couldn’t produce the same swims I was able to do in Doha or in Netanya. We didn’t put the same emphasis to freestyle, though. What I’m really looking forward to is the 400m IM final tomorrow.”

Bronze Henrik Christiansen, Norway, 3:38.63 “My aim for this final was to swim my personal best but unfortunately I was somewhat 1.5sec off. Nevertheless, it’s a bronze medal at the European Championships.”

Women’s 50m breaststroke

Gold Ruta Meilutyte, Lithuania, 29.36 ”A lot of things changed in my preparations as I have a new coach. Last season was a bit difficult but now the enjoyment is coming back and so do the results.”

Silver Jenna Laukkanen, Finland, 29.54 “It’s fantastic feeling, in the semis I’ve already felt that it’s going to be great in the final. Though I haven’t won I’m really happy with this medal and above all my personal best.”

Bronze Sophie Hansson, Sweden, 29.77 “I’m really happy I couldn’t believe it! Coming to these championships I had good feelings and now the dream came true. I could swim under 30sec, once more, it’s a great feeling!”

Men’s 50m breaststroke

Gold Fabio Scozzoli, Italy, 25.62 ER-CR “I knew I definitely had to swim better than in the semi-final. There is no long thinking during this short race you have to be one-hundred per-cent from start to finish.

Silver Kirill Prigoda, Russia, 25.68 “My start was a bit lazy but later I caught up with the others. I’m happy with my medal, it helps to keep the focus on the 200m which is due tomorrow.”

Bronze Adam Peaty, Great Britain, 25.70 “I’m a long-course swimmer basically and prepare for the following season especially for the Commonwealth Games. We haven’t worked much on the turns and finishes so I came here to see where we have to improve. Also, here I race against guys who usually rests for this meet so it usually turns out as it has today.”

Men’s 4x50m freestyle relay

Gold Russia (Vladimir Morozov), 1:23.23 “Typical first day swimming, the time could be much better. Still, we are satisfied with the first place.”

Silver Italy (Marco Orsi), 1:23.67 We are very happy. As I know this is our best time as a relay in textile. It could have been slightly better had we won the gold medal.”

Bronze Poland (Konrad Czerniak), 1:24.44 “I must admit that the race was a bit difficult for me even if it’s only 50m. I had a semi-final of the 100m fly, thirty minutes earlier. But the emotions and the team-spirit give you the power.”