Russia tops the ranks, GB got 9 medals in one day, Italy with a triple
The overwhelming Russian performances at the recent editions of the junior Europeans were transformed into senior supremacy: for the first time since 2008 they are topping the swimming medal table and clinched the Championships Trophy. Team GB staged a big finish, claimed 7 medals in the Tollcross International Swimming Centre on the closing day (plus earned two more in diving) but two more titles secured Russia’s first place. Italy enjoyed a brilliant session, with three crowns they doubled the number of their golds and finished third. These three nations captured 72 medals altogether in swimming, 55% of the entire collection. Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom earned her 4th title, the best individual feat in Glasgow. Just as in Rio, there was a double Dutch in open water 10km races, Sharon van Rouwendaal and Ferry Weertman won again.
The Russian young guns start to become quite effective on senior level as well. In the past seven-eight years Russia was quite dominant at the junior Europeans and the most talented boys and girls now arrived to the big stage and lifted the good old powerhouse top the top again. The last time Russia was No 1 at the senior Europeans dates back to 2008 – ten years after they are back, 10 titles and 16 more medals gave them the first place in the ranks and they sailed away with the Championships Trophy as well. On the closing day Yulia Efimova pulled off another win to compete her breaststroke treble, then pushed the medley relay to another victory.
It was a neck-by-neck battle with Great Britain and even though the hosts did a tremendous job on the closing day as well by amassing seven medals in nine finals, they couldn’t catch the Russians. Ben Proud came first in the 50m free and the men’s medley relay retained its title but in three races they finished runner-up, at least two more golds would have been needed to pass their rivals.
By the number of titles, Italy enjoyed the best day. Simona Quadarella did the ‘upper’ treble in freestyle by out-touching ó Hungarian prodigy Ajna Kesely by 0.22sec for the 400m crown (she already won the 800m and 1500m). Pietro Codia did a miracle as he won the 100m fly from lane 8, while Margharita Panziera was a cut above the rest in the women’s 200m back.
Sarah Sjostrom achieved a unique feat by touching in first in the 50m fly – she is leaving Glasgow with 4 titles to her tally, did the sprinting double both in the free and the fly, the best individual effort in the meet.
David Verraszto maintained Hungary’s stronghold on the men’s 400m IM – it was the 8th straight win for the Magyars in this event, an unparalleled run by a nation in a single event. Verraszto claimed his third successive triumph and turning 30 in thirteen days he also became the oldest-ever winner of the gruelling event in history.
Just as in Rio two years ago, Sharon van Rouwendaal and Ferry Weertman brought double joy for the Netherlands – they captured the respective titles in the 10km races. And it was similar to the Olympics: while Rouwendaal earned a solid win – claiming her second gold in two days –, Weertman just out-touched 5km champion Kristof Rasovszky in the same way as he did with Greece’s Spyridon Gianniotis. His rivals seemed to have crossed the line first but it was Weertman who touched the panel the fastest and in this sport this is what counts. Again, the times were equal but the photo declared Weertman the winner, though as a brilliant act of sportsmanship he raised the young Hungarian’s hand at the pontoon. Weertman is the first swimmer in history who clinched the Olympic, world and European 10km titles in back-to-back years.
Jack Laugher achieved a different double in Edinburgh: the Brit opened his campaign by winning the 1m event and now he came first in the 3m too. Russia got the first gold in the diving pool when Viktor Minibaev and Aleksandr Bondar clinched the 10m synchro title. History was made in this event: Vladimir Harutyunan and Lev Sargsyan earned Armenia’s first ever European medal in diving, a bronze.
The home crowds could also applaud the local greats in both cities as Tom Daley – though he skips this event as an athlete but showed up in Edinburgh as a supporter – received the 2017 LEN Award today and a bit later in Glasgow Adam Peaty, with the women winner Sarah Sjostrom, was also celebrated for being voted the best swimmer in the continent in 2017.