Sarah Sjostrom smashed her own world record in the 100m free, on the opening night of the FINA/airweave World Cup in Eindhoven, on Friday. Home crowd-favourite Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) was second in 51.19, with Cate Campbell (AUS) third.
The Swede clocked 50.58 secs, lowering her previous best — set only last week in Moscow — by 0.19 at a packed and raucous Pieter van den Hoogenband Stadium.
Accompanied by a light show, pumping beats and a lively crowd, Eindhoven was certainly rocking.
“It’s easy to swim fast when it’s going well. I feel surprisingly fresh now — I thought I was going to be more tired. A few days ago I started to feel a bit sick, and my throat was really sore, but I keep racing it away,” said Sjostrom, who intends to compete in the other World Cup clusters.
Sjostrom landed three individual golds at last month’s World Championships in Budapest but, somewhat ironically, was edged out into silver in this event.
“I feel I’m in better shape for this cluster than the next one because this is so close to Budapest. We were expecting fast times here, that’s usually how it is right after a big competition, because you train to be at your peak for those” said Sjostrom, who collected a second $10,000 cheque in a week for setting the world best.
“I’m more of a saver than a spender, because we don’t really earn that much from swimming and we need it for the future, so I have no plans to spend it on something special.”
Morozov wins twice
The 2016 men’s overall World Cup winner, Vladimir Morozov (RUS), triumphed in the 100m medley and the 50m free, posting his year-best marks in both, 50.70 and 20.79 respectively.
“I like it this way more, straight after the worlds, otherwise I would take three months’ rest. This way, I train and compete, and keep myself in shape. Between the clusters I’ll take a break here and there, a few days, then get back to training. It’s more difficult for me to win the title this year with the new rules — not all the events are there and there are limits on the number of races you can enter. That hurts points-wise — you have to break world records to win it. We’ll see how I do next cluster, and what position I’m in before deciding about the third cluster.”
Chad le Clos (RSA) trailed Morozov in fifth in the 50m free, but earlier almost broke his own world standard in the 200m fly, clocking 1:48.67, just 0.11 shy of the mark he set four years ago.
“I’m in great shape, just outside my record. I really like the new way FINA is running the series. I know a lot of people are complaining about it, but I honestly feel it’s much better. It gives everyone a fair chance. Tonight we had a great crowd and that’s down to the new way of doing it, and the marketing.”
Compatriot Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) stormed home in 25.63 in the 50m breast.
“I feel pretty good, pretty happy with that time. I haven’t made a decision about the rest of the series, we’ll go home and assess things. The Commonwealth Games is earlier than usual next season, in April, and I want to start training a bit earlier for that. Each year I take the series as it comes. I always like to do the first couple of legs to see where my position is, and the points — it’s always very tactical. But Chad and the boys are swimming pretty fast, so it’s going to be difficult to get the points.”
Belmonte completes double
In the 800m free, Mireia Belmonte (ESP), made a Tour de France-style breakaway, and was so far in front at the end that she was almost in a different postcode, completing a double for the night after triumphing in the 200m fly, in which she is the World and Olympic champion.
Emily Seebohm (AUS) and Katinka Hosszu (HUN) renewed their 200m back rivalry from the World Championships, where the Aussie retained her title.
It was a different story this time, though, as Hosszu led all the way, threatening to lower her world best, under the mark by 0.21 and 0.30 at the 50m and halfway marks respectively.
She couldn’t keep up the pace, however, and stopped the clock at 2:00.05, and 0.82 outside her record, with Seebohm second.
Hosszu, World Cup series winner for the past five years, completed the double in the 200m medley.
Joint world record holders Alia Atkinson (JAM) and Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) went head to head in the 100m breast, the Jamaican leading all the way to clock 1:02.67, her rival trailing by 1.13 in second.
Masaki Kaneko (JPN) downed Mitch Larkin (AUS) in the 100m back as the former World champion admitted to having “lost my feel for the water” this year.
This article was first published on the FINA website.