The first leg of the Fina/Arena Swimming World Cup, held in Rio de Janeiro, is in the books.
- Star of the meet goes to Thiago Pereira. Coming off a relatively strong longcourse summer season (world ranked 5th for the 400m IM, 6th for the 200m IM), Pereira was just 1.3 seconds away from Darian Townsend's 200m IM world record set last year. Pereira's time of 1:52.72 was the 11th fastest performance of all time. According to Twitter we're going to see the Brazilian at all of the remaining World Cup meets. He is definitely a contender for top overall points scorer (and the hefty prize money that goes along with that).
- On the women's side Therese Alshammar got off to an ideal start as she leads the points standings after Rio. Points are awarded to the top ranked swims of the meet and Alshammar's 57.04 earned her 899 points, enough for the maximum 25 points on offer.
For those interested in the professional nature and funding of the sport, here's an interesting quote from Alshammar...
“The World Cup Series is very important to me because the awards give me the necessary resources to support my practices in Australia. Another important aspect is that I believe that, to keep strong physically and mentally, it’s essential to compete a lot. This series of events keep me on alert and it’s part of my training. London Olympic Games 2012 are the main goal of my career”.
- Cesar Cielo had a strong, though not spectacular, showing on home soil. Cielo took narrow victories in both the 50m Free and 100m Free, beating Steffen Diebler both times. Cielo's 50m Free time was 21.08 from the heats (he swam 21.16 in the final) and 47.16 in the 100m Free. As has been the case all year, the 50m Free was a stronger event for him than the 100m. The 50m Free was just 0.15 seconds away from Steffen Nystrand's textile suit best time, whereas the 100m Free was 1.33 seconds off the best mark in textile, again held by short course behemoth Nystrand.
- Switching to Long Course briefly, 2010 is proving to be a strong year for Japanese swimming and one of their biggest female stars, Aya Terakawa, turned in a great time of 59.13 in the 100m Back at the 'National Physical Education Long-Course Championships' in Chiba (I've never heard of it either).
Terakawa's swim supplants Emily Seebohm at the top of the world rankings and is a new textile best time. Seebohm will get a chance to regain the top spot at Commonwealths where she will face England's Gemma Spoffort and Lizzie Simmonds.
Interesting note - Terakawa and Seebohm each hold 4 of the top 10 swims so far this year on the 100m Back. Terakawa has been sub-1:00 six times this year, Seebohm five times. Great consistency.
- Looking forward to future short course meets this year we have some interesting returning stars on the women's side.
Britta Steffen hopes to return to competition at the Berlin leg of the World Cup Series (30 and 31 October). For those who struggle with the German language Steffen, has now returned to full-time training and hopes to be back to 100% in the next two or three weeks. She also mentions that if the Olympics go well in 2012 that she will probably just swim the 50m Free and relays at the 2013 Worlds before hanging up the goggles.
Not to be outdone, a trio of returning Dutch women are set to compete at the European Short Course Championship in Eindhoven (25-28 November). Marleen Veldhuis, Inge Dekker and Ranomi Kromowidjojo, who all missed the European LC Champs last month, will battle it out on home soil.