Monday, 22 April 2013

Swim stars promise to return to Bergen Swim Festival

Winners of the best performance awards at Bergen Swim Festival: Rikke Møller Pedersen (DEN), Daniel Gyurta (HUN), Katinka Hosszu (HUN), Cameron van der Burgh (RSA), Michael Jamieson (GBR), Jeanette Ottesen (DEN).
(Photo: Kjell Eirik Irgens Henanger, BSF)
The Bergen Swim Festival was particularly star studded this year, due to it being the Alexander Dale Oen memorial.

A short course meet in late april is not ideal, but the swim stars were unanimous: They want to come back to Bergen.

Whether or not they were influenced by the emphatic crowd in the old pool that facilitates the BSF is hard to say, but most of the stars expressed a desire to return the next time the competition is arranged - even if by then it will not be a memorial meet.

The meet, established in 2007, will make the highly anticipated transition into a long course meet during the next year or so, as the City of Bergen (approx. 250.000 inhabitants) gets its first long course pool.

"Its not ideal with a short course meet now, as it is long course season basically" said Katinka Hosszu who used the meet as an intense training session swimming all 15 events - prelims and finals.

"When they get the long course pool here, this will be an ideal preparation for the upcoming summer-championship," said frequent guest Cameron van der Burgh swimming his fourth Bergen Swim Festival.

Photo: Kjell Eirik Irgens Henanger
Alexander Dale Oen will probably be close to the action although the meet will no longer bear his name. Whispers about the pool bearing Norways first, and only, long course world champions name are getting stronger.

This year, as it normally is at BSF, the mens 100 meters breaststroke was the main attraction. Cameron van der Burgh won in a meet record of 57,82, ahead of Daniel Gyurta.

"It was a tough and emotional race for me, but its nice to get a chance to honor Alexander by racing guys like Daniel Gyurta and Michael Jamieson. Not so much competing with them, but racing together in Alex's spirit", said van der Burgh immideately after the race.

See Norwegian TV 2s interview with him directly after the final here.

One of the things that makes the meet attractive is the Festival's festive setting for the finals session. With the pool being brought to complete darkness a smoke, and light show is put on while an announcer presents the swimmers. At the same time the public goes mad. This is what attracts the swimmers.

"Stefan Nystrand once said to me that noone else makes meets like these ones" said international liaison Jan Allers.

He confirmed that most international competitors had signaled a desire to return to the meet.

"Its not often you get to feel like a boxer preparing for a swim. It makes it a bit more exciting", said van der Burgh.

The meet organizers have lofty ambitions for the meet as they enter into the brand new national arena.

"We want to put Bergen on the international swimming map. In the long term we want it to be the biggest swim meet in Europe" said head of the organizing comittee Gjert Dahl.

A total of 19 meet records were set during the three days of competition. In addition Estonian backstroker Ralf Tribuntsov set three national records. One in the 50 backstroke (24,33) and two on the double distance (52,33 and 51,97).

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