Eugenia Chikunova, 15, Goes 2:18 For 200 Breaststroke Crown In Russian S/C Curtain Closer

Evgenia Chikunova - Photo Courtesy: FINA / Budapest 2019

Russian Short-Course Championships came to a close in Kazan today with a hint of the potential of 15-year-old Eugenia Chikunova, who took the 200m breaststroke in 2:18.59 ahead of a rival nine years her senior, Maria Temnikova, on 2:19.73.

Chikonova had entered the race with a best of 2:26.17 from a year ago. She’s been busy since then. She threw down a long-course 2:21.07 in the semi-finals at the European Junior Championships back in July the day before she claimed the crown in 2:23.06. Then, in August, Chikunova claimed the World Junior title in Budapest in 2:24.03. Three months on and a 2:18 short-course effort indicates further progress.

The champion’s elder sister Daria Chikunova took bronze in 2:21.05 in a race that went without Russian No1 breaststroke specialist for many years, Yulia Efimova, who served a doping suspension after testing positive for a banned substance in 2013. One of her penalties was also top lose medals claimed at the European S/C Championships that year.

The same event is due to be staged in Glasgow next month, the past six days serving as selection trials for international action. That drive produced a rush on records at a meet bypassed or taken in the stride of training by some of the country’s top contenders as they raced in international events or worked on for Olympic year.

Vladimir Morozov was a case in point: he’s been away winning $150,000 on World Cup tour and will race for Iron at the European International Swimming League Derby in London the weekend after next.

With Morozov – whose national 100m free record stands at 45.16 – away and Kliment Kolesnikov (national junior record of 46.11) bypassing the 100m free, Vladislav Grinev made hay in 46.47 for the title, Sergey Fesikov second on 46.73, the bronze to Mikhail Vekovishchev in 46.76.

Grvnev was involved in a fine tussle over 200m free on day 2 of the meet. Battle ended with Mikhail Vekovishchev, Grinev and Mikhail Dovgalyuk finishing in that order in 1:41.73, 1:42.22 and 1:42.27.

Many times made the world top 10 this season, as did the best efforts at Itay’s Nico Sapio meet over the past three days, in part courtesy of a calendar that included a long-course World Cup and an ISL format that does not require swimmers to taper, has yet to feature a peak-form international target.

Against that backdrop, the European Short-Course Championships in Glasgow next month are likely to rattle the season ranks, as might the ISL’s Final Match in Las Vegas on December 20-21.

At the other end of the spectrum, Yaroslav Potapov and Ilya Druzhinin endured a stroke-for-stroke tussle over 1500m freestyle, Poapov taking gold in 14:35.23, to 14:36.92.

One of the top names of the meet, Maria Kamaneva closed her campaign with a 23.70 win over 50m freestyle to secure yet another race at Euro S/C Championships.

Earlier in the meet, Kamaneva broke her own 100m medley record in 58.39and took the 100m backstroke crown in 56.68.

On Saturday, the meet’s last solo national record fell to Oleg Kostin, who shaved 0.05sec off his own 50m butterfly mark for the crown in 22.07 ahead of Alexander Popkov in 22.31.

The day before, Veronika Andrusenko replaced Veronika Popova as Russian 400m freestyle record holder, those ensuring the standard stayed in the same treasury, Andrusenko, on 3:58.25 better than her unmarried self on 3:58.90 back in 2016.

Arina Surkova, 21, had a fine meet, capped by two personal bests on day 3 finals, the 100m free crown her’s in 52.43 before she established a 25.27 Russian record in the semi-finals of the 50 butterfly.

She was not the only record-setter that day, Anastasia Kirpichnikova, 19, clocking 8:10.62 for a new Russian 800 free standard five seconds inside her best.

In other action, there was a solid 2:03.97 from Mikhail Dorinov in the 200m breaststroke, while Martin Malyutin took the 400m freestyle in 3:38.63.