GLASGOW (Reuters) – Adam Peaty and Sarah Sjoestroem again demonstrated why they are the stand-out swimmers at the European Championships as they torpedoed to their third golds of the week on Wednesday.
On the programme’s penultimate day, Peaty, already a world record breaker in the 100 metres breaststroke and part of Britain’s winning mixed 4×100m medley team, scattered the 50m breaststroke field in a Championship record 26.09 seconds.
His latest masterclass came after the great Swede Sjoestroem became the first to win three individual golds over the week, as she added the 100m freestyle title to the 50m free and 100m butterfly double she pulled off last Saturday.
It was also a night to celebrate a third all-time swimming great with Katinka Hosszu, Hungary’s triple Olympic champion, rediscovering her old spirit and verve after a trying year of personal problems to win the 200m individual medley.
The 24-year-old perfectionist Sjoestroem was disappointed with her winning 100m free time of 52.93sec, well adrift of her world record 51.71 but then she did have to be back in the pool in 20 minutes, tackling the 50m butterfly semi-finals.
Almost inevitably, she won that race too, setting up the prospect of a fourth individual gold on Thursday and 14th European title in total.
Peaty again demonstrated why he may well be the most dominant swimmer in the sport as he recovered from a relatively sluggish start to get on terms by half-way before powering away over the final 25 metres to beat Italy’s Fabio Scozzoli by a huge 0.7 seconds.
He had hoped his winning time might threaten his world record of 25.95 but had to settle for a third consecutive 50m championship record in two days and, incredibly, he now owns the 10 best-ever times in the event.
“I was kind of looking up to see if I’d broken the world record,” shrugged the 23-year-old. “But it just proves that I can get near that world record now and maybe next year even touch it again.”
He too can end his Championships with a fourth gold in the men’s 4×100m medley relay on the final day.
The triumph of the great Hosszu, a fifth consecutive victory in the European 200m IM, was evidently an emotional occasion for Hungary’s 29-year-old ‘Iron Lady’, who said her public break-up with husband and coach Shane Tusup had disrupted her build-up.
Though clearly still nowhere near her best, Hosszu’s gutsy freestyle, which dragged her from fourth to gold over the final length, enabled her to pip Italian teenager Ilaria Cusinato for gold.
Hosszu, who reckoned she had rediscovered her love for swimming, said: “Tonight, I got in the blocks and knew I would fight until the end. It’s a really amazing feeling.”
Before Peaty’s breaststroke double, Ukrainian Mykhaylo Romanchuk achieved a similar feat on the day after his 22nd birthday, adding the 800 metres freestyle title to his 400m free crown in 7:42.96.
“I think I have got myself a really good present,” smiled the man who also won 1,500m freestyle silver.
Evgeny Rylov broke his own European record in 1:53.36 to take the 200m backstroke title and extend Russia’s lead at the top of the swimming medal table with their eighth gold.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Ed Osmond)