The Hamad Swimming Complex, in Doha, was the stage for some spectacular races and a number of excellent performances in the first day of the 7th meet of the FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup 2015.

The major excitement was provided by the Australian backstroker Mitchell Larkin who won the 100 metres in 52.26. His comment was:  “I’m really happy about the race tonight. I wanted to match or even better my Tokyo time here in Doha but I’m still happy with it. If I can match my 200 time tomorrow, I’ll be stoked. I feel great and I hope to do well tomorrow.”

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The triple gold medal winner this night, Chad Le Clos, (he was first in the 100m freestyle, the 200m butterfly and the 50m butterfly), was very pleased with his performances here and after necking his third medal said: “I’ve just finished some really hard training, I’ve swum 65kms in 6 days but my body responded well. I’m in a better frame of mind than before. A lot happened to me after London 2012 but now I feel in terrific shape.”

The second session – the finals of Day 1- opened with the men’s 100m freestyle,  an event that Chad Le Clos (RSA) won comfortably in 48.96; he was the only one under 49 seconds. Federico Grabich, of Argentina, silver medallist at Kazan, was second in 48.39, with France’s Jeremy Stravius taking bronze in 49.42. Just clear of the podium, another South African, Claydon Muller, with 49.63, and  another French, Yannick Agnel, with 49.65. Grabich commented:

“I’m happy with my time. I’m in preparation, so this was the time I was aiming for”.

Katinka Hosszu (HUN) made her evening debut winning the second event, the 200m freestyle, in a fast time, 1:56.60 (909 FINA points), that allowed her a significant victory over Federica Pellegrini (ITA), second in 1:58.06, and France’s Coraly Balmy.

One-two for South Africa in the men’s 50m breaststroke. Cameron Van der Burgh dominated the race in a fast 26.29 (968 points), touching ahead of compatriot Giulio Zorzi, 27.69, and American Kevin Cordes, 27.81 (who was the fastest qualifier with 27.68). A pair of new names emerged behind the trio of medallists: Renato Prono, of Paraguay, fourth in 27.93, and Vladislav Mustafin, of Uzbekistan, fifth in 28.04. 

Van der Burgh said: “I’m quite happy with that. I’m so happy to be back in Doha, the crowd here is spectacular. It’s a good night for South Africa with me and Giulio taking the top two spots.”

The women’s 100m breaststroke saw the surprising victory of USA’s Molly Hannis, in 1:06.94, over Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson, 1:07.83, and Australia’s Leiston Pickett, 1:08.15. Out of the podium Rikke Moller Pedersen (DEN) 1:08.21, Laura Sogar (USA) 1:08.23, and two Japanese, Imai Runa (JPN, fifteen), 1:08.29, and Rie Kaneto (JAP), 1:08.32.

Hannis said: “I’m really happy, it’s yet another new PB for me in quick succession – it’s probably the best shape I’ve been in in my life.  To be in Doha is absolutely amazing, I really love coming here and enjoying it.”


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In the women’s 100m butterfly three Americans made the final: Felicia Lee (23), who eventually won in 58.83,  the young Cassidy Bayer (16), third in 59.52, Kate Mills (26), fifth in 59.59. Hungary’s  Zsuzsanna Jakabos took silver in 58.98. Bayer had to share the bronze medal with Alexandra Sasha Tourestky, from Switzerland, who also clocked 59.52: she is the daughter of former Russian coach (now her coach at Tenero, in Switzerland), and mentor of Alex Popov, Gennadi Touretsky.

The men’s 100m backstroke offered another great performance  by the world champion Mitchell Larkin, of Australia, who won in an impressive time of 52.26, worth 981 FINA points. At half race Larkin turned in 25.32, a split faster than that of the word  record (25.35) set by USA’s Aaron Peirsol at Indianapolis in 2009,  with 51.94. USA’s David Plummer was second with 53.18, with Japan’s Masaki Kaneko third in 54.33.

Australia’s Emily Seebohm got her predictable victory in the women 50m backstroke in 27.65 (917 points), with USA’s Natalie Coughlin second in 28.23, and Katinka Hosszu third in 28.40. Japan’s Emi Moronuki was slightly behind with 28.77.

In the men’s 200m butterfly, Chad Le Clos (RSA) clinched his second victory today in 1:55.80, after winning a duel with Viktor Bromer (DEN) 1:56.30. Australia’s Christopher Wright  was third in 1:57.03. Le Clos said: “I’m trying to use Doha to get myself in the best possible shape. My goal is to get a few medals but I don’t think I’ll break any world records – I’ll save that for Rio. I know Phelps has been getting some good times this year as well so it’s all about setting ourselves up for the Olympics.”

Bromer comment was: “I was so close to beating Chad there at the end. I felt in control of my lane which is the most important thing. The last 50 felt how it should have done and I got tired at the right time. Overall I’m very pleased.”

In the women’s 200m IM second win of the day also for Katinka Hosszu, 2:10.22 (909 points), ahead of USA’s Caitlin Leverenz 2:11.08, and the Japanese pair of Sakiko Shimizu, 2:13.94, and Runa Imai, 2:13.05.

Kazan’s silver medallist James Guy (GBR) won the 400m freestyle with a fast 3:46.76 (914 points).

He said : “I have been in altitude training for 2 weeks then I’ve been training in Doha for 3 weeks already, at Aspetar. I love it here, I’m enjoying it. I thought the race went well tonight. It’s only November, but I’m getting there.”

Serbia’s Velimir Stiepanovic was a distant second in 3:48.70, just 0.04 seconds ahead of Stephen Milne, of Great Britain, who took bronze in 3:48.74. Yannick Agnel, who did not qualify –was 11th  in the rankings of the heats with 3:54.12-, said:

“It’s been seven months since I was in the pool competing so it feels great to be back. It was painful, but really good. I look forward to the finals, I have high hopes for the 100 and 200m free. I was doing well in the 400m free here but I just couldn’t keep it up in the last 100 metres.”

France’s Anna Santamans won the women’s  50m freestyle in 24.95, the only one under 25. Australia’s Melanie Wright was second in 25.04, with Natalie Coughlin taking bronze in 25.04, narrowly ahead of Sasha Touretski, 25.44.

In the men’s 200m breaststroke, Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta was always in control of the race, well ahead of the rest of the field. The Olympic champion eventually won in an excellent time, 2:10.33 (925 points), ahead of Russia’s Oleg Kostin 2:11.44. Cameron Van der Burgh was third in 2:12.14.

Gyurta explained: “I love being back in Doha. I’ve already been here for 3 weeks training before this competition, and I’ve got so many good memories here, especially winning the short course gold here last year but also I have so many friends living here”.

“After this training camp here in Doha, I feel really good. My sole focus is to defend my Olympic title but I still wanted to do well tonight. The morning heats were easy for me and I’m happy to win tonight.”

“For me, it’s all about Rio now and protecting my Olympic title. Prior to Kazan, I was training maybe a bit too hard but I want to use Doha to get into perfect shape and I look forward to the finals”. So Van der Burgh: “I am very happy to get the bronze tonight, the crowd is fantastic and I love racing here in Doha.”

In the women’s 200m backstroke Emily Seebohm (AUS) and Katinka Hosszu (HUN) were much faster than their opponents. The Australian, world champion in Kazan, managed a clear cut win in 2:07.19 (927 points), relegating the Hungarian in second place, with 2:08.73. Ukraine’s Daryna Zevina took bronze in 2:11.05.

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Seebohm said: “I’m really happy to win here in Doha. It’s testament that I’m doing the right training and I keep improving. To be up against someone like Katinka is a massive challenge. She is such a fantastic competitor and really hard to beat. She obviously does a lot of events but I still think that it’s not easy to beat her, and I’m pleased to do just that tonight.”

Third win of the night for Chad Le Clos in the 50m butterfly with the time of 23.43, for the excitement of the crowd, that loves him, and of his mythical father, who adore him. USA’s Giles Smith was a good second, in 23.58, while Serbia’s Ivan Lender took bronze in 23.87. The other American, the young  Michael Andrew (16) was fourth in 23.95 (in the morning he swam faster and, with 23.72, he was just 0.11 secs. shy of the junior world record – the time limit is 23.61).

New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle comfortably won the 800m freestyle in 8:24.76 ( 920 points), about 2seconds a half ahead of Jaz Carlin (GBR), second with 8:27.25, and exactly 3 seconds faster than Sarah Kohler of Germany, who took bronze in 8:28.76. Italy’s Diletta Carli was a distant fourth in 8:36.75. In the morning Hosszu had won the slowest heat in 8:39.22.

With the time of in 4:16.17, Hungary’s David Verraszto won the last event on the programme of Day 1, the 400m IM, a race which offered few emotions.