The 2021 European Short Course Championships are almost upon us, so let’s get hyped with a look at the top 5 men’s races to watch. Of note, there are several teams not in attendance in Kazan, including Great Britain, so keep that in mind if you’re perhaps wondering why one of your favorite swimmers is missing.
50 Backstroke – Kristof Milak is the New Kid on the Block
This event’s field has grown super competitive after more athletes are racing short course meters via the International Swimming League and the recent FINA World Cup Series.
We’ll see the usual suspects to the tune of Romania’s Robert Glinta and Greece’s Apostolos Christou in the mix; however, Hungary’s Kristof Milak has also proven to be dangerous in this ‘off event’ for the 200m fly World Record holder and Olympic champion.
During the FINA World Cup, Milak posted a new Hungarian national record in this event, logging a mark of 23.08 in Budapest. Although the leaders in this event are sub-23, Milak’s trajectory is headed in the right direction to possibly land on the podium once this fast and furious battle is complete.
50 Freestyle – Morozov Looking for a Threepeat
The field is loaded with top talent, including 2016 Short Course World Championships gold medalist Jesse Puts of the Netherlands, Russian national record holder Vlad Morozov and Hungarian speedster Szebasztian Szabo.
The odds may be in Morozov’s favor, however, as the 29-year-old has won this 50m free event at the past two European Short Course Championships. He first grabbed gold in Copenhagen in 2017 and followed that up two years later in Glasgow. His respective time of 20.31 in 2017 ranks him as the 4th fastest performer in history.
And Morozov is in racing shape, having just concluded the full 4-stop FINA World Cup circuit. He won the event in Doha with a time of 20.89 while Aussie Kyle Chalmers snagged the other stops’ victories.
Along with Puts, the Netherlands has inserted former and current national record-holders Kenzo Simons and Thom de Boer into the mix. De Boer owns a lifetime best and Dutch standard of 20.84, a mark which would have just missed the podium 2 years ago.
100 Breaststroke – World Record Alert
The men’s 100m breaststroke World Record sits at the 55.34 Belarusian Olympian Ilya Shymanovich put on the books in 2020.
However, two other men in this field for Kazan have also been under the 56-second threshold in the form of Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands and Emre Sakci of Turkey. The former owns a personal best of 55.82 while the latter has been as fast as 55.74. As such, this pair has less than half a second to drop to get into the range of the Belarusian’s WR mark.
Kamminga won this event in 2019 ahead of Shymanovich, while Italy’s Fabio Scozzoli nabbed the bronze. Scozzoli is once again racing this event but has his domestic rival Nicolo Martingenghi with which to contend.
22-year-old Martinenghi enters with a career-quickest mark of 56.46 but has been on a long course tear, posting a new Italian record of 58.28 at the Olympic Games this summer.
200 Freestyle – Brand New Medalists
None of the top 3 finishers from the 2019 European Short Course Championships – Danas Rapsys (LTU), Duncan Scott (GBR), Mikhail Vekovishchev (RUS) – are racing this men’s 200m free event. That means we’ll see a brand new podium, with the field wide open chasing gold.
The top-seeded swimmer is represented by Russia’s Aleksandr Shchegolev, who is entered with a time of 1:41.70, the only sub-1:42 outing of the pack. Shchegolev produced that time in December 2020, so less than a year has passed since he entered the list of top 30 all-time performers.
But Milak once again is lurking among the contenders, as is 17-year-old young gun David Popovici of Romania.
Popovici made two Olympic finals in Tokyo at just 16 years of age and recently raced at the Kazan stop of the FINA World Cup where he slashed Romanian records left and right. In the 200m free, Popovici logged a result of 1:43.58, knocking nearly 2 seconds off of a supersuited national record.
100 IM – Anyone’s Race
The top six entrants of this men’s 100m IM are all sitting just half a second apart from one another, which means they’ll all need to be at the top of their game to land on the podium, let alone win gold.
And we’ll see a new gold medalist at that, as Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov is not entered in the race. The top-seeded swimmer instead is Italy’s veteran Marco Orsi while Morozov is once again in potential medal-winning territory as the 2nd seeded man.
The silver medalist from 2019, Sergei Fesikov will try to upgrade to gold, while the bronze medalist from two years ago, Andreas Vazaios of Greece has his eyes on the prize as well.
Originally posted on SwimSwam.com. Click here to Read More.