Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (L) shakes hands with New Zealand’s Melissa Ingram after the women’s 400m freestyle final during the FINA Swimming World Cup 2012 in Dubai, October 3, 2012. (REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah)

Courtesy of FINA.org

October 3, 2012 DUBAI – Chad Le Clos may have been king of the pool with his six golds in Dubai last year at the FINA /ARENA Swimming World Cup, but in tonight’s session on the final day of competition a new queen has been crowned.

Katinka Hosszu of Hungary came into the meet a relative unknown outside of swimming circles despite having competed at three Olympic Games, but left as the best female performer of the event, and the talk of the town. Hosszu took an amazing seven individual gold medals and one bronze, as well as an eighth gold in the mixed relay in an extremely heavy program over the two days.

Hosszu added to her three gold and one bronze from day 1 with gold in her first event of the evening, the 400m individual medley, ahead of teammate Zsuzsanna Jakabos and South Africa’s Kathryn Meaklim. She went on to also take gold in her next race, the 200m butterfly, again ahead of Jakobos and Spela Bohinc of Slovenia.

Two races later she overcame Melissa Ingram of New Zealand and Darya Zevina to win the 400m freestyle. Her last individual race of the night was the 100m individual medley, again beating Jakabos and Britta Steffen.

“I’m feeling really tired but I’m really happy with my form, I’m pretty excited about the rest of the World Cups. It’s fun to do these races, its more exciting than training. I have pretty high expectations for myself, I wasn’t sure if I could reach it, so I’m pretty happy with how I’ve done” said Hosszu.

“I probably won’t swim this many events at every World Cup. I would love to win the World Cup, but so does everyone else, but I’m in the race now,” she added.

South Africans bring home more gold

Before Hosszu’s golden performances the exciting finals session had kicked off with the men’s 1500m freestyle which was won by Hungarian Gergo Kis swimming for UAE clubs. Kis finished ahead of David Brandl of Austria and Sergii Frolov of Ukraine.

After the withdrawal this morning of Therese Alshammar from the 100m freestyle to concentrate on the 50m butterfly, the gold was Germany’s Britta Steffen’s for the taking. As predicted, she stamped her authority on the race from the outset and added gold to her silver from the 50m freestyle last night and gold from the mixed relay. Steffen said: “I am satisfied with that swim on four weeks training so that’s a good result”.

Darian Townsend of South Africa recovered from a slow start yesterday to join in the medal haul of the South African team, taking gold in both the 200m freestyle and 200 individual medley, both in tight finishes. Townsend said after the 200 freestyle: “That felt great, I am feeling better and better in the water, this is my best time in the short course”. Robert Hurley of Australia finished just behind Townsend, with Hurley’s team mate Tommaso D’Orsogna third.

In the 200 individual medley Townsend held off a fast finishing Daiya Seto of Japan. Kenneth To of Australia added to his two golds from last night with a bronze behind Seto. Townsend said later: “I’m a little tired now but two wins, I can’t complain at all. Yesterday I got a third but the 200 is more my thing so I’m happy with two golds”.

The women’s 50m breaststroke was all Jennie Johansson’s. The Swedish girl romped home almost a full second ahead of Japan’s Fumiko Kawanabe with Sweden’s Joline Hoestman in third. Kawanabe then took gold in the 200m breaststroke, again ahead of Joline Hoestman with Ukraine’s Anna Dzerkal taking bronze.

After winning the 100m breaststroke at the London Olympics South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh was hot favourite and felt the pressure to win the event in Dubai. He didn’t disappoint, adding to his gold in the 50m breaststroke yesterday, but was pushed all the way by Glenn Snyders of New Zealand. Van der Burgh said after the morning heats that he was pleased to be the lane 1 for the final. “I’m not in great shape so it’s better to be on the outside. It’s hard to defend the lead when I’m not in shape, if I’m leading from the outside the others don’t see me so I prefer it”. This strategy worked perfectly for him, touching only .09 of a second ahead of Snyders swimming in lane 4, with Marco Koch third.

After the race Van der Burgh said: “I went out nice and fast and the guys didn’t see me out there, (in Lane 1) and I was lucky enough to hold on for the win. It’s great to be racing again, I love racing and it’s a great environment, and it’s nice to have a break from the media pressure after the Olympics.”

The pressure was on in the next race as Chad Le Clos took on a strong field in the 100m butterfly, swimming from Lane 2. Jason Dunford of Kenya took the early lead but Le Clos was determined to turn the tables on Dunford after his defeat last night and stormed home to win ahead of Evgeny Korotyshkin and Thomas Shields of the USA. Dunford faded to fourth, and UAE clubs’ Velimir Stjepanovic was unable to add to his bronze from day 1 and came in fifth.

Le Clos was pleased to take the win, saying “I was disappointed with last night, but am very happy with that swim. This is my lucky pool and I just wanted to bounce back. This gives me a lot of confidence, I just wanted to have a good swim”.

Swedish Alshammar wins in convincing fashion

The battle of the backstroke queens in the 100m was tight with Darya Zevina of Ukraine pushing Rachel Goh of Australia all the way. But it was Goh who prevailed, taking the 50m/100m double, Japan’s Noriko Inada finished with the bronze. “It was good to come away with two wins, it’s a good way to start the World Cups and I’ll try to carry this through the series” said Goh.

Stanislav Donets took the men’s backstroke double with a win in the 100m on day 1 and a gold in the 50m tonight. Australian team mates Robert Hurley and Ashley Delaney finished with silver and bronze.

The men’s 50m freestyle was the second trip to the podium for Anthony Ervin of the USA. Returning to short course after a 12-year break Ervin added gold to his silver from day 1, edging out George Bovell of Trinidad and Tobago and Kyle Richardson of Australia. “I knew that the competition was going to be stiff, so I’m happy with the win” said Ervin.

The men’s 200m backstroke was the tightest finish of the event with Poland’s Radoslaw Kawecki edging out Kosuke Hagino of Japan by the smallest of margins, one hundredth of a second. Japan’s Kauki Watanabe came in third.

Defending World Cup champion Therese Alshammar was in brilliant form in the 50m butterfly. The race promised to be one of the toughest of the program with Alshammar – the current world champion in the 50m butterfly (short course) – up against the Netherland’s Inge Dekker, the current world champion in the 50m butterfly (long course). However Alshammar’s pedigree shone through as she took the win comfortably ahead of Dekker and Hang Yu Sze of Hong Kong.

“I had more time this morning to practice the start so I felt good going into it. It’s always good to race Inge, it pushes me to go faster. I’m very happy to be back in the water again”. I enjoy swimming the 50, you have to nail your skills, the key is to be fully switched on and to be very relaxed and I felt relaxed”, said Alshammar.

The final race of the program was again a first for Dubai, a mixed (2 men and 2 women from each country) 4 x 50m freestyle relay. This is the first time such a race has been swum at a World Cup and will be featured in each of the eight leg series this year. The event certainly entertained the large crowd and the tight finish as Hungary overhauled the Ukraine to take gold. The final leg for Hungary was swum by golden girl Katinka Hosszu in a fitting end to an exhilarating competition for her and giving her her eighth gold medal.