Swimming Euros: Malul finishes off the pace in breaststroke

The Israeli clocked a time of 28.48 seconds in the Netherlands, slower than his time in the semifinals.

Miki Malul 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Miki Malul 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Miki Malul finished the 50 meter breaststroke final in a disappointing eighth position at the European Championships in Eindhoven on Sunday. The Israeli clocked a time of 28.48 seconds in the Netherlands, slower than his time in the semifinals on Saturday and nowhere near gold medal winner Oleg Lisogor. In the morning session, Israel's 4x200m freestyle team improved the national record by a massive 19 seconds, but still missed out on the final. Nimrod Shapria Bar-Or, Shay Livnat, Max Jaben and Gal Nevo finished in a time of 7:20.87 minutes, ending the event in 10th position. Alain Bernard set a world record in the 50-meter freestyle Sunday after twice lowering the 100 freestyle mark in the previous two days. The muscular Frenchman swam 21.50 seconds to beat the time of 21.56 set last month by Eamon Sullivan of Australia, who lowered Alexander Popov's previous record of 21.64 set in Moscow on June 16, 2000. "I had to stay calm for this semifinal," Bernard said. "I had an excellent start, which is not that usual for me. Then I thought I had to exploit my fantastic shape here in Eindhoven. I put all my power on at 35 meters." Bernard set a world record of 47.50 seconds to win the 100 freestyle final on Saturday. That took one-tenth of a second off the record of 47.60 he swam Friday in the semifinals to shatter Pieter van den Hoogenband's old mark set at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. On Sunday, 24-year-old Bernard easily beat Stefan Nystrand of Sweden, who finished in 22.12 in their second semifinal to be third fastest into the final. After touching the wall and looking up at the scoreboard to see his time, Bernard took his now familiar perch on the lane ropes, punched the air and pointed to his coach, who cheered with him. Russian teenager Anastasia Zueva won her second gold of the championships in the 50 backstroke in a European record, adding to her victory in the 100 backstroke - also in a European record time - on Friday. The 17-year-old Zueva's time of 28.05 was well outside the world record set earlier in the day and on the other side of the world by Sophie Edington, who clocked 27.67 at the Australian Olympic trials in Sydney. Nina Zhivanevskaya of Spain, the 2003 world champion and holder of the old European record, was second and Sanja Jovanovic of Croatia was third. World record holder Oleg Lisogor of Ukraine took the European 50 breaststroke in 27.43 after sharing the title for the last two years with Alessandro Terrin of Italy following the pair's tie at the last European championships. This time, Terrin had to settle for bronze as Alexander Dale Oen took silver. Lisogor said if the race had been five meters further, "then someone else would have won, but not me. I was so exhausted on the last meters." With world champion Laure Manaudou not racing, Sara Isakovic of Slovenia won the women's 200 freestyle in 1:57.45, touching just ahead of Olympic champion Camelia Potec of Romania and third-place Agnes Mutina of Hungary. Evgeny Korotyshkin of Russia won the men's 100 butterfly in 51.89 and sealed a place at the Olympics after starting in lane eight because he had the slowest qualifying time. A bearded Peter Mankoc of Slovenia was second in 52.07 and Rafael Munoz Perez of Spain was third in 52.09. "Yesterday I was very happy to reach the final as the last qualifier in lane eight," Korotyshkin said. "Our federation told us that any European champion would book his Olympic ticket." Mankoc said he would shave off his beard for next month's world short course championships in Manchester, England, where he wants to break the European 100 butterfly record. In her last season of competitive swimming, continental record holder Flavia Rigamonti of Switzerland won the first ever European championship women's 1500 final in 15:58.54. Erika Villaecija of Spain collected her second silver of the championships after placing second in the 800 freestyle, and Lotte Friis of Denmark was third. Garcia started fastest, but was caught at the 850 mark by Rigamonti, who set her European record last year when she was second to Kate Ziegler of the United States at the world championships in Melbourne, Australia. "I was not hot on breaking the European record, I just wanted to swim a good race," she said after just failing to better her record. "Ill definitely retire ... after the Olympic Games in Beijing." Markus Rogan added the 200 backstroke title to the 100 backstroke gold he won earlier in the championships. The Austrian touched in 1:55.85, ahead of European record holder Arkady Vyatchanin of Russia and Razvan Florea of Romania. In the evening's final race, Filippo Magnini anchored Italy to its fifth straight 800 freestyle title in 7:09.94. Russia was second and Austria third.