Stars shine as haze clears

South Africa's Cameron Van Der Burgh reacts after winning the 100m breaststroke during the second day of the Fina Swimming World Cup at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, 4 October 2015.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

The skies cleared, the haze dwindled and the stars duly shone at the OCBC Aquatic Centre yesterday.

Day two of the Fina Swimming World Cup Singapore leg proceeded with nary a hiccup, much to the relief of the organisers and fans after Saturday's finals session was cancelled owing to the haze.

That resulted in the loss of 15 races, including the mouth-watering women's 200m backstroke, which would have seen a titanic clash among the event's top three - Emily Seebohm, Missy Franklin and Katinka Hosszu - at the recent World Championships in Kazan.

Yesterday, the trio did take to the pool in the 100m back but it was a consolation, as it is not one of Hosszu's stronger events.

Seebohm swam her eighth sub-59 time this year to win in 58.72sec, ahead of Hosszu (1:00.07) and Franklin (1:00.73). She has now won the 100m back in all five legs of the World Cup series.

Said the Australian, the reigning world champion in the event: "It's always good for the confidence (to beat Hosszu and Franklin) but this is not going to determine what happens next year (at the Olympics).

"Coming over from (Kazan), I put more pressure on myself to come out on top every time I race.

"This is the third meet in the Asian leg, it's starting to take its toll... I'm just happy with the time."

American Franklin, who also swam the 100m freestyle yesterday, was just glad to get some racing under her belt before she returns to her home in Colorado.

The four-time Olympic champion, who said she spent Saturday evening in the gym before hitting the shops, said: "I'm just happy that we got the final session in here. Honestly, we're all just excited to be able to swim tonight.

"I'm staying home after Singapore. It's so much fun travelling but it takes a lot out of you."

Hosszu, meanwhile, made up for her disappointment as she won medals in all five of her races yesterday, including a gold in the 400m individual medley.

The women's 100m freestyle also pitted world champion Bronte Campbell against her sister Cate, who was third in Kazan. Cate clocked 53.09sec to beat Bronte (53.58) and Hosszu (54.23).

South Africa's Olympic champion Cameron van der Burgh won the 100m breaststroke in 59.38, ahead of Singapore-based American Kevin Cordes (1:00.81) and China's Li Xiang (1:01.03 ).

The South African, who was disappointed not to race Cordes in the 50m breaststroke on Saturday, said: "It feels nice that we got to race in Singapore. It's very nice racing against Kevin. He's a tough competitor, I respect him and he pushed me to a very good time."

He and Hosszu had led the men's and women's overall rankings coming to Singapore. It was the fifth stop of the eight-leg World Cup series, as well as the third and final stop of Cluster 2, which includes the Hong Kong and Beijing legs. The series heads to Tokyo next.

Yesterday, the duo were crowned the men's and women's winners of Cluster 2. Each received US$50,000 (S$71,620).

Said van der Burgh: "This part of the season, it's very hard to go (under a minute). We've only just started training. I'm very happy with the time and it's a good base to start. So far the season is going very well, I'm very excited."

Hosszu said: "It's a little disappointing to miss out on yesterday's 200m back, that was the race I was looking forward to most. But (winning the cluster) gives me a lot of confidence and motivation for training ahead of the next cluster."


This article was first published on October 5, 2015.
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