Estonia's Kregor Zirk reached the finals of three events at the first leg of the 2022 FINA Swimming World Cup in Berlin this weekend. After coming sixth in both the 400m freestyle on Friday and 200m butterfly on Saturday, Zirk rounded off the weekend with a seventh place finish in the final of the 200m freestyle on Sunday evening.
On Saturday, in a competitive 200m butterfly final, Zirk swam 1 minute 52.45 seconds to take sixth place, just 1.77 seconds slower than the Estonian national record he himself set at last year's Short Course World Championships in Abu Dhabi.
"To be perfectly honest, like this morning I couldn't get the turns to click and I'm really angry with myself," said Zirk after the race, despite having just swum his season's best and the fifth best time of his career. "The level of the final was very high and today I couldn't get the turns to click. But considering the fact that we are only at the beginning of the season, to be so close to my personal best is really good," Zirk said.
The Estonian's former training partner Chad le Clos of South Africa, took first place, completing the distance in 1 minute 49.62 seconds. Switzerland's Noe Ponti came second (1 minute 50.43 seconds) with Kuan-Hung Wang (1 minute 51.04 seconds) of Taiwan in third.
Sunday began well for Zirk, who swam 1 minute 44.98 seconds in his 200m freestyle heat to secure a place in the evening's final.
However, despite posting an even faster time in the final, Zirk could only manage a seventh place finish with 1 minute 44.71 seconds, just 1.74 seconds slower than his own Estonian national record.
"Tactically, it was a better swim than in the morning, but the final push could have been a bit faster," said Zirk. "I still have to work on some details, but overall, the situation is very good and I can now look ahead to the Short Course World Championships."
South Africa's Matthew Sates took first place in 1 minute 40.88 seconds, ahead of Australia's Kyle Chalmers (1 minute 41.09 seconds) and Kieran Smith of the USA (1 minute 42.30 seconds).
Zirk will spend the next three weeks in Estonia, before heading out to Hong Kong for a final training camp ahead of the FINA Short Course World Swimming Championships, which take place in Melbourne Australia in mid-December. Zirk is determined to emerge from the camp in a position to challenge for medals in Melbourne.
"In Hong Kong, we will be training alongside Olympic medalist Siobhan Haughey, who is from there. (It means), we will be able to train in very good conditions, which is important for the World Championships, because it makes no sense to go there just to take part," said Zirk.
Editor: Michael Cole