Russian swimmers on top at home event

The Russian Open Swimming Championships splashed off on Tuesday with 500 athletes from locally and abroad taking part.

The Russian Open Championship, being held in Moscow's Olympic swimming pool, is becoming something of a tradition ahead of major world or European competitions.

This time around, over 500 swimmers from Russia and abroad will be contesting vacant slots for the upcoming European championships in Hungary.

Younger athletes will also try and qualify for the youth games in Singapore, taking place in the summer.

With the 2012 Olympic Games in London getting closer, pundits are hoping Russia will exceed expectations.

With two years to go, the coaching staff are hoping to introduce younger athletes who could shine in England.

The men's 400m freestyle was first on the menu, and the first gold of the day went to Olympic silver medalist Nikita Lobintsev.

He finished in 3 minutes 52.68 seconds, just ahead of his nearest rival Nikolay Bulakhov.

The ladies took to the water after that in the 400-meter individual medley. Yana Martynova from the Russia's republic of Tatarstan was unrivaled in this discipline, easily out-swimming her competition.

While the favorites were more-or-less obvious on the opening day, their results were far from impressive. But there is still plenty of action in the week ahead.