BELMONTE AND MEDEIROS SHINE IN A 3-GOLD SESSION FOR USA
The fifth final session of the swimming competition at the FINA World Championships in Budapest (HUN) was highlighted by the three titles of USA, but also with the impressive and significant victories of Mireia Belmonte (ESP) and Etiene Medeiros (BRA). The Spanish great managed to confirm her 2016 Olympic title in the women’s 200m butterfly and defeated Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu in front of an ecstatic home crowd, while the Brazilian champion gave the first female swimming gold to her country in the Worlds’ history, by winning the 50m backstroke.
The remaining three finals went to US swimmers, with Chase Kalisz celebrating the eighth consecutive title for the North Americans in the men’s 200m IM, and Caeleb Dressel dominating the men’s 100m free (the US even made the one-two, with Nathan Adrian getting the silver in this event). Finally, in the women’s 4x200m free relay, Katie Ledecky earned her 13th gold at the World Championships, anchoring the US quartet for the victory.
Men’s 200m IM
In the first final of the day, the men’s 200m IM, Chase Kalisz maintained the successful US tradition in the event, getting the gold in 1:55.56. After Phelps’ three titles in 2003, 2005 and 2007, and Lochte’s four crowns in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015, this is the eighth consecutive win for the North Americans in this event. In the history of the World Championships, and for individual races, this is only the second time it happens, after the US supremacy in the men’s 200m backstroke between 1998 and 2013 (also eight titles). Kalisz, perhaps stronger in the 400m IM, where he collected silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics and bronze in Kazan 2015, took the lead in the breaststroke leg and was never in danger until the end. His main challenger was Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, silver medallist in 1:56.01. The Japanese star had been second in this event in 2013 and also got the silver at the Olympics last summer in Brazil. The bronze (1:56.28) went to Wang Shun, from China, also the third best ranked swimmer two years ago in Russia.
Men’s 100m free
The second US title of the day went to Caeleb Dressel in the men’s 100m free. The 21-year-old US star controlled operations throughout the race and touched home in 47.17. It is the first victory in this event for the United States, since the triumph of Anthony Ervin in 2001. Dressel had already two gold medals in Budapest, in the 4x100m free and in the mixed 4x100m medley. At the Rio Olympics, he was sixth in the 100m free. His teammate Nathan Adrian took the silver in 47.87, after being bronze medallist in Kazan 2015. Adrian was also Olympic champion in 2012 and third at the Rio Olympics in this race. The fastest of the semis, France’s Mehdy Metella, earned bronze in 47.89, his best individual ranking in a World Championships – he was gold medallist in the 4x100m free relay in Kazan 2015. Australia’s Cameron McEvoy, second in Russia two years ago, had to content this time with the fourth position, in 47.92.
Women’s 50m back
After being in 2015 the first female swimming medallist (silver) for Brazil at the Worlds, Etiene Medeiros became today the first-ever gold medallist for the South American country, after convincingly winning the 50m back, in 27.14. It is the fourth podium presence for Brazil in Budapest, after three men’s medals (in the 50m fly, 50m breast and 4x100m free). Since the inclusion of this event in the World Championships’ programme in 2001, China had obtained three victories, including the 2015 title by Fu Yuanhui. This time, the Chinese star got the silver, in 27.15, while the bronze (27.23) went to veteran (32 years old) Aliaksandra Herasimenia, from Belarus, who had already medalled (silver) in this event in 2007! Herasimenia is also a 50m free specialist, with the Olympic silver in 2012 and the bronze in Rio, last year.
Women’s 200m fly
In the women’s 200m butterfly, Mireia Belmonte (ESP) managed two extraordinary achievements: firstly, to defeat Katinka Hosszu; secondly, to defeat Katinka Hosszu in Budapest, in front of thousands of Hungarian fans! After the gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Catalonian star earned her first gold at the Worlds, after three silver and one bronze medal. Before the Magyar rendezvous, she had been second in this event in 2013, also silver medallist in the 400m IM in Barcelona, and third in the 200m IM at home. Kazan 2015 was not a successful competition for Belmonte, who had earned already the silver in the 1500m free at the Duna Arena. In the butterfly race, the Spanish champion controlled operations and had Hosszu out of sight (Belmonte swam in lane 3, while the Magyar great was in lane 7), touching home for victory in 2:05.26. Hosszu, winner of the 200m IM, was only bronze medallist (2:06.02) this time, conquering her 11th award at the Worlds. The silver went to Germany’s Franziska Hentke in 2:05.39, her first podium presence at this level, after being fourth in 2015. After three titles (twice for China and once for Japan) for Asian athletes in the last three editions, the best representative of the continent in Budapest was Sehyeon An, from Korea, in fourth (2:06.67).
Women’s 4x200m free relay
And the 13th gold finally arrived for Katie Ledecky, who anchored the winning US 4x200m free relay, in a victory time of 7:43.39. It is the fourth consecutive success for the US team in this event, and the seventh overall in the history of the FINA World Championships. Katie Ledecky is now associated to three of these triumphs, after decisively contributing to her team’s wins in 2013 and 2015. The North Americans were second (behind Russia) after the first 200m, but second-swimmer Mallory Comerford recovered and allowed the US quartet to be in the lead at half-way. Melanie Margalis and Ledecky then successfully concluded the work. The Chinese squad, the fastest of the heats, got the silver in 7:44.96 (they were third in 2015), while the bronze went to Australia in 7:48.51 (slightly worse than their 2013 second place).