Category Archives: Aquatic Sports

2019 FINA World Championships: DRESSEL ROCKETS 46.96, AUSSIE RELAY BREAKS WR,

DRESSEL ROCKETS 46.96, AUSSIE RELAY BREAKS WR, SETO HUNTS DOWN 200M IM TITLE

On the day of speeding, USA’s Caeleb Dressel became the first man swimming the 100m free under 47sec wearing a textile suit. The Australian 4x200m free relay brought down another shiny World Record from 2009, while fellow Aussie Matthew Wilson equalled the 200m breast WR in the semis. Japan’s Daya Seto, specialist in the 400m IM, claimed the 200m title for the first time in his career, while Hungary’s Boglarka Kapas stunned the field and touched first to keep the 200m fly titles in Hungarian possession here. Another US win came in the women’s 50m back, courtesy of Olivia Smoliga.

Well, if one considered Michael Phelps’s shiny World Record in the 200m fly untouchable, then what about Cesar Cielo’s blast from Rome 2009, 46.91 in a full-body rubber suit which was premium aide for the sprinters? Yesterday Phelps’ mark was gone, while today Caeleb Dressel rocketed to an amazing win in the 100m free and almost chased down the WR, clocking 46.96, just 0.05 shy of the all-time best effort.

Before tonight and considering only times in textile, Aussie Cameron McEvoy’s 47.04 was the closest to the old mark from 2016, now Dressel managed to clock the first 46sec time while retaining his title (France’s Alain Bernard was the other who ever dipped under 47, but also in a supersuit). Dressel’s incredible swim was a great message: sooner than later all 2009 records will go. (One actually fell later, see below.)

Olivia Smoliga soon delivered another gold for the US as she won the backstroke dash in a fine race, out-touching the reigning champion Etiene Medeiros (BRA) 0.11sec.

Japan got its first gold in Gwangju thanks to Daya Seto who staged a thrilling duel with European champion Jeremy Desplanches of Switzerland. The Japanese led from the 100m turn and managed to withstand the pressure from the Swiss while title-holder Chase Kalisz tried to gear up in the second half after having turned 7th but his late surge earned him only the bronze this time.

Based on personal bests and times clocked in the heats and semis, the US duo of Hali Flickinger and Katie Dabot were the absolute favourites, and three more finalists had much better PBs than Boglarka Kapas but the tiny Hungarian cared only racing and in that she bested the entire field. It seemed that the favourites wanted to preserve as much energy as possible against the European champion’s well-known charge in the second 100m but their tactics didn’t work. Though Kapas turned 8th at the halfway mark 2 seconds behind the leaders, she then launched her trademark attack and the leaders couldn’t handle the pressure. Despite achieving much better times even in the heats, Flickinger and Dabot had to settle for the minor spoils while Kapas was all tears while celebrating her first-ever world title. Turning to a flier after Olympic and world bronzes taken as a distance freestyler, the tiny Magyar showed that such transition could work perfectly while joining Kristof Milak as Hungarian winners in the 200m fly events – indeed this is a historical double, never before the same nation managed to win the men and the women 200m fly in the same edition.

SUN, MASSE, XU AND KING ALL RETAIN TITLES
Photo credit: FINA

The women’s 4x200m free relay was another showdown between the title-holder US team and Australia. Katie Ledecky was back to action despite some news that she had finished her campaign here due to illness. She took the lead for her team and built a gap of 0.30sec till halfway but that was melt down to 0.09 sec before the anchor leg. And Emma McKeon took charge over the last lap and brought home the Aussies in a world record time of 7:41.50 to eclipse one of the last female WRs standing from the 2009 shiny era. In fact, the Chinese held the mark since 10 years and that was the only occasion in the last nine editions (since 2003) when not the US team claimed the title. The Aussies halted the Americans run now at eight and clinched this relay’s gold for the first time ever – as well as adding this to their 4x100m free gold.

Beforehand the session already saw an Aussie achieving a World Record, though it was ‘just’ equalling one in the 200m breast semis: Matthew Wilson clocked the same time of Ippei Watanabe (JPN) from 2017, 2:06.67 – but title-holder Anton Chupkov (RUS) was also close (0.16sec away) so a real showdown is due in the final on Friday.

2019 FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: SUN, MASSE, XU AND KING ALL RETAIN TITLES

Four out of five finals staged on Day 3 saw title-defences, three of those were rather convincing as Kyle Masse (CAN) and Xu Jiaju (CHN – top picture) both repeated their 2017 wins in the 100m back just as Lilly King in the 100m breast. Sun Yang’s win in the 200m free came after the disqualification of Danis Rapsys (LTU) who had touched first. Another repetition was in sight in the women’s 1500m free but Katie Ledecky had to halt her quest in Gwangju due to illness – and Simone Quadarella (ITA) sat up on the vacant throne.

The evening session just barely kicked off when high drama unfolded – as it turned out, the crucial moment came right before the first race started. Standing on the starting block, Lithuania’s Danas Rapsys made an incidental move after the “Take your marks” signal which equalled a false start. Rapsys ended up winning the race with a brilliant swim, ahead of Sun Yang (CHN), but soon after he had hit the wall, the ‘DSQ’ mark appeared next to his name. In fact, his faith had long been decided, some 1:45 minutes earlier when he made that wicked move. Sun was declared the winner (thus he made the 200-400m double again after 2017), ahead of Yasuhito Matsumoto (JPN) who earned his nation’s very first medal in this event, while Duncan Scott (GBR) and Martin Malyutin (RUS) shared the bronze.

The next event offered much more calm – a bit sadly, though, as the queen was missing from the race. USA’s Katie Ledecky was battling with illness and she was on the losing side this time – first she withdrew from the 200m free heats in the morning, then she had to take the tough decision to abruptly finish her campaign here. Without her, the 1500m free crown was up for grabs and Simone Quadarella was quick enough to take it. The Italian added the world title to her European crown, she became the 4th best performer of all time and Italy’s second winner in this event – 10 years after Alessia Filippi. It was somewhat stylish that she brought down her predecessor’s NR set in Rome 2009 (15:40.89 – though Ledecky’s best ten times are still better than this). Germany’s Sarah Kohler was a distant second while China’s Wang Jianjiahe grabbed the bronze.

The backstrokers’ show followed, both 100m finals saw thrilling contests. Canada’s Kyle Masse, who won in Budapest with a new WR, turned 4th at the halfway mark but produced an amazing homecoming leg to retain her title. The fight for the minor spoils was absolutely tight, three swimmers hit the wall in a span of 0.11sec, Aussie Minna Atherton just out-touched USA’s Olivia Smoliga and the other Canadian Taylor Ruck. Interestingly, Kathleen Baker, who broke Masse’s WR last August and was silver medallist in 2017, could only finish tied 6th.

The men’s race didn’t bring any less excitements as four were heading towards the wall forming an almost straight line. Title-holder Xu Jiaju of China found the necessary extra gear to touch home first, 0.24sec ahead of Russia’s Evgeny Rylov (who showed his class in the shorter distance as he was king of the 200m in recent years). Tiny margins decided the bronze, three stormed in within 0.05sec, 2015 world champion Mitch Larkin (AUS) was the fastest, ahead of the two US Olympic champs (and the medallists in 2017) Ryan Murphy and Matt Grevers.

SUN, MASSE, XU AND KING ALL RETAIN TITLES
Photo credit: FINA

Another title defence closed the session: USA’s Lilly King led all the way in the 100m breast and won with the only sub-1:05 effort of the field, ahead of Yuliya Efimova (RUS). Martina Carraro came third, claiming Italy’s first ever medal in female breaststroke events at the Worlds.

In the semis, not quite surprisingly, GB’s Adam Peaty got close to his WR in the 50m breast (26.11, just 0.16sec shy). The women’s 200m free promises an outstanding battle in the final as five swimmers already posted 1:55s, Federica Pellegrini (ITA), winner in 2017 was the fastest but Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) also looks for some fine consolation after her 100m fly defeat. The last of this elite circle, 5th placed Yang Junxuan from China set a new Junior World Record (1:55.99). Hungary’s Youth Olympic Champion Kristof Milak sent a strong message to his rivals in the 200m fly by clocking 1:52.96 – this is his third 1:52 effort in two years, while no majors were won with sub-1:53 times since the 2012 London Olympics…

HOSSZU WRITES HISTORY WITH 4TH STRAIGHT 200M IM TITLE AS MCNEIL UPSETS SJOSTROM

Sarah Sjostrom could have been the first female swimmer ever to win four consecutive titles in the same event but the Swedish superstar was upset by Canada’s Margaret McNeil in the 100m fly. Thus, half an hour later it was Katinka Hosszu who achieved this historical feat in the 200m IM. Even more remarkably, on the international stage Hosszu’s unbeaten run stands at 61 races in this event. GB’s Adam Peaty also delivered in the 100m breast, he won this event for the third time, while US rocket Caeleb Dressel clocked the second fastest time ever to win the 50m fly.

In the opening race Adam Peaty swam in the class of his own, only the silver was up for grabs for the others. A bit surprisingly it ended up in a British 1-2 as James Wilby touched the wall behind his compatriot (1.32sec was the gap) and China’s Yan Zibei was a surprise bronze medallist as he cracked the Asian Record (58.63).

In the meantime some were slightly disappointed as Peaty swam his WR in the semis with such ease that he was expected to do it again. Though record-breaking is not a pastime even for the British Lion – he kind of foresaw that a day ago saying that his primary target is the world title, the WR was a bonus (but a good one, earned him an extra $30.000) – so he clocked a solid 57.14, the 4th best ever time in history. Note, the first three times also belong to him and the following seven as well…

Next should have come another golden chapter for Sarah Sjostrom in her pet event, the 100m fly and this win would have marked the 10th anniversary of her first triumph in Rome 2009. The Sweden world record holder aimed for her 5th crown in this event but amazingly she came up short. Though she turned first and was under her WR split but in the second 50m Canada’s 19 year-old Margaret McNeil came from behind (she turned 5th) and gained an amazing 1.2sec on Sjostrom to win the race by 0.39sec, with a new American Record. Just like the 100m breast for Peaty, this event was solely Sjostrom’s territory, only her name appeared on the all-time list of the top ten times – now McNeil’s will also be there, on the 8th place, and this promises a magnificent battle for 2020. After the victory ceremony, the three medallists – the bronze went to Aussie Emma McKeon – offered a moving gesture by sending a message of support to Japanese butterflier Rikako Ikee who is now battling with leukaemia.

This upset opened the way for Katinka Hosszu to write history. Had Sjostrom triumphed in the 100m fly she would have become the first female swimmer ever winning four straight titles in the same event. Instead of her, the Hungarian medley queen took this distinction by adding another title to her magnificent treasury, 8th overall and 4th in a row over 200m IM (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019). She also equalled compatriot Laszlo Cseh’s feat of claiming titles at the Worlds 10 years apart: Cseh got one in 2005 and another one in 2015, while Hosszu’s first gold came in 2009.

HOSSZU WRITES HISTORY WITH 4TH STRAIGHT 200M IM TITLE AS MCNEIL UPSETS SJOSTROM

In fact, there is a more amazing stat for Hosszu in this event. Her very last defeat in the 200m IM dates back to 15 December 2012, when Ye Shiwen beat her at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Istanbul (the Chinese had a comeback here and claimed silver). Since then: Hosszu won. Each event, everywhere. Four long-course world titles, three l/c European titles, three short-course world and three s/c European golds and the Olympic crown in Rio – so at the majors she stands 14/14. Add 44 World Cup races with 44 wins (2013-2018), the three legs of the FINA Champions Swim Series this season, so at FINA and continental meets her winning count stands at 61/61. Incredible as it is.

Man of the meet in 2017, Caeleb Dressel of the US kicked off his 2019 campaign in style, he was a cut above the rest in the 50m fly, his 22.35 is the second fastest time ever. When he amassed seven titles in Budapest he could not win this event, so the goldmine opened earlier than expected. Russia’s Oleg Kostin was a surprise runner-up but it was the bronze medallist who might just as well have been the happiest man on Earth.

Nicholas Santos had not been selected for this championships by his federation as the Brazil veteran did not meet the criteria requiring qualifying times in Olympic events. Even though Santos could break the short-course WR last October in the 50m fly, and clocked fine times in long-course too, he was left out from the team. Learning this, FINA decided to invite him to Gwangju, covered all his expenses – and Santos paid that back with an invaluable performance, worthy of the bronze medal. Aged 39, his feat is truly remarkable.

18th FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2019: TITMUS UPSETS LEDECKY, SUN RETAINS TITLE…

18th FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2019: TITMUS UPSETS LEDECKY, SUN RETAINS TITLE PEATY CRASHES WR

Ariarne Titmus (AUS) stunned Katie Ledecky (USA) to hand the American her first-ever defeat over 400m free at major international events. Sun Yang (CHN) claimed his 4th straight title in the same event among the men. The men’s 4x100m relay crown remained in the possession of the US team while the women’s one was passed back to Australia. The first World Record also fell right on the opening day of the swimming competition: Adam Peaty (GRB) became the first man swimming the 100m breast under 57 seconds.

Ariarne Titmus did what no other woman could in the past: beat Katie Ledecky in a 400m free race. It was a tremendous duel between the two greats, Titmus went out fast and kept leading in the first half of the event but Ledecky seemed to take the upper hand afterwards and turned first to the last lap holding a gap of 0.62sec. Then came something special: Titmus could find an extra gear to stun the American, creating a scene never seen before, that Ledecky is passed in the final leg. It happened, Titmus produced a 29.51 last 50 while Ledecky clocked 31.34 to fall behind by 1.21sec at the end.

photo credit: FINA

Beforehand, the top 10 fastest ever times belonged to Ledecky, Titmus’ latest effort (3:58.76) now sits on the 8th place, kind of showing that the queen was a bit off her best this evening. The race for the bronze was no less exciting as Leah Smith of the US chased Hungarian prodigy Ajna Kesely from the start and managed to out-touch her by 0.02sec at the wall.

Before that, the session kicked off with another gold for Sun Yang who won the 400m free for the fourth time in a row. The podium was the same as two years ago in Budapest, the Chinese managed to beat Mack Horton and Gabriele Detti once more. While the Aussie and the Italian came somewhat faster than in 2017 – and a similar gap separated them: 0.06 here, 0.08 back then –, and Sun was a bit slower (3:41.28 in 2017, 3:42.44 now), still, he bested his rivals with ease.

The men’s 4x100m free relay was a true speed festival, it was amazing to see that the field got a lot faster in two years. While in 2017 seven swimmers clocked 47sec splits, not 19 (!) were in that range. The US quartet won with a new Championship Record (3:09.06), a brilliant feat as they brought down the shiny CR from Rome 2009 and was just 0.82 shy of their 2008 WR. Zach Apple threw in a 46.86 split in the second leg, a big boost for the team which gained 0.91sec on the runners-up Russians and the Aussies came third.

In the women’s relay Australia avenged their defeat in Budapest where the US reached the wall first. It took a thriller to get this outcome: at the halfway mark the US led but Canada took over at 300m while the Aussies turned second pushing the US back to third. Still, it came down to a showdown between Cate Campbell (AUS) and Simone Manuel (USA). Both produced an amazing homecoming leg, Campbell – missing from the show in 2017 – stormed to a truly incredible 51.45 split, Manuel also got inside 52sec but at the end it was a clear win for the women from Down Under. Canada clinched the bronze comfortably ahead of the Netherlands.

Though the title battles were in the spotlight, a couple of outstanding swims channelled a great deal of attention towards the semis as well. Above all, Adam Peaty’s historical 100m breast which saw the first male ever covering this distance inside 57sec. The British Lion roared again, beat his world record from last summer by 0.22 (56.88 is the new mark), a jaw-dropping performance right on the first day.

Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu also showed something special in the 200m IM where she is set to win a 4th straight title. She clocked 2:07.02 in the morning, the fastest heat swim ever and 2:07.17 in the evening, the 7th and 8th fastest time respectively in the all-time ranks. She admittedly eyes her 2015 WR (2:06.12) tomorrow but she might barely get a push from the others as she looked way better than the others.

On the contrary, women of the meet in 2017, Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom was already pushed by Canada’s Margaret Macneil who finished just 0.23sec behind her in the SF – Sjostrom was just 0.23sec better this evening. In the men’s 50m fly five swimmers already got under 23sec, as many as in the final in Budapest, and USA’s Caeleb Dressel was way faster than the winning time in 2017.

18th FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: FLAWLESS 10M FINAL GIVES 12TH GOLD FOR CHINA

A record-high dive worth 114.80! 17 perfect marks! In a showdown between Chinese divers Yang Jian and Yang Hao on the men’s 10m platform final, it was Yang Jian who finally shined as the newly-crowned champion at the 18th FINA World here on Saturday.

China bagged 12 gold, nine silver and one bronze to top the medal table after the diving competition finished, while Australia snatched the remaining gold in mixed 3m springboard.

In the 10m platform, Qiu Bo claimed the world crown on three occasions in 2011, 2013 and 2015, before Tom Daley (GBR) got the gold in 2017.

Daley started high 93.50 points for his 307C in the first round. However, he made errors in the next four dives and had to concede to a seventh final place.

Yang Jian, silver medalist in Budapest, combined consistence and difficulty in all his six divers, winning in 598.65 for his first world title. He dominated the field from the second dive on and never looked back by soaring to 104.40 for his fifth dive, a 207B (Back 3 1/2 somersault pike), including three 10s. He ended up with his trademark combination, a 109B (Forward 4 1/2 somersault pick), worth a massive 114.80 points! The 25-year-old kissed the pool after winning the title.

Yang Hao, 21, synchro platform champion in Budapest, showed six flawless attempts by earning 13 perfect marks despite his lower difficulty compared to Yang Jian. He snatched the silver medal after he withdraw from the mixed 3m springboard with Chang Yani in the afternoon.

Aleksandr Bondar of Russia finished third with 541.05 and 13-year-old Oleksii Sereda of Ukraine was fourth in 490.50.


photo credit: FINA

Mixed 3m springboard synchro

Australians Maddison Keeney/Mattew Carter won the only non-Chinese gold medal at these Championships, dominating the mixed 3m springboard synchro final.

Chinese Yang Hao/Chang Yani withdrew from the event since Yang needed to compete in the men’s 10m platform final.

Maddison Keeney/Matthew Carter, who competed for the first time together, had a flying start in their first dive, but downed to eighth after their second dive, a 301B (Reverse dive pike). Then the new pair came back to fourth after the third round and led the field for the last two dives, winning with a total of 304.86 points.

Francois Imbeau-Dulac/Jennifer Abel of Canada had to content with silver, 0.78 points behind the Aussies. Lou Massenberg/Tina Punzel of Germany finished third in 301/62.

Tom Daley/Grace Reid (GBR), bronze medallists in Budapest, placed fourth in 298.47.

Mixed synchro events were introduced in the world championships programme in 2015. Chinese diver Wang Han snatched two gold medals in a row with different partners. Wang won in Kazan with Yang Hao, and with Li Zheng in Budapest 2017.

THIRD CONSECUTIVE 3M TITLE FOR SHI TINGMAO (CHN) AT 18TH FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Suffering from an injury on her waist, Shi Tingmao proved her reputation as the Queen on the women’s 3m springboard as the two-time Olympic champion romped to take the victory and brought a one-two finish with Wang Han at the 18th FINA World Championships here on Friday.

It was Shi’s third consecutive world title in the event, thus helping China remaining unbeaten in the 3m since 2001. Guo JIngjing swept five gold in a row and the last non-Chinese champion was Yuliya Pakhalina from Russia at the 1998 Perth Worlds.

China so far booked all 11 gold medals on offer in Gwangju.

Shi Tingmao

Very consistent throughout the final, Shi was always smooth on the board and left no chance to the other divers, winning in 391.00 points. The 27-year-old topped each of her dives, except her fourth, a 107B (Forward 3 1/2 somersault pick) – she was second (77.50) behind Maddison Keeney of Australia for the same combination (79.05).

Wang Han received her third silver medal of the event following her second places in 2013 and 2017 Worlds, while Keeney placed third in 367.05.

18th FINA Artistic Swimming World Championships: Kolesnichenko and Romashino Win Russia’s Sixth Gold Medal

Russia, China, Ukraine and Japan were the favourites for the medals in the Free Duet event this evening at the 18th FINA Artistic Swimming World Championships in Gwangju, Korea.

Russia, the reigning World Champion, has won this event every World Championships since the 2007 Melbourne World Championships when the separation of the Duet event into two separate events was first introduced.

For the past four Championships, starting in 2011 in Shanghai, China has finished on the second step of the podium. In Barcelona at the 2013 World Championships, it was the first, and only, time that the Russian pair, Kolesnichenko and Romashino, swam together as a Duet, when they won the gold. Similarly, the Chinese pair, Huang and Sun, only swam together as a pair once, at the 2015 Kazan World Championships, where they won a silver medal. Today it was the first time that the two duets would compete against each other.

Kolesnichenko and Romashina, winners of the Technical Duet in Gwangju, swam a duet called “Spiders”. The title may have been too simple for the level of difficulty displayed in the routine. The pair moved through the water, with leg sequences and arm movements that resembled spiders, who are known to have a seemingly impossible range of mobility.

Wearing shimmery gold bathing suits decorated with a black spider, their flexibility, strength and execution of the routine was impressive.

The score received, 97.5000, which would prove difficult to beat, and Svetlana Kolesnichenko and Svetlana Romashina earned another gold medal, the sixth one for Russia in Gwangju.

Chinese Xuechen Huang and Wenyan Sun, performing their routine “Goddesses of Hope”, appeared fearless and full of confidence, hope and trust in each other and in their performance. Impressive were the final 10 seconds of the routine, in which the pair performed a completely synchronized, yet very fast leg sequence.

Kolesnichenko and Romashino
photo credit: FINA

The score received for their performance, 95.7667, was not good enough for the top spot on the podium, Huang and Sun were awarded the silver medal.

Japan’s Yukiko Inui and Magamu Yoshida, just missing the podium in the Technical Duet event in Gwangju, were first to swim their compelling routine called “Time Leap”.

With great use of the music, the pair demonstrated the awareness of time in relationships. The choreography progressed nicely showing the pair being unaware, becoming frantic and finally connecting with one another. After receiving 93.000 for their performance, Inui and Yoshida could only watch to see if the performance was good enough for the bronze medal.

It was up to the Ukrainian duet, Marta Fiedina and Anastasiya Savchuk to convince the judges with their performance. The pair wore gorgeously decorated suits symbolizing fire and practically made the water sizzle as they as they performed their fast paced “Fire Riders” routine.

Fiedina and Savchuk executed the difficult program spectacularly, receiving 94.1000 points, securing themselves the bronze medal.