Tuesday’s finals session at the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain, will begin with the men’s 200 freestyle, which is still a race full of intrigue despite being one of the weaker fields we’ve seen in the event in a while. We’ll also see the wrap-up of both 100 meter backstrokes and two potential World Record watches: Ruta Meilutyte, who already got one in the semi-finals, and the other being the women’s 1500 free, where Katie Ledecky and Lotte Friis looked phenomenal and relaxed en route to 15:49’s in prelims.
Men’s 200 free FINAL
Women’s 100 back FINAL
Men’s 50 breast SEMIFINAL
Women’s 1500 free FINAL
Men’s 100 back FINAL
Women’s 200 free SEMIFINAL
Men’ 200 fly SEMIFINAL
Women’s 100 breast FINAL
Men’s 200 Free – FINALS
Coming into this meet, Bob Bowman had coached either the gold or silver medalist in the 200 free at the last four World Championships.
This year, he coached both the gold and the silver medalist, as France’s Yannick Agnel led this race basically wire-to-wire to win in 1:44.20, and his training partner Conor Dwyer from the United States took silver in 1:45.32.
Both swimmers are recent transfers to Bob Bowman’s program in North Baltimore, but both have been with him for long enough to consider him as having a significant influence on their performances.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Danila Izotov, the world leader coming into the meet, was 3rd in 1:45.59. Ryan Lochte got off to a slow start, sitting 6th after the first 50, and though he made a lot of that ground up going into the 100 meter turn, he just didn’t have the endurance on the last 50 to make any more room.
I wouldn’t call this 1-4 finish order an ‘upset,’ but I certainly doubt that it’s what many would have picked after Agnel’s health issues that initially had him choosing to scratch this event altogether, and then not looking great (1:47.0) through the first two rounds. Dwyer too had already been four-out-of-his-five best times in the last 6 weeks, but knocked almost another full second off of the time that earned him this swim for that silver medal.
Japan’s Kosuke Hagino took 5th in 1:45.94, followed by Great Britain’s Robbie Renwick (1:46.52), Australia’s Cameron McEvoy (1:46.63), and the other Australian Thomas Fraser-Holmes.
Women’s 100 Back – FINALS
This race was extremely competitive at last year’s Olympic Games. This year, it was all the Missy Franklin show. She had no issues on her start, led comfortably at the turn, and then put up the fastest split coming home to take victory in 58.42 – within a tenth of her winning time from last year’s Olympics.
That swim would be the only one of all three rounds that went under 59 seconds, as the runner-up Emily Seebohm from Australia was 2nd in 59.06. She finished the race well, but was unable to get out to her characteristically-fast start, turning four-tenths of a second behind Franklin.
Japan’s Aya Terakawa matched her Olympic bronze with another one here, finishing in 59.23 for 3rd.
American Liz Pelton as 4th in 59.45, which is right around the time she was in the semi-finals. China’s Yuanhui Fu gave herself a good shot at the 50, going out very hard but falling back to 5th overall in 59.61.
Simona Baumrtova from the Czech Republic was 6th in 59.84, Daryna Zevina from the Ukraine was 7th in 1:00.16, and Belinda Hocking from Australia was 8th in 1:00.29.
Men’s 50 Breaststroke – SEMIFINALS
There were no World Record breakers in this 50 breaststroke, as South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh was a touch slower than he went in prelims for the top seed in 26.81.
The rest of the field, however, showed that this event is by no-means a runaway, as Slovenian Damir Dugonjic, a former star in the American yards pool, was a 26.83: .02 seconds behind Can der Burgh at the touch.
There were a lot of swimmers who improved on their preliminary times in this semi-final. That includes Brazil’s Joao Gomes Jr., who was 27.05 for the 3rd seed. He takes the torch in the final from his teammate and defending World Champ Felipe Franca, who was unable to qualify for the team this year.
Australia’s Christian Sprenger, who was very slow off of the blocks, recovered for a 27.10 for the 4th seed; he was the 100 meter champion. The young-gun of the race is Swedish 18-year old Johannes Skagius, who has been crushing national junior and senior records in the breaststrokes for about 18 months now. He swam a 27.16 for the 5th seed, beating his old National Record by half-a-second.
New Zealand’s Glenn Snyders is 6th in 27.22, Italy’s Mattia Pesce was 7th in 27.42, and South Africa’s Giulio Zorzi, a training partner of van der Burgh, was 8th in 27.44.
Among the names left out were American champion Kevin Steel, who was 12th in 27.60; Ireland’s Barry Murphy, who was 14th; Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima, who was 15th; and Finland’s NCAA Division II Champion Eetu Karvonen, who was disqualified swimming in an outside lane.
Women’s 1500 Free – Finals
There are no words to even describe this women’s 1500 freestyle final, and yet there are so many words that we could fill up the site for days with just this race.
American Katie Ledecky and Denmark’s Lotte Friis were locked horn-to-horn for the first 1450 meters of this race, until the 16-year old broke things open with a monstrous final turn that would be incredible for anybody, and especially for a swimmer who is just 16 years old.
They were both out in 8:17’s, which would win medals in the individual 800 free, and came home to gold and silver in 15:36.53 and 15:38.88, respectively. Those are the first and second fastest times in history, and Ledecky broke the old World Record of 15:42.54, held by Kate Ziegler, by 6 seconds.
New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle was the 4th-best time in history, with a 15:44.71 for bronze, but she was already three seconds out-of-the-hunt by the 200 meter mark!
Those three were well clear of the rest of the field; Spain’s Mireia Belmonte-Garcia, who medaled in London in the 800, was 4th in 15:58.83, and China’s Xu Danlu was 5th from an outside lane in 16:00.44.
Chile’s Kristel Kobrich wasn’t able to come close to her prelims time, and wound up 6th in 16:01.94. Hungary’s Boglarka Kapas was 7th in 16:06.89, and the second American Chloe Sutton started off well, and put in the infamous Mission Viejo closing kick, but was too slow in-between, finishing 8th in 16:09.65.
Men’s 100 Backstroke – FINALS
He wasn’t nearly as fast as he was to win gold at the Olympics, but Matt Grevers was still good enough for gold. He was the only man under 53 seconds, taking victory in 52.93. This was a classic, even-paced Grevers swim (he split 25.39/27.54) where he didn’t blow his speed out on the front half nor save it all up for the back half, but put in two outstanding 50’s for the victory.
His American teammate David Plummer took 2nd in 53.12, reversing what we saw at the United States’ World Championship Trials, where Plummer was the winner.
France’s Jeremy Stravius was out very fast, which at the 50 had most of us thinking he was in a position to win, but he ended up fading a bit in the last 15 meters and took bronze in 53.21.
Japan’s Ryosuke Irie was 4th in 53.29, followed by France’s Camille Lacourt in 53.51.
Australia’s Ashley Delaney was 6th in 53.55. That’s a strong swim, as he is the key leg if the Australians hope to win the 400 medley relay – he needs to be within about half-a-second of the American backstroker.
Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, swimming his second final of the day, was 7th in 53.93, and New Zealand’s Gareth Kean was 8th in 54.25.
Women’s 200 Freestyle – SEMIFINALS
Even in-and-among a lot of crazy finals, this women’s 200 freestyle semi-final still managed to carve out some attention, specifically from Italy’s Federica Pellegrini.
After an extremely disappointing Olympics, Pellegrini all-but-dropped the middle distance freestyles for the year. Then, she made a surprise experience back on the start lists, and thus far it was a brilliant decision.
In a swim like the ones we saw from the Pellegrini of old, she put up a 1:55.78 for the top seed in the women’s 200 freestyle, doing it with almost the fastest split on the last 50 meters (29.08 – Vreeland was .03 faster for 8th). She showed a real spark in her last few strokes, especially, and if she were able to do that for the full 200 meters in Wednesday’s final, then she could actually win this thing for the third-straight World Championship.
Swimming in her same heat in the semis was American Missy Franklin in 1:56.05, giving her the 2nd seed and a middle-lane for the final. She, 4th seed Camille Muffat(1:56.28), and 5th seed Sarah Sjostrom (1:56.38) all pushed the pace early in that 2nd seed, before Pellegrini came through to win it.
Also advancing to the final is Spain’s Melanie Costa-Schmid, who is on-fire, with a 1:56.19 for the 3rd overall seed. That crushes Mireia Belmonte’s old Spanish Record by a second-and-a-half.
Out of that first, slower heat behind Schmid came Kylie Palmer in 1:56.53, French teenager Charlotte Bonnet in 1:56.63, and the second American Shannon Vreeland in 1:56.76.
Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, winner of the 200 IM earlier in this meet, just barely missed finals after struggling on he last 50 meters, touching in 1:56.90.
Others to miss out include Dutch swimmer Femke Heemskerk (11th – 1:56.98), Australia’s Bronte Barratt (1:57.18), and Italy’s Alice Mizzau in 1:58.05.
Men’s 200 Fly – SEMIFINALS
With Michael Phelps, winner of 5 of the last 6 World titles in this 200 fly, out of the picture, South Africa’s Olympic Champion Chad le Clos took the drivers seat of the 200 fly after the semi-finals in 1:55.33.
Even were Phelps to have pushed his retirement for one more year, it might not have mattered: there’s three guys with some serious Phelps-slaying pedigree in the middle of the pool for Wednesday’s finals. China’s Wu Peng, who’s been unusually quiet since the Olympics, is the 2nd seed in 1:55.42. You’ll remember that he’s the man who beat Phelps twice in 2011 in the 200 fly to break Phelps’ nine-year unbeaten streak in the event.
Also in the top three is Poland’s Pawel Korzeniowski, the last man other than Phelps to win a World Championships in the 200 fly (he did so in 2005, when Phelps didn’t swim). Korzeniowski swam a 1:55.67 to win heat 2 of these semi-finals.
Behind them is a tie for 4th between China’s Yin Chen and Tyler Clary in matching 1:55.97’s (swimming in the same heat).
Russia’s Nikolay Skvortsov was the 6th seed in 1:56.02, with a bit of a resurgence for the 29-year old. He was the last Russian to final in a World Championship in this event, doing so with a bronze medal all the way back in 2007.
Brazil’s Leonardo de Deus was 7th in 1:56.06, and American Tom Luchsinger was 8th in 1:56.10.
American-trained Joseph Schooling, who swims for Singapore, was a 1:56.27 for 10th. That’s a personal best for him an a new Singapore National Record. Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda, bronze medalist from the Olympics, was 11th to also miss the final, and Serbia’s Velimir Stjepanovic was 13th in 1:56.60. There wasn’t much in the way of ‘bad swims’ in this 200 fly.
Women’s 100 Breaststroke – FINALS
From one 16-year old World Record holder to another, Ruta Meilutyte from Lithuania was unable to break the World Record that she set in the semi-finals, but she did manage to go the second-best time in history with a 1:04.42 to take home her first long course World Championship title.
This gives her a clean-trifecta of holding the Olympic, World long course, and World short course titles simultaneously (though no European title to add to it).
Thus Meilutyte had the same round-by-round pattern here in Barcelona as she did at the Olympics. Specifically, her fastest swim was in the semi-finals, second-fastest was in finals, and slowest was in the prelims.
Russia’s Yulia Efimova re-broke her own Russian National Record with a 1:05.04 for the silver medal, and this time she was actually faster than Meilutyte coming home. Efimova’s swim gives great hopes for her chances in the 200 breaststroke later in the meet, where she’ll contend with Denmark’s Rikke Moeller Pedersen (4th here – 1:05.93) as the big favorites for the title.
The last woman on the medal stand was American Jessica Hardy, the old World Record holder, in 1:05.52. This is the first time she’s made the podium in this 100 breaststroke at an Olympic/long course World Championship meet since taking silver in 2005.
American Breeja Larson was 5th in 1:06.74, followed by Russian 15-year old Viktoriya Solnceva (1:06.81), Spain’s Marina Garcia (1:07.08), and Sweden’s Jennie Johansson (1:07.41).