With the Opening Ceremony of the 5th FINA World Junior Swimming Championships set to get underway on Tuesday, August 25th, the psych sheets have now been released in anticipation.
As a refresher, the competition runs from August 25th-30th in Singapore, with over 500 swimmers between the ages of 14 and 18 set to compete. The specific age guidelines per gender are as follows:
GIRLS: 14 – 17 years on 31 December 2015 (born 2001, 2000, 1999 and 1998)
BOYS: 15 – 18 years on 31 December 2015 (born 2000, 1999, 1998 and 1997)
Each nation may enter up to two swimmers per individual event and one relay team per event, as long as the athletes achieved the time standards between the qualifying period of May 15, 2014 through August 15, 2015.
Russian powerhouse Arina Openysheva is scheduled to compete in the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle events, where she holds the top seed in both the 100m and 200m distances. Openysheva rocked the inaugural European Games in Baku this past June, finishing up the competition with an incredible 7 medals. Her individual wins came in the 200m and 400m freestyle races, so look for her to charge to the top of the podium on both of those events. Openysheva is also a threat in the 100m sprint as well, however, as she raked in a silver in Baku as runner-up to the Netherlands’ young sprinting sensation Merrit Steenbergen.
Openysheva will certainly have her hands full with Japan’s Rikako Ikee, however, as Ikee holds the 2nd seed in the women’s 100m free just three tenths of a second behind the Russian. Another Japanese swimmer, Sachi Mochida, holds the runner-up seed in the women’s 200m freestyle, with an entry time of 1:58.69 to Openysheva’s 1:58.22. The highest-ranked U.S. swimmers in the women’s 100m freestyle are Stanzi Moseley (55.69) and Lauren Pitzer (55.83), entering in 11th and 12th, with Hannah Cox ranked 4th in the 200m free event with her time of 1:59.29.
Another woman to watch is Turkish standout Viktoria Zeynep Gunes, a force on the breaststroke scene. Gunes holds the top seed in the 200m breaststroke event, and is ranked 2nd in both the 50m and 100m distances. Gunes is also ranked number one in the 200m IM event with her time of 2:11.46.
American Sierra Schmidt comes into Singapore as the top seed across two events, where she leads the incoming field in the 800m freestyle (8:27.54) and 1500m freestyle (16:23.75). Schmidt is also seeded 3rd in the 500m freestyle behind Aussie Tamsin Cook and Openysheva.
Other U.S. swimmers gunning for World Junior titles include Cassidy Bayer and Claire Adams. For her part, Adams ranks highest in the 100m backstroke event, holding the only sub-minute time in the event from her swift 59.58 clocking at U.S. Nationals. Adams is also ready to go in the women’s 50m backstroke, although she comes in as the 12th seed in the event.
The women’s 200m butterfly sees Bayer entering with a time of 2:08.03, a full second ahead of the field. Bayer is also seeded 14th in the 50m freestyle, but comes in as the 2nd seed in the 100m butterfly. Japan’s Rikako Ikee is ranked highest coming into the meet, with her 58.27 mark in the 100m fly.
Great Britain’s Cameron Kurle came away from Baku with studly five medals, including a silver in the men’s 200m freestyle event. Coming into these World Junior Championships, Kurle is the 2nd seeded swimmer in the men’s 400m freestyle, as well as the 200m freestyle event. Topping him in the 400m freestyle entry lists is China’s Yang Jingtong, the only Chinese swimmer to hold a number one seed at the meet.
In the 200m freestyle, Kurle will need to get past incoming number one, Maxime Rooney, the American youngster who amazed swim fans everywhere with his powerful swimming at U.S. Nationals. Rooney holds the top seed in the 200m freestyle by well over a second (1:47.10) and also sits 4th in the rankings in the 100m freestyle (49.36).
Another prime time player to watch in the men’s freestyle events is Kyle Chalmers from Australia. Chalmers actually competed as part of Australia’s 4x100m medley and 4x100m freestyle prelim relays at the 2015 FINA World Championships, so he is coming in with a slight bit of big-time meet experience in his veins. In Singapore, Chalmers will be the one others are looking to beat in both the 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle events, where he holds the top times in 22.33 and 48.69, respectively. In the 200m freestyle, Chalmers will also be a major threat, sitting fourth in the rankings.
The men’s breaststroke events will hold some of the fiercest battles of the meet, with Russian Anton Chupkov trying to hold off Americans Michael Andrew and Reece Whitley. In the 100m breaststroke race, Chupkov holds the advantage over Andrew by just .03 of a second, 1:00.65 to 1:00.68. EAch will no doubt be aiming for a new World Junior record as they try to get to the wall first. Whitley, ranked 4th with is time of 1:01.06, could also throw down a mega swim to challenge for gold.
Chupkov holds the top seed in the 200m breaststroke as well, holding over a second advantage over Whitely in that event. 9th-seeded American Chandler Bray will also fight to be in the mix to get his name on the board. And then Chupkov and Andrew will battle again in the 50m sprint breaststroke, although Lithuania’s Andrius Sidlausakas holds the top spot coming into the meet, where Chupkov is ranked 4th to Andrew’s 9th position coming in to the meet.
Overall, Michael Andrew will be swimming a stacked individual schedule, which includes a whopping eight individual events. We will see Andrew on the blocks in the 50m/100m backstroke, 50m/100m breaststroke, 50m/100m butterfly, as well as the 200m IM and 50m freestyle events….plus relays.