2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships: Day 1 Finals Live Recap


The first prelims session of the 2019 FINA World Championships simultaneously met the expectations of swim fans and provided a couple of surprises to pique our interests for the racing yet to come. In tonight’s day 1 finals session, we’ll see medals awarded to the top 3 finishers in the women’s and men’s 400 freestyles, and the women’s and men’s 4 x 100 freestyle relays.

First, Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu blasted a 2:07.02 in the prelims of the 200 IM, the 7th-fastest performance all-time. Sun Yang took the top seed in the men’s 400 freestyle, barely ahead of young Lithuanian Danas Rapsys. Australians Mack Horton and Jack McLoughlin, as well as American Zane Grothe and Italian Gabriele Detti ought to make tonight’s final thrilling to watch.

The women’s 400 free, meanwhile, should be all Katie Ledecky, though the emergence of Australia’s Ariarne Titmus has made it truly a race for bronze, as Ledecky and Titmus are the huge favorites for gold and silver, in that order. American Leah Smith, Hungarian Anja Kesely, and China’s Wang Jianjiahe have all been consistent since 2018 and will make the final very interesting.

Adam Peaty hasn’t hit his 56-second 100 breast (flat start) yet, but after producing a 57.59 to scare his World Championships record in the race, his 57.10 World Record could be the first World Record of the meet to fall.

Sarah Sjostrom leads the women’s 100 butterfly semifinals, and it’s a race to see who else can get sub-57 and make the top 8. Australia’s Emma McKeon and American Kelsi Dahlia will vie to defend their medals from the 2017 World Championships, and Dahlia, after winning gold at the 2018 Short Course World Championships in December, could be a threat to McKeon.

The men’s 50 butterfly semifinals are led by World Record holder Andrii Govorov and American sprint hero Caeleb Dressel, who, from separate heats, tied for the top seed in 22.84 in prelims. Russia’s Oleg Kostin and American Michael Andrew, as well as 2017 World Champion Ben Proud, will do their best to make it an interesting race, and are all major contenders for a berth in the finals.

Day 1 will cap off with the finals of the women’s and men’s 4 x 100 freestyle relays. The Australian women are the favorites to win the gold, despite the unexpected absence of Shayna Jack. Though the Americans will give them some grief with an ‘A’ team capable of multiple 52s, including the 2017 World Champion and 2016 Olympic Champion Simone Manuel. The American men, meanwhile, are the tentative favorites in their race, though the Brazilians and Australians are chomping at the bit to stand on top of the podium. Depending on the relay orders, this event could serve as a preview to the highly-anticipated showdown between Caeleb Dressel and Australia’s Kyle Chalmers, the 2016 Olympic Champion in the 100 freestyle.


  • World Record: Paul Biedermann (Germany), 2009, 3:40.07
  • World Junior Record: Mack Horton (Australia), 2014, 3:44.60
  • World Championship Record: Paul Biedermann (Germany), 2009, 3:40.07

Danas Rapsys of Lithuania took the early lead, flipping half-a-second under World Record pace at 50 meters. By 100, Australia’s Jack McLoughlin had taken the lead, himself half-a-second under World Record pace. By 150, McLoughlin was exactly on Record pace, though China’s Sun Yang overtook the field at 200 the meters turn.

McLoughlin rode close to the lane line, staying near Sun through the 250 meter turn, but by 300, Sun had pulled ahead by half-a-body length. Sun stayed ahead through the 350 meter turn and overcame a huge underwater from Rapsys to extend his lead all the way to the final touch.

Australia’s Mack Horton surged with a huge final 50 of 26.61–exactly the same time as Italy’s Gabriele Detti–to take silver in 3:43.17. Detti claimed bronze in 3:43.23, knocking Rapsys down to 4th in 3:43.50.

Italy’s Marco de Tullio finished 5th in 3:44.86, while Australia’s Jack McLoughlin faded to 6th in 3:45.19. China’s Ji Xinjie took 7th in 3:45.64, and American Zane Grothe finished 8th in 3:45.78.

Top 3 Finishers

  1. Sun Yang, China, 3:42.44
  2. Mack Horton, Australia, 3:43.17
  3. Gabriele Detti, Italy, 3:43.23


France’s Marie Wattel surged down the final 25 meters to out-touch Australia’s Emma McKeon in the first semifinal of the women’s 100 fly, touching 57.00. McKeon touched 2nd in 57.02, just ahead of fellow Aussie 57.02. Italian Elena di Liddo lowered her hours-old National Record with a 57.04. Team USA’s Katie McLaughlin finished 5th in 57.23.

Sarah Sjostrom took the race out in what appeared a relaxed 26.12, just .11 over World Record pace, ultimately finishing in 56.29. Canadian Maggie MacNeil scared Penny Oleksiak‘s national record to finish with a 56.52, while Kelsi Dahlia managed a 3rd-place finish in 57.06, good for 7th overall.

Top 8 Qualifiers

  1. Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden, 56.29
  2. Maggie MacNeil, Canada, 56.52
  3. Marie Wattel, France, 57.00
  4. Emma McKeon, Australia, 57.01
  5. Brianna Throssell, Australia, 57.02
  6. Elena di Liddo, Italy, 57.04
  7. Kelsi Dahlia, United States, 57.06
  8. Louise Hansson, Sweden, 57.10


  • World Record: Andrii Govorov (Ukraine), 2018, 22.27
  • World Junior Record: Michael Andrew (United States), 2017, 23.22
  • World Championship Record: Milorad Cavic (Serbia), 2009, 22.67

Andrii Govorov dominated the first semifinal of the men’s 50 fly, touching in 22.80. Hungary’s Szebasztian Szabo finished 2nd in the heat in 23.09.

Though Caeleb Dressel was fastest off the blocks, Brazil’s Nicholas Santos appeared to have the lead until about the final 10 meters when Dressel overtook the field to touch first in a new American and Championship Record time of 22.57. Santos finished 2nd in 22.77, just ahead of Govorov from the first heat.

Dressel’s swim is significant also in that it takes down the 2009 suited championship record set by Milorad Cavic of Serbia.

Michael Andrew qualified for his first-ever long course World Championships final with a 22.95, good for 5th overall, just behind Russia’s Oleg Kostin who goes into the final in 4th in 22.88.

Top 8 Qualifiers

  1. Caeleb Dressel, United States, 22.57 — Championship Record, American Record
  2. Nicholas Santos, Brazil, 22.77
  3. Andrii Govorov, Ukraine, 22.80
  4. Oleg Kostin, Russia, 22.88
  5. Michael Andrew, United States, 22.95
  6. Szebasztian Szabo, Hungary, 23.09
  7. Ben Proud, Great Britain, 23.14
  8. Andrey Zhilkin, Russia, 23.21


  • World Record: Katie Ledecky (United States), 2016, 3:56.46
  • World Junior Record: Katie Ledecky (United States), 2017, 3:58.34
  • World Championship Record: Katie Ledecky (United States), 2014, 3:58.37

The final standing of the women’s 400 freestyle might turn out to be the biggest upset of the entire meet.

Ariarne Titmus took the race out aggressively, leading through the first 150 meters. Katie Ledecky made up ground over the next 50 meters to pull even with Titmus. By 250 meters, Ledecky had established a sizable lead.

Ledecky led from for the next 100 meters, but Titmus overtook Ledecky with a huge charge over the last 50 meters to win in 3:58.76. American Leah Smith finished 3rd in 4:01.29, about 6/10ths off her best time from 2016. Smith barely out-touched Hungary’s Anja Kesely who settles for 4th in 4:01.31.

China’s Wang Jianjiahe took 5th in 4:03.67, while Boglarka Kapas of Hungary took 6th in 4:05.36. Russian teammates Anna Egorova (4:06.16) and Veronika Andrusenko (4:08.60) rounded out the field in 7th and 8th.

Top 3 Finishers

  1. Ariarne Titmus, Australia, 3:58.97 — Oceanic Record, Australian Record
  2. Katie Ledecky, United States, 3:59.97
  3. Leah Smith, United States, 4:01.29


Yan Zibei took the first semifinal of the men’s 100 breast in 58.67, while USA’s Andrew Wilson got under 59 for the first time with a 58.95 to take 2nd in the heat. Russia’s Kirill Prigoda touched 3rd in 59.21, just ahead of Australia’s Matthew Wilson, who touched in 59.26. Top seed Ilya Shymanovich faded to 5th in the heat and 59.38, despite a 58.8 in semis.

Adam Peaty took down his own World Record in the 2nd heat, setting the new standard at 56.88, nearly a full 2 seconds ahead of the next fastest qualifier Yan Zibei of China, who won the first semifinal. Britain’s James Wilby took 2nd in the heat behind Peaty in 58.83.

Italian Nicolo Martinenghi was disqualified.

Top 8 Qualifiers

  1. Adam Peaty, Great Britain, 56.88 — WORLD RECORD, Championship Record
  2. Yan Zibei, China, 58.67 — Asian Record, Chinese Record
  3. James Wilby, Great Britain, 58.83
  4. Yasuhiro Koseki, Japan, 58.89
  5. Andrew Wilson, United States, 58.95
  6. Dmitriy Balandin, Kazakhstan, 59.03
  7. Anton Chupkov, Russia, 59.15
  8. Kirill Prigoda, Russia, 59.21


  • World Record: Katinka Hosszu (Hungary), 2015, 2:06.12
  • World Junior Record: Rikako Ikee (Japan), 2017, 2:09.98
  • World Championship Record: Katinka Hosszu (Hungary), 2015, 2:06.12

The crowd threw themselves behind Seoyeong Kim from the start, helping Kim to lead through the first 100 meters. Canada’s Sydney Pickrem overtook the field on the breaststroke and pulled further ahead on the freestyle, finishing in 2:08.83. China’s 2012 Olympic champion in both IMs Ye Shiwen took 2nd in the heat in 2:09.58, while Kim hung on for 3rd in 2:10.21.

Team USA’s Ella Eastin and Switzerland’s Maria Ugolkova tied for 4th in 2:10.72, putting both in a precarious position for the final with one heat remaining. Ultimately, Eastin and Ugolkova tied for 9th.

Katinka Hosszu led heat 2 from start to finish. USA’s Melanie Margalis was only 5th at the 100 meter turn, but produced strong breaststroke and freestyle legs to pull herself into 2nd at the finish. Hosszu’s time of 2:07.12 was just .15 over her prelims time.

2016 Olympic silver medalist Siobhan-Marie O’Connor only finished 5th in the second heat of the women’s 200 IM semifinals, though her time of 2:10.49 was just strong enough to qualify her 8th overall going into tomorrow’s final.

Top 8 Qualifiers

  1. Katinka Hosszu, Hungary, 2:07.17
  2. Sydney Pickrem, Canada, 2:08.83
  3. Melanie Margalis, United States, 2:09.14
  4. Ye Shiwen, China, 2:09.58
  5. Rika Omoto, Japan, 2:09.68
  6. Yui Ohashi, Japan, 2:10.04
  7. Seoyeong Kim, South Korea, 2:10.21
  8. Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, Great Britain, 2:10.49


  • World Record: United States, 2008, 3:08.24
  • World Junior Record: Australia, 2013, 3:16.96
  • World Championship Record: United States, 2009, 3:09.21

Caeleb Dressel led off in a 47.63, handing off to Blake Pieroni who posted a 47.49. Zach Apple hit a huge 46.86 on the third leg to give Nathan Adrian a huge lead going into the final leg. Adrian split a 47.08, just holding off Evgeny Rylov of Russia, who split a 47.02. The American team won gold with a new Championship Record time of 3:09.06, besting the suited record set in Rome in 2009.

Italy’s Santo Condorelli was the fastest on the first 50 meters, flipping in a blazing 22.30, but couldn’t hold on in the final stretch, ultimately touching in 48.72.

The Russian team finished 2nd with a quartet of 47s, but couldn’t quite match the depth of the Americans. The Australians finished 3rd in 3:11.22, thanks to a 47.06 anchor leg from Kyle Chalmers.

The Italians finished 4th in 3:11.39, leaving Great Britain 5th in 3:11.81. Brazil finished 6th in 3:11.99, leaving Hungary in 7th in 3:12.85, and France 8th in 3:13.34.

Top 3 Finishers

  1. United States, 3:09.06 — Championship Record
  2. Russia, 3:09.97
  3. Australia, 3:11.22


  • World Record: Australia, 2018, 3:30.05
  • World Junior Record: Australia, 2015, 3:31.48
  • World Championship Record: Canada, 2017, 3:36.19

Sarah Sjostrom blasted out to the lead in the women’s 4 x 100 free relay, flipping at 50 meters in 25.04 to ultimately finish in 52.23. USA’s Mallory Comerford was close to Sjostrom over the first 50 meters, flipping 25.17 for a 52.98 lead-off leg overall, hitting the wall just behind Australia’s Bronte Campbell (52.85).

American Abbey Weitzeil popped off a 52.66 on the second leg to pull the Americans ahead of the rest of the field, overtaking Sweden’s Michelle Coleman (53.88) and Australia’s Brianna Throssell (53.34). Canada’s Taylor Ruck put up a 52.19, which was followed up by Penny Oleksiak with a 52.69.

The Australians asserted themselves over the final 200 meters, benefiting hugely from a 52.57 from Emma McKeon and a 51.45 from Cate Campbell. Kelsi Dahlia split 53.46 for the Americans, handing off to Simone Manuel who produced a 51.92 to power ahead of Canadian anchor Maggie MacNeil (53.18).

Despite the early lead, the Swedes would finish 6th overall with Coleman swimming the 2nd leg of the relay (53.88) and Louise Hansson (54.33) and Sophie Hansson (55.89) swimming the 3rd and 4th legs of the relay.

Top 3 Finishers

  1. Australia, 3:30.21 — Championship Record
  2. United States, 3:31.02 — American Record
  3. Canada, 3:31.78

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who cares
3 years ago

is there a free livestream for finals?

3 years ago

First time the us had 3 swimmers split under 53 in the same race,hopefully they can break 3:30 before the Aussies don it it next year

Reply to  Swimfan
3 years ago

Ledecky mentioned in an interview she had nothing left after the final turn. It’s easy to question taper and many things but nerves can really affect your legs in a swim. This may have been a more mental issue of appropriately dealing with nerves than a physical training or taper issue. She hasn’t had to race from behind in a 400 in years! Appears she may have tightened up and pushed too hard that 300 hundred. We’ll see how she bounces back for then1500!

Reply to  Swimfan
3 years ago

When would that happen? There aren’t any big long course meets until Tokyo.

Reply to  Swimfan
3 years ago

Hopefully USA ladies will turn the table at the Tokyo Olympic

Philip Johnson
3 years ago

Best comment by ERVINFORTHEWIN?

“The most anticipated relay is coming guys ….are u really Ready Now ? Hope Dressel blow us all”

I’m sorry that had me dying.

3 years ago

I wonder how Ledecky will react if she finishes 5th or 6th in the 200 free? I mean she’s up against Titmus, Sjöström, Ruck, McKeon and Pellegrini, so the scenario isn’t that far-fetched.

Better to just scratch the 200 to focus on 800/1500 + relays?

E Gamble
Reply to  Stefan
3 years ago

Champions bounce back after defeat. They don’t quit. Lmao. Ledecky had a bad swim. The winning time is nowhere near her WR. She was off today. It happens.

3 years ago

ledecky was closest we’ve seen her to WR pace in a while at the 300, and brought it home in 1:02….ouuuch. that’s alarming, but frankly there’s still hope as if her last 100 was just sub-1:00 (which she does at like, state level meets) she’d break the world record…she straight up died the last 50, it wasn’t the whole 400 that was bad- might mean something huge or nothing at all. i hope she’s ok

Reply to  0202oykot
3 years ago

Ledecky had faster split than titmus on the 2nd to last 50 even, it was just the last 50, hope she can keep it together for the 200

Ol’ Gator
3 years ago

Not trying to make excuses for dressel or anything but like it’s just gotta be that suit, the speedo suit is more of a butterfly suit so his butterfly is gonna be good, freestyle won’t be as good as in the Mizuno

Ol’ Gator
Reply to  Ol’ Gator
3 years ago

Keep in mind that this is complete sarcasm and I’m jokingly making more excuses for him even though I love the guy. We shall all just let him swim and not make excuses for him when he goes a time that doesn’t meet our insane expectations

Ol’ Longhorn
Reply to  Ol’ Gator
3 years ago

And they are insane.

Philip Johnson
Reply to  Ol’ Gator
3 years ago

I mean, when it’s all said and done he set the American record in the 50 fly and swam a 47.63 in the same day. Yes, the 100 wasn’t up to “Dressel standards” but it was great nonetheless.

3 years ago

Has anyone seen Peaty swim freestyle? Any chance he could make that his next project and help the British relays?

Philip Johnson
Reply to  Goblue4life
3 years ago

He was originally a freestyler from what I heard. But it was described as “ugly” by a British coach that switched him to breast.

Reply to  Philip Johnson
3 years ago

British coaches see the inner breaststroker in every swimmer they meet haha. Meilutyte rocked up to our shores as a freestyler and was told nope, you’re a breaststroker actually!

Reply to  Goblue4life
3 years ago

I saw a video of him swimming free it was so ugly it might be illegal

Lane 8
3 years ago

Adrian split 47.08. That’s exactly what Dean Farris split on the prelims relay at WUGs.

Ol’ Longhorn
Reply to  Lane 8
3 years ago

I knew Adrian was a living legend, but this…

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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