2020 FINA Champions Series – Shenzhen: Day 1 Live Recap


A total of 15 races are on the schedule for the opening day of the FINA Champions Series in Shenzhen, with several of the sport’s top names in action.

Among those competing on Day 1 include Katinka HosszuSun YangVladimir Morozov and Michael Andrew. Hosszu will race the women’s 200 back and 100 fly, Sun will take on Lithuania’s Danas Rapsys in the men’s 200 free, and Morozov and Andrew will clash in the men’s 50 free. Andrew will also take on the 50 fly, 200 IM and the mixed free relay.

Women’s 200 Back

  1. Liu Yaxin, CHN, 2:10.34
  2. Katinka Hosszu, HUN, 2:12.12
  3. Kira Toussaint, NED, 2:12.78
  4. Sydney Pickrem, CAN, 2:13.30

China’s Liu Yaxin brought the home crowd to their feet in the first event of the day, taking over the lead in the women’s 200 back on the second 50 before pulling away to victory by close to two seconds in a time of 2:10.34. Liu currently sits ninth in the world for the 2019-20 season with her 2:09.92 from the Military World Games in October.

2016 Olympic silver medalist in this event Katinka Hosszu erased over a one-second deficit to Kira Toussaint at the 150 to claim second in 2:12.12, producing the top final 50 in the field in 32.99.

Men’s 200 Fly

  1. Tamas Kenderesi, HUN, 1:55.17
  2. Masato Sakai, JPN, 1:56.73
  3. Denys Kesyl, UKR, 1:57.82
  4. Zach Harting, USA, 1:58.86

Hungary’s Tamas Kenderesi dominated the men’s 200 fly from start to finish, out-splitting the field on the first three 50s on his way to winning easily in a time of 1:55.17. The time slots him into third in the world this season, trailing only World gold and silver medalists Kristof Milak and Daiya Seto.

Masato Sakai, who edged out Kenderesi for Olympic silver back in 2016, was a clear second in 1:56.73 to put him seventh in the world, and Ukrainian Denys Kesyl charged home in 30.54 to move past American Zach Harting and take third in 1:57.82.

Women’s 100 Fly

  1. Elena Di Liddo, ITA, 58.37
  2. Jeanette Ottesen, DEN, 58.75
  3. Ranomi Kromowidjojo, NED, 59.99
  4. Katinka Hosszu, HUN, 1:02.32

Elena Di Liddo and Jeanette Ottesen turned dead-even at the 50-metre mark of the women’s 100 fly in 27.33, and then it was Di Liddo who stormed back in 31.04 to claim the win in 58.37, putting her 11th in the world for the season.

The veteran Ottesen posted a very respectable 58.75 for second, and Ranomi Kromowidjojo snuck under the one-minute barrier by the slimmest of margins in 59.99.

Coming off of her 200 back runner-up finish, Katinka Hosszu was a distant fourth in 1:02.32.

Men’s 50 Free

  1. Vladimir Morozov, RUS, 21.70
  2. Kristian Gkolomeev, GRE, 22.03
  3. Michael Andrew, USA, 22.05
  4. Anthony Ervin, USA, 22.91

Current world #1 Vladimir Morozov blasted down the final 15 metres to separate himself from Michael Andrew and Kristian Gkolomeev and win the men’s 50 free in a time of 21.70, two-tenths off of his world-leading 21.50 from the FINA World Cup in October.

The Greek Gkolomeev edged out Andrew for second, 22.03 to 22.05, putting him into a tie for sixth in the world with Andrew (was 22.03 at Berlin World Cup) and Japan’s Shinri Shioura.

Two-time Olympic champion in this event Anthony Ervin was fourth in 22.91. Last year he was faster than that at all three stops (22.90, 22.82, 22.68) — though it’s worth noting those were much later in the year (April and May).

Women’s 200 Breast

  1. Yu Jingyao, CHN, 2:24.64
  2. Ye Shiwen, CHN, 2:26.03
  3. Martina Carraro, ITA, 2:27.59
  4. Sydney Pickrem, CAN, 2:29.36

After a puzzling initial start where the athletes were held for close to 10 seconds and both Chinese swimmers jumped in, the women’s 200 breast eventually got off smoothly with Yu Jingyao opening up a sizeable lead of close to two seconds on the opening 100.

She would hold off fellow Chinese countrymate Ye Shiwen handily for the win in 2:24.64, with Ye making it a 1-2 for the hometown crowd in 2:26.03. Yu sits fifth in the world this season with a 2:23.36, while Ye’s swim slots her into 12th.

Martina Carraro of Italy closed well in 37.40 for third place and a final time of 2:27.59, and Sydney Pickrem was fourth after racing the 200 back earlier.

Men’s 100 Back

  1. Xu Jiayu, CHN, 53.01
  2. Matt Grevers, USA, 53.54
  3. Markus Thormeyer, CAN, 54.54
  4. Jacob Pebley, USA, 55.12

Two-time defending world champion Xu Jiayu won the men’s 100 back on the first 50, opening up over a half-second lead on American Matt Grevers in 25.53 before the two closed with near-identical 27.4 splits coming back. Xu’s final time of 53.01 puts him first in the world for the season, and gives China three wins through the first six events.

Grevers, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in this event, touched second in 53.54 to put him fourth in the world in 2019-20, while Canadian Markus Thormeyer was a full second back of him for third in 54.54.

Women’s 400 Free

  1. Ajna Kesely, HUN, 4:09.05
  2. Boglarka Kapas, HUN, 4:09.64
  3. Anna Egorova, RUS, 4:12.18
  4. Wang Jianjiahe, CHN, 4:14.78

Ajna Kesely held off a late charge from Hungarian teammate Boglarka Kapas to win the women’s 400 free in a time of 4:09.05, ranking her seventh in the world this season. Kapas, the 2019 world champion in the 200 fly, was six-tenths back for second in 4:09.64.

Third and fourth-place finishers Anna Egorova (4:12.18) and Wang Jianjiahe (4:14.78) were both faster in late 2019 than the winning time here — Wang was 4:04.42 at the World Military Games in October, and Egorova clocked 4:08.93 at the FINA World Cup stop in Kazan in November.

Men’s 50 Fly

  1. Nicholas Santos, BRA, 23.28
  2. Andrii Govorov, UKR, 23.30
  3. Oleg Kostin, RUS, 23.42
  4. Michael Andrew, USA, 23.51

Brazilian veteran Nicholas Santos maintains his undefeated streak in the Champions Series with another victory in the men’s 50 fly, posting a time of 23.28 to edge out arguably the most competitive field of four swimmers in any event here on Day 1.

Santos, who is one month away from his 40th birthday, won all three Champions Series stops last year (23.01, 22.60, 22.94).

To win again he beat out world record holder Andrii Govorov, who was .02 back in 23.30, and Oleg Kostin (23.42) and Michael Andrew (23.51), the only two athletes who have gone under 23 seconds this season. Kostin leads the world rankings with his 22.84 from the World Military Games.

This result is particularly encouraging for Govorov, who is coming off of having shoulder surgery at the end of 2019.

Women’s 100 Free

  1. Siobhan Haughey, HKG, 53.47
  2. Femke Heemskerk, NED, 53.83
  3. Michelle Coleman, SWE, 54.04
  4. Ranomi Kromowidjojo, NED, 54.15

Siobhan Haughey opened up a slight lead through 50 metres of the women’s 100 free in 25.69, the only one of the four sub-26, and held strong on the back half to win in a time of 53.47, just off of her Hong Kong National Record of 53.32.

Haughey, who previously sat eighth in the world with a 53.87 from December, jumps up one spot into seventh.

Femke Heemskerk of the Netherlands joined Haughey under 54 seconds in 53.83, while Michelle Coleman (54.04) and Ranomi Kromowidjojo (54.15) were close behind for third and fourth. Heemskerk currently ranks fourth in the world with her 53.23 from the Swim Cup Amsterdam in December, while Coleman (53.04) is second and Kromowidjojo (53.33) is fifth.

Every swimmer who’s had a double has placed fourth in their second event thus far.

Men’s 200 IM

  1. Wang Shun, CHN, 1:57.76
  2. Michael Andrew, USA, 2:01.78
  3. Josh Prenot, USA, 2:01.89
  4. Jacob Pebley, USA, 2:02.69

After turning close to even with Michael Andrew after the fly, China’s Wang Shun absolutely demolished the field the rest of the way in the men’s 200 IM, finishing things off with a scorching 27.84 freestyle split for a final time of 1:57.76.

Wang, the bronze medalist in this event at the 2015 Worlds, 2016 Olympics and 2017 Worlds, currently ranks second in the world with a 1:56.25 from the Military World Games.

Andrew was pursued by American countryman Josh Prenot on the breaststroke, but Andrew managed to hold him off down the final few strokes of freestyle, taking second in 2:01.78 to Prenot’s 2:01.89.

Women’s 50 Breast

  1. Martina Carraro, ITA, 30.38
  2. Molly Hannis, USA, 30.49
  3. Alia Atkinson, JAM, 30.63
  4. Ida Hulkko, FIN, 30.83

Despite being the lone woman in the 50 breast who raced the 200 earlier, Martina Carraro pulled out the win in a time of 30.38, putting her first in the world rankings. The Italian was also just 0.15 off her PB of 30.23 from the 2019 World Championship.s

American Molly Hannis was a close second in 30.49, and Alia Atkinson was third in 30.63 — all three faster than the previous world #1 time of 30.68 from Brazil’s Jhennifer Conceicao.

Finland’s Ida Hulkko, who sat third in the world coming in with a 30.82, was fourth in 30.83.

Men’s 100 Breast

  1. Arno Kamminga, NED, 58.61
  2. Yan Zibei, CHN, 59.02
  3. Dmitriy Balandin, KAZ, 1:00.55
  4. Ilya Shymanovich, BLR, 1:00.64

Arno Kamminga was shot out of a cannon down the stretch of the men’s 100 breast, as he roared home with a blistering back-50 split of 30.54 to run down early leader Yan Zibei and win in a time of 58.61.

Kamminga not only improves his #1 time in the world, he also breaks his own Dutch Record of 58.65 set at the Swim Cup Amsterdam in December. Despite only improving by .04, he moves up from ninth to sixth on the all-time rankings in the event. The 24-year-old was sat third, over half a second back of Yan, in 28.07 at the halfway mark.

Yan finished four-tenths back for second in 59.02, moving him up one spot for third in the world this season.

Reigning 200 breast Olympic champ Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan edged Belarusian Ilya Shymanovich for third in 1:00.55.

Women’s 50 Back

  1. Liu Xiang, CHN, 27.36
  2. Kira Toussaint, NED, 28.07
  3. Caroline Pilhatsch, AUT, 28.19
  4. Michelle Coleman, SWE, 29.13

World record holder Liu Xiang ran away with a decisive win in the women’s 50 back, clocking a time of 27.36 to overtake Kira Toussaint‘s 27.49 for the top time in the world this season. Liu became the first woman sub-27 at the 2018 Asian Games in 26.98.

Toussaint touched second in 28.07, followed by Austrian Caroline Pilhatsch (28.19). Pilhatsch wasn’t far off her PB of 27.77.

Men’s 200 Free

  1. Danas Rapsys, LTU, 1:46.50
  2. Sun Yang, CHN, 1:46.53
  3. Dominik Kozma, HUN, 1:49.50
  4. Markus Thormeyer, CAN, 1:50.72

In perhaps the most anticipated clash of the session, Danas Rapsys versus Sun Yang Part I did not disappoint as the two battled neck-and-neck all the way to the final touch.

Turning relatively even at the 100, Sun opened up close to a half-second lead at the 150 with a third 50 of 27.06, but, as he’s become known to do, Rapsys charged home and it came down to who hit the finish perfectly.

It was the Lithuanian, who had a final split of 26.19, who claimed victory in 1:46.50, edging Sun by just .03. Sun came back in 26.71 for a final time of 1:46.53.

Rapsys currently ranks first in the world with his 1:45.50 from the World Cup stop in Doha in November, while Sun’s swim here ranks him third.

Hungarian Dominik Kozma was a distant third in 1:49.50, with Canadian Markus Thormeyer another second-plus back in fourth.

Mixed 4×100 Free Relay

  1. Team Pebley (Pebley, Govorov, Kromowidjojo, Haughey), 3:28.40
  2. Team Kenderesi (Kenderesi, Harting, Heemskerk, Chimrova), 3:31.48
  3. Team Andrew (Andrew, Timmers, Pickrem, Wang), 3:33.55
  4. Team Kostin (Kostin, Xu, Fu, Kapas), 3:35.29

Sitting second after a pair of 50-point legs from Jacob Pebley and Andrii GovorovRanomi Kromowidjojo (53.47) and Siobhan Haughey (53.74) produced the second and third-fastest female splits in the field to give “Team Pebley” a decisive win in the mixed 400 free relay.

They recorded a time of 3:28.40, over three seconds clear of runners-up “Team Kenderesi”. Highlighting that squad was Femke Heemskerk, who blasted the top female split of the day in 52.97.

Michael Andrew had the fastest lead-off split of 50.57 as his team ended up third, while Xu Jiayu had the fastest male split of 49.17 for “Team Kostin” which took fourth.

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3 years ago

is this event long course? if so, that’s a super hot time for Kamminga in 100m breast

Reply to  Verram
3 years ago

It is.

3 years ago

What’s this like to watch? I can’t imagine a four-person race having that much atmosphere, but I haven’t been able to see any of the coverage so may well be wrong. How does is shape up compared to the ISL?

Reply to  Swimmer
3 years ago

I have the same question and wonder whether the stand was full. There were so little info on who is swimming until like a week or so before the event (on weekdays), got to be hard to get people in there to watch…
Speaking of that, I did not pay attention to how people get tickets to these events and how much ticket cost.
Is FINA intended this to be a FINA TV event? I mean until I saw Michael Andrew posted that NBC Sports would broadcast live, it seems that FINA TV is the only way to watch. And I did not watch the meet at all due to time of event.

Reply to  spectatorn
3 years ago

Crowd looked pretty full althought it was hard to get a look at all the stands.
comment image

Reply to  Troyy
3 years ago

wow, the stand does seem packed.

I follow the meet info link to FINA website but couldn’t locate where and how to get tickets… maybe tickets for the event are also invitation only?! LOL

Reply to  spectatorn
3 years ago

International sporting events in China are always sold out in my experience.


When the world is watching, the Chinese show up. Be that a cultural thing, a sheer numbers game, or some more nefarious program, I don’t know enough about.

remel can do anything
Reply to  spectatorn
3 years ago

180rmb-880rmb for one day ticket, a little bit expensive in my opinion.

Reply to  spectatorn
3 years ago

It is possible to watch it live through “Marca Claro Sport” YouTube’s channel. They livestream and post full sessions from plenty of meets(Mare Nostrum, ISL, this FINA series, World Cups, World champs, etc). It’s in spanish.

Reply to  Swimmer
3 years ago

ISL is far superior from a spectator perspective. This series seems like it was designed to throw money at disgruntled swimmers rather than with spectators in mind.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Troyy
3 years ago

hear, hear! Quite so!

Reply to  Troyy
3 years ago

haha, not sure those showed up are the “disgruntled” swimmers but they definitely made the most out of the invitation to compete and got pay well for it.

It could be a very cool event still… but probably hard to do in January of an Olympic year, with very little promotion from FINA. I was only aware of the meet from SwimSwam’s article listed out international meets in January. I went to FINA website but the only PR stuff was from June.

Reply to  Troyy
3 years ago

I agree totally but is ISL any better?

Reply to  Superfan
3 years ago

Seems the only thing FINA learned from ISL is that time does not matter. The results now do not show FINA points, so every time looks excellent. The winning idea of ISL was IMHO the team competition, so every race and every swimmer counted, the second swimmers of the teams were just as important as the first ones.

3 years ago

Is Anthony Ervin training seriously?

Reply to  lol
3 years ago

at Michigan

Reply to  lol
3 years ago

Never count him out, as Manaudou says

HRH Prince Harry, Duke of Markle
3 years ago

My man Rapsys! Excellent victory and excellent time (for January).

3 years ago

What’s happened to Wang Jianjiahe? Is she sick? Or we are witnessing same story again as in case of Li Bingjie? : 15 years old, breaking multiple national records in long range of events, got named the major contender of Ledecky or female Sun Yang and then abruptly losing ability to compete at World class level?

Lane 8
Reply to  Yozhik
3 years ago

I think everyone is in hard training, but I’m not sure.

remel can do anything
Reply to  Yozhik
3 years ago

i think it’s coach problem.

Casas 100 back gold in Tokyo
Reply to  Yozhik
3 years ago

I’m surprised you didn’t ask what happened to Hosszu with that 2:12 2bk and 1:02 1fly.

Reply to  Casas 100 back gold in Tokyo
3 years ago

Actually there is nobody to ask about it at this forum. Maybe she wants to be conservative today to have some energy saved to finish tomorrow’s 4(four) races. Who knows. Can you be of some help?
What isn’t surprising to see the picture of a swimmer who finishes fourth and second today as she was a feature presentation of today’s session. Not Kaminga, not Rapsis, not Houghey, not her compatriot Keseley who all won their races today.
Same thing when there was an article about earning at Champion Series last year. Not picture of Sjostrom who earned most but the picture of beloved by the army of Swimswam’s readers LSI. I’m not surprised by Swimswam. What else can… Read more »

3 years ago

No sub-50 100 free for Michael Andrew.

Reply to  Troyy
3 years ago

After a 50 free, 50 fly, 200 im, with a pb of 49? How shocking!

Reply to  Troyy
3 years ago

Big schedule for MA, I say the kids winning the pro swimmer game

3 years ago

🙌 Rapsys scrapes the win even if not in the most exciting time.

Reply to  Troyy
3 years ago

Not exciting times at all so far… Maybe that’s what you get for sending everybody to China in the middle of January, not sure I agree with the timing of this meet

Casas 100 back gold in Tokyo
Reply to  Olympian
3 years ago

58.6 100 breast is not exciting? Enough to medal at last year’s Worlds.

Reply to  Casas 100 back gold in Tokyo
3 years ago

Yes, that is exciting. Other events? Not so much.

I also liked Haughey’s 100.

Reply to  Casas 100 back gold in Tokyo
3 years ago

I mean… that’s an event that everybody is just fighting for the silver, but I see your point.

3 years ago

Kamminga seems to be swimming sub 59 as a matter of course these days. New PB: 58.61

Reply to  Troyy
3 years ago

Name well and truly in the hat for Tokyo medals.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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