2023 European Junior Championships: Day 4 Finals Live Recap


Day four of the 2023 European Junior Championships in Belgrade is set to be underway shortly. Unlike last night’s finals session, which was heavy on semifinals, tonight’s session features eight finals and just two semifinals. There will be finals of the boys 100 fly, boys 200 breast, boys 50 free, girls 200 breast, boys 200 back, girls 200 back, boys 400 IM, and the mixed 4×100 medley relay. Meanwhile, semifinals of the girls 100 free and girls 200 fly will also take place tonight.

The boys 400 IM is set to be a great race tonight, after Ukraine’s Oleksii Hrabarov and Italy’s Emanuele Potenza led the way in 4:24.35 and 4:24.40 respectively in prelims this morning.

Another Ukrainian, Oleksandr Zheltyakov, will be competing in the boys 200 back final tonight. Zheltyakov was absolutely on fire in the event yesterday, roaring to a new Ukrainian Record of 1:56.49 in semifinals last night. He led the field by nearly two seconds, setting himself up well for the gold medal tonight. Keep a close eye on this race, since Zheltyakov also has a shot at the Championship Record of 1:55.83, which is currently held by Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov.

Denmark’s Casper Puggaard led the semifinals of the boys 100 fly by a sizeable margin last night, swimming a 52.70. He was the fastest last night by a bit over a half-second, giving him the edge coming into tonight’s final.


  • World Junior Record: 50.62, Kristof Milak (2017)
  • European Junior Record: 50.62, Kristof Milak (2017)
  • European Record: 49.68, Kristof Milak (2021)
  • Championship Record: 51.35, Egor Kuimov (2017)
  • 2022 European Junior Champion: Dnaiel Gracik (Czech Republic), 52.69


In a repeat of last night’s semifinal, Denmark’s Caspar Puggaard, Austria’s Lukas Edl, and France’s Ethan Dumesnil were the top three swimmers, each clocking a similar time to last night. Puggaard won gold tonight in 52.67, chipping 0.03 seconds off his semis time of 52.70. His performance comes in just under the 52.69 Daniel Gracik swam to win gold in the event last year. Puggaard earned silver in this event last year, finishing behind Gracik with a 53.05.

Edl earned the silver tonight in 53.37, touching just 0.01 seconds off the 53.36 he swam in semifinals last night. Meanwhile, Dumesnil swam a 53.68 for bronze, finishing just off the 53.54 he swam last night. Of note, Dumesnil won the bronze medal in this event last year as well.


  • World Junior Record: 52.70, Penelope Oleksiak (2016)
  • European Junior Record: Freya Anderson (2018)
  • European Record: 51.71, Sarah Sjostrom (2017)
  • Championship Record: 53.97, Marrit Steenbergen (2015)
  • 2022 European Junior Champion: Nikolett Padar (Hungary), 54.69


  1. Dora Molnar (Hungary) – 55.91
  2. Rebecca Diaconescu (Romania) – 55.94 (TIE)
  3. Julianna Bocska (Germany) – 55.94 (TIE)
  4. Smilte Plytnykaite (Lithuania) – 55.97 (TIE)
  5. Nikolett Padar (Hungary) – 55.97 (TIE)
  6. Sara Curtis (Italy) – 55.98
  7. Marina Cacciapuoti (Italy) – 56.13
  8. Albane Cachot (France) – 56.15

The girls 100 free continues to be an incredibly tight race through the semifinals. First through eighth was separated by just 0.24 seconds tonight. Hungarian Dora Molnar led the way tonight, swimming a 55.91.

After posting the top time in prelims this morning, Italy’s Marina Cacciapuoti had a close call tonight, swimming a 56.13 for seventh place. She was just 0.04 seconds away from not making it back for the final.

The dynamic of tomorrow night’s final will be fascinating. Molnar is an excellent 100 freestyler and she’s been under 56 seconds twice already today. Meanwhile, Sara Curtis, the 50 free champion from last night, will be towards the outside of the final, but certainly has the speed to make things very interesting. Then, there’s Hungarian Nikolett Padar, who is the defending champion in this event, having swum a 54.69 for gold last year. Padar was the champion in the 200 free earlier in the meet, so her 55.97 in this event tonight is intriguing. Given how fast she swam in the 200 free a few days ago, we should expect Padar has a much faster swim in her.


  • World Junior Record: 2:08.83, Zhihao Dong (2023)
  • European Junior Record: 2:09.64
  • European Record: 2:06.12, Anton Chupkov (2019)
  • Championship Record: 2:10.69, Anton Chupkov (2015)
  • 2022 European Junior Champion: Lucien Vergnes (France), 2:13.02


The Netherlands showed up and showed out in the final of the boys 200 breast tonight, posting their best finish of these championships so far. Dutch teammates Steijn Louter and Collin Van Der Hoff went 1-2 tonight, with Louter earning the gold in 2:14.11 and Van Der Hoff the silver in 2:15.39. Of note, it was a bit of a down year in this event, as Louter’s winning time wouldn’t have earned a medal at last year’s championships.

Nonetheless, Louter swam a wonderful race, going 1:04.04 on the first 100m, then coming home in 1:08.07.. He got his hands on the wall first by over a second, putting a stamp on the victory.

Germany grabbed a medal as well, seeing Emilian Hollank clock a 2:15.98 for bonze.


  • World Junior Record: 2:04.70, Summer McIntosh (2023)
  • European Junior Record: 2:06.71
  • European Record: 2:04.27, Katinka Hosszu (2009)
  • Championship Record: 2:08.41, Anastasia Markova (2021)
  • 2022 European Junior Champion: Lana Pudar (Bosnia and Hezegovina), 2:08.92


  1. Lana Pudar (Bosnia-Herzegovina) – 2:09.58
  2. Alna Baievych (Germany) – 2:10.98
  3. Laura Cabanes Garzas (Spain) – 2:11.44
  4. Tabatha Avetand (France) – 2:12.50
  5. Paola Borrelli (Italy) – 2:12.54
  6. Glenda Abonyi-Toth (Hungary) – 2:12.64
  7. Mehlika Kuzeh Yalcin (Turkey) – 2:13.25
  8. Vivien Jackl (Hungary) – 2:13.45

In a very similar performance to this morning, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Lana Pudar led semifinals of the girls 200 fly with a 2:09.58. After winning gold in the girls 100 fly last night in a blistering national record performance of 56.95, Pudar is poised for gold again tomorrow night in this event.

Though her overall time was almost identical to her time from prelims this morning, Pudar actually swam a very different race tonight. She was out in 1:02.88 on the first 100m, which was over a second slower than she took her prelims swim out. Pudar, of course, came home faster tonight, posting a very speedy 31.80 on the final 50.

Germany’s Alina Baievych, just 14 years old, came in second tonight with a 2:10.98.

Hungary managed to put two more people into the final tomorrow night. Glenda Abonyi-Toth was sixth this evening, while Vivien Jackl came in eighth with a 2:13.45.


  • World Junior Record: 21.75, Michael Andrew (2017)
  • European Junior Record: 21.83, Artem Selin (2019)
  • European Record: 20.94, Frederick Bousquet (2009)
  • Championship Record: 21.83, Artem Selin (2019)
  • 2022 European Junior Champion: David Popovici (Romania), 22.16


In a show of force by Italy, Lorenzo Ballarati won the gold medal in the boys 50 free final tonight. Teammate Davide Passafaro earned a medal as well, swimming a 22.81 for bronze. None of the medalists from tonight medaled in this event last year. In fact, like the boys 200 breast just a short while ago, the event was a touch slower this year than last. Ballarti’s time tonight would have only been good for bronze last year, though he was just 0.01 seconds off what it took for silver last summer.

Poland’s Szymon Misiak came in second tonight, winning the silver medal with a 22.75.


  • World Junior Record: 2:19.64, Viktoria Gunes (2015)
  • European Junior Record: 2:19.64, Viktoria Gunes (2015)
  • European Record: 2:17.55, Evgeniia Chikunova (2023)
  • Championship Record: 2:21.07, Evgeniia Chikunova (2019)
  • 2022 European Junior Champion: Eneli Jefimova (Estonia), 2:26.85


In a thrilling race, France’s Justine Delmas was able to deny Estonian rising star Eneli Jefimova from completed a sweep of the girls breaststroke events, as she did last year. Delmas and Jefimova were out nearly identically on the first 50m, then Delmas steadily gained ground on the defending champion over the second and third 50s. Jefimova was closing on the final 50, however, it was too little too late, and Delmas managed to hang on for the win.

The drama wasn’t over there, however, as Sweden’s Olivia Klint Ipsa tied with Jefimova for the silver medal tonight. Klint Ipsa was out the fastest, swimming a very quick 32.82 on the first 50. She held her lead through the 150m mark, hitting the final turn in 1:47.28, which was over half-a-second ahead of Delmas and nearly three seconds ahead of Jefimova.

Belgium’s Grace Palmer was right there as well, hitting the 150m turn in 1:48.72, which put her a little over a second ahead of Jefimova. Palmer wasn’t able to withstand the charge by Jefimova, though, and she ended up touching fourth in 2:26.59.


  • World Junior Record: 1:55.14, Kliment Kolesnikov (2017)
  • European Junior Record: 1:55.14, Kliment Kolesnikov (2017)
  • European Record: 1:53.23, Evgeny Rylov (2021)
  • Championship Record: 1:55.83, Kliment Kolesnikov (2018)
  • 2022 European Junior Champion: Ksawery Masiuk (Poland), 1:56.62


In a stunning performance, Ukrainian Oleksandr Zheltyakov threw down yet another massive personal best tonight, roaring to gold in 1:55.79. Not only did the swim mark a new European Junior Championship Record in the event, Zheltyakov also shattered his own Ukrainian Record in the process. The previous CR was hled by superstar backstroker Kliment Kolesnikov at 1:55.83 from the 2018 edition of these championships. Meanwhile, Zheltyakov had just set the Ukrainian Record at 1:56.49 with his semifinals race last night.

He was exceptional from start to finish tonight, keeping all four of his 50 splits under 30 seconds. He was out in 27.23, then split 29.21, 29.80, and 29.55 on the remaining 50s.

France’s Merlin Ficher was firmly in second throughout the race, ultimately earning the silver medal with a 1:57.15. He put together a solid race, going 57.15 on the first 100m, then splitting exactly 1:00.00 coming home.

Greece picked up their first medal of the night with Apostolos Siskos earning the bronze with a 1:57.37. Siskos was locked in a dead heat with Iceland’s John Shortt, with the pair flipping just 0.01 seconds apart at the 100m turn. Siskos edged just slightly ahead on the third 50 and managed to hold onto that slim lead through the final 50. In the end, Shortt touched in a close fourth, stopping the clock in 1:58.63.


  • World Junior Record: 2:03.35, Regan Smith (2019)
  • European Junior Record: 2:06.62
  • European Record: 2:04.94, Anastasia Fesikova (2009)
  • Championship Record: 2:08.97, Polina Egorova (2017)
  • 2022 European Junior Champion: Dora Molnar (Hungary), 2:10.31


In a repeat of last year, Hungary’s Dora Molnar got out to a lead and held to win gold in the girls 200 backstroke for the second year in a row. Molnar was out quick, splitting 1:04.13 on the first 100m. The gap closed slightly on her on the third 50, but Molnar actually managed to begin pulling away from the field once again coming home on the final 50.

Though her 2:11.06 was nearly a second slower than she swam to win the event last year, it was a strong performance for Molnar, especially given she had already posted the fastest time in the semifinals of the girls 100 free earlier in the session.

Great Britain’s Holly McGill was in fifth at the 100m turn, then moved to third at the 150. She then put together a great last 50, moving into second and passing Spain’s Estella Tonrath, who came in third in 2:12.65.


  • World Junior Record: 4:10.02, Ilya Borodin (2021)
  • European Junior Record: 4:10.02, Ilya Borodin (2021)
  • European Record: 4:04.28, Leon Marchand (2022)
  • Championship Record: 4:14.65, Semen Makovich (2013)
  • 2022 European Junior Champion: Michal Piela (Poland), 4:20.50


Just as we expected, the race between Italy’s Emanuele Potenza and Ukraine’s Oleksii Hrabarov was phenomenal. The duo were essentially right next to each other over the first 200m of the race tonight. Potenza made his move on breaststroke, pulling away just a little on that critical leg. He split 1:13.83 on the breast leg, which was significantly faster than Hrabarov’s 1:15.30. They were almost identical coming home, with Hrabarov splitting 1:00.98 and Potenza 1:01.05.

Italy picked up a second medal with Domenico De Gregorio speeding to a third-place finish to earn the bronze medal. De Gregorio clocked one of the fastest breaststroke splits in the field tonight, swimming a 1:14.86 on that 100.


  • World Junior Record: 3:44.84, United States (2019)
  • European Junior Record: 3:47.99, Russia (2018)
  • European Record: 3:37.58, Great Britain (2021)
  • Championship Record: 3:47.99, Russia (2018)
  • 2022 European Junior Champion: France, 3:50.55


  • GOLD: Denmark – 3:50.04
  • SILVER: Great Britain – 3:53.74
  • BRONZE: Italy – 3:53.81

In the most decisive victory of the night, it was Denmark that pulled way ahead of the field in the mixed 4×100 medley relay, roaring to gold in 3:50.04, touching first by nearly four seconds. One of two teams to use a female swimmer on the backstroke leg, Denmark was last at the 100m mark, as Kristine Norby swam a 1:02.59 on the opening leg. Jonas Gaur then dove in with a 1:01.11 on the breast leg, moving the team into seventh place. Casper Puggaard, the boys 100 fly champion from earlier in the evening, then threw down a blistering 51.55 on the fly leg, which was over a second faster than he swam for gold in the individual event earlier, and it propelled Netherlands into the lead. Martine Damborg then brought the team home in 54.79, sealing the win for the Dutch team.

Interestingly, out of the two teams that opted to lead-off with a female swimmer, both earned medals in the event tonight. Italy had Giada Gorlier lead-off in 1:01.99. The Italians opted for the same strategy as Denmark: female, male, male, female.

Great Britain picked up the silver medal with a 3:53.74. They dove in just slightly behind Italy on the final exchange, and Skye Carter managed to inch even with Italy’s Matilde Biagiotti and ultimately get her hand on the wall ahead of her.

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4 months ago

In the 4×100 mixed medley relay, when you say Dutch/Netherlands, I think you mean Denmark/Danish 😉

I know we’re both little European countries but we’re quite different haha

4 months ago

I would love to see Zheltyakov go to Worlds, win a medal, and erase Kolesnikov’s WJR.

4 months ago

Is Oleksandr Zheltyakov from Ukraine going to worlds? Anybody know?

4 months ago

Nice 200 BR for the Dutch, but man that’s a slow time to win. Podium used to take a 2.11.

NornIron Swim
Reply to  Chachi
4 months ago

Says last years winner went 2:13.0. 🤷‍♂️

Reply to  NornIron Swim
4 months ago

I have the feeling that times overall used to be faster (before covid and the exclusion of Russian athletes). Time it took to win bronze in the past:
2022: 2:13.79 for bronze
2021: 2:13.75 for bronze, silver went to a Russian guy
2019: 2:12.17 for bronze (Marchand), gold went to a Russian guy
2018: 2:14.13 for bronze (Corbeau), gold went to a Russian guy
2017: 2:13.78 for bronze, gold went to a Russian guy
2016: 2:13.07 for bronze, gold went to a Russian guy
2015: 2:13.45 for bronze, gold and silver went to Russian guys
2014: 2:13.47 for bronze, silver went to a Russian guy
2013: 2:13.92 for bronze, gold and… Read more »

(G)olden Bear
Reply to  NornIron Swim
4 months ago

And in 2019 they went 2.11 low..: