2023 WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
- July 23 to 30, 2023
- Fukuoka, Japan
- Marine Messe Fukuoka
- LCM (50m)
- SwimSwam Finals Watch Party Daily
- Meet Central
- SwimSwam Preview Index
- Entry Book
- Live Results (Omega)
- Day 1 Prelims Live Recap
Day 1 Finals Heat Sheet (no relay lineups)
At long last, the first session of finals at the 2023 World Championships is here. Here’s what’s on tap after an electric finals session: finals of the men’s 400 freestyle, women’s 400 freestyle, men’s 400 IM, and men’s and women’s 4×100 freestyle relays. There are also semifinals of the women’s 100 butterfly, men’s 50 butterfly, men’s 100 breaststroke and women’s 200 IM.
This first finals session brings the highly anticipated race between world record holder Summer McIntosh, 2020 Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus, and 2016 Olympic champion Katie Ledecky. It was Ledecky who led the way through the heats this morning (4:00.80), but all three put up comfortable swims to secure the middle lanes in the final. Titmus clocked 4:01.39 to win her heat, with McIntosh sitting at 4:01.72.
In the last individual final of the night, all eyes will be on Leon Marchand as we watch and see whether he’ll take down Michael Phelps‘ last individual world record. Marchand came close in a shocking performance last year, hitting 4:04.28 to become the #2 performer all-time. Marchand had an interesting swim in prelims, blasting out on the fly and back before coasting home on the back half. He secured lane 5 for tonight’s final in 4:10.88, as Carson Foster posted the top time of the morning in 4:09.83.
The third individual final of the session is the men’s 400 freestyle. Australian teen Sam Short flexed his speed in prelims, pulling away from the final heat to touch in a PB of 3:42.44. It was a statement swim for Short, and set him up well for what’s shaping up to be a tight race for the podium.
MEN’S 400 FREESTYLE – Final
- World Record: Paul Biedermann, Germany – 3:40.07 (2009)
- World Junior Record: Petar Mitsin, Bulgaria – 3:44.31 (2023)
- Championship Record: Paul Biedermann, Germany – 3:40.07 (2009)
- 2022 World Champion: Elijah Winnington, Australia – 3:41.22
- Sam Short (AUS) — 3:40.68
- Ahmed Hafnaoui (TUN) — 3:40.70
- Lukas Märtens (GER) — 3:42.20
- Guilherme Costa (BRA) — 3:43.58
- Woomin Kim (KOR) — 3:43.92
- Antonio Djakovic (SUI) — 3:44.22
- Elijah Winnington (AUS) — 3:44.26
- Felix Auboeck (AUT) — 3:44.33
After blasting out in prelims, 19-year-old Short was the person to beat. Antonio Djakovic led the race around at the first turn, but Short took over the lead by the 100, controlling the race early. He flipped at the 200-meter mark in 1:49.29, faster than he flipped this morning. He was just ahead of Hafnaoui, and the two came off that wall about a body length ahead of the field.
Hafnaoui, the 2020 Olympic champion, had just taken over the lead at 300 meters to go, and he still had the lead at the final turn. He and Short barreled down the stretch together, but Short was able to accelerate in the closing meters, just out-touching Hafnaoui’s long reach.
Short stopped the clock at 3:40.68, becoming the fourth fastest performer in history. Hafnaoui took silver in 3:40.70, which is a new African record and slots him in at #5 on the all-time list. For both, this is a huge performance. Short fully breaks out on the international stage and after a quiet post-Olympics, Hafnaoui backs up his gold from Tokyo, getting back on the podium in his first major LCM meet since in a huge PB.
Märtens made his move on the back half of the race, and while it was too late to catch the top two, he held off Brazil’s Guilherme Costa for bronze.
Last year’s champion Elijah Winnington maintained his position from prelims, taking seventh (3:44.26).
WOMEN’S 100 BUTTERFLY – Semifinals
- World Record: Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden – 55.48 (2016)
- World Junior Record: Claire Curzan, USA – 56.43 (2021)
- Championship Record: Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden – 55.53 (2017)
- 2022 World Champion: Torri Huske, USA – 55.64
- Zhang Yufei (CHN) — 56.40
- Torri Huske (USA) — 56.76
- Maggie MacNeil (CAN) — 56.78
- Emma McKeon (AUS) — 56.89
- Angelina Kohler (GER) — 57.05
- Gretchen Walsh (USA)/Brianna Throssel (AUS) — 57.14
- Marie Wattel (FRA) — 57.17
Zhang Yufei backed up her statement swim from prelims (56.89), dropping time and moving through to the finals still as the fastest qualifier. After prelims, Zhang was the only swimmer sub-57, but she certainly wasn’t the only one under that barrier in the semifinals, as three more swimmers joined her.
Zhang held off Maggie MacNeil for the win in the second semi, touching in 56.40. After turning well back of Yufei, MacNeil had an incredible turn that powered the second half of her race. The 2020 Olympic champion touched in 56.78, safely qualifying for the final in third.
Torri Huske looked much stronger than she did in prelims, dipping under 57 seconds to win the first semifinal and qualify for the final in second. Huske was out fast in 26.22 (second only to Zhang’s 26.08), giving her enough of a lead to hold off Emma McKeon, who’s our fourth qualifier sub-57 with a 56.89.
Angelina Kohler clocked a German record of 57.05 to move through to the final in fifth, ahead of Gretchen Walsh and Brianna Throssel who tied for sixth.
Notably, Louise Hansson finished ninth and missed out on the final.
MEN’S 50 BUTTERFLY – Semifinals
- World Record: Andrii Govorov, Ukraine – 22.27 (2018)
- World Junior Record: Diogo Ribeiro, Portugal – 22.96 (2022)
- Championship Record: Caeleb Dressel, USA – 22.35 (2019)
- 2022 World Champion: Caeleb Dressel, USA – 22.57
- Maxime Grousset (FRA) — 22.72
- Dare Rose (USA) — 22.79
- Jacob Peters (GBR) — 22.92
- Thomas Ceccon (ITA) — 22.92
- Abdelrahman El-Araby (EGY) — 22.94
- Ben Proud (GBR) — 22.96
- Diogo Ribeiro (POR) — 23.04
- Simon Bucher (AUT)/Dylan Carter (TTO) — 23.05 (Swim-Off Required)
Maxime Grousset set his second French record of the day to lead the men’s 50 fly finals qualifers. Grousset blasted out and touched in 22.72, taking two-hundredths off his time from the heats.
Dare Rose won the first semifinal, just ahead of Great Britain’s Jacob Peters, 22.79 to 22.92. It was a big swim for both men, especially Rose, who’s previous personal best was the 23.16 that he swam at U.S. Trials. Rose ended up with this chance to swim the 50 butterfly by virtue of the fact that he won the 100 fly at U.S. Trials, but now he looks like a legitimate medal threat.
In that same final, Ben Proud finished fourth, meaning that it was a nervous few minutes for the Brit, but he ended up safely through to tomorrow’s final in sixth.
World junior record holder Diogo Ribeiro also made it back to the final with a 23.04, less than a tenth from his record.
WOMEN’S 400 FREESTYLE – Finals
World Record: Summer McIntosh, Canada – 3:56.08 (2023)
- World Junior Record: Summer McIntosh, Canada – 3:56.08 (2023)
Championship Record: Katie Ledecky, USA – 3:58.15 (2022)
- 2022 World Champion: Katie Ledecky, USA – 3:58.15
- Ariarne Titmus (AUS) — 3:55.38 (WORLD RECORD)
- Katie Ledecky (USA) — 3:58.73
- Erika Fairweather (NZL) — 3:59.59
- Summer McIntosh (CAN) — 3:59.94
- Li Bingjie (CHN) — 4:01.65
- Lani Pallister (AUS) — 4:05.17
- Isabel Gose (GER) — 4:05.27
- Bella Sims (USA) — 4:05.37
The most anticipated race of this meet may not have been the close battle that we were all expecting, but it did end in a world record. The three main challengers, Ariarne Titmus, Katie Ledecky, and Summer McIntosh let Bella Sims and Lani Pallister take it around first at the 50, but by the 100-meter mark, Titmus and McIntosh took over first and second. Meanwhile, Ledecky was hanging back in fifth–an unfamiliar strategy for her as she usually takes control of the lead by this point in the race.
From there, Titmus never looked back. She charged away, opening up a lead not only on the field, but also on her main rivals Ledecky and McIntosh. Even with that, she still had enough left in the tank to charge home in 28.87 to smash the world record with a 3:55.38. She’s won this race the last 11 times she’s swum it, and now retakes the world record after McIntosh broke her old record in March.
Ledecky used her new strategy to move through the field on the middle part of the race, sitting in third at 100 meters to go. She pulled ahead of McIntosh by the final turn and swam away from her for the silver medal in 3:58.73.
In the biggest surprise of the early goings of this meet, it wasn’t a Titmus–Ledecky–McIntosh podium. McIntosh was the number one pick in the SwimSwam Pick’Ems to win this event, but she ends up off the podium. New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather had hung around in fourth for the majority of the race. She made her move on the final 50, putting up the second fastest closing split in the field (29.09) to grab bronze. Fairweather hit the wall in 3:59.59, setting a New Zealand record and becoming the fifth woman ever under the 4:00 barrier.
McIntosh hung on to finish fourth, also under the 4:00 mark with a 3:59.94.
MEN’S 100 BREASTSTROKE – Semifinals
- World Record: Adam Peaty, Great Britain – 56.88 (2019)
- World Junior Record: Nicolo Martinenghi, Italy (2017)
- Championship Record: Adam Peaty, Great Britain – 56.88 (2019)
- 2022 World Champion: Nicolo Martinenghi, Italy – 58.46
- Qin Haiyang (CHN) — 57.82
- Lucas Matzerath (GER) — 58.75
- Nic Fink (USA) — 58.88
- Yan Zibei (CHN) — 59.02
- Arno Kamminga (NED) — 59.08
- Josh Matheny (USA) — 59.20
- Nicolo Martinenghi (ITA) — 59.21
- Berkay Ogretir (TUR) — 59.50
Qin Haiyang wasted no time asserting himself here in the men’s 100 breaststroke semifinal. He won the second semi in a blistering 57.82, improving both his own Asian record and his #3 spot on the all-time list. Earlier this year, Qin became the third man to break 58 seconds. He joined Adam Peaty and Arno Kamminga in that exclusive club, the latter of whom is in this field and moved through to the final in fifth.
Qin setting the pace may be the main reason that the top four qualifiers all came from that second semi. Lucas Matzerath had a great swim in 58.75, getting his hands on the wall just ahead of Nic Fink (58.88).
The swimmers in the first semi seemed more focused on their placement rather than their actual time. There, 2022 World champion Nicolo Martinenghi took the race out, turning first at the 50. He faded to third in his heat behind Kamminga (59.08), and Josh Matheny (59.20). However, the Italian’s 59.21 still got him into the final in seventh.
WOMEN’S 200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY – Semifinals
- World Record: Katinka Hosszu, Hungary – 2:06.12 (2015)
- World Junior Record: Summer McIntosh, Canada – 2:06.89 (2023)
- Championship Record: Katinka Hosszu, Hungary – 2:06.12 (2015)
- 2022 World Champion: Alex Walsh, USA – 2:07.13
- Alex Walsh (USA) — 2:08.27
- Yu Yiting (CHN) — 2:09.04
- Marrit Steenbergen (NED) — 2:09.30
- Jenna Forrester (AUS) — 2:10.03
- Yui Ohashi (JPN) — 2:10.32
- Kate Douglass (USA) — 2:10.38
- Ye Shiwen (CHN) — 2:10.57
- Anastasia Gorbenko (ISR) — 2:10.62
The biggest story out of the women’s 200 IM semifinals is less who made it into the final, and more who didn’t. In the first semifinal, there were three disqualifications, one of which was Kaylee McKeown, who was a major contender for a medal. The other two disqualifications were Great Britain’s Katie Shanahan and Italy’s Sara Franchesi.
Alex Walsh was in the first semifinal too, but she made it safely through and grabbed lane four for the final. She was the only one of the qualifiers to break 2:09, posting 2:08.27. That sets her up well to defend her world title from last year. While McKeown may not be there to challenge her, there’s a great race shaping up between her, Kate Douglass, Yu Yiting, and Marrit Steenbergen.
MEN’S 400 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY – Final
World Record: Michael Phelps, USA – 4:03.84 (2008)
- World Junior Record: Ilya Borodin, Russia – 4:10.02 (2021)
Championship Record: Leon Marchand, France – 4:04.28 (2022)
- 2022 World Champion: Leon Marchand, France – 4:04.28
- Leon Marchand (FRA) — 4:02.50 (WORLD RECORD)
- Carson Foster (USA) — 4:06.56
- Daiya Seto (JPN) — 4:09.41
- Chase Kalisz (USA) — 4:10.23
- Brendon Smith (AUS) — 4:10.37
- Lewis Clareburt (NZL) — 4:11.29
- Alberto Razzetti (ITA) — 4:11.73
- Balazs Hollo (HUN) — 4:13.36
Leon Marchand said after his race that “the best is yet to come,” but that was still a special swim. Marchand crushed the men’s 400 IM, taking down Phelps’ last remaining individual world record with a jaw-dropping 4:02.50.
Marchand opened his race in a 54.66 butterfly split. He led from that moment on, though Carson Foster kept close tohim through the backstroke leg. It was on the breaststroke where Marchand took off, much like he did in this race last year. He split a massive 1:07.64 on that breaststroke leg, distancing himself not only from the field but from the world record line.
Phelps’ came back quick on the freestyle leg, and Marchand did too, powering to 58.22 on the freestyle split and ensuring that the world record line was not going to catch him this year.
Foster finished four seconds behind Marchand in 4:06.56, repeating as the World silver medalist. Chase Kalisz made a move on the breaststroke leg, but it was Daiya Seto who walked away with the bronze medal, touching in 4:09.41.
WOMEN’S 4×100 FREESTYLE RELAY – Final
World Record: Australia – 3:29.69 (2021) Championship Record: Australia – 3:30.21 (2019)
- 2022 World Champion: Australia – 3:30.95
- Australia — 3:27.96 (WORLD RECORD)
- United States — 3:31.93
- China — 3:32.40
- Great Britain — 3:33.90
- Sweden — 3:34.17
- Netherlands — 3:35.41
- Canada — 3:36.62
- Japan — 3:38.61
The Australian women didn’t mess around in prelims of the 4×100 free relay, and they didn’t mess around here in the final. They got off to a fast start thanks to Mollie O’Callaghan‘s blistering 52.08 lead-off and didn’t look back, posting 3:27.96 to break their own world record by well over a second.
After O’Callaghan’s lead-off–which vaulted her to #6 all-time–Shayna Jack dove in. Jack posted 52.28 to lead-off the prelims relay, and she backed that up here with the fastest split in the field, a massive 51.69. After Jack, Meg Harris clocked 52.29, and Tokyo Olympic champion Emma McKeon brought them home in 51.90. Jack and McKeown were two of the three sub-52 splits in the race.
The Aussies were well ahead of their world record from the Tokyo Olympics, averaging 51.99 on their relay splits here.
The United States got off to a rocky start, as Gretchen Walsh led them off in 54.06, touching in fifth. Walsh handed things off to Abbey Weitzeil, who split 52.71 and moved the U.S. into third. Olivia Smoliga took over from there, improving on her split from prelims in 52.88 and maintaining third. Kate Douglass anchored them in 52.28, passing China to grab silver for the Americans in 3:31.93.
Pre-meet, there were a lot of questions about whether the Americans could challenge the Australians. The answer, at least today, was a resounding ‘no’, as Douglass, their fastest split, was just a hundredth ahead of Australia’s slowest split.
China’s team of Cheng Yujie, Yang Junxuan, Wu Qingfeng, and Zhang Yufei earned bronze in 3:32.40, a new Asian record, and well ahead of fourth-place Great Britain’s 3:33.90.
MEN’S 4×100 FREESTYLE RELAY – Final
- World Record: USA – 3:08.24
- Championship Record: USA – 3:09.06
- 2022 World Champion: USA – 3:09.34
- Australia — 3:10.16
- Italy — 3:10.49
- United States — 3:10.81
- China — 3:11.38
- Canada — 3:12.05
- Brazil — 3:12.71
- Israel — 3:14.53
- Spain — 3:14.64
The men’s 4×100 free relay treated us to a great race to (mostly) close out the first session of finals. It was the Italians who controlled for the majority of the racing, leading with just one leg remaining. But, for the Australians, that final leg was Kyle Chalmers and the race was decidedly not over.
Australia’s Jack Cartwright (47.84), Flynn Southam (47.85), and Kai Taylor (47.91), kept the race close for Chalmers, who dove into the water in third behind Italy and the United States. From there, Chalmers did what he’s done so many times in his career: provided heroics as the anchor for a relay. He split 46.56–the fastest split of the race–to power the Australians to Worlds gold for the first time since 2011 in 3:10.49.
This performance caps off an excellent Day 1 performance for the Australians, who won gold in four out of the five finals this session.
Italy went with the same squad that won them silver at the 2020 Olympics and bronze at 2022 Worlds. They’re back on the podium in silver again, thanks to solid work from Alessandro Miressi (47.57), Manuel Frigo (47.79), Lorenzo Zazzeri (48.13), and Thomas Ceccon (47.03).
Ceccon wasn’t able to hold off Chalmers, but 3:10.49 is faster than the team went for bronze in 2022.
With a team full of swimmers new to the international stage, the Americans hung on for a medal. Ryan Held led off in 48.16, paying a bit for his early speed at the end. Then, Jack Alexy split 47.56, followed by a 47.77 from Chris Guiliano. Matt King anchored in 47.32, holding on against a charging Wang Haoyu, who anchored China’s Asian record-setting relay with a 46.97.
Notably, on Brazil’s sixth-place relay, Gui Caribe split 46.76, showing that the gains he made in the yards pool this year at Tennessee are paying off for him in long-course as well.
Men’s 50 Butterfly — Swim-Off
It’s Austria’s Simon Bucher who will advance to tomorrow’s 50 butterfly final. It was the little things that went right for Bucher here, who had a faster reaction time and a better finish than Dylan Carter.
Carter, who laid waste to 50s of stroke at the SCM 2022 FINA World Cup, was a tenth slower than Bucher off the blocks. Carter was gaining on Bucher stroke by stroke, but was a bit long on the finish, which ended up costing him as Bucher clocked 23.10 compared to his own 23.26.
Both were slower than the 23.05 they posted in the semifinals.