2023 WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
- July 23 to 30, 2023
- Fukuoka, Japan
- Marine Messe Fukuoka
- LCM (50m)
- WORLD CHAMPS WATCH PARTY – DAILY
- Meet Central
- SwimSwam Preview Index
- Entry Book
- Live Results (Omega)
- Day 1 Prelims Live Recap | Day 1 Finals Live Recap
- Day 2 Prelims Live Recap | Day 2 Finals Live Recap
- Day 3 Prelims Live Recap | Day 3 Finals Live Recap
- Day 4 Prelims Live Recap
Day 4 Finals Start List (No Relay Lineups)
Let’s get after it everyone; it’s the fourth session of finals at 2023 Worlds, and we’re right in the heart of the meet. It’s another packed night with five finals (including a relay), and four semifinals. Take a look at the schedule of what’s coming up this session below.
Order of Events
- Men’s 800 Freestyle — Final
- Women’s 200 Freestyle — Final
- Men’s 100 Freestyle — Semifinals
- Women’s 50 Backstroke — Semifinals
- Men’s 200 Butterfly — Final
- Men’s 50 Breaststroke — Final
- Women’s 200 Butterfly — Semifinals
- Men’s 200 IM — Semifinals
- Mixed 4×100 Medley Relay — Final
Now, let’s preview the finals. We’re starting things off with a barnburner of a race–the men’s 800 freestyle. It was a battle just to make the final, and defending silver medalist Florian Wellbrock was shut out by just seven-hundredths. The young stars of the 400 free, Sam Short and Ahmed Hafnaoui, lead the way, both posting times that would’ve just missed the medals in 2022. But, there’s also Bobby Finke, Daniel Wiffen, and Mykhailo Romanchuk in the field and they surely won’t go quietly.
Then, we shift gears to another close race, this time on the women’s side. The 200 free features four of the eight women who’ve been sub-1:54 in their career: Ariarne Titmus, Mollie O’Callaghan, Summer McIntosh, and Siobhan Haughey. After Titmus’ world record in the 400 free, we’ll be back on world record watch here in the 200 as she and the other four aim to challenge Federica Pellegrini‘s super-suited mark. Keep an eye on Bella Sims too, she swam a personal best in semis and will likely stick to her usual strategy of blasting out and trying to hang on against these big names.
The men’s 200 fly will feature another race between Carson Foster and Leon Marchand. They’ll be back in lanes 4 and 5, but the race shouldn’t be just between them. SCM world record holder Tomoru Honda will be racing in front of a home crowd and teens Ilya Kharun, Krzysztof Chmielewski, and Thomas Heilman are looking to spoil the party.
It’s on to the men’s 50 breaststroke final after that. Qin Haiyang separated himself from the field by about a half-second in prelims and semis. Qin has swum as Asian record every time he’s swum so far at Worlds. Based on the fact that he dropped time through each round of the 100 breast, he’s got a good chance of making it six-for-six here in the final.
The last final of the night is the mixed medley relay. The U.S., Australia, and China are the big favorites coming in. Each have some substitutions to make coming into the finals session, and 200 fly Olympic champion Zhang Yufei even scratched that event in prelims, so she’ll be fresh for the final. This is another event where we’ll be on world record watch.
MEN’S 800 FREESTYLE – Final
- World Record: Zhang Lin, China – 7:32.12 (2009)
- World Junior Record: Lorenzo Galossi, Italy – 7:43.37 (2022)
- Championship Record: Zhang Lin, China – 7:32.12 (2009)
- 2022 World Champion: Bobby Finke, United States – 7:39.36
- 2022 Time to Medal: 7:40.05
- Ahmed Hafnaoui (TUN) — 7:37.00
- Sam Short (AUS) — 7:37.76
- Bobby Finke (USA) — 7:38.67
- Daniel Wiffen (IRL) — 7:39.19
- Lukas Märtens (GER) — 7:39.48
- Mykhailo Romanchuk (UKR) — 7:43.08
- Guilherme Costa (BRA) — 7:47.26
- Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) — 7:53.66
What a race to kick things off. Men’s distance swimming has suddenly become flooded with stars, and after a wickedly fast prelims session, expectations were sky high.
From the start of the race, it was Lukas Märtens, Sam Short, and Ahmed Hafnaoui who separated themselves from the rest of the field. They were out under world record pace at the 200 meter mark, and while that line eventually crept up on them, the three stayed glued together. They traded the lead between them as they went.
About a body length behind the three, Bobby Finke and Daniel Wiffen were hanging around not really letting the three at the front get too far away. At 600 meters, Finke began to make his move, moving up on the three leaders. Across the pool Hafnaoui responded, upping his kick as well.
Short flipped first at both the 700 and 750-meter mark. On the final meters, all five athletes put in a closing dig. Finke caught Märtens, but he couldn’t bridge the gap to Hafnaoui and Short. We saw Hafnaoui and Short come into the wall together in the 400 freestyle and we saw it again here, but this time Hafnaoui had enough left in the tank to get ahead of the 19-year-old Australian.
Hafnaoui earned gold in 7:37.00, making him the #3 performer all-time. Short kept himself ahead of Finke for the silver medal in 7:37.76. That swim breaks Grant Hackett‘s Australian record from 2005, and vaults Short up to #4 performer all-time.
Behind them, Finke settled for bronze, which marks the first time he’s lost this race on the world stage since his breakout in Tokyo. Despite that, Finke still has positives to take away: a bronze medal, a new American record, and an improvement on his #7 performer in history time.
Wiffen passed Märtens for fourth, setting a new European record of 7:39.19 which breaks Gregorio Paltrinieri‘s mark.
WOMEN’S 200 FREESTYLE – Final
World Record: Federica Pellegrini, Italy — 1:52.98 (2009) World Junior Record: Summer McIntosh, Canada – 1:53.91 (2023) Championship Record: Federica Pellegrini, Italy -1:52.98 (2009)
- 2022 World Champion: Yang Junxuan, China – 1:54.92
- 2022 Time to Medal: 1:56.25
- Mollie O’Callaghan (AUS) — 1:52.85 (WORLD RECORD)
- Ariarne Titmus (AUS) — 1:53.01
- Summer McIntosh (CAN) — 1:53.65 (WORLD JUNIOR RECORD)
- Siobhan Haughey (HKG) — 1:53.96
- Marrit Steenbergen (NED) — 1:55.51
- Bella Sims (USA) — 1:56.00
- Freya Anderson (GBR) — 1:56.33
- Liu Yaxin (CHN) — 1:56.97
Ariarne Titmus had us all on world record watch in this race after her world record performance in the 400 freestyle. She took this race out hard, leading all the way through 150-meters. She spilt 26.72/28.51/28.77 through that point, and then it was a free for all coming home.
It seemed like Titmus knew that her best strategy would be to take the race out hard, because her teammate Mollie O’Callaghan came tearing home in a blazing 28.11. O’Callaghan flipped second on the last turn, but that split helped her pass Titmus and get her hand on the wall first in a new world record of 1:52.85. She took down Federica Pellegrini‘s super-suited mark of 1:52.98 from 2009, joining the Italian superstar sub-1:53.
O’Callaghan looked shocked after the race, and said in her post-race interview that because of her knee injury earlier this summer she came into this meet to have fun and see what she could do. Well, this is what she could do and she leads a 1-2 Australian podium as Titmus took second in 1:53.01.
Coming down the stretch, it looked like it was going to be Siobhan Haughey who scooped bronze, but Summer McIntosh put her head down and dug in in the closing 20 meters. McIntosh stopped the clock in 1:53.65, resetting her own world junior record. With that time, she claims bronze and gets on the podium for the first time at the meet, fully rebounding from her disappointment in the 400 free.
It’s a cruel world when a 1:53 doesn’t make the podium, and Haughey–the Tokyo Olympic silver medalist–ended up fourth in 1:53.96, well ahead of fifth place Marrit Steenbergen (1:55.51).
MEN’S 100 FREESTYLE – Semifinals
- World Record: David Popovici, Romania – 46.86 (2022)
- World Junior Record: David Popovici, Romania – 46.86 (2022)
- Championship Record: Cesar Cielo, Brazil – 46.91 (2009)
- 2022 World Champion: David Popovici, Romania – 47.58
- 2022 Time to Final: 47.96
- Matt Richards (GBR) — 47.47
- Kyle Chalmers (AUS) — 47.52
- Pan Zhanle (CHN) — 47.61
- Nandor Nemeth (HUN) — 47.62
- David Popovici (ROU) — 47.66
- Jordan Crooks (CAY) — 47.71
- Maxime Grousset (FRA) — 47.87
- Jack Alexy (USA) — 48.06
Matt Richards just continues to show he’s on excellent form here in Fukuoka. Richards took down the British record that he swam in prelims to lead the way into the final tomorrow night. He clocked 47.47, dropping down from the 47.59 he swam in the morning.
He leads the way ahead of the veteran Kyle Chalmers and teenager Pan Zhanle. This is a strong bounce-back swim for Pan, who missed the 200 freestyle final earlier in the meet after coming in as one of the favorites for a medal. Speaking of bounce-backs from 200 freestyle disappointment, world record holder David Popovici secured a lane in the final.
The Romanian is sitting further back in the field than we’re certainly used to seeing him (5th–47.66), but he has a lane in the final, so he has a chance. He looked like he may be in a spot of difficulty in the heart of the race, but he pulled it together and got his hand on the wall second in the heat, behind Hungary’s Nandor Nemeth. Nemeth swam 47.62, a new personal best.
Jordan Crooks is through to the final as well, along with Jack Alexy, who just snuck in by two-hundredths ahead of Hwang Sunwoo.
WOMEN’S 50 BACKSTROKE – Semifinals
- World Record: Liu Xiang, China – 26.98 (2018)
- World Junior Record: Minna Atherton, Australia – 27.49 (2016)
- Championship Record: Zhao Ling, China – 27.06 (2009)
- 2022 World Champion: Kylie Masse, Canada – 27.31
- 2022 Time to Final: 27.72
- Regan Smith (USA) — 27.10
- Kaylee McKeown (AUS) — 27.26
- Lauren Cox (GBR) — 27.29
- Kylie Masse (CAN)/Katharine Berkoff — 27.49
- Analia Pigree (FRA) — 27.70
- Ingrid Wilm (CAN) — 27.71
- Wang Xueer (CHN)/Wan Letian (CHN) — 27.74 (Swim-off Required)
Regan Smith ripped an American record to lead the way into the women’s 50 backstroke final. Smith took down Berkoff’s record of 27.12, hitting 27.10. She’s got the 200 fly later but for the backstroke, she’s the fastest qualifier by .16 seconds.
Kaylee McKeown is sitting second–last year, this race wasn’t a showdown between them as the both finished off the podium, but that could have changed this year. Anything can happen in a 50 though, and Lauren Cox looks like she’s a potential spoiler to the party.
MEN’S 200 BUTTERFLY – Final
- World Record: Kristof Milak, Hungary – 1:50.34 (2022)
- World Junior Record: Kristof Milak, Hungary – 1:53.79 (2017)
- Championship Record: Kristof Milak, Hungary – 1:50.34 (2022)
- 2022 World Champion: Kristof Milak, Hungary – 1:50.34
- 2022 Time to Medal: 1:53.61
- Leon Marchand (FRA) –1:52.43
- Krzysztof Chmielewski (POL) — 1:53.62
- Tomoru Honda (JPN) — 1:53.66
- Thomas Heilman (USA)/Ilya Kharun (CAN) — 1:53.82
- Carson Foster (USA) — 1:54.74
- Richard Marton (HUN) — 1:55.02
- Wang Kuan-Hung (TPE) — 1:55.43
Leon Marchand makes it 2-for-2 in his events so far at 2023 Worlds. Marchand let Hungary’s Richard Marton take the race out first at the 50 meters. However, by the halfway mark he had taken over the lead. Marchand didn’t look back, maintaining his lead while behind him things were getting messy as there were multiple swimmers in the medal hunt.
Marchand hit the wall at 1:52.43, moving him to become the 3rd fastest performer all-time. Krzysztof Chmielewski made the final turn in fourth, but the Polish teen came flying home in 29.84–the second fastest last 50 in the field–to move up and walk away with the silver medal in 1:53.62. It’s a huge swim for him as it marks both his first time sub-1:54 and his first medal at a senior international meet.
Tomoru Honda earned third in front of a home crowd, touching in 1:53.66 which is just .05 seconds off his bronze medal time from last year. He held off two charging teenagers: Thomas Heilman and Ilya Kharun. The two tied for fourth in 1:53.82, which marks a record for both of them: For Heilman, it’s a U.S. National Age Group record and for Kharun, he lowers his own Canadian record from earlier this meet.
Carson Foster was in the medal picture for much of the race, but fell off on the final 50. He split 31.06, slowest in the field, and ended up sixth.
MEN’S 50 BREASTSTROKE – Final
- World Record: Adam Peaty, Great Britain – 25.95 (2017)
- World Junior Record: Nicolo Martinenghi, Italy – 26.97 (2017)
- Championship Record: Adam Peaty, Great Britain – 25.95 (2017)
- 2022 World Champion: Nic Fink, United States – 26.45
- 2022 Time to Medal: 26.72
- Qin Haiyang (CHN) — 26.29
- Nic Fink (USA) — 26.59
- Sun Jiajun (CHN) — 26.79
- Sam Williamson (AUS) — 26.82
- Nicolo Martinenghi (ITA) — 26.84
- Lucas Matzerath (GER) — 26.94
- Joao Gomes Jr. (BRA) — 26.97
- Peter Stevens (SLO) — 27.08
It wasn’t an Asian record, but Qin Haiyang still walks away with another gold medal at this meet. The 100 breaststroke world champion is now also the 50 breaststroke world champion, touching in 26.29–just off his semifinals time.
Nic Fink, the 2022 world champion, did an incredible job getting off the blocks and he used that to challenge Qin for almost the entire race. Fink gets back on the podium with a 26.59, earning his second silver medal of the meet (though he doesn’t have to share it this time).
China continues to have a great meet, as they got both Qin and Sun Jiajun onto the podium here. Sun owned the Asian record coming into this meet, and now he’s the bronze medalist with a 26.79.
He finished just ahead of Australia’s Sam Williamson and Nicolo Martinenghi. Williamson was just off the personal best 26.76 he swam earlier this meet and beat Martinenghi (last year’s silver medalist) by two-hundredths.
Almost the entire field was sub-27 seconds, as Lucas Matzerath and Joao Gomes Jr. took seventh and eighth in 26.94 and 26.97.
WOMEN’S 200 BUTTERFLY – Semifinals
- World Record: Liu Zige, China – 2:01.81 (2009)
- World Junior Record: Summer McIntosh, Canada – 2:04.70 (2023)
- Championship Record: Jess Schipper, Australia – 2:03.41 (2009)
- 2022 World Champion: Summer McIntosh, Canada – 2:05.20
- 2022 Time to Final: 2:07.89
- Lana Pudar (BIH) — 2:06.60
- Regan Smith (USA) — 2:06.83
- Summer McIntosh (CAN) — 2:06.85
- Elizabeth Dekkers (AUS) — 2:07.11
- Helena Bach (DEN) — 2:07.15
- Laura Stephens (GBR) — 2:07.47
- Airi Mitsui (JPN) — 2:07.51
- Lindsay Looney (USA) — 2:07.72
Fresh off an American record in the 50 backstroke, Regan Smith looked totally in control for the majority of the second semifinal. She faded hard on the last 50 meters, and teenagers Lana Pudar and Summer McIntosh took full advantage. Pudar went by Smith, earning lane 4 for tomorrow’s final in 2:06.60, just off her Bosnia & Herzegovina national record she swam at European Juniors earlier this summer (2:06.26).
Smith held on to out-touch McIntosh by two-hundredths, as both successfully completed their double. Smith touched in 2:06.83, with McIntosh in 2:06.85. The American will still have a double tomorrow night with the 50 backstroke final, and McIntosh will likely feature on Canada’s 4×200 free relay, but this final is the first event of tomorrow’s session.
Smith’s teammate Lindsay Looney just snuck into the final in eighth, giving the Americans two in the final. Top seed in the semifinals Helena Bach qualified safely, as did Australia’s Elizabeth Dekkers.
MEN’S 200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY – Semifinals
- World Record: Ryan Lochte, United States – 1:54.00 (2011)
- World Junior Record: Hubert Kos, Hungary – 1:56.99 (2021)
- Championship Record: Ryan Lochte, United States – 1:54.00 (2011)
- 2022 World Champion: Leon Marchand, France – 1:55.22
- 2022 Time to Final: 1:57.74
- Leon Marchand (FRA) — 1:56.34
- Duncan Scott (GBR) — 1:56.50
- Carson Foster (USA) — 1:56.55
- Hugo Gonzalez (ESP) — 1:56.58
- So Ogata (JPN) — 1:57.06
- Daiya Seto (JPN) — 1:57.15
- Tom Dean (GBR) — 1:57.18
- Shaine Casas (USA) — 1:57.23
Leon Marchand has executed his 200 fly/200 IM as well as he could have hoped for. He won the 200 fly, and now he’s the top seed heading into the 200 IM final. Marchand won the second semifinal ahead of Great Britain’s Duncan Scott and the U.S.’s Carson Foster, who just pulled the same double.
The field was much quicker than they were in prelims, and it took a 1:57.23 to make it back. There are multiple nations that got both their swimmers into the final as Great Britain, the U.S., and Japan all put both of their entrants into the final. So Ogata and Daiya Seto will both get to race in front of a home crowd final tomorrow, as they’re sitting fifth and sixth, respectively.
Joining Scott is Tom Dean, and joining Foster is Shaine Casas, who snuck in in eighth.
Spain’s Hugo Gonzalez also made it through. Gonzalez won the first semifinal after leading almost the entire way. He swam 1:56.58, just off his own Spanish record of 1:56.31.
MIXED 4×100 MEDLEY RELAY – Final
- World Record: Great Britain – 3:37.58 (2021)
- Championship Record: United States – 3:38.56 (2017)
- 2022 World Champion: United States – 3:38.79
- 2022 Time to Medal: 3:41.54
- China (Xu, Qin, Zhang, Cheng) — 3:38.57
- Australia (McKeown, Stubblety-Cook, Temple, Jack) — 3:39.03
- United States (Murphy, Fink, Huske, Douglass) — 3:40.19
- Netherlands — 3:41.81
- Great Britain — 3:43.20
- Canada — 3:43.72
- Japan — 3:45.33
- Germany — 3:45.62
China’s move to rest Zhang Yufei paid off, as they won their first Worlds gold medal in the mixed medley relay. Xu Jiayu led them off in 52.42, which is faster than he went in the 100 back final yesterday. He handed things off to Qin Haiyang, who split 57.31. Then, their women brought them home on the back-half, with Zhang and Cheng Yujie splitting 55.69 and 53.15.
Cheng’s split was slower than the female freestylers who anchored both the Australian and U.S teams, but they had built up such a lead over the first three legs that it didn’t matter, as Cheng touched in 3:58.57 for gold, just .01 seconds off the championship record.
Like Xu, Ryan Murphy was faster here than he was in the 100 back final, leading off the Americans in 52.02. They had the lead heading into the breaststroke. That’s when Qin passed Nic Fink, but Fink still put up a solid 58.19 split. Torri Huske split 58.19 on fly, which is the big difference maker between silver and bronze, as the Aussies (who had Kaylee McKeown and Zac Stubblety-Cook on the front) were able to pull ahead thanks to Matt Temple‘s 50.63 fly split.
Then, it was Shanya Jack and Kate Douglass on the anchor legs. Both fired off sub-52 splits, with Jack splitting 51.53 and Douglass going 51.79.
That gave the Australians the room they needed to repeat as silver medalists in a time of 3:39.03. China and Australia were the only two teams to get under 3:40, as the U.S. earned bronze in 3:40.19, almost two seconds ahead of the Netherlands squad, which finished fourth with the same squad they fielded in their bronze medal effort from 2022.
WOMEN’S 50 BACKSTROKE – Swim-Off
Two teammates, Wang Xueer and Wan Letian, faced off for the final spot in the women’s 50 back final. Wan had the advantage through the middle of the race, but Wang came on strong in the closing meters and was able to get her hand on the wall ahead of the 18-year-old Wan.
Wang was just four-hundredths off the time she went in the semifinal, swimming 27.78. Wan finished a bit further from their semifinal standard in 27.90.