2023 World Championships: Day 7 Finals Live Recap


Day 7 Finals Start List

Mixed 4×100 Free Relay Final Lineups

It’s the penultimate night of finals at the 2023 World Championships. If you’re feeling down, don’t feel too bad–the 2024 World Championships kick off in less than sixth months. But anyway, back here in Japan, things are beginning to shift towards the sprint events. Let’s take a look at what’s on tap for tonight:

Order of Events:

  • Women’s 50 Butterfly — Final
  • Men’s 50 Freestyle — Final
  • Women’s 50 Freestyle — Semifinals
  • Women’s 50 Breaststroke –Semifinals
  • Men’s 100 Butterfly — Final
  • Women’s 200 Backstroke — Final
  • Men’s 50 Backstroke — Semifinals
  • Women’s 800 Freestyle — Final
  • Mixed 4×100 Freestyle Relay — Final

Things start off with the women’s 50 butterfly, where Sarah Sjostrom looks primed to win another gold medal. She’s head and shoulders above the rest of the field; however, she’s still got to swim the race. Zhang Yufei set a Chinese record in the semifinal, and Rikako Ikee is clearly on form–in prelims, she was faster than her 2018, pre-leukemia diagnosis self. She bounced back after a horrible start in the semis, charging through the field to qualify for the final, showing she could be a threat to medal.

Then, it’s the men’s 50 free final. A resurgent Cameron McEvoy looks like the man to beat; he swam a lifetime best in the semis which tied him for 9th fastest performer in history. Behind him, Ben Proud is lurking, as is Jack Alexy who’s been having a breakthrough meet at these championships.

Dare Rose leads the men’s 100 fly field after a massive personal best in semis. He did the same in the 50 fly, but missed the medals so he’ll be looking for the opposite result here. It’s going to be a tough field though, Matt Temple looks strong, Maxime Grousset has already won two bronze medals, and Josh Liendo scratched the 50 free final, signaling he’s all in for this race.

Kaylee McKeown and Regan Smith go head-to-head for the third time this week in the 200 backstroke. McKeown’s gotten the better of Smith twice, and she’ll look to be the second person at this meet to make history by sweeping their 50/100/200 of stroke.

Katie Ledecky will be back in action in the women’s 800 freestyle. As expected, she posted the fastest time in the field in the prelims. Behind her, 1500 free silver medallist Simona Quadarella aims to keep Australians Lani Pallister and Ariarne Titmus at bay and add another medal to her 2023 collection.


Top 8:

  1. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) — 24.77
  2. Zhang Yufei (CHN) — 25.05
  3. Gretchen Walsh (USA) — 25.46
  4. Farida Osman (EGY) — 25.62
  5. Torri Huske (USA) — 25.64
  6. Sara Junevik (SWE) — 25.74
  7. Rikako Ikee (JPN) — 25.78
  8. Melanie Henique (FRA) — 25.80

Sarah Sjostrom just won her fifth straight World title in the women’s 50 butterfly. Zhang Yufei pushed her down the middle of the race, but in the closing meters it was all Sjostrom. The 29-year-old Swede pulled away from the field and earned her gold in 24.77–the only one in the field under 25 seconds, continuing to show off her dominance in this event. And, she said in her post-race interview that she’s loving swimming more than ever.

Zhang couldn’t hang with Sjostrom, but she held on strong for a silver medal. She touched in 25.05, setting a new Asian record in the process. She finished over four-tenths ahead of Gretchen Walsh, who earned her first individual Worlds medal with a 25.46. That’s a strong bounce back for Walsh, who struggled a bit in the earlier part of the meet.


  • World Record: 20.91 — Cesar Cielo, Brazil (2009)
  • Championship Record: 21.04 — Caeleb Dressel, United States (2019)
  • World Junior Record: 21.75 — Michael Andrew, United States (2017)
  • 2022 Winning Time: 21.32 — Ben Proud, Great Britain

Top 8:

  1. Cameron McEvoy (AUS) — 21.06
  2. Jack Alexy (USA) — 21.57
  3. Ben Proud (GBR) — 21.58
  4. Isaac Cooper (AUS) — 21.70
  5. Ryan Held (USA) — 21.72
  6. Jordan Crooks (CAY) — 21.73
  7. Kristian Gkolomeev (GRE) — 21.82
  8. Leonardo Deplano (ITA) — 21.92

If there was any doubt, Cameron McEvoy is back. A year ago, no one would have picked him to win this race, but he fired off a warning message at Australian Trials, swimming a personal best 21.27 for #10 all-time. He reset his best time in the semifinals, and absolutely exploded here in the final. He was untouchable, and blazed a 21.06. That swim puts him #4 all-time, and makes him the second-fastest ever in a textile suit.

Top 5 All-Time Top Performers, Men’s 50 Meter Freestyle (LCM):

  1. Cesar Cielo, Brazil — 20.91 (2009)
  2. Frederick Bosquet, France — 20.94 (2009)
  3. Caeleb Dressel, United States — 21.04 (2019/2021)
  4. Cameron McEvoy, Australia — 21.06
  5. Ben Proud, Great Britain — 21.11 (2018)

The U.S. has its new sprint star in Jack Alexy. Alexy was a surprise medallist in the men’s 100 free, winning silver from lane 8 and becoming the #2 all-time U.S. performer in that event. Now, he’s earned another individual silver. He seemed too far behind at the 35 meter mark, but put his head down, charging home and using all of his six feet and seven inches to get his hand on the wall in second with a 21.57.

Like he did in the semifinals, he out-touched defending world champion Ben Proud by one-hundredth, but this time it was for a medal. Proud took bronze in 21.58. Meanwhile, McEvoy’s teammate Isaac Cooper just missed the medals with a 21.70, a promising sign for his 50 backstroke.

WOMEN’S 50 FREESTYLE — Semifinal

  • World Record: 23.67 — Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden (2017)
  • Championship Record: 23.67 — Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden (2017)
  • World Junior Record: 24.17 — Claire Curzan, United States (2021)
  • 2022 Winning Time: 23.98 — Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden

Finals Qualifiers:

  1. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) — 23.61 (WORLD RECORD)
  2. Shayna Jack (AUS) — 24.01
  3. Zhang Yufei (CHN) — 24.20
  4. Abbey Weitzeil (USA) — 24.27
  5. Cheng Yujie (CHN) — 24.56
  6. Michelle Coleman (SWE) — 24.63
  7. Emma McKeon (AUS) — 24.67
  8. Marie Wattel (FRA)/Marrit Steenbergen (NED) — 24.68 (Swim Off Required)

Approximately 15 minutes between your races? It’s no problem for Sarah Sjostrom, who just took down her own 50 freestyle world record in the semifinals. Sjostrom was in the second semifinal, giving her a little extra rest but it still wasn’t much. She didn’t seem to need it though, taking six-hundredths off the world record she swam in 2017.

Abbey Weitzeil got out to the lead in the second semi, but Sjostrom’s closing speed made the difference–she put her head down and powered home. She’s well ahead of the second fastest qualifier, Shayna Jack, who’s also showing that she’s on great form by hitting another personal best.

Zhang Yufei had the 50 fly/50 free double as well, and she executed it strongly, swimming 24.20 and qualifying in third. Weitzeil is sitting just behind Zhang with a 24.57.

We’re going to have another swim-off, as Marie Wattel and Marrit Steenbergen tied for eighth with a 24.68.


Finals Qualifiers:

  1. Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) — 29.30 (=WORLD RECORD, CHAMPIONSHIP RECORD)
  2. Lilly King (USA) — 29.72
  3. Lara van Niekerk (RSA) — 29.91
  4. Benedetta Pilato (ITA) — 30.09
  5. Tang Qianting (CHN) — 30.12
  6. Eneli Jefimova (EST) — 30.22
  7. Anita Bottazzo (ITA) — 30.28
  8. Satomi Suzuki (JPN) — 30.33

We got another semifinal world record, folks. Ruta Meilutyte continues to impress in her return to the sport. She was knocking on the door of this world record last summer, and now she’s tied it with a 29.30 to lead the semifinals. It’s an outright championship record, taking a tenth off Lilly King‘s record from 2017.

Meilutyte, the 100 breast world champion once again, came on strong in the closing meters to move pass King in the second semifinals. Coming into this race, Meilutyte’s lifetime best was a 29.44 swum at 2022 Euros.

King moved through to the final in second position, with the now co-world record holder Benedetta Pilato in fourth (30.09).

Lara van Niekerk had a horrible start in the heats of this race and actually missed the cut for semis, finishing 17th. However, her teammate Tatjana Schoenmaker scratched out, moving van Niekerk into the semis. van Niekerk made the most of that moment, winning her semifinal in 29.91, joining Meilutyte and King sub-30.


  • World Record: 49.45 — Caeleb Dressel, United States (2021)
  • Championship Record: 49.5o — Caeleb Dressel, United States (2019)
  • World Junior Record: 50.63 — Kristof Milak, Hungary (2017)
  • 2022 Winning Time: 50.14 — Kristof Milak, Hungary

Top 8:

  1. Maxime Grousset (FRA) — 50.14
  2. Josh Liendo (CAN) — 50.34
  3. Dare Rose (USA) — 50.46
  4. Matt Temple (AUS) — 50.81
  5. Nyls Korstanje (NED) — 51.05
  6. Katsushiro Matsumoto (JPN) — 51.20
  7. Noe Ponti (SUI) — 51.23
  8. Gal Cohen Groumi (ISR) — 51.32

Maxime Grousset and Josh Liendo just showed that scratching the 50 free in lieu of the 100 butterfly was the right call. Grousset turned second behind Nyls Korstanje, 23.20 to 23.24. He split 26.90 on his second 50, pulling ahead of Korstanje, who faded down the stretch, and getting his first individual Worlds gold.

Grousset has been on the podium twice this meet already with a couple of third place finishes. He earned this gold in 50.14, which moves him up to #5 on the all-time list behind Caeleb Dressel, Kristof Milak, Michael Phelps and Milorad Cavic. 

Liendo moved up from third at the turn, splitting 23.55/26.79. He earned bronze last year, and now he’s moved up a step on the podium with a silver medal here in Fukuoka. Though Grousset bumped him down to #6 all-time, Liendo’s 50.34 is a new personal best for him, and resets his own Canadian record by .02.

Dare Rose refused to have a repeat of the men’s 50 butterfly. After went in as the top seed there, he wasn’t able to get on the podium. That wasn’t the case here, as he took bronze in 50.46, another personal best time. Rose swam a personal best of 50.74 to make the U.S. team. Before that meet, his personal best was 51.40 so over the course of this summer, he’s chopped .94 seconds off his best time.


  • World Record: 2:03.14 — Kaylee McKeown, Australia (2023)
  • Championship Record: 2:03.35 — Regan Smith, United States (2019)
  • World Junior Record: 2:03.35 — Regan Smith, United States (2019)
  • 2022 Winning Time: 2:05.08 — Kaylee McKeown, Australia

Top 8:

  1. Kaylee McKeown (AUS) — 2:03.85
  2. Regan Smith (USA) — 2:04.94
  3. Peng Xuwei (CHN) — 2:06.74
  4. Katie Shanahan (GBR) — 2:07.45
  5. Kylie Masse (CAN) — 2:07.52
  6. Rhyan White (USA) — 2:08.43
  7. Laura Bernat (POL) — 2:10.68
  8. Jenna Forrester (AUS) — 2:11.44

Make that three for Kaylee McKeown. One day removed from watching Qin Haiyang become the first man to sweep the 50/100/200 breaststroke, we’ve now been treated to seeing McKeown accomplish the same feat in the women’s backstrokes.

It was Regan Smith who took the race by the horns–she was out under world record pace at the 100-meter mark, turning in 1:00.26. McKeown was about a half-second behind her at that point. She made her move on the third 50, out-splitting Smith 31.52 to 31.99 to pull herself closer to the American.

McKeown charged home in 31.52, touching the wall at 2:03.85 for her third individual gold of the meet. Smith came home in 32.69, taking silver. Smith has now earned silver in all three individual backstroke races.

As expected, the two were well ahead of the rest of the field. Peng Xuwei, the fastest seed out of the semis, earned bronze in 2:06.74, adding another medal to China’s impressive haul. Behind her, Katie Shanahanwho’s at her first World Championships, was fourth in 2:07.45, just out-touching Kylie Masse.

MEN’S 50 BACKSTROKE — Semifinal

  • World Record: 23.55 — Kliment Kolesnikov, Russia (2023)
  • Championship Record: 24.04 — Liam Tancock, Great Britain (2009)
  • World Junior Record: 24.00 — Kliment Kolesnikov, Russia (2018)
  • 2022 Winning Time: 24.12 — Justin Ress, United States

Finals Qualifiers:

  1. Justin Ress (USA) — 24.35
  2. Xu Jiayu (CHN)/Hunter Armstrong (USA) — 24.41
  3. (tie)
  4. Ksawery Masiuk (POL) — 24.47
  5. Apostolos Christou (GRE)/Thomas Ceccon (ITA) — 24.57
  6. (tie)
  7. Ole Braunschweig (GER) — 24.73
  8. Andrew Jeffcoat (NZL) — 24.81

Now freed from the backstroke finish rule that caused so much trouble for him in Budapest, Justin Ress had nothing to worry about as he swam the fastest time of the 50 backstroke semifinals. Ress touched in 24.35, grabbing lane 4 by six-hundredths. Hunter Armstrong finished second behind Ress in semifinal #2, tying with Xu Jiayu. Xu won the first semifinal in 24.41, taking .01 seconds off his Chinese record in the event.

Six of the 2022 finalists in this event return to the final here in Fukuoka. Along with Ress and Armstrong, 2022 bronze medalist Ksawery Masiuk made it safely through in fourth (24.47). There’s also Apostolos Christou, Thomas Ceccon, and Ole Braunschweig qualifying for the final again. Christou and Ceccon are tied for fifth (24.57), with Braunschweig sitting behind them in 24.73.


  • World Record: 8:04.79 — Katie Ledecky, United States (2016)
  • Championship Record: 8:07.39 — Katie Ledecky, United States (2015)
  • World Junior Record: 8:11.00 — Katie Ledecky, United States (2014)
  • 2022 Winning Time: 8:08.08 — Katie Ledecky, United States

Top 8:

  1. Katie Ledecky (USA) — 8:08.87
  2. Li Bingjie (CHN) — 8:13.31
  3. Ariarne Titmus (AUS) — 8:13.59
  4. Simona Quadarella (ITA) — 8:16.46
  5. Isabel Gose (GER) — 8:17.95
  6. Jillian Cox (USA) — 8:19.73
  7. Lani Pallister (AUS) — 8:21.33
  8. Erika Fairweather (NZL) — 8:28.21

“I never even dreamed of swimming at meets like this [when I was young],” said world record holder Katie Ledecky, who just won sixth-straight world title in the women’s 800 freestyle. Ledecky was challenging her own world record at the start of the race, flipping in 1:58.29 at the 200-meter mark. Her 400 free split was 4:01.92, which would’ve been sixth in the individual 400 freestyle earlier in the meet.

She fell off her record pace, but there was no question that she was winning gold, she stopped the clock at 8:08.87, well ahead of the rest of the field.

Behind her, there was a tight race for second between Li Bingjie and Ariarne Titmus. At the touch, it was Li who earned the silver, out-touching Titmus 8:13.31 to 8:13.59. With that swim, Li set a new Asian record. Though she just missed out on silver, Titmus tied her Oceanic record that she set at the Tokyo Games.


  • World Record: 3:19.38 — Australia (2022)
  • Championship Record: 3:19.38 — Australia (2022)
  • World Junior Record: 3:25.92 — United States (2019)
  • 2022 Winning Time: 3:19.38

Top 8:

  1. Australia (Cartwright, Chalmers, Jack, O’Callaghan) — 3:18.83 (WORLD RECORD)
  2. United States (Alexy, King, Weitzeil, Douglass) — 3:20.82
  3. Great Britain (Richards, Scott, Hopkin, Anderson) — 3:21.68
  4. Canada — 3:23.82
  5. Italy — 3:24.53
  6. Brazil — 3:25.21
  7. Japan — 3:26.96
  8. Germany — 3:27.18

Make that another gold and another World record for the Australians. They continue to have a phenomenal meet here on Day 7, capping it off with a world record in the mixed 4×100 freestyle relay. The team of Jack Cartwright, Kyle Chalmers, Shayna Jack, and Mollie O’Callaghan combined for a 3:18.83, getting under the mark they set at last year’s World Championships.

For O’Callaghan, it’s her fourth world record of the meet and it’s Jack’s third. It’s these women that really help set Australia’s mixed free relay apart from the rest of the world–they were the only two women to split sub-52. Jack was 51.73, and O’Callaghan brought them home in 51.71. On the front half of the race, Cartwright led-off in 48.14 and Chalmers split 47.25.

Jack Alexy put the United States in front after the first leg, swimming 47.68. He handed things off to Matt King, who split 47.78. On the back half of the U.S.’s race, Weitzeil was 52.94 and Kate Douglass swam 52.42, stopping the clock at 3:20.82 for a silver medal.

Great Britain’s team of Matt Richards, Duncan Scott, Anna Hopkin, and Freya Anderson set a new European record en route to bronze. They combined for a 3:21.68, getting under the Netherlands’ mark of 3:21.81 from 2017. Richards, the new British record holder, was 47.83, Scott clocked 47.46 to briefly put the Brits in the lead. Then, Hopkin split 53.30 and Anderson 53.09, getting the last spot on the podium well ahead of the Canadians, who were fourth in 3:23.82.

Women’s 50 Freestyle — Swim-Off

  1. Marrit Steenbergen (NED) — 24.53
  2. Marie Wattel (FRA) — 24.62

Marrit Steenbergen and Marie Wattel tied for eighth in the women’s 50 freestyle semifinal. That prompted a swim-off for the final lane in tomorrow night’s final. Fresh off winning bronze in the 100 freestyle yesterday, Steenbergen took the win, 24.53 to 24.62.

Both women were faster than the 24.68 that they swam in the semi-finals, with Steenbergen inching closer to her best of 24.42. Though she missed out on the final, it’s still a strong swim for Wattel, as it’s less than a tenth off her personal best 24.54 from 2021.

Women’s 50 Breaststroke — Swim-Off

  1. Sophie Hansson (SWE) — 30.44
  2. Lydia Jacoby (USA) — 30.67

Sophie Hansson and Lydia Jacoby tied for ninth in the women’s 50 breaststroke semifinal. The fact that they’re doing the swim-off implies that someone has scratched out of the final, but we don’t have confirmation as to who it is yet. When we know, we’ll update.

Anyway, it was Hansson who won the swim-off, touching over two-tenths ahead of Jacoby in 30.44. Jacoby, who got under 30 seconds at U.S. Trials, swam 30.67. Both swimmers were slower than the 30.40 they swam in semifinals, but Hansson was just four-hundredths off that mark. Hansson’s lifetime best is 30.31 from 2021 European Championships.

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2 months ago

Just a thought, maybe Lilly might have over-tapered like Regan. Lilly’s speed doesn’t look too bad, 29.7 in the 50 semis letting off a bit at the end, and out with good easy speed in the 100 and 200, but hasn’t been able to bring them home.

2 months ago

Very poor meet for Canada, losing Ben titley and not replacing him. Baring a disaster we’re gonna finish with 2 golds both by the same swimmer, McNeil and liendo losing the 100 fly , masse of the podium entirely. Atkinson needs to go.

Reply to  David
2 months ago

I’m not saying it wasn’t a poor meet for Canadian standards, but not what they are used to. With Ruck just getting back in the pool not long ago and Penny out made a big difference too. Especially relays for Canada.

Reply to  David
2 months ago

Time for a shake up at the HPC . Summer was the only true success and she isn’t trained at the HPC.

2 months ago

Kinda curious what people’s thoughts are on the 1500 final? Finke maybe slightly favored but I think it could be very close.

Gen D
Reply to  Jeremy
2 months ago

Wiffen still has the better PB… we’ll see!

I have a feeling that this race won’t live up to its pre-championship hype with Wellbrock and Paltrinieri out. I’m currently working on eliminating any expectations about how i want it to unfold lol

Reply to  Gen D
2 months ago

I hadn’t realized, you’re correct, Wiffen favored then, sorry

Reply to  Jeremy
2 months ago

I think Wiffen and Finke are probably co-favorites. Many forget that Wiffen has a faster PB than Finke by 2 seconds. Hafnaoui could challenge as well but he’ll have to have a huge drop. Wiffen has guaranteed that he’ll break the WR so we’ll see if he can back up his talk…

Last edited 2 months ago by Wow
Steve Nolan
2 months ago

Did Rowdy confuse Cam McEvoy and James Magnussen? Before the 50 free, he mentioned Cam battling injuries and having shoulder surgeries.

…that’s Magnussen, right? As far as I know McEvoy hasn’t had any major injuries like that. (But I could be wrong!)

2 months ago

Where are all the commenters who said Titmus was going to challenge Ledecky in the 800?? 11 years unbeaten! Ledecky is the goat.

Reply to  RMS
2 months ago

Don’t think anyone really thought she would

Reply to  Joel
2 months ago

Yes they did. Go back and read the comments from a few days ago.

Reply to  RMS
2 months ago

If you really want a laugh, go back and read the comments from the prediction articles and US trials articles.

But no, I don’t think anyone seriously thought she would. I commented that Titmus had a 0.15% chance of winning which is about 1 in 800 lol

2 months ago

Interesting bit of trivia Cam McEvoy and Ben Proud went 2 and 1 at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in 2014 in the 50 free

2 months ago

Who do we think scratched the W50br final? King?

Reply to  Chlorinetherapy
2 months ago

Are we sure someone did? I thought they have swim offs for first reserve as a matter of course just in case someone withdraws

2 months ago

Day 7

In Fukuoka, where waters flow,
The world’s aquatic stars did show,
On Day 7, finals in their might,
A symphony of strength and light.

Katie Ledecky, fierce and bold,
Chasing gold in waters cold,
800 freestyle, her domain,
Another medal she’d attain.

In butterfly, the women’s dash,
Sjostrom soared, a world-record flash,
Zhang and Ikee, strong and bright,
Challenging the champion’s might.

The men’s 50 free, swift and pure,
McEvoy’s form, a sight to lure,
Proud and Alexy, swift they flew,
In a race where dreams came true.

Dare Rose, a flyer in the fly,
In 100, aiming for the sky,
But Grousset’s surge,… Read more »

The Original Tim
Reply to  Zippo
2 months ago

Updated verse about Rose, ignore the flow of the rest of it:

Dare Rose, butterflier in the sky
He can go twice as high
Take a look, it’s in a pool
A swimming rainbow
He can go anywhere
Friends to know, and ways to grow
A swimming rainbow

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

Read More »