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 Live Recap
- Day 5 Prelims Live Recap | Day 5 Finals Live Recap
- Day 6 Prelims Live Recap | Day 6 Finals Live Recap
- Day 7 Prelims Live Recap | Day 7 Finals Live Recap
- Day 8 Prelims Live Recap
Well, all good things must come to end. It’s been an exhilaration week of racing for swimmers and swim fans alike, and the swimming portion of the 2023 World Aquatic Championships wraps up tonight in Fukuoka.
There will be seven events, and as this is the final night of competition, medals will be on the line in all seven events.
First up where be the men’s 50 backstroke, where Justin Ress of the USA will attempt to replicate last year’s feat of having the top time in each round of competition: prelims, semis, and finals. Next, Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte seems to be the clear favorite for gold in the women’s 50 breast after she tied the world record in the semis yesterday.
From there, we’ll go to the longest event, the men’s 1500m free, where the field seem wide open after defending champion Gregorio Paltrinieri scratched this event earlier in the week. Immediately after that, Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden will be in lane 4 after breaking the World Record in the 50 free in last night’s semi final.
The women’s 400 IM will be the final individual event of the meet. Australia’s Jenna Forrester had a great prelims swim to take the top seed for finals, but she’ll face a deep field that includes world record holder Summer McIntosh.
Medley relays for men and women will close out the meet. The USA men seem to be favorites, especially after posting the fastest prelims time by over a second with their ‘B’ team. It’s not quite as clear on the women’s side, where Canada led in prelims, but the US and Australia seem like the favorites to be in contention for gold.
MEN’S 50 BACKSTROKE — FINAL
- 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
- Hunter Armstrong (USA) – 24.05
- Justin Ress (USA) – 24.24
- Xu Jiayu (CHN) – 24.50
- Ksawery Masiuk (POL) – 24.57
- Thomas Cecccon (ITA) – 24.58
- Apostolos Christou (GRE) – 24.60
- Andrew Jeffcoat (NZL) – 24.66
- Ole Braunschweig (GER) – 24.93
The US men kicked off the session by going 1-2 in this event. Justin Ress came into the night having posted the fastest time in five straight rounds of the 50 back at Worlds, dating back to last year. But, it was his teammate Hunter Armstrong who got his hand on the wall first, touching in 24.05. Armstrong’s time was just off the championship record of 24.04, set by Liam Tancock back in 2009.
Ress took 2nd in 24.24, touching just over a quarter of a second ahead of China’s Xu Jiayu (24.50).
This final looked pretty similar to last year’s, with last year’s 3rd-5th place finishers all shifting down one spot in the standings tonight. 2022 bronze medalist Ksawery Masiuk of Poland took 4th tonight in 24.57. Italy’s Thomas Ceccon was just behind him at 24.58, followed by Greece’s Apostolos Christou at 24.60. New Zealand’s Andrew Jeffcoat, one of two men in this final not in last year’s final, finished 7th in 24.66, while last year’s 7th place finisher, Ole Braunschweig, touched 8th in 24.93.
WOMEN’S 50 BREASTSTROKE — FINAL
World Record: 29.30 — Benedetta Pilato, Italy (2021) / Ruta Meilutyte, Lithuania (2023) Championship Record: 29.30 — Ruta Meilutyte, Lithuania (2023)
- World Junior Record: 29.30 — Benedetta Pilato, Italy (2021)
- 2022 Winning Time: 29.70 — Ruta Meilutyte, Lithuania
- Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) – 29.16
- Lilly King (USA) – 29.94
- Benedetta Pilato (ITA) – 30.04
- Lara van Niekerk (RSA) – 30.09
- Anita Bottazzo (ITA) – 30.11
- Tang Quianting (CHN) – 30.22
- Satomi Suzuki (JPN) – 30.44
- Eneli Jefimova (EST) – 30.48
Ruta Meilutyte‘s career resurgence continued tonight with a statement swim in the 50 breast. The 26 year-old Lithuanian won gold in this event for the second year in a row, this time demolishing the world record with a time of 29.16. That’s 0.14s that her semi-final time of 29.30, which tied the previous world, first set by Italy’s Benedetta Pilato in 2021.
The USA’s Lilly King hasn’t had a great meet by her usual standards, but she rallied in her last individual event to take silver in 29.94, the only woman other than Meilutyte to touch in under 30 seconds.
Pilato, meanwhile, grabbed bronze with a 30.04, followed closely by last year’s bronze medalist, Lara van Niekerk of South Africa, in 30.09.
Men’s 1500 Freestyle – Finals
- World Record: 14:31.02 — Sun Yang, China (2012)
Championship Record: 14:32.80 — Gregorio Paltrinieri, Italy (2022)
- World Junior Record: 14:46.09 — Franko Grgic, Croatia (2019)
- 2022 Winning Time: 14:32.80 — Gregorio Paltrinieri, Italy
- Ahmed Hafnaoui (TUN) – 14:31.54
- Bobby Finke (USA) – 14:31.59
- Sam Short (AUS) – 14:37.28
- Daniel Wiffen (IRL) – 14:43.01
- Lukas Martens (GER) – 14:44.51
- Kristof Rasovszky (HUN) – 14:51.46
- Mykhailo Romanchuk (UKR) – 14:53.21
- David Aubry (FRA) – 14:56.
What. A. Race.
Australia’s Sam Short took it out fast, hitting the 400m in 3:49.77, and he remained in the lead until nearly 2/3 of the way through the race. Bobby Finke of the USA and Tunisia’s Ahmed Hafnaoui traded the lead for a few lengths, until Hafnaoui took over the lead for good with about 300m to go. Finke stayed right on his shoulder the rest of the race, and at the wall it came down to the touch.
Hafnaoui got his hand on the wall first by just 0.05s, touching in 14:31.54, setting a new Championship Record and African Record, and posting the 2nd-fastest performance ever in the event. Finke’s time of 14:31.59 comes in as the 3rd-fastest swim ever, and shattered his own American Record by five seconds.
Short faded hard behind the two leaders, but still had enough in the tank to take 3rd in 14:37.28, nearly six seconds ahead of the Ireland’s Daniel Wiffen (14:43.01).
It’s worth noting that Hafnaoui, Finke, and Short all medaled in the 800m free earlier in the week, with Short taking silver and Finke bronze in that race. Short, meanwhile took gold in the 400m free, with Hafnaoui taking silver there.
WOMEN’S 50 FREESTYLE — FINAL
- World Record: 23.61 — Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden (2023)
- Championship Record: 23.61 — Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden (2023)
- World Junior Record: 24.17 — Claire Curzan, United States (2021)
- 2022 Winning Time: 23.98 — Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden
- Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) – 23.62
- Shayna Jack (AUS) – 24.10
- Zhang Yufei (CHN) – 24.15
- Abbey Weitzeil (USA) – 24.32
- Emma McKeon (AUS) – 24.35
- Cheng Yujie (CHN) – 24.45
- Michelle Coleman (SWE) – 24.46
- Marrit Steenbergen (NED) – 24.61
Sarah Sjostrom continues to shine this meet. One night after breaking the world record in this event with a 23.61, the 29 year-old Swede put up the 2nd-fastest time in history to win this event by nearly half a second, in 23.62.
It was a tight battle for 2nd, with Australia’s Shayna Jack touching just ahead of China’s Zhang Yufei, 24.10 to 24.15. Abbey Weitzeil of the USA had a great start, but seemed to take a half stroke on the finish, settling for 4th at 24.32, just ahead of Australia’s Emma McKeon at 24.35.
WOMEN’S 400 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY – FINAL
- World Record: Summer McIntosh, Canada – 4:25.87 (2023)
Championship Record: Katinka Hosszu, Hungary – 4:29.33 (2017)
- World Junior Record: Summer McIntosh, Canada – 4:25.87 (2023)
- 2022 Winning Time: Summer McIntosh, Canada – 4:32.04
- Summer McIntosh (CAN) – 4:27.11
- Katie Grimes (USA) – 4:31.41
- Jenna Forrester (AUS) – 4:32.30
- Alex Walsh (USA) – 4:34.46
- Freya Colbert (GBR) – 4:35.28
- Sara Franceschi (ITA) – 4:37.73
- Katie Shanahan (GBR) – 4:41.29
- Mio Narita (JPN) – 4:42.14
Canadian wunderkind Summer McIntosh closed out her individual events this week with a resounding victory in the 400 IM. The 16 year-old McIntosh, who set the world record a few months ago, led from beginning to end tonight, and was never seriously challenged. While she was a little over a second off of her World Record time, she demolished the Championship Record, going 4:27.11 to win by over four seconds. McIntosh still has one more race, as she’s slated to anchor Canada’s medley relay roughly 30 minutes after this swim.
Teenagers went 1-2 tonight, as 17 year-old Katie Grimes of the USA took 2nd in 4:31.41. Grimes was in 2nd for most of the first half of the race, got passed by Jenna Forrester on the breast leg, and then rallied on the free leg to beat the Australian by nearly a second (4:32.30).
Grimes’ USA teammate Alex Walsh was in medal position early on, but was also passed by Forrester, and ended up 4th in 4:34.46.
MEN’S 4×100 MEDLEY RELAY – FINAL
- World Record: United States – 3:26.78 (2021)
Championship Record: United States – 3:27.28 (2009)
- World Junior Record: Russian Federation – 3:33.19 (2019)
- 2022 Winning Time: Italy – 3:27.51
- USA – 3:27.20
- China – 3:29.00
- Australia – 3:29.62
- France – 3:29.88
- Great Britain – 3:30.16
- Japan – 3:32.58
- Canada – 3:32.61
- Germany – 3:32.91
It’s been a less-than-ideal meet for the USA men, but the Americans pulled together to take gold in the final men’s event of the meet with strong swims from all four relay members.
Stalwart Ryan Murphy led off in 52.04, the only man in the field under 53.0, and faster than the 52.22 he went to win gold individually faster in the week. Nic Fink, who tied for silver in the individual 100 breast, split 58.03. International team rookie Dare Rose nearly got under 50 on the fly split, going 50.13. Fellow “Jersey Boy” Jack Alexy anchored in 47.00, stopping the clock in 3:27.20. That time broke a 14 year-old Championship Record of 3:27.28, set by the USA in 2009 at the height of the supersuit era.
China took 2nd in 3:29.00, thanks to a 57.43 breast split from Qin Haiyang and a 46.62 anchor from Pan Zhanle. Australia had a strong back half, getting a 50.10 fly split from Matthew Temple and a 46.89 anchor from Kyle Chalmers to earn bronze in 3:29.62.
France’s standout split didn’t come from Leon Marchand, who clocked a 59.25 on breast, but rather from 100 fly champion Maxime Grousset, who threw down a 49.27 on the fly leg, helping France to a 4th place finish with a time of 3:29.88.
WOMEN’S 4×100 MEDLEY RELAY – FINAL
- World Record: United States – 3:50.40 (2019)
- Championship Record: United States – 3:50.40 (2019)
- World Junior Record: Canada – 3:58.38 (2017)
- 2022 Winning Time: United States – 3:53.78
- USA – 3:52.08
- Australia – 3:53.37
- Canada – 3:54.12
- China – 3:54.57
- Sweden – 3:56.32
- Japan – 3:58.02
- Netherlands – 3:58.09
- France – 3:59.25
Like the men, the US women hadn’t been firing on all cylinders for most of the week, but they capped off the meet with a strong win here. Regan Smith led off in 57.68, beating archival Kaylee McKeown (57.91) of Australia head-to-head for the first time this week. Lilly King followed up her silver medal in the 50 breast with a 1:04.93 split, the fastest in the field by almost a whole second. Gretchen Walsh got the nod for the fly leg in the final over bronze medalist Torri Huske. Walsh responded with a 57.06 split, slower than Huske’s time in the individual final, but more than enough to get the job done. We’re pretty sure this is the first time the US has used a 200 breast medalist as their medley relay anchor, but these are the things that happen when Kate Douglass is involved. She anchored in 52.41 to stop the clock in 3:52.08.
Australia parlayed a strong back half into a silver medal. After McKeown’s leadoff, which was the 2nd-fastest in the field, Abbey Harkin split 1:07.07 on breast, the slowest split of the night. But Emma McKeon split 56.44 on fly, and then Mollie O’Callaghan, who has been sensational this week, anchored in 51.95 to move the Aussies from 4th to 2nd, touching in 3:53.37.
Canada was in 2nd after a 55.50 fly split from Maggie MacNeil, but 400 IM champion Summer McIntosh got by passed by O’Callaghan on the anchor leg. Her 53.48 was still enough to secure a bronze medal with an overall time of 3:54.12.