2023 World Junior Championships: Day 2 Finals Live Recap


The second finals session of the 2023 World Junior Championships in Netanya, Israel is about to be underway. This session has eight finals, two semifinals, and the fastest heat of the timed final Girls’ 800 Free.

This morning session saw several fast swims, including one championship record. Japan’s Tomoyuki Matsushita broke Carson Foster’s record in the 200 IM by .06 and will look to lower it again.

The Australian girls kept the sprinting reputation of their country intact, as Olivia Wunsch and Milla Jansen will have the middle lanes in tonight’s 100 free semifinals. American Anna Moesch joins the pair as the only other swimmer with a prelim time sub-55.00.

As a reminder, there are no semifinals for events 200m and longer, so we will see Australian Bella Grant and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Lana Pudar duke it out for gold in the 200 fly.

The boy’s 200 free is also expected to be a barnburner as the top seed Flynn Southam, enters just as the 5th seed behind Italy’s Alessandro Ragaini and last night’s 400 free winner Bulgaria’s Petar Mitsin.

The session will end with the fastest heat of the girl’s 800 free and the mixed 4×100 medley relay, where the U.S. enters as the heavy favorite after qualifying 1st this morning over one and half seconds faster than Japan.

Day 2 Finals Schedule

  • Boys 100 Backstroke – Final
  • Girls 200 Butterfly – Final
  • Boys 200 Freestyle – Final
  • Girls 50 Breaststroke – Final
  • Boys 100 Butterfly- Semifinals
  • Girls 100 Freestyle – Semifinals
  • Boys 100 Breaststroke – Final
  • Girls 100 Backstroke –  Final
  • Boys 200 IM – Final
  • Girls 800 Freestyle – Fastest Heat (timed final)
  • Mixed 4×100 Medley relay – Final


Boys 100 Backstroke – FINALS

  • World Junior Record: 52.53 – Kliment Kolesnikov, Russia (2018)
  • Championship Record: 52.91 – Ksawery Masiuk, Poland (2022)
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 53.74
    • ‘B’ Standard: 54.01
  • Time for 3rd at 2022 World Jr Champs: 55.08


  • GOLD: Oleksandr Zheltiakov (UKR) – 53.73
  • SILVER: Miroslav Knedla (CZE) – 54.01
  • BRONZE: Christian Cacico (ITA) – 54.08

The first final of the evening came down to a very close finish between lanes 3 and 4, with the touch going to lane 3’s Ukrainian Oleksandr Zheltyakov in a time of 53.73. Zheltyakov was just 3rd at the 50m wall (25.86), trailing both the Czech Republic’s Miroslav Knedla (25.50) and Argentina’s Ulises Saravia (25.70), but used a solid back-half to power through the field and touch with the only time sub-54.

Knedla held on for 2nd, touching the wall just .07 ahead of the fast-charging Italian Christian Bacico, who had the fastest last 50 in the field of 27.59.

After entering the meet as the 1st seed and qualifying into the final as the 4th seed, American Daniel Diehl finished a disappointing 5th, in a time of 54.37, well off his entry time of 53.07, just one spot ahead of Australia’s Enoch Robb, who finished in 54.75, which represents a drop from his entry time of 55.43.

Girls 200 Butterfly – FINALS

  • World Junior Record: 2:04.06 – Summer McIntosh, Canada (2023)
  • Championship Record: 2:07.74– Emily Large, Great Britain(2017)
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 2:08.43
    • ‘B’ Standard: 2:09.07
  • Time for 3rd at 2022 World Jr Champs: 2:13.36


  • GOLD: Lana Pudar (BIH) – 2:07.20 *New Championship Record*
  • SILVER: Bella Grant (AUS) – 2:08.97
  • BRONZE: Paola Borrelli (ITA) – 2:10.89

After a slow prelims swim this morning (2:10.11), Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Lana Pudar showed up tonight, leading from start to finish, finishing in a new championship record time of 2:07.20, erasing Great Britain’s Emily Large’s 2:07.74 from 2017,

By the 100 mark, Pudar was over a second ahead of the field and extended that lead to win by over one and a half seconds. Finishing 2nd  was Australia’s Bella Grant, who touched in 2:08.97, marking her first time under 2:09.

Notably, Pudar was just .15 off the time she swam to place 4th in Fukuoka.

Nabbing 3rd was Italy’s Paola Borrelli in a time of 2:10.89, the 2nd consecutive bronze medal won by an Italian swimmer. Borrelli was just 5th at the 100 mark and touched 6th at the 150, but used a speedy 33.71 to pass through the field and place 3rd.

Grant’s teammate, Jessica Cole, finished in 5th (2:11.11), just ahead of the two Americans Hannah Bellard (2:11.26) and Bailey Hartman (2:11.67).

Boys 200 Freestyle– FINALS

  • World Junior Record: 1:42.97– David Popovici, Romania (2022)
  • Championship Record: 1:46.18 –David Popovici, Romania (2022)
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 1:46.26
    • ‘B’ Standard: 1:46.79
  • Time for 3rd at 2022 World Jr Champs: 1:49.05


After placing 5th into the final from this morning’s swim, Australian sprinter Flynn Southam swam to the win this evening in a time of 1:46.57. He took out the race face leading at the 50, with a split of 24.95 (the only sub-25 split). South Korea’s Junwoo Kim was just behind at 25.02 and actually had the lead at the 100, but Southam used a strong back half to power to the wall and grab gold.

Alessandro Ragaini started out slow, touching 8th at the first 50 and 6th at the 100, but, like Southam, used a strong back half to move up through the field and ultimately finished 2nd, making it three events in a row that Italians have medaled in.

Southam’s fellow Australian Anders McAlpine used a 26.98 last 50 to move from 8th at the 150 mark all the way to the bronze medal.

While the Australians finished 1-3, their main competition in the medal table hunt, the Americans, finished just 7th and 8th in the final, with Cooper Lucas posting a time of 1:48.53 and Jason Zhao touching the wall in 1:48.62.

Girls 50 Breaststroke– FINALS

  • World Junior Record: 29.30 – Benedetta Pilato, Italy (2021)
  • Championship Record: 30.19 – Eneli Jefimova, Estonia (2023)
  • Time for 3rd at 2022 World Jr Champs: 31.96


  • GOLD: Eneli Jefimova (EST) – 30.42
  • SILVER: Monique Wieruszowski (NZL) – 30.68
  • BRONZE: Piper Enge (USA) – 30.74

It might not have been the time she was looking for, but Estonia’s Eneli Jefimova grabbed the gold in a time of 30.42. Notably, she swam a 30.19 in the prelims yesterday morning, but there is some consolation in the fact that time here was faster than what she swam in finals in Fukuoka (30.48 -8th).

Grabbing silver was New Zealand’s Monique Wieruszowski, who touched just.26 behind with a time of 30.68. American Piper Enge swam to bronze, the first medal for the U.S. on the evening in a time of 30.74, a new personal best, and the first time she swam under 31.

Boys 100 Butterfly– SEMIFINALS

  • World Junior Record: 50.62 – Kristof Milak, Hungary (2017)
  • Championship Record: 51.08 – Kristof Milak, Hungary (2017)
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 51.67
    • ‘B’ Standard: 51.93
  • Time for 8th at 2022 World Jr Champs: 54.16


  1. Wang Xizhe (CHN) – 52.49
  2. Casper Puggaard (DEN) – 52.61
  3. Maxim Skazobtsov (KAZ) – 52.73
  4. Lukas Edl (AUT) – 52.84
  5. Filip Senc-Samardzic (CAN) – 52.85
  6. Maro Miknic (CRO) – 53.49
  7. Daniele Momoni (ITA) – 53.59
  8. Enoch Robb (AUS) – 53.61

The first semifinal of the evening was a rather lopsided affair, with six of the top eight coming from the 2nd semifinal, including the four fastest. Taking lane 4 for tomorrow night’s final will be China’s Wang Xizhe, whose time of 52.49 just untouched the 52.61 put up by Dane Casper Puggaard.

Three other swimmers joined the pair under 53, setting up a tight final tomorrow.

Austalia’s Enoch Robb squeaked into the final tonight with a 53.61. Robb had a quick turnaround after finishing 6th in the 100 back, a few events prior. His teammate Thomas Pattison finished 13th in a time of 53.90.

Notably, both Americans, Jacob Wimberly and Tai Pearson, were in the 1st semifinal heat and, despite qualifying 4th and 8th into the semifinal, finished just 10th and 11th in times of 53.71 and 53.75, respectively.

Girls 100 Freestyle– SEMIFINALS

  • World Junior Record: 52.70– Penny Oleksiak, Canada (2016)
  • Championship Record: 53.63 – Taylor Ruck, Canada (2017)
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 53.61
    • ‘B’ Standard: 53.88
  • Time for 8th at 2022 World Jr Champs: 57.33


  1. Olivia Wunsch (AUS) – 54.08
  2. Milla Jansen (AUS) – 54.18
  3. Anna Moesch (USA) – 54.41
  4. Erika Pelaez (USA) – 55.26
  5. Maria Daza Garcia (ESP) – 55.27
  6. Sara Curtis (ITA) – 55.39
  7. Julie Brousseau (CAN) – 55.51
  8. Mia West (CAN) – 55.58

Australia’s Olivia Wunsch and Milla Jansen kept things true to form, as the pair each won their semifinals by wide margins.

In the first semifinal, Jansen touched in 54.18, a new personal best, over a second faster than Erika Pelaez‘s 55.26. A minute or two after, Wunsch eclipsed her compatriot’s time by touching in 54.08. Finishing behind her was the American Anna Moesch in a time of 54,41. 

The final tomorrow will see the two Australias in lanes 4 and 5 surrounded by the two Americans. Also joining the final, in the outside lanes, are a pair of Canadians. Julie Brousseau and Mia West.

Notably, this semifinal saw an even split of swimmers, with four advancing from each heat, as opposed to the previous event, which saw only two swimmers advance from the 1st semifinal heat.

Boys 100 Breaststroke– FINALS

  • World Junior Record: 59.01 – Nicolo Martinenghi, Italy (2017)
  • Championship Record: 59.01 – Nicolo Martinenghi, Italy (2017)
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 59.49
    • ‘B’ Standard: 59.79
  • Time for 3rd at 2022 World Jr Champs: 1:02.80


  • GOLD: Joshua Chen (USA) – 1:00.70
  • SILVER: Yamato Okadome (JPN) – 1:01.20
  • BRONZE: Watson Nguyen (USA) – 1:01.22

There seems to be a recurring theme for the evening tonight, strong back halves win golds. American Joshua Chen used this strategy perfectly. After touching T-6th at the 50 mark (29.11), he surged to the final wall with the only sub-32-split (31.59) to grab the gold medal in a time of 1:00.70

The Harvard Crimson commit’s time marks the first occasion he swam under 1:01.00 and is the first gold medal on the evening for Team USA.

Nabbing the silver medal was Japanese swimmer Yamato Okadome, who, like Chen, turned at the 50 outside of the medals but used the 2nd fastest last 50 to pass two other swimmers and place 2nd in a time of 1:01.20.

Chen’s teammate Watson Nguyen led at the 50 but was ultimately passed by the aforementioned two in the last 50 and finished 3rd in a time of 1:01.22, a new personal best. His previous best of 1:01.34 was set last night in the semifinals. 

Girls 100 Backstroke– FINALS

  • World Junior Record: 57.57 – Regan Smith, United States (2019)
  • Championship Record: 59.11 – Regan Smith, United States (2017)
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 59.99
    • ‘B’ Standard: 1:00.29
  • Time for 3rd at 2022 World Jr Champs: 1:02.10


  • GOLD: Jaclyn Barclay (AUS) – 59.47
  • SILVER: Iona Anderson (AUS) – 59.88
  • BRONZE: Erika Pelaez (USA) – 59.94

Just as highlighted in the Girls’ Storyline article, the 100 back did not disappoint. The Australia and USA rivalry in the backstroke in Fukuoka has carried over to Netanya as the Aussie pair of Jaclyn Barclay and Iona Anderson took on the American’s Teagan O’Dell and Erika Pelaez.

The Aussie pair ended up atop the podium, with Barclay winning by a comfortable margin of .41 over her compatriot. Barclay’s time tonight is also close to half a second faster than her entry time of 59.81. Anderson, for her part, also dropped time from her seed; she entered the meet seeded with a 1:00.05 and nipped under 1:00 to grab silver in 59.88.

Joining the pair under 1:00 was American Erika Pelaez, who tied her new pb from last night of 59.94 to grab the bronze medal. She used a very strong back half, posting the fastest last 50 (30.09) to move up from 7th. Peleaz has had a busy night after having just qualified 4th in the semifinals of the 100 free, two events previously.

The other American in the field, Teagan O’Dell, entered as the top seed, courtesy of the 59.83 she swam last night, but faded to 4th (1:00.07) after flipping at the turn in 2nd.

Boys 200 IM – FINALS

  • World Junior Record: 1:56.99 – Hubert Kos, Hungary (2021)
  • Championship Record: 1:58.42 – Tomoyuki Matsushita, Japan (2023)
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 1:57.94
    • ‘B’ Standard: 1:58.53
  • Time for 3rd at 2022 World Jr Champs: 2:01.39


  • GOLD: Maximus Williamson (USA) – 1:57.29 *New Championship Record*
  • SILVER: Daniel Diehl (USA) – 1:58.62
  • BRONZE: Lorne Wigginton (CAN) – 1:59.44

WOW!!! What a race. The U.S.’s Max Williamson and Japan’s Tomoyuki Matsushita had a great duel across 150m of the race, but Williamson used an amazing last 50 (27.26) to grab the win in 1:57.29. A time that smashed Matsushita’s hours-old record.

Williamson’s time notably would have placed 9th in the semifinals at Worlds, just .06 behind fellow American Shaine Casas’s 1:57.23.

After the race, Matsushita was DQed (the live stream revealed for not finishing on the back), which moved up Williamson’s teammate, Daniel Diehl, into the silver medal. Diehl, for his part, was close to the pair throughout the course of the race and used the fastest breaststroke split in the field to keep the pressure on Williamson.

Nabbing the bronze was Canadian Lorne Wigginton in a time of 1:59.44. After breaking the 15-17 NAG record in the 400 free last night, Wigginton repeated the feat here in the 200 IM. His time broke Evan White’s 2:00.31, which was set back in 2013.

All three medalists posted new personal bests, and all three would have won the gold last year at World Juniors. The 2022 champion was Turkey’s Sanberk Yigit Oktar, who won with a time of 1:59.89.

Girls 800 Freestyle – TIMED FINAL (fastest heat)

  • World Junior Record: 8:11.00– Katie Ledecky, USA (2014)
  • Championship Record: 8:22.49 – Lani Pallister, Australia (2019)
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 8:26.71
    • ‘B’ Standard: 8:29.24
  • Time for 3rd at 2022 World Jr Champs: 8:42.88


  • GOLD: Kayla Han (USA) – 8:29.66
  • SILVER: Yihan Mao (CHN) – 8:33.66
  • BRONZE: Agostina Hein (ARG) – 8:33.90

The longest event of the session certainly was not a boring one. American Kayla Han, just 15, took the win in a new personal best time of 8:29.66. Han made her move at the 300m mark, taking over the lead from the early front-runner Argentina’s Agostina Hein.

For her part, Hein, also 15, stayed in contention for the medals, holding on for the bronze (8:33.66) after being passed by China’s Mao Yihan (8:33.90) at the 450m mark.

Notably, all three medalists were on the young end of the spectrum, with Han and Hein, both 15 and Mao, even younger at just 14, so all three could contest this event at the next World Juniors.

Han’s fellow American Lynsey Bowen finished in 6th in time of 8:39.37, just .01 behind Japan’s Niko Aoki.

As this was a timed final, results from this morning count towards the overall placing. Moving up into the top eight were Canada’s Ella Cosgrove and Italy’s Emma Vittoria Giannelli, whose times of 8:39.44 and 8:39.56 placed them 7th and 8th in the standings, respectively.

Mixed 4×100 Medley Relay– FINALS

  • World Junior Record: 3:44.84– USA (2019)
  • Championship Record: 3:44.84– USA (2019)
  • Time for 3rd at 2022 World Jr Champs: 3:58.58


  • GOLD: T. O’Dell, W. Nguyen, L. Shackley, M. Williamson (USA) – 3:45.82
  • SILVER: J. Barclay, G. Burnes, I. Boyd, E. Sommerville (AUS) – 3:49.18
  • BRONZE: C. Bacico, C. Mantegazza, P. Borrelli, M. Biagiotti (ITA) – 3:50.09

The final event of the evening saw several familiar faces pop up again. Foremost among them was the U.S.’s Max Williamson, who, just one event after swimming to a new championship record in the 200 IM, was anchoring the relay. 

While the mixed relays still create mixed emotions among swim fans (or maybe just in the comment section), I am a big fan of them and enjoy seeing the strategy that goes into figuring out line-ups and the lead changes. 

This relay did not disappoint, as the Italians led for roughly 330 meters of the race, using the traditional M/M/F/F order, but were ultimately rundown by both the Americans and Australians, who opted to use a male anchor. 

Team USA was led off by Teagan O’Dell, who had a bit of a redemption swim, posting  59.51 after having touched in 1:00.07 in the individual 100 back. 100 breaststroke bronze medalist Watson Nguyen posted a 1:00.66, also faster than his individual time, and turned it over to Leah Shackley, who threw down a speedy 57.71. Improving upon the 47.78 from last night was Williamson, who, after about 15 minutes of rest, swam 47.74 to finish 1st in a time of 3:45.62. 

The Australians relied on Edward Sommerville instead of using Flynn Southam, but Sommerville’s 48.70 anchor split was enough to move his team up from 7th place into the silver medal position.

While Williamson collected his 2nd gold medal on the evening, the Italian pair of Christian Bacico and Paola Borrelli also added another bronze medal to their hauls after finishing 3rd in the boys’ 100 back and the girls’ 200 fly, respectively.

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25 days ago

Williamson is facing a dilemma that has plagued some great swimmers over the recorded history of the sport. Breaststroke. Can he be among the few who has overcome this affliction? Or should he put his eggs in the Freestyle basket? As far as the other three strokes, his total from this race for Fly, Back, Free would have been third fastest in the World Championships Final, traliling only Marchand and Foster. Choices, choices.
Great swim and Happy Birthday.
We are pretty blessed to have Heilman and Williamson show at the same time, and each faces event choices impacting USA team selection.

25 days ago

Omg, I just realised that Williamson has just turned 17 two days ago (it’s the morning in Australia atm). Bro is already a beast.

25 days ago

Solid night of swimming.

Tomorrow should be good too but I’m wondering which genius decided to put the girls 100 free final 10 minutes before the mixed free relay final. If they had to be in the same session at least spread them out a bit.

25 days ago

Why was Williamson not named to the team for the 200 freestyle as well? Can someone remind me of the selection criteria?

Reply to  Swimfan27
25 days ago

Fastest times in the 200 free finals at Indy trials. Williamson went 1.47.62 in the heats but was eight in the B final with 1.49.40, while Cooper Lucas swam 1.48.73 in the C final and Jason Zhao 1.49.09 in the D final.

Reply to  nuotofan
25 days ago

How does a D final swim get you on the team over a guy who was in the B? Are we sure he didn’t just turn down the spot with the overlap with the IM?

25 days ago

Any chance Kayla Han makes the Olympic team next year?

Reply to  Jonathan
25 days ago

Probably not. Not to sound pessimistic, but I think her improvement curve will slow down a bit as it does for most high-performing swimmers who have done super well since age 12. However, hopefully she proves me wrong and can find 5 seconds in the 400 IM!

I think it would come down to her being able to chase down Alex Walsh or Leah Hayes at US trials next year.

Reply to  Jonathan
25 days ago

She reminds me a lot of the young Claire Tuggle. https://swimswam.com/claire-tuggle-swims-144-in-200-yard-free-at-13/ Fastest 13 y/o ever in 200 yard freestyle. Now, at 19, that improvement curve has leveled out a bit, her PB is only a tenth faster.

tea rex
25 days ago

Daniel Diehl is a lot like Destin Lasco. A backstroker who turns into a breaststroke/freestyler for the 200 IM!

25 days ago

Looks like Han beat her 800M PB by three seconds. Excited to see her 1500M since she just did a PB. Maybe her move to Carmel is a good choice after all.

Reply to  AussieAussieAussie
24 days ago

I mean she’s still riding on her old training at this point

25 days ago

Hein wins only the 4th argentinian medal in World Juniors history, the other 3 were from Pignatiello in 2017. A pity Saravia couldn’t make the podium, but a great race too.

Reply to  NMQ
25 days ago

I think she also swims 400 and 1500

Reply to  Maxhardie
25 days ago

Yup, she is the top seed in the 1500, but after seeing Han’s form won’t be easy. In the 400 could battle for a medal, but not likely. Was also signed in the 400 IM, where she recently broke the age group record from Georgina Bardach from 2001, but dropped it. She is also a great butterflier, already #2 at senior records in the 100 FL, but her focus intertationally will be the distance races.