2023 World Junior Championships: Day 3 Finals Live Recap


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

Last night’s 200 fly winner, Lana Pudar, will look to move up the field in the 50 fly after having qualified in 6th from the prelims session. The top seed in Japan’s Mizuki Hirai will also have to fend off the likes of Leah Shackley, Celine Bispo, and Olivia Wunsch.

The Australian, Wunsch, will have approximately 50 minutes between swims as later on in the program, she will look to go 1-2 in the girls’ 100 freestyle alongside teammate and 2nd seed Milla Jansen. The biggest threat to the pair is American Anna Moesch, who enters as the 3rd seed. The Aussie pair will team up less than 30 minutes later in the mixed 4×100 free relay, where the Aussies hold the top seed over the Americans by over two seconds.

Flynn Southam will lead off that relay after looking to continue his run of good form in the boys’ 50 free semifinals, where he will look to defend his top seed against the likes of Nikoli Blackman and Diggory Dillingham.

As a reminder, events 200m long or more proceed straight to finals, so we will see Americans Jojo Ramey and Teagan O’Dell in the middle two lanes of the girls’ 200 backstroke, where the pair will look to go 1-2, hopping to hold over the 200 fly silver medalist Bella Grant.

The last individual event of the day, the boy’s 800 free, will see the fastest heat swim, led by Bulgaria’s Petar Mitsin, who will look to add another gold to his collection after collecting top honors in the 400 free on Day 1.

Day 3 Finals Schedule

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




GIRLS 50 BUTTERFLY – Semifinals

  • World Junior Record: 25.46 – Rikako Ikee, Japan (2017)
  • Championship Record: 25.46 – Rikako Ikee, Japan (2017)
  • Time for 8th at 2022 World Jr Champs: 27.41


  1. Mizuki Hirai (JPN) – 26.37
  2. Leah Shackley (USA) – 26.43
  3. Olivia Wunsch (AUS) – 26.60
  4. Lana Pudar (BIH) – 26.64
  5. Lillian Slusna (SVK) – 26.78
  6. Celine Bispo (BRA) – 26.82
  7. Isabella Boyd (AUS) – 26.86
  8. Bailey Hartman (USA) – 26.90

Taking top billing tomorrow night will be Mizuki Hirai. She finished in a time of 26.37 out of the 2nd heat of the semifinal. Close on their heels tomorrow will be the American Leah Shackley, whose time of 26.43 places them 2nd into the final. Shackley’s time represents her 2nd new personal best on the day; entering the meet, her best stood at 26.96.

Joining the pair in the middle of the pool tomorrow will be Australian Olivia Wunsch, who will contest the 100 free later in the session.

Both Shackley and Wunsch’s compatriots squeaked into the final, with Isabella Boyd of Australia taking 7th and the USA’s Bailey Hartman in 8th.

Last night’s 200 fly winner, Lana Pudar, placed 4th in a time of 26.64 and will have her work cut out for her if she hopes to keep her dreams of a fly sweep alive.

BOYS 50 FREESTYLE – Semifinals

  • World Junior Record: 21.75 – Michael Andrew, United States (2017)
  • Championship Record: 21.75 – Michael Andrew, United States (2017)
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 21.96
    • ‘B’ Standard: 22.07
  • Time for 8th at 2022 World Jr Champs: 23.07


  1. Flynn Southam (AUS) – 22.29
  2. Nikoli Blackman (TTO) – 22.33
  3. Lorenzo Ballarati (ITA) – 22.38
  4. Diggory Dillingham (USA) – 22.53
  5. Javier Nunez (DOM) – 22.59
  6. Paul Dardis (CAN) – 22.73
  7. (T-6th) Davide Passafaro (ITA) – 22.73
  8. Mikhail Povaliaev (ISR) – 22.84

Aussie sprint star Flynn Southam got it done this evening, locking down the top spot for tomorrow’s final. His time of 22.29 is faster than his entry time of 22.32 and looks to be a new personal best.

Close behind him tomorrow, though, will be Trinidad and Tobago’s Nikoli Blackman (22.33) and Italy’s Lorenzo Ballarati (22.38). The pair also appeared to hit new personal bests this evening after having entered the meet with times of 22.54 and 22.56, respectively.

American Diggory Dillingham was a little slower than his swim this morning but safely qualified through in 4th for tomorrow’s final.

Host nation, Israel, will see a swimmer in the final, as Mikhail Povaliaev finished in 8th by just .02 over the 1st alternate Poland’s Szymon Misiak.


  • World Junior Record: 2:03.35 – Regan Smith, United States (2019)
  • Championship Record: 2:07.45 – Regan Smith, United States (2017)
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 2:10.39
    • ‘B’ Standard: 2:11.04
  • Time for 3rd at 2022 World Jr Champs: 2:11.09


  • GOLD: Teagan O’Dell (USA) – 2:08.09
  • SILVER: JoJo Ramey (USA) – 2:10.18
  • BRONZE: Bella Grant (AUS) – 2:11.24

In a new personal best by exactly a second, American Teagan O’Dell claimed the gold medal in the 200 backstroke, rebounding nicely after a disappointing 4th in the individual 100 back final last night. O’Dell led from start to finish, posting the only sub-1:03 time at the halfway point. She also was the only swimmer in the field to have sub-:33 splits in the last two 50s.

Helping to keep the 200 back, one of the most competitive events for the American woman on the domestic circuit was JoJo Ramey. Ramey finished 2nd behind compatriot O’Dell with a time of 2:10.18. Ramey, a Florida commit, was a little off her personal best of 2:08.90.

Nabbing the bronze was Australian Bella Grant, who adds this medal to her silver from the 200 fly.

Notably, the event had nine swimmers, as Wang Xinyi (CHN) and Kristine Norby (DEN) tied this morning.


  • 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 3rd at 2022 World Jr Champs: 52.94


  • GOLD: Casper Puggaard (DEN) – 52.30
  • SILVER: Wang Xizhe (CHN) – 52.65
  • BRONZE: Lukas Edl (AUT) – 52.68

Improving upon his bronze medal from last year was Denmark’s Casper Puggaard. The European Junior champion’s time this evening of 52.30 marks a new personal best and was considerably faster than the 52.94 he swam last summer to win the bronze medal and the 52.67 he swam in Belgrade this summer.

The Dane was 2nd at the 50 (24.38), 1st was Croatia’s Maro Miknic (24.28), but Miknic ultimately faded to 7th (53.20).

Nabbing the silver medal was the top qualifier, China’s Wang Xizhe. Despite having one the fastest last 50s in the field, 27.88, it wasn’t enough to catch the leader. Just .03 behind in the bronze medal position was Austria’s Lukas Edl, who was passed in the closing meters by Wang. Edl also swam at the European Juniors, where he won silver, but in a much slower time of 53.37.

Notably, this event contained no Americans and only one Australian. The lone Aussie, Enoch Robb, finished in 5th, with at time of 52.88, after having turned 3rd at the halfway point.


  • World Junior Record: 1:04.35 – Ruta Meilutyte, Lithuania (2013)
  • Championship Record: 1:06.61 – Ruta Meilutyte, Lithuania (2013)
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 1:06.79
    • ‘B’ Standard: 1:07.12
  • Time for 8th at 2022 World Jr Champs: 1:10.71


  1. Eneli Jefimova (EST) – 1:06.23 *NEW CHAMPIONSHIP RECORD*
  2. Alexanne Lepage (CAN) – 1:07.60
  3. Francesca Zucca (ITA) – 1:07.68
  4. Piper Enge (USA) – 1:07.83
  5. Jimena Ruiz (ESP) – 1:08.03
  6. Nayara Pineda (ESP) – 1:08.23
  7. (T-6th) Kotomi Kato (JPN) – 1:08.23
  8. Sieun Park (KOR) – 1:08.43

Estonia’s Eneli Jefimova rewrote the record books for the second time this week, erasing Ruta Meilutyte’s championship record, dating back to 2013. Jefimova was just a little off the national record she posted in the semifinals in Fukuoka of 1:06.18, but she has the finals tomorrow to chase that.

Jefimova posted the only sub-:31 first 50 in the field and the only sub-:32 among the top eight.

While going out slower than Jefimova, tomorrow night’s 2nd seed, Canada’s Alexanne Lepage, came home faster than all but Pineda to touch in 1:07.60. Lepage’s time is a massive improvement upon her 1:09.66 entry time and represents a .37 drop from this morning as well.

Piper Enge safely qualified for tomorrow’s final by placing 4th in a time of 1:07.87. Enge will look to move up into the medals but will face tough competition from Italy’s Zucca.

Spain has had a quiet meet so far but managed to get two swimmers into the final tomorrow, with Ruiz in 5th and Pineda tied for 6th.

Australia’s Hayley Mackinder will be your 1st alternate, touching 9th in 1:08.61, and the 50 breast silver medalist Monique Wieruszowski will be the 2nd alternate (1:08.72).

BOYS 50 BACKSTROKE – Semifinals

  • World Junior Record: 24.00 – Kliment Kolesnikov, Russia (2018)
  • Championship Record: 24.44 – Ksawery Masiuk, Poland (2022)
  • Time for 8th at 2022 World Jr Champs: 26.14


  1. Miroslav Knedla (CZE) – 24.64
  2. Ulises Saravia (ARG) – 24.95
  3. Jihwan Yoon (KOR) – 25.10
  4. Oleksandr Zheltyakov (UKR) – 25.21
  5. Daniel Diehl (USA) – 25.22
  6. Jiang Chenglin (CHN) – 25.36
  7. Christian Bacico (ITA) – 25.45
  8. Jakub Krischke (CZE) – 25.54

The Czech Republic showed up for this semifinal and will be the only county with two swimmers in the final tomorrow. Leading the way was Miroslav Knedla, who surged to the wall, taking the win in the second semifinal with a time of 24.64. His compatriot Jakub Krischke qualified 8th into the final with a time of 25.54.

Knedla, the silver medalist in the 100 back, has a .31 margin over Argentina’s Ulises Saravia, who nabbed 2nd in the second semifinal and 2nd overall in a time of 24.95.

Joining those three will be the other medalists in the 100 back, Ukrainian gold medalist Oleksandr Zheltyakov, and Italy’s bronze medalist Christian Bacico. American Daniel Diehl also safely booked his spot for tomorrow’s final by qualifying 5th, but fellow American Caleb Maldari finished in a disappointing 15th (26.21).


  • 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 3rd at 2022 World Jr Champs: 55.92


It is becoming very pro forma to see an Australian atop the field in the women’s 100 free. Olivia Wunsch ripped a new personal of 53.71, getting under 54 for the first time.

Wunsch wasn’t the fastest at the 50 (26.09); that honor belongs to Italy’s Sara Curtis (26.06), but Wunsch closed in a swift 27.62 to win. Her time was very close to Taylor Ruck’s championship record of 53.63 but came up just .08 short.

Behind Wunsch, unsurprisingly, was teammate Milla Jansen, who nabbed the silver medal in a time of 54.08, a new personal best. Jansen was out in 26.44, 3rd at the 50, but came home second quickest, 27.64, to claim the silver medal.

The USA went 3-4, filling the same positions they had in the semifinals, with Anna Moesch grabbing the bronze in 54.69 and Erika Pelaez taking 4th in 54.94.


  • World Junior Record: 7:43.37 – Lorenzo Galossi, Italy (2022)
  • Championship Record: 7:45.67– Mack Horton, Australia (2013)
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 7:51.65
    • ‘B’ Standard: 7:54.01
  • Time for 3rd at 2022 World Jr Champs: 7:56.14


  • GOLD: Kuzey Tuncelli (TUR) – 7:48.75
  • SILVER: Petar Mitsin (BUL) – 7:49.36
  • BRONZE: Zhang Zhanshuo (CHN) – 7:50.03

Like the girls’ 800 free yesterday, this 800 free was anything but boring. Turkey’s Kuzey Tuncelli and Bulgaria’s Petar Mitsin duked it over Tuncelli reeled in Mitsin at the 550m mark. Despite Mitsin leading from the get-go, he was never able to establish a big enough lead.

Tuncelli touched in 7:48.75, holding off Mitsin and his 7:49.36. Grabbing the bronze medal was China’s Zhang Zhanshuo, in a time of 7:50.03, who was locked in a tight race with Romania’s Vlad Stancu, who finished in 7:50.25. Zhang used a 26.35 last 50 to overtake Stancu, who closed in 27.85.

To note Zhang’s last 50 split was faster than every last 50 split at Worlds save for Ahmed Hafnaoui, who closed in 26.24.

The American duo of Luke Whitlock and Luke Ellis finished in 5th and 6th, respectively, at 7:55.00 and 7:56.40. Both Lukes hit massive personal bests as neither had broken 8:00 before this occasion.

As in the girls’ 800 free, one swimmer from the early heats snuck into the top 8. Japan’s Ryo Nakamitsu swam 7:59.13 to place 8th overall.


  • World Junior Record: 3:25.92 – United States (2019)
  • Championship Record: 3:25.92 – United States (2019)
  • Time for 3rd at 2022 World Jr Champs: 3:32.54


  • GOLD: F. Southam, E. Sommerville, O. Wunsch, M. Jansen (AUS) – 3:24.29 *WORLD JUNIOR RECORD*
  • SILVER: M. Williamson, J. Zhao, E. Pelaez, A. Moesch (USA) – 3:25.59
  • BRONZE: P. Dardis, A. Sauve, J. Brousseau, E. Jansen (CAN) – 3:29.14

Unsurprisingly, the Australians won the freestyle relay. What was surprising was by how much they crushed the World Junior Record by. The quartet of Flynn Southam (48.58), Edward Sommerville (48.54), Olivia Wunsch (53.62), and Milla Jansen (53.55) swam to a time of 3:24.99, breaking the record by 1.70 seconds.

Notably, Wunsch and Jansen had only the duration of the 800 free to recover from their 1-2 finish in the girls’ 100 free. Wunsch also swam the 50 butterfly at the start of the session, placing 3rd to qualify for tomorrow’s final.

While the Aussies smashed the old record held by the Americans since 2019, the American team of Max Williamson (48.38), Jason Zhao (49.05), Erika Pelaez (53.76), and Anna Moesch (54.40) also nipped under the old record by touching in 3:25.59. Like the two Aussie girls, Pelaez and Moesch had a very short break after having finished 4th and 3rd in the 100 free.

Williamson’s lead-off was a little slower than the two 47s he split on day one and day 2, but those swims had flying starts.

The Canadian team, composed of Paul Dardis (50.20), Antoine Sauve (49.15), Julie Brousseau (55.33), and Ella Jansesn (54.46)  grabbed the bronze medal in a time of 3:29.14, beating out the Italians who finished in 4th in a time of 3:30.08

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Southerly Buster
3 months ago

Kudos to Bella Grant for a second individual medal, a bronze in the 200 back. From what Troyy said earlier I’m assuming it’s a PB.

Fukuoka Gold
3 months ago

Diggory Dillingham sounds like a Harry Potter character

3 months ago

Lots of PBs from the Aussies tonight. 😊 As far as I can see the only ones that weren’t were the girls’ 50 fly.

Reply to  Troyy
3 months ago

I didn’t realise that, that’s awesome. It’s Wunsch time baby.

Reply to  Troyy
3 months ago

Robb is now second fastest Australian 18 year old in 100 back and 6th in 100 fly

Reply to  Sally
3 months ago

True! Still quite the gap between him and Cooper. I was so confident Cooper would have a breakout in the 100 back this year but seems like he’s dropping it altogether now. Hopefully he can find success concentrating on the 50 back/free.

Reply to  Sub13
3 months ago

54.38 in the semis from Robb is still good. He had 4 races on the 100 back finals day so that may have impacted.

3 months ago

Total domination in 2nd gear. Very comprehensive from the Aussie team.

Reply to  Stefe
3 months ago

Wunsch’s performance is particularly impressive given her triple tonight. However, I think it’s silly to suggest anyone was swimming in “second gear”.

Bizarre Ride 2 tha Pharcyde
3 months ago

The current version of Dressel wouldn’t even be a lock to make the podium in the men’s 50 free. Shows you how much he has declined.

Reply to  Bizarre Ride 2 tha Pharcyde
3 months ago

Totally agree

Reply to  Stefe
3 months ago

But it aint Paris time just yet

3 months ago

Another national record for Saravia, now in the 50 BK, breaking a time from 2013 from Fede Grabich. Hopefully this time he can take a medal in the final.

3 months ago

26.35 was last 50m in the 800 free from Zhang Zhanshuo: at 16 and 4 months is a formidable closing speed. Reminding that of swimming phenoms like Sun and Park, or the other Zhang (Lin) in the biennium 2008-2009, when he established that incredible WR in the 800 free.

3 months ago

Williamson 48.38.

Reply to  Paul
3 months ago

Faster than Southam: the 100 free will be a race.

Reply to  nuotofan
3 months ago

Southam is definitely the favorite – he has a 47.7 flat start to his name. But it should be much closer than expected prior to the meet starting.

Reply to  nuotofan
3 months ago

I think the key difference between them right now is that Southam’s peak form was timed for Worlds and Williamson’s for Juniors. As a result, and despite Southam’s faster (although probably draft-aided) PB, the 100 appears to be Williamson’s to lose.

Reply to  snailSpace
3 months ago

Southam’s coach actually said he was peaking for world juniors since he had a more wide range of individual events. Worlds was to just gain experience for the coming years, with an emphasis on world juniors.

Reply to  Bernie
3 months ago

That’s quite strange anyhow, but I didn’t know that!

Reply to  Bernie
3 months ago

That’s a very odd approach. He seems slower here than Worlds. And he was slower at worlds than trials. Maybe 3 tapers in 2 months isn’t working out.

Although in saying that he did a PB in the 50. Who knows