2023 World Junior Championships: Day 5 Finals Live Recap


The penultimate finals session from the 2023 World Junior Swimming Championships will be semi-final heavy with five medal events coupled with four sets of semis with some of the top performers of the competition set to compete.

Perhaps the most anticipated heat of the session will come in one where medals won’t be on the line, as we’ll get to see American Maximus Williamson face off with Australian Flynn Southam in the second semi of the boys’ 100 free. Williamson is coming off dropping a 48.38 lead-off leg on the U.S. mixed 400 free relay, while Southam owns a PB of 47.77 and won the 200 free earlier in the meet.

Neither swimmer will occupy Lane 4 in the 100 free semis, however, as Aussie Edward Sommerville qualified 1st out of the prelims in 49.74, while the other American entrant, Daniel Diehl, headlines the first semi-final after advancing 2nd this morning in 49.82.

In terms of finals, we’ll see the fastest-seeded heat of the girls’ 1500 free lead things off as a pair of 15-year-olds occupy the middle two lanes in Argentina’s Agostina Hein and USA’s Kayla Han. Hein notably raced this event at last year’s World Juniors and placed 8th (17:07.85), having dropped over 53 seconds in the 12 months since.

The top time of the early heats came from Australia’s Tiana Kritzinger at 16:29.97.

We’ll also see the boys’ 50 fly final where Denmark’s Casper Puggaard comes in as the big favorite after firing off a PB of 23.47 in the semis, while the girls’ 50 back figures to be a U.S. vs. Australia battle as American Erika Pelaez holds the top seed over Aussies Iona Anderson and Jaclyn Barclay. The second American entrant, Teagan O’Dell, is also in the mix.

The boys’ 400 IM will be the last individual event of the session, as Japan’s Tomoyuki Matsushita leads the way after a 4:17.31 prelim swim, with Canadian Lorne Wigginton expected to challenge for the title after a strong showing all week, having qualified 2nd this morning in 4:18.18.

Matsushita notably broke the Championship Record in the 200 IM prelims before being disqualified in the final.

The night will conclude with the girls’ 400 free relay, where the U.S. and Australia are expected to go to battle once again after the Americans edged out the Aussies by a mere two-tenths of a second in the 800 free relay.

The Australians will lead off 100 free silver medalist Milla Jansen and anchor with gold medalist Olivia Wunsch, while the Americans have slotted in double medley champion Leah Hayes on the first leg, 100 free bronze medalist Anna Moesch on the second leg, and will anchor with Erika Pelaez, who was 4th in the 100 free and has the 50 back final earlier in the session.

Day 5 Finals Schedule

  • Girls’ 1500 Freestyle – Timed Final (Fastest Heat)
  • Boys’ 100 Freestyle – Semifinals
  • Girls’ 100 Butterfly – Semifinals
  • Boys’ 50 Butterfly – Final
  • Girls’ 50 Freestyle – Semifinals
  • Boys’ 50 Breaststroke – Semifinals
  • Girls’ 50 Backstroke – Final
  • Boys’ 400 IM – Final
  • Girls’ 4×100 Free Relay – Final




  • World Junior Record: 15:28.36 – Katie Ledecky (USA), 2014
  • Championship Record: 15:58.86 – Lani Pallister (AUS), 2019
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 16:09.09
    • ‘B’ Standard: 16:13.94
  • Time for 8th at 2022 World Jr Champs: 17:07.85
  1. Kate Hurst (USA), 16:09.37
  2. Ruka Takezawa (JPN), 16:18.68
  3. Mao Yihan (CHN), 16:18.76
  4. Emma Giannelli (ITA), 16:19.06
  5. Kayla Han (USA), 16:19.07
  6. Agostina Hein (ARG), 16:22.04
  7. Tiana Kritzinger (AUS), 16:29.97
  8. Niko Aoki (JPN), 16:39.28

In what looked like a close race early on, American Kate Hurst ran away with the gold medal in the girls’ 1500 freestyle with a tantalizing back half, negative-splitting her way to the title in a time of 16:09.37.

The 17-year-old Scarlet Aquatics product had inched ahead of the field through the 750-meter mark, flipping in 8:08.69, but really turned on the jets after that, closing the second 750 in a blistering 8:00.68 to secure the victory by more than nine seconds.

The swim for Hurst marks a significant best time, as she drops from the 16:18.55 she produced last month at U.S. Junior Nationals to move up into 12th all-time in the girls’ 17-18 age group.

In what was a wild race for the minor medals, Japan’s Ruka Takezawa made her move on the penultimate 50 and it paid off as she held on for silver in 16:18.68 over China’s Mao Yihan (16:18.76), while Italian Emma Giannelli had the fastest closing 50 in the field at 30-flat to narrowly miss a medal in 4th (16:19.06), touching .01 clear of American Kayla Han (16:19.07).

Top seed Agostina Hein fell to 6th in 16:22.04, adding over seven seconds from her PB, while Australian Tiana Kritzinger picked up 7th place after clocking 16:29.97 in the early heats.


  • World Junior Record: 46.86 – David Popovici (ROU), 2022
  • Championship Record: 47.07 – David Popovici (ROU), 2022
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 48.34
    • ‘B’ Standard: 48.58
  • Time for 8th at 2022 World Jr Champs: 50.40
  1. Maximus Williamson (USA), 49.38
  2. Edward Sommerville (AUS), 49.53
  3. Pedro Sansone (BRA), 49.66
  4. Davide Passafaro (ITA), 49.80
  5. Nikoli Blackman (TTO), 49.86
  6. Vlaho Nenadic (CRO), 49.92
  7. Filip Senc-Samardzic (CAN), 49.95
  8. Lorenzo Ballarati (ITA), 50.03

In an absolute shocker, Australian favorite Flynn Southam missed the final of the boys’ 100 freestyle after touching 4th in the second semi-final, as his time of 50.04 was only good for 9th overall.

American Maximus Williamson paced the second semi in 49.38, exactly one second slower than his lead-off time from the mixed free relay, as he cruises into tomorrow’s final as the top seed, followed closely by Australian Edward Sommerville (49.53), who was within three-tenths of his newly-minted PB set leading off the 400 free relay (49.24).

Brazilian Pedro Sansone secured a new lifetime best of 49.66 to lead the first semi and advance 3rd overall, and he was followed closely by Italian Davide Passafaro (49.80) and 50 free winner Nikoli Blackman (49.86) of Trinidad and Tobago.

In addition to Southam’s surprising miss, American Daniel Diehl found himself on the outside looking in as he placed 12th overall in a time of 50.29.


  • World Junior Record: 56.43 – Claire Curzan (USA), 2021
  • Championship Record: 57.25 – Rikako Ikee (JPN), 2017
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 57.92
    • ‘B’ Standard: 58.21
  • Time for 8th at 2022 World Jr Champs: 1:02.10
  1. Mizuki Hirai (JPN), 58.43
  2. Leah Shackley (USA), 58.46
  3. Bailey Hartman (USA), 58.49
  4. Lana Pudar (BIH), 58.55
  5. Ella Jansen (CAN), 58.74
  6. Kim Doyeon (KOR), 58.98
  7. Victoria Raymond (CAN), 59.38
  8. Isabella Boyd (AUS), 59.49

The girls’ 100 butterfly final figures to be an exciting one after the top four qualifiers in tonight’s semis were separated by just 12 one-hundredths, as Japan’s Mizuki Hirai and American Leah Shackley won their respective heats to claim the top two seeds.

Hirai clocked 58.43 out of the second semi to qualify 1st overall, with the 16-year-old showing some impressive early speed as she was the only swimmer in the field to turn sub-27 at the 50 (26.76). Hirai’s time was just .01 shy of her PB of 58.42, set at Japanese Nationals in April.

Shackley, 17, was the only swimmer in the field to come home sub-31 (30.91) as she finished in a time of 58.46 to out-touch 200 fly winner Lana Pudar (58.55) in the first semi. Shackley owns a PB of 57.98, while Pudar has been as fast as 56.95.

American Bailey Hartman (58.49) and Canadian Ella Jansen (58.74) finished 2-3 in the second semi behind Hirai, advancing 4th and 5th into the final. Both set new personal best times, as Hartman lowered the 58.56 she produced at U.S. Nationals in June, and Jansen undercut her 58.85 from the prelims (she came in with a PB of 58.92).


  • World Junior Record: 22.96 – Diogo Ribeiro (POR), 2022
  • Championship Record: 22.96 – Diogo Ribeiro (POR), 2022
  • Time for 8th at 2022 World Jr Champs: 24.49
  1. Casper Puggaard (DEN), 23.50
  2. Lukas Edl (AUT), 23.89
  3. Thomas Pattison (AUS), 23.95
  4. Maro Miknic (CRO), 23.99
  5. Maxim Skazobtsov (KAZ), 24.03
  6. Enoch Robb (AUS), 24.06
  7. Szymon Misiak (POL), 24.27
  8. Filip Senc-Samardzic (CAN), 24.34

Casper Puggaard follows up his 100 fly victory with a second individual title in the boys’ 50 fly, as the 18-year-old Dane put up a time of 23.50 to touch first by nearly four-tenths of a second.

Puggaard, the two-time reigning European Junior champion in the event, set a new best time of 23.47 in the semi-finals. At last year’s World Juniors, he was the bronze medalist in this event.

Austrian Lukas Edl picks up his second medal of the competition with a silver in a time of 23.89, as he moves up one spot on the podium after winning bronze in the 100 fly. Edl broke 24 seconds for the first time in the semis (23.95), and re-lowers his PB here by six one-hundredths.

Aussie Thomas Pattison snuck under the 24-second barrier from Lane 8 to snag bronze in 23.95, out-touching Croatian Maro Miknic (23.99). Pattison owns a PB of 23.92, while Miknic’s swim chops a tenth off his semi-final PB.


  • World Junior Record: 24.17 – Claire Curzan (USA), 2021
  • Championship Record: 24.59 – Rikako Ikee (JPN), 2017
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 24.70
    • ‘B’ Standard: 24.82
  • Time for 8th at 2022 World Jr Champs: 26.44
  1. Olivia Wunsch (AUS), 24.60
  2. Sara Curtis (ITA), 24.91
  3. Annam Olasewere (USA), 24.95
  4. Caroline Larsen (USA), 25.18
  5. Hannah Casey (AUS), 25.28
  6. Zoe Pedersen (NZL), 25.35
  7. Lillian Slusna (SVK), 25.42
  8. Lee Seoa (KOR), 25.51

Half of tomorrow’s final in the girls’ 50 free will be made up of Australian and American swimmers, as they claimed four of the top five seeds in the semis, led by 100 free champion Olivia Wunsch.

The 17-year-old Aussie stormed to a time of 24.60 to knock a quarter of a second off her previous best time of 24.85, set at the Australian Age Group Championships in April.

That performance put Wunsch more than three-tenths clear of the field entering the final, as Italian Sara Curtis broke 25 seconds for the first time to qualify 2nd overall from Wunsch’s heat in 24.91.

Americans Annam Olasewere (24.95) and Caroline Larsen (25.18) went 1-2 in the second semi to qualify 3-4 into the final, with the 16-year-old Olasewere going sub-25 for the first time and improving on her #6 ranking in the girls’ 15-16 age group. Olasewere’s previous PB of 25.08 already had her in 6th.

Larsen’s time marks a new best time by .01, as the 17-year-old had clocked her previous best of 25.19 at U.S. Nationals at the beginning of July.

Australia’s Hannah Casey was the 5th-fastest qualifier in 25.28, matching her career-best time set in April.


  • World Junior Record: 26.97 – Nicolo Martinenghi (ITA), 2017
  • Championship Record: 27.02 – Nicolo Martinenghi (ITA), 2017
  • Time for 8th at 2022 World Jr Champs: 29.03
  1. Felix Iberle (INA), 27.15
  2. Jonas Gaur (DEN), 27.68
  3. Watson Nguyen (USA), 27.75
  4. Joshua Chen (USA) / Yamato Okadome (JPN), 28.16
  5. Gideon Burnes (AUS), 28.20
  6. Arsen Kozhakhmetov (KAZ), 28.39
  7. Xavier Ruiz (PUR), 28.40

After rocketing his way to a new Indonesian Record in the prelims, Felix Iberle backed that swim up with another solid showing in the boys’ 50 breast semis, qualifying 1st into the final by more than half a second.

Iberle, 18, clocked 26.98 in the heats for a new National Record, and followed up by touching in 27.15 in tonight’s semi to advance into the final well clear of the field.

Denmark’s Jonas Gaur was the next-fastest qualifier in 27.68, leading the first semi-final after swimming a lifetime best of 27.52 in the prelims. The 18-year-old Gaur was the European Junior champion in this event in July (27.57).

American Watson Nguyen, who won bronze in the 100 breast, broke 28 seconds for the first time in the prelims (27.90) and went 15 one-hundredths better tonight, recording a time of 27.75 for the 3rd seed into the final.

American Joshua Chen and Japan’s Yamato Okadome, who finished 1-2 in the 100 breast, tied for 4th overall in 28.16.


  • World Junior Record: 27.49 – Minna Atherton (AUS), 2016
  • Championship Record: 27.81 – Gabrielle Fa’amausili (NZL), 2015
  1. Iona Anderson (AUS), 28.01
  2. Erika Pelaez (USA), 28.07
  3. Jaclyn Barclay (AUS), 28.14
  4. Miri Sasaki (JPN), 28.36
  5. Delia Lloyd (CAN), 28.46
  6. Teagan O’Dell (USA), 28.74
  7. Nika Sharafutdinova (UKR), 28.80
  8. Isabelle Gibson (NZL), 29.16

The same trio of swimmers that stood on the podium in the girls’ 100 backstroke will do so once again in the 50, though the order has changed as Australian Iona Anderson emerged as the victor in a tightly contested battle.

Anderson, 18, took two one-hundredths off her personal best time to touch in 28.01 for the title, moving up one step on the medal stand after earning silver in the 100 back.

The same goes for American Erika Pelaez, who improves on her bronze medal showing in the 100 back with a silver medal effort here in 28.07, a significant personal best after she set a PB of 28.24 in the semis.

Jaclyn Barclay, the 16-year-old 100 back champion, earned bronze in 28.14, with her best time sitting at 27.94 from April.

Japan’s Miri Sasaki (28.36) and Canada’s Delia Lloyd (28.46) both swam lifetime bests to place 4th and 5th, while American Teagan O’Dell took 6th in 28.74.


  • World Junior Record: 4:10.02 – Ilya Borodin (RUS), 2021
  • Championship Record: 4:11.93 – Apostolos Papastamos (GRE), 2019
  • 2024 Olympic ‘A’ Standard: 4:12.50
    • ‘B’ Standard: 4:13.76
  1. Tomoyuki Matsushita (JPN), 4:10.97
  2. Zhang Zhanshuo (CHN), 4:12.44
  3. Lorne Wigginton (CAN), 4:12.81
  4. Riku Yamaguchi (JPN), 4:13.18
  5. Cooper Lucas (USA), 4:18.76
  6. Robert-Andrei Badea (ROU), 4:19.22
  7. Drew Hitchcock (USA), 4:19.87
  8. Oleksii Hrabarov (UKR), 4:25.57

Japan’s Tomoyuki Matsushita made up for his DQ in the 200-meter final in a big way in the boys’ 400 IM, scorching his way to victory in record fashion.

Matsushita, 18, sat a close 2nd to teammate Riku Yamaguchi through the 300-meter mark, but ran away with the title thanks to a 57.46 freestyle leg, including a 27.38 final 50.

Matsushita’s time of 4:10.97 knocked nearly a full second off the Championship Record of 4:11.97 set by Apostolos Papastamos in 2019 and also erased his own personal best time of 4:12.20 set in January of this year.

The freestyle leg ended up costing Yamaguchi a medal, as China’s Zhang Zhanshuo made up more than three seconds on the Japanese native over the last two lengths, with Zhang closing in a scintillating 56.42 (29.04/27.38) to touch 2nd in 4:12.44.

Lorne Wigginton followed up his bronze medal in the 200 IM by finishing in the same position here, once again taking down a Canadian National Age Group Record for 15-17 boys in a time of 4:12.81, breaking his own mark of 4:13.75 set at the 2023 World Championships.

Wigginton also had an impressive freestyle split of 58.06, with Yamaguchi’s 59.95 closing leg resulting in him falling back to 4th in 4:13.18.

The rest of the field was well back of the top four, with American Cooper Lucas 5th in a personal best of 4:18.76.


  • World Junior Record: 3:36.19 – Canada, 2017
  • Championship Record: 3:36.19 – Canada, 2017
  1. Australia, 3:36.52
  2. United States, 3:37.71
  3. Canada, 3:40.40
  4. Italy, 3:42.39
  5. Lithuania, 3:44.01
  6. Israel, 3:46.67
  7. Korea, 3:50.03
  8. South Africa, 3:50.74

Another exciting battle between the United States and Australia was put to rest by Olivia Wunsch, as the stud sprinter dropped a scorching 52.61 anchor leg to lead the Aussies to a definitive gold medal in the girls’ 400 free relay.

The two teams were separated by just nine one-hundredths at the final exchange, but the 17-year-old Wunsch uncorked the fastest split in the field by more than a second to lead Australia to the title in 3:36.52, just shy of the World Junior Record set by Canada in 2017 (3:36.19).

Wunsch Splits

  • 25.21 (.05 RT)
  • 27.40

For the Americans, Erika Pelaez produced the only other sub-54 split alongside Wunsch on the anchor leg, coming in at 53.89 to give the Americans a final time of 3:37.71.

On the Aussie team, Wunsch was joined by Milla Jansen (54.18), Hannah Casey (54.89) and Jaimie de Lutiis (54.84), with Jansen coming within a tenth of her silver medal-winning time from the individual 100 free (54.08).

The U.S. team featured Leah Hayes (54.96), Anna Moesch (54.24), Addison Sauickie (54.62) and Pelaez.

The Canadians secured their fourth relay bronze of the meet in 3:40.40, with Julie Brousseau leading off in 55.64 to earn her fifth medal of the meet, and she was joined by Ella Jansen (54.21), Mia West (55.75) and Sienna Angove (54.80).

The Italians were 4th in 3:42.39, and the only other sub-55 split came from Lithuanian anchor Smilte Plytnykaite, who went 54.94 to earn them 5th place in 3:44.01.

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10 months ago

52.61 split from wunch omg

Awsi Dooger
10 months ago

The 400 individual medley numbers look good. That event had been stalled for too long. New world record means it’s time for a new crop to stop pretending the recent standards are acceptable.

10 months ago

It’s 3am in Aus and I randomly woke up so decided to check the results and 52.6 from Wunsch! I’ve said it before and looks like
I’ll be saying it a lot but it’s Wunsch time! That is nuts. It’s hard to see reliable info for relay splits outside the all time top 100 but I suspect that might be fastest 17 year old split ever? I think some 18 year olds have been faster though.

Shame about Flynn. He’s been up and down a bit this week but the past two days have just been way off. I suspect some kind of illness? Seems too much to just be a few off swims.

Reply to  Sub13
10 months ago

While an impressive split indeed by Wunsch, let’s not get carried away and forget that Oleksiak won Gold in Rio with 52.70 at 16.
Women are already mature at 17 and produce big time results at even younger age.
It was an impressive and fast swim, but not something that will rewrite the history books

Reply to  FTW
10 months ago

Oleksiak did win gold in 2016 with a 52.70 but she never split faster than that at 17. To my knowledge, no one ever has. Happy to be proven wrong if you’ve got the evidence.

Reply to  FTW
10 months ago

Don’t get carried away…are you?

Reply to  Sub13
10 months ago

Did someone on here just the other day say….Wunsch to do a 52…..hmmm I wonder who that was?

Reply to  Sub13
10 months ago

Claire Curzan did a couple 52.6s at worlds in 2022 at 17, off the top of my head

Reply to  green
10 months ago

Curzan 2022 WCh: 52.71, 52.62, 52.84 and 52.82

Reply to  Sub13
10 months ago

Taylor Ruck was 51.82 at 2018 CG games where she was 17 still. I imagine that has to be the fastest 17 year old split

Reply to  Sub13
10 months ago

Both Ruck (51.82) and Mollie (52.35) split faster at 17. There might be others.

10 months ago

Zhang Zhanshuo is the fastest 16-year-old of all time in the 400 IM.

Reply to  chip
10 months ago

Amazing results at these Junior Worlds for Zhang Zhanshuo after an average first morning (400 free heats). Like in the 800 free, his free closing speed in today 400 IM was scary.

10 months ago

US Men v Aussie Women adventure continues

10 months ago

Great relay at the end. I think US should have went with Annam Olasewere on one of those legs.

10 months ago

Ah ok, Swimswam crushed because of 52.61 Wunsch’ split

Reply to  nuotofan
10 months ago

Nasty split! Geez, AUS got juniors splitting faster than some of US seniors.

Reply to  Breezeway
10 months ago

That’s standard

Southerly Buster
Reply to  Stefe
10 months ago

Wunsch’s 52.61 split would put her in the final 4 of any senior relay team in the world (except Australia). But even with Australia she is only 0.32 behind Meg Harris and with Wunsch’s rate of improvement we could well see her lining up with MOC, Jack & McKeon in the final at Paris.

Reply to  Southerly Buster
10 months ago

McKeon will be 30 next year, she’s not guaranteed a spot by any means

Nick the biased Aussie
Reply to  ‘Murica
10 months ago

McKeon still went 51.9 in the relay in Fukuoka and 52.5 at trials training at 70%

10 months ago

Ho hum, just a 52.6 from an Aussie junior. Dont even wanna know what it will take to even make their Olympic team next year

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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