The final day of competition at the 2011 FINA Youth World Swimming Championships were quite the doozey, with 8 Meet Records in 11 events.
Boys 100 free
Australia’s Cameron McEvoy twice broke the Meet Record in the boys 100 free in relay leadoffs (49.5/49.6), but that led to no better than an 8th-place finish for the Australians. It seems as though he might have really targeted his taper for the early part of the meet, because he wasn’t able to dip under the 50-second mark again throughout the three rounds of this individual final, but he still cruised to a gold medal in 50.16.
Dual silver medals went to Russia’s Dmitry Ermakov and Pawel Werner in matching 50.46’s. They were both able to just barely hold off an incredible closing 50 from Italy’s Giacomo Ferri, who was .02 back in 50.48. The top-finishing American was Cal commit Seth Stubblefield in 5th-place (50.66), which is a personal-best for him.
Girls 200 breaststroke
This was one of the finals that was most anticipated throughout the whole meet. Swim fans across the globe wanted to see the encore performance of Kanako Watanabe in the 200 breaststroke from her 3rd-ranked swim at the Japan Open a few months ago. While she didn’t come close to that time, she still got the win in 2:25.52. She looked really good through 150 meters, but ran out of steam on the last 50 meters. As the 14-year old matures, her ability to carry her great times through to the end of a season will surely improve.
Another pair of strong young breaststrokers took silver and bronze. Lisa Fissneider of Italy moved to 21st in the World with a 2:26.01, and she fought back a strong closing charge from Russia’s Irina Novikova, though she’s been faster this year. The three medalists in this final should all be in London next year battling at the Olympics.
Russia’s Maria Temnikova took 4th in 2:27.77. She’s in a tough domestic position, given that she’s only 16 but sits behind Novikova and Yulia Efimova, both of whom are very young and very good.
Boys 200 backstroke
The United States’ Jacob Pebley led a trio of swimmers who all broke the Meet Record in the boys 200 backstroke with a winning time of 1:58.73. That is Pebley’s third individual medal of the meet, adding to a win in the 100 backstroke and a runner-up finishin the 50.
The old mark was held by New Zealand’s Kurt Basset, who had some success of his own this week at the World University Games in China with a bronze medal in the 100 back.
Japan’s Kosuke Hagino also became a triple-medalist in this race with his time of 1:58.94 for 2nd. The United States’ Ryan Murphy, who is a NAG Record holder in the 100 back, too bronze here in 1:59.63
Girls 100 fly
After flirting with the Meet Record through the first two rounds of this 100 fly, Great Britain’s Rachel Kelly finally inched past the mark with her win of 59.37, which narrowly misses her mark from the British World Championship Trials in March. The old record was held by Natsuki Akiyama in 59.47.
The silver medal went to Japan’s Rino Hosoda in 59.39, which is also under the old record. Germany’s Alexandra Wenk took bronze in 59.64.
Spain’s Judit Ignacio Sorribes took 4th in 59.70, which is a good time for a swimmer whose best hopes in the short-term lie in the 200 fly. The United States’ Kendyl Stewart was 5th in 59.76, and South Africa’s Vanessa Mohr, one of the few swimmers in this meet coming from the World Championships, was 6th in 59.82.
Boys 1500 free results
After crushing the Meet Record in the 800 on Thursday, American Evan Pinion had to be fired up for this boys 1500. He again blew the all-time meet-best mark out of the water, so to speak, with his win in 15:11.03. He had no great closing kick, but was consistently around a 30-low per 50 throughout the race, which adds up to a lot over 1500 meters. That moves him into the world’s top-30 in 2011: the 9th American to do so. No other country has more than 3, and perhaps even more excitingly, most of those 9 swimmers are very young. This has been a point of weakness for the Americans for a few years now, but with the class that’s rising now, American distance swimming might be entering a bit of a golden age.
Pinion’s swim is almost exactly 14-seconds ahead of the old Meet Record, held by Poland’s Krzysztof Pielowski in 15:25.01.
Italy, who might have the second-deepest distance group after the Americans, took silver and bronze in this race, both under the old Meet Record as well. Gregorio Paltrinieri was 2nd in 15:15.02, followed by Gabriele Detti in 3rd in 15:18.46.
Austrlia’s Matthew Levings took 4th, and just missed the record himself, in 15:25.84.
Girls 50 free
The Australians completed a sweep of the final-day sprints when Bronte Campbell took the win in a new Meet Record of 25.22 in the girls 50. That just bettered her own mark of 25.28 from yesterday’s semi-finals.
Unlike McEvoy’s win in the boys 100, this one was a very tight battle. The United States’ Lia Neal, champion of the 100, took silver in 25.30. That actually sneaks under her career-best mark by less than a tenth (though it seems like she might have been faster). Canada’s Chantal van Landeghem completed a star-studded podium with a bronze-medal in 25.35.
The other American, Kristen Vredeveld, took 4th in 25.61.
Boys 200 fly
Japan’s Kenta Hirai improved upon his silver in the 100 fly with a gold medal in this 200 fly in a runaway of 1:57.16. Headed into the last turn, he had already developed a body-length lead, but he saved his best for last and closed brilliantly to make the rest of the field look pedestrian in this 200 fly. That made 5-straight events with Meet Records as his time broke the old mark that he set in the morning prelims. Prior to this year, the mark was held by his countrymate Yuya Horihata in 1:59.03.
Greece’s Andreas Vazaios faded on the final 50, but held on at the touch to take silver in 1:59.31. The swimmer hot on his tail was Canada’s Mack Darragh in 1:59.31. Darragh’s great finish gives him a new 15-17 Age Group Record, breaking the old mark set by Anders Mcintyre in 2009.
Boys 50 breaststroke
Greece’s Panagotios Samilidis recovered from a slow start to take a win in the boys 50 breaststroke in 28.27, which broke the string of Meet Records.
This race saw another tie for silver, the second of the day, with Japan’s Akihiro Yamaguchi and the UK’s Craig Benson both touching in 28.44. Russia’s Oleg Utekhin was just behind for 4th in 28.48.
The lone American finalist was Nic Fink, who took 7th in 28.78.
Girls 200 free results
After starting this meet off with two 4th-place finishes, Brittany MacLean finished very well and took gold in her final two events, including this 200 free. Her 1:58.93 capped a four-medal meet for her, and set things back to the Meet Record trend that was briefly interrupted the event before. With this swim, another Dagny Knutson mark goes down – a 1:59.78 from 2008.
The United States’ Chelsea Chenault came up on the right side of a close battle to take silver in 1:59.69. China’s Yuanhui Fu had the fastest front-half of the race, but ran out of gas at the 2nd turn. She slipped just enough for Chenault to eclipse her at the touch. Fu’s final time was 1:59.70, just .01 back.
Boys 400 medley relay
This youth American relay is a great parallel to the senior relay. It loses some ground on the breaststroke, but makes up for it on the other three legs (including event champions in the 100 fly and 100 back for this group) to give them just enough of a gap to win the race. The quartet of Jacob Pebley, Nic Fink, Maclin Davis, and Seth Stubblefield trailed much of this race. But Stubblefield turned almost identically to the Japanese anchor Fumiya Hidaka, at which point it seemed inevitable that the Americans would take the win.
The finishing touch was in 3:39.65, which is a new Meet Record.
Japan took silver in 3:39.92, including a great breaststroke leg from Akihiro Yamaguchi in 1:00.56. The battle for bronze between Italy (3:42.44) and Greece (3:42.95) was similarly paced, with a great anchor from Giacomo Ferri (49.44) to pull the Italians back onto the medal stand.
Girls 400 medley relay
The Japanese women punctuated the final day of competition from Lima with an 8th Meet Record in 4:05.65. A 1:08.32 from Kanako Watanabe on the breaststroke leg was the big difference maker, and while the Americans pulled them back in for the last 200 meters, the gap was more than insurmountable. Yukiko Watanabe, Kanako Watanabe, Rino Hosoda, and Mao Kawakami touched in 4:05.65.
The Americans took the silver in 4:07.79. Lia Neal’s anchor split of 54.84 pulled the Americans from 4th to 2nd on the final leg, in surpassing the Russians (4:07.99) and Spain (4:08.25).