The last two individual races at the 2014 FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships were held on Saturday morning at Lake Balaton in Hungary.
There, two nations, the United States and Hungary, won their first ever medals at the FINA World Junior OW Championships with golds in the Youth boys’ (14-16) 5km event and the Junior girls’ (17-18) 7.5km event.
Youth Boys’ 5KM (14-16)
American Taylor Abbott took the Youth Boys’ race in 56:14:13.32, taking a narrow victory ahead of China’s Yang Jintong (56:17.64) and Qiao Zhongyi (56:18.33).
Abbott was bold, and took the lead early in this race and held it for most of the four-lap course. That’s a strategy that we haven’t seen work all that well this week in Hungary, but Abbott had just enough left in his tank to hold off the Chinese.
The two Chinese swimmers seemed to be working together a little bit, as they remained on one another’s hip, trading off who was breaking the water, for the entire race. Their strategy paid off as they had the most energy left at the end of the race, and were able to fight back on a slight 10 meter gap that Abbott had built three-quarters of the way through.
There was a significant lead pack midway through this race, but it thinned to about 7 swimmers by the end. Croatia’s Ivan Stitic, Russia’s Iaroslav Potapov, Russia’s Artem Mamushkin, and Germany’s Thore Bermel were the next finishers behind the medalist, all within 18 seconds of Abbott’s victory.
The second American, Simon Lamar, finished 29th out of 38 who started. Brazilian Felipe Ribiero was the only swimmer who started and did not finish the race.
Junior Girls’ 7.5KM (17-18)
The Junior Girls’ 7.5 km race saw Hungary defend home turf. Nikoletta Kiss won the race in 1:32:42.27, with her country mate Flora Sibalin taking bronze in 1:32:46.53.
That narrow finish had Russian Anastasia Azarova sandwiched in between in 1:32:43.73 – just a second-and-a-half back of the winner Kiss.
This race demonstrated the theme mentioned above, where the swimmer who has pushed the pace has not done well at the final touch. This time it was Britain’s Alice Dearing, who opened up as much as a 5-second lead for the middle third of this race. She couldn’t hold onto that pace, though, and Kiss, who was 2nd to her for most of the way, came through to win.
Dearing gave back 7 seconds on the final lap to place 4th in 1:32:47.32.
The top-finishing American in this race was Jessica Arnold in 16th place, two-and-a-half minutes back, while Erin Emery was just behind her in 19th.
Junior Open Water Worlds will finish on Sunday with the 3km co-ed team races.