Doha 2024, Euro Recap Day 1: Germany Starts Strong With 2 Medals and 3 National Records

2024 WORLD AQUATIC CHAMPIONSHIPS

The German squad got off to a hot start through the first day of swimming at the 2024 World Championships. They earned two medals–the most of any European country and tied with China for most overall–and set multiple national records over the course of the day.

Though she doesn’t have a medal to her name at these championships yet, the biggest story of the day for them is Angelina KöhlerThe 23-year-old butterflier has been on a steady improvement curve over the last year after plateauing for a couple seasons amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April 2023, she clocked a 57.22 for her first German record in the event. She’s continued to drop time since then, swimming 57.05 twice at 2023 Worlds. Then during the Doha heats, she broke 57 seconds for the first time with a 56.41. She dropped even more time in semifinals, posting the top time overall with a 56.11. In about 10 months, Köhler has cut 1.11 seconds off her personal best and national record. Now, she ranks as the 9th fastest performer all-time and has moved firmly into the medal conversation for Paris.

So far, she’s the only woman under 57 seconds in Doha, setting her up as the clear favorite for tomorrow’s final. If she wins, she will become the first female German world champion since Britta Steffen swept the 50 and 100 free in 2009.

Germany picked up their two medals–both bronze–in the 400 freestyle finals. In the first event of the night, Lukas Märtens earned bronze for the second straight World Championships and his third straight podium finish in the event. Märtens swam 3:42.96, which is the slowest of his three medal-earning swims and off his personal best 3:41.60.

Despite that, it’s a strong swim for Märtens not only given the time of year and the fact that it’s an Olympic year, but because it demonstrates his consistency. After his breakthrough onto the international scene in spring 2022, he was unable to match his best times at Budapest Worlds. But with his third straight podium in the 400 free, Märtens is showing that even if he’s not dropping a personal best every swim, he’s a consistent medal threat.

Isabel Gose won Germany’s second medal with her bronze winning performance in the women’s 400 free. Erika Fairweather put the race for gold away early in the race, but Gose held off Maria Fernanda De Oliveria Da Silva Costa to earn her first Worlds medal. She swam 4:02.39, resetting her own German record. It’s her first time under 4:03, as she’d set the previous standard at 4:03.02 during prelims of 2023 Worlds.

Lucas Matzerath also qualified for the men’s 100 breaststroke final with a 59.30, rounding out a successful day for the Germany team.

If this story sounds familiar, that’s because it is. In Fukuoka, the German team had a ton of momentum coming into the pool swimming portion of 2023 Worlds. Germany won all four individual open water swimming golds on offer thanks to Leonie Beck and Florian Wellbrock. They continued rolling on the first day, winning a medal and setting three national records.

But they weren’t able to keep that momentum and after a promising start, Märtens’ 400 freestyle medal was the only one that they won over the eight day meet. They’ve already exceeded that total but it will be worth watching to see if not being able to match their hot start becomes a pattern for them.

Köhler certainly looks primed to add another medal for them in the 100 fly. And after that? Matzerath has an uphill battle to medal in the men’s breaststrokes, especially if Peaty’s back on form, though it isn’t totally out of the question. Märtens is a rangy freestyler and could pick up another medal in the 200 or 800 freestyle (he’s shifted away from the 1500 in the lead up to Paris).

There are opportunities remaining for the German squad, now they just need to take advantage of them.

Quick Hits

  • Marrit Steenbergen took on a tough Day 1 double as she took on the 200 IM and 4×100 freestyle relay back-to-back. It’s a familiar double for Steenbergen, who did the same Day 1 lineup in Fukuoka. She had slightly more time there as the 200 IM had a number of disqualifications that gave her a bit more time to recover. In Fukuoka, Steenbergen swam 2:09.30 to qualify for the 200 IM final; today, she qualified with a 2:11.23. She saved the fireworks for her anchor leg of the Netherlands’ relay. She had the fastest relay split in the field (52.35) and pulled her team from 3rd place to the win.
  • Italy won the fourth and final European medal of the day. The Italian men repeated as the men’s 4×100 free relay silver medalists with a combined time of 3:12.08. Alessandro Miressi opened in 47.90, then Lorenzo Zazzeri split 47.99 and Paolo Conte Bonin added another sub-48 split with a 47.83. Manuel Frigo anchored in 48.03, holding off charges from the USA’s Carson Foster and Great Britain’s Duncan Scott to secure the silver medal, keeping the Italians as consistent medal threats in this relay.

Other Continental and National Records

  • Poland got two national records for the price of one race in the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay. First, Kasia Wasick reset her 100 freestyle record leading off the race. She dropped a 54.12, taking a tenth off the mark she set in May 2019. Her, Kornelia Fiediewicz (54.23), Zuzanna Famulok, and Julia Maik (55.26) posted an overall time of 3:38.65, setting the second Polish record of the race. It’s a Polish record by 2.24 seconds as they bring the mark sub-3:40. The previous record had stood since 2015, which Wasick was also a part of.
  • Two European national records went down during prelims of the men’s 400 freestyle. Lucas Henveaux clocked 3:46.15 to advance to the final. That lowers his own Belgian record, which he’d set at 3:46.59 in April 2023. Sweden’s Victor Johansson qualified five-hundredths behind Henveaux, resetting his own national record with a 3:46.20. That national record had stood a lot longer than the Belgian one; Anders Holmertz had set the standard at 3:46.77 back in 1992.
  • In the heats of the men’s 50 butterfly, Nicholas Lia reset his own Norwegian record. Lia clocked 23.18 to advance to the semifinals, lowering the record he’d swum in 2021 by .15 seconds. Miloš Milenković broke the Montenegro national record in the event, swimming 24.17.
  • A pair of national records from 2021 went down in prelims of the men’s 4×100 freestyle relay. Bulgaria’s quartet of Josif Miladinov, Kaloyan Levterov, Petar Mitsin, and Yordan Yanchev combined for a 3:20.52, breaking the old record–set at 2021 Euro Juniors–by .33 seconds. The Slovakian team also reset their national record, swimming 3:24.70. Tibor Tištan, Matej Duša, Richard Nagy, and Frantisek Jablcnik took down the 3:25.99 standard which Dušahelped set.

European Medal Table Thru Day 1

Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
Netherlands 1 1
Italy 1 1
Germany 2 2

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Clutch
3 months ago

Märtens’ time is pretty good for the fact that he had major training absences in the fall/winter (he also dropped the 800/1500m).

In general, however, Germany simply has a lot of strong disciplines on the first day. I expect the same course as at the last World Championships, they will drop off towards the end.

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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