Doha 2024, Euro Recap Day 3: Gonzalez Wins Spain’s First Worlds Swimming Medal in 7 Years


Hugo Gonzalez is no stranger to the international stage. He’s a two-time Olympian and finished 6th in the 100 backstroke at the Tokyo Games. But today during his fifth World Championships, he finally checked earning a Worlds medal off his to-do list by winning silver in the 100 backstroke.

Gonzalez, 24, found a new gear last season. He began to show signs of it during his fifth and final season at Cal especially in backstroke events. After finishing his NCAA career, that carried over to the long-course pool. He made his first World Championship finals in the 200 back/200 IM. His 1:56.33 for 7th in the 200 back was his first best time in the event since 2017.

With so many big names missing from Doha, Gonzalez was one of those swimmers we’d circled on the entry list as one capable of really taking advantage. That wasn’t necessarily the main goal for Gonzalez, though. “I did not have many expectations coming here,” he said after the 100 backstroke final. “The plan was to get as close as I could to my PBs and to make sure that I am on the right path towards the Olympics this summer.”

In his first event of the meet, Gonzalez did more than get close to his personal best. The 52.70 he swam in the final breaks his old standard by eight-hundredths. It’s his first PB in the 100 backstroke since the Tokyo Games. It ranks him 4th in the world this season and 22nd among all-time performers.

Not only is this a memorable medal for Gonzalez, it’s also an important one for Spanish swimming. Gonzalez is the first Spanish man to medal at Worlds since 2009, when Aschwin Wildeboer won 100 backstroke bronze. And, he’s the first Spanish swimmer of any gender to medal since 2017.

It was clear that what this moment meant for his country was also on Gonzalez’ mind post-race.

“Coming here, one of my main aims is to inspire people back at home in swimming. It is a pretty small fan base compared to basketball or soccer so I just hope that I can inspire all these swimmers back at home that they can do it and if they dream about it, they can achieve it,” he said. “we [Spanish swimming] are doing a little bit better and we are hoping to get more people into the sport and to make the things even better.”

Gonzalez has more opportunities to medal over the next five days. He’s seeded 4th in the 200 IM, 8th in the 200 back, and 18th in 50 back.

Quick Hits

  • Danas Rapsys finally climbed onto the World Championships podium today. In 2019, it appeared that he’d won gold in the 200 free, but was disqualified for movement on the blocks. He got his redemption here in Doha, winning silver in 1:45.05. It’s the 3rd fastest swim of his career, behind only his personal best (1:44.38) and the 1:44.96 he swam in the semifinals.
  • Germany continues to have a strong meet in Doha, led by Isabel Gose. She picked up bronze in the women’s 1500 freestyle, her second bronze medal of the meet. Gose clocked 15:57.55, finishing about a second behind Li Bingjie (15:56.62). Though he didn’t medal, Lukas Märtens had a strong swim in the 200 free, taking 4th with a 1:45.33. Märtens actually had the fastest closing split in the field (26.88) and just ran out of room to catch Hobson for a spot on the podium.
  • Tes Schouten timed her move in the women’s 100 breaststroke final just right to get on the podium. Schouten had a breakthrough 2023, highlighted by winning bronze in the 200 breaststroke in Fukuoka. Now, she’s added 100 breaststroke silver to her medal haul. Schouten was 6th at the turn (31.46). She charged through the field on the next 50 meters, coming home in a field-best 34.36 split. At the touch, Schouten got the better of Siobhan Haughey for silver by a tenth with a 1:05.82, just .11 seconds off her personal best.
  • After posting a 1:54-mid to seemingly take lane 4 for tomorrow’s 200 butterfly final, we are doing a little bit better and we Krzysztof Chmielewski was disqualified for a non-simulatenous touch on the first turn. As the defending silver medalist, the 19-year-old was the favorite for gold. Even without Chmielewski this is still a European heavy final. Six out of the eight swimmers represent European countries including top qualifier Alberto Razzetti (Italy), Martin Espernberger (Austria), Kregor Zirk (Estonia), Richard Marton (Hungary), and K. Chmielewski’s twin brother Michal Chmielewski (Poland).

Other Continental and National Records

  • Estonia’s Kregor Zirk took down both the national and Baltic records in the men’s 200 butterfly prelims. He already owned both records (1:55.62) from his semifinal swim at 2022 Worlds. Here, Zirk bettered his standard by four-hundredths with a 1:55.58. Zirk will get another crack at the record in tomorrow night’s final after qualifying 5th.
  • After resetting their respective 400 freestyle national records to open the meet, both Victor Johansson and Lucas Henveaux were at it again. Both reset their own records–Johansson cut 2.10 seconds off his previous Swedish record from the Tokyo Games. He swam 7:47.04, qualifying for the final in 4th. Henveaux dropped even more time, cutting 3.54 seconds from the Belgian record he swam at January’s Knoxville Pro Swim with a 7:52.10.
  • Dimitrios Markos also took down the Greek record in the men’s 800 freestyle heats. He swam 7:49.97, breaking Konstantinos Englezakis‘ 7:51.27 mark from the Tokyo Games by 1.30 seconds. It’s Markos’ first time sub-7:50 as his previous personal best stood at 7:52.60 from 2022.

European Medal Table Thru Day 3

Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
Italy 1 2 3
Germany  1 3 4
Portugal 1 1
Netherlands 1 1
Spain 1 1
Lithuania 1 1
Great Britain 1 1
Sweden 1 1
Greece 1 1

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3 months ago

So happy for him! Finally, a breakthrough on the international stage! Cal’s training group is bonkers, like the more sprint orientated version of ASU.

Slow Swimmer X
3 months ago

Didn’t even realize Spain has such a long drought.

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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