Fukuoka 2023, Day 1 Euro Recap: Germany Carries Open Water Success Into The Pool


Germany started the 2023 World Championships off with a bang in open water swimming. Thanks to the efforts of Leonie Beck and Florian Wellbrock, they won all four individual golds on offer. Through one day of pool swimming, it’s clear that momentum has carried over. Over the course of the day, Germany won a medal and broke three national records.

Lucas Matzerath
courtesy of Fabio Cetti

Lucas Matzerath kicked things off for them. The 23-year-old set a new national record of 58.74 in prelims of the men’s 100 breaststroke. Coming into Worlds, Matzerath had a personal best of 59.09. But, now he’s become the second German to go sub-59, and moved into #10 on the all-time European performers list.

He bettered Fabian Schwingenschogl’s record time of 58.95 from 2021. Then, he backed up the swim in the semifinals, clocking 58.75 and qualifying second. His semifinal swim makes him the first German man to final in the event at back-to-back Worlds.

As he’s qualified second, he’s also in prime position to earn Germany’s first Worlds medal in the event.

Then, it was Isabel Gose‘s turn. In the 400 freestyle prelims, she swam 4:03.02, qualifying for the final. Gose owned the previous record of 4:03.21, which she swam in prelims of the Tokyo Olympics. It’s a bit of a pattern for Gose to do her best swim in prelims; in finals, she added time and finished seventh. But, the record shows that she’s on form for her other events this week, the 200/800/1500 freestyle.

Angelina Kohler
courtesy of Fabio Cetti

The final national record of the day went to Angelina Köhler. Like Gose, Köhler broke her own German record, this time in the women’s 100 fly. The 22-year-old swam 57.05 in the event semifinals, improving on the record of 57.22 she swam earlier this year.

Köhler qualified fifth for the final, which is a big moment for her. She made the Worlds team last year, but finished 14th in this event (58.46). She followed that up by finishing fourth at the 2022 European Championships (57.90). But, this marks the first final she’s qualified for at the Olympic/Worlds level, setting her up nicely for 2024’s Olympic year.

It was Lukas Märtens who earned Germany’s medal. Märtens collected bronze in the opening event of the finals session, the men’s 400 free. While it’s not the silver he earned last year, there are positive takeaways for Märtens. While still off his lifetime best of 3:41.60, he went faster in Fukuoka than he did for silver last year (3:42.65).

For Märtens, that’s important because after his breakout at the 2022 Stockholm Open, he struggled to replicate those times at international meets. This swim, while maybe not the outcome he was hoping for, shows that the new way he’s approached his season has been beneficial. And, there’s still plenty of racing left.

Quick Hits

  • Marrit Steenbergen pulled off an incredible double in today’s finals. First, she dropped a 2:09.30 in the 200 IM, qualifying for the final in third. She split 29.94 on her freestyle leg, fastest in the field, to secure her spot. Then, about 30 minutes later, she dropped a 51.84 split on the Netherlands’ 4×100 free relay. That was the second fastest split in the field, behind only Shayna Jack.
  • Obviously, the biggest European storyline was Leon Marchand‘s world record in the 400 IM (4:02.50). The performance–and surrounding festivities–are a full circle moment in a lot of ways. He took down Michael Phelps‘ last individual world record and the longest standing long-course record. Phelps was not only on the call for the moment on the NBC broadcast, but he also presented the medals for the event. And, both were coached by Bob Bowman. Marchand said in an interview earlier this year that he had not met Phelps in person but that’s certainly changed now as Phelps was on hand to witness the changing of the guard in the men’s 400 IM. “Records are made to be broken,” he captioned an Instagram post with Marchand and Bowman.
  • The European medal we haven’t discussed yet is Italy’s silver in the 4×100 freestyle. Alessandro Miressi, Manuel Frigo, Lorenzo Zazzeriand Thomas Ceccon led the race for a little over 300 meters. Ultimately, they finished second in 3:10.49, faster than what this same squad went to win bronze last year. Notably, Ceccon’s 47.03 anchor was the fastest split of his career.

Other Continental and National Records

  • France’s Maxime Grousset reset the 50 butterfly national record twice today. First, he swam 22.92 in prelims, then went 22.90 to advance to the final in first.
  • ASU’s swimmers had a great day today: Marchand medalling, and pros Olivia Smoliga and Ryan Held earning medals as part of their respective 4×100 free relay squads. Ieva Maluka races for ASU during the NCAA season, and she got things started for the Sun Devils in prelims. Maluka reset her own Latvian record in the 200 IM, dropping .59 seconds from the record she swam earlier this year with a 2:15.33.
  • Austria’s Simon Bucher swam 23.05 in semifinal of the men’s 50 butterfly to break the national record. The time tied him for eighth, and he eventually won the swim-off in 23.10 to move on to tomorrow’s final.
  • Amina Kajtax clocked 58.50 in the women’s 100 fly prelims. With the swim, she reset her own Croatian national record, improving on the mark she set earlier this year and bringing the record sub-59 for the first time.
  • Anna Hopkin, Lucy Hope, Abbie Woodand Freya Anderson reset the British record in the women’s 4×100 free relay. They combined for a 3:33.90, shaving six-hundredths off the record the same squad set at the Tokyo Olympics.
  • The Irish women also reset their 4×100 free record in prelims. Mona McSharry, Danielle Hill, Erin Riordanand Victoria Catterson swam 3:41.75 in the heats, bettering their old record from 2020 European Championships by 2.62 seconds.
  • That wasn’t the only Irish record broken today. In the women’s 200 IM semifinals, Ellen Walshe lowered her own national record. Walshe fired off a 2:10.02, to finish 9th, well under her old record of 2:12.02 from 2021.
  • On the men’s side there were also two national records set in the relays. Israel’s squad of Denis Loktev, Tomer Frankel, Ron Polonskyand Gal Cohen Groumi combined for a 3:14.03, breaking their old record(3:15.35) by more than a second. The swim also put them through to the finals, where they finished seventh.
  • The second men’s relay national record came from the Kosovo squad. The team of Dardan Vishi, Meriton Veliu, Eris Mustava, and Vigan Bytyqi combined for 3:53.86, setting Kosovo’s first record in the event.

European Medal Table Thru Day 1

Nation Total Medals Gold Silver Bronze
France 1 1
Italy 1 1
Germany 1 1

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4 months ago

In Fukuoka, Germany’s might,
From open water to pool’s delight.
Records fell and medals shone,
Their prowess, now widely known,
A powerful start to their World Champs flight.

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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