Fukuoka 2023, Day 2 Euro Recap: Diogo Ribeiro Wins Portugal’s First Ever Worlds Medal


Right after the men’s 50 butterfly final finished, you probably saw the swimmer in a white cap at the top of your screen punch the water in celebration. That was 18-year-old Diogo Ribeiro, who made history by winning silver. With that swim, he became the first Portuguese swimmer ever to medal at the World Championships.

Ribeiro blasted 22.80 for silver–setting a new Portuguese record by .16 seconds, getting under his standard of 22.96 from last summer’s World Juniors. He also owns the world junior record in that time, but as he’s turning 19 later this year, his new time does not count as a world junior record under World Aquatics’ new rules.

“I’m very emotional right now at this moment because of all the work that me and my team have dealt with in the past year,” Ribeiro said after his swim. “It was just amazing. And probably, you know, that I have an accident. A motorcycle accident. So all the way to get here and get a medal from it. I can’t explain.”

The motorcycle accident Ribeiro referred to happened in 2021. It nearly cut his swimming career short–he suffered contusions all over his body, dislocated his shoulder, broke his foot, and lost part of his right index finger, which was later reconstructed with sensation restored.

“After the motorcycle accident that I had last year, I thought I wouldn’t go back into the water again, but I did,” Ribeiro told SwimSwam last summer, after his breakout performances at European Championships and World Juniors.

“It was a complete overcoming for me in physical terms, but above all in psychological terms. Those who knew me knew that I always had my head in the moon, but after the accident it seemed that I changed my thoughts and I feel that I became more adult and responsible. I think it was a bad thing that came for good and I learned a lot from this accident, especially that we just have one life.”

Ribeiro has been rewriting national records since he recovered from his injury. Even so, he said after his race that he “wasn’t expecting” the medal at all. He’d moved through the early rounds of the race quietly, swimming 23.14 in prelims and 23.04 in the semifinals.

But now, he’s fully transitioned last summer’s success to the senior international stage, and provided a historic moment for Portugese swimming in the process. “It [the medal] is very important for us. And in the prelims and in the
semi-final [I] was not that good…but now I’m super happy, and I just want to enjoy it with my team,” concluded Ribeiro.

Ribeiro is also slated to race the 50 and 100 freestyle later at these championships.

Quick Hits

  • Italy’s Nicolo Martinenghi and the Netherlands’ Arno Kamminga were both involved in the three-way tie for silver in the men’s breaststroke. Their tie with Nic Fink is the first three-way tie for silver at this level since the 2016 Olympics. Both Martinenghi and Kamminga were pleased after the race, though Martinenghi was happier with the result than the time, saying, “it’s a mind result today, not a body result.” For Kamminga, the medal is a sign of returning to form. “I’m really happy,” he said post-race. “It’s been a really rough year for me. Pretty tough. I had to take a year out of the pool. We were sick so many times last year. And then starting from nothing going back to racing in five months. It’s been really rough. A lot of challenges so it’s nice to be back and winning at the end.”
  • Europe’s gold medal this session came from Thomas Ceccon, who won the men’s 50 fly shortly after qualifying first for tomorrow’s 100 backstroke final. Ceccon set a new Italian record of 22.68, which also moved him up to #7 all-time. This is his first Worlds medal in this event. “I wanted this medal so bad because last year I was fifth, said Ceccon. “I have done the repeat events before, so it is really hard for me mentally and physically, but today I did it.”
  • Hungary’s Hubert Kos continued ASU’s success on Day 2 of Worlds. Kos, who moved to train at ASU in January, shattered his national record in the 100 backstroke. He ripped 53.12, breaking Laslo Cseh‘s record of 53.40. Cseh swam that time leading off Hungary’s medley relay at the 2012 Olympics. Kos is more known for his prowess in the IMs and 200 backstroke, but now he’s showing off his speed. In the semis, he was just off his record in 53.17, securing a lane for the final.

Other Continental and National Records Broken

  • Ribeiro didn’t set the only new Portuguese record today. His teammate João Costa reset his own 100 backstroke record in prelims. Costa swam 53.71, beating the 53.87 he swam at the 2022 European Championships. The swim qualified him for the semis, where he ultimately finished 16th.
  • 24-year-old Pauline Mahieu took down a 16-year-old French record in the women’s 100 back semifinals. Mahieu clocked a time of 59.30, breaking Laure Manaudou‘s record of 59.50 from 2007 Worlds. Mahieu’s previous best was a 59.66, which she swam earlier this year. In 2023, Mahieu has swum personal bests in all three backstroke distances. Mahieu qualified for the final in fifth, giving her another chance to lower the record.
  • In prelims of the 100 breaststroke, Mona McSharry rocketed to a 1:05.55 Irish record. She became the first Irishwoman ever under 1:06, as she owned the old record of 1:06.04, which she set earlier this year at Irish Championships. This is the third Irish record broken through two days of racing.
  • Also in the 100 breaststroke, Dominika Sztandera reset Poland’s national record. In the heats, Sztandera swam 1:06.42, lowering her own record under 1:07 for the first time.

European Medal Table Thru Day 2

Nation Total Medals Gold Silver Bronze
Italy 3 1 2
France 2 1 1
Netherlands 1 1
Portugal 1 1
Germany 1 1

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9 months ago

The kid is a superstar!

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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