NORTH AMERICA: Women’s 100 Breast, Back Strong Points Amid Rollercoaster Day 3


Day three at the FINA World Championships was again rocky for North America (well really, just the U.S – Canada is doing great). Katie Ledecky‘s shocking absence from the day cast a shadow over her two would-be swims, in the 200 and 1500 free. Despite two gold medalist performances, it was the U.S. absence from the podium in multiple events that stuck out most.

The Positives

  • American veteran Ashley Twichell went a best time in the Ledecky-less final of the women’s 1500 free, finishing fourth overall in 15:54.19. Her ascent over the past year has been steep, but although she’s already qualified for Toyko in open water, she’ll more than likely still need to improve to make it in the pool next year.
  • Michael Andrew qualified for his second final of the meet, finishing seventh in the 50 breast out of semis in 26.88.
  • The continent’s best event Tuesday (place-wise) was the 100 back final, though even this event wasn’t without some general weirdness.
    • Former world record holder Kylie Masse, of Canada, took gold in 58.60, but she was 58.16 in April.
    • The United States’ Olivia Smoliga won her first international medal, taking bronze in 58.91. But like Masse, she was faster in April (58.73).
    • Canadian Taylor Ruck, who ranked third in the world this season with a 58.55, finished fourth in 58.96.
    • Current world record holder Kathleen Baker, in her first meet since breaking a rib due to pneumonia, tied for sixth place in 59.56. She had been 59.05 in March, and her record from last summer sits at 58.00.
  • Canadian Penny Oleksiak squeaked into the final of the women’s 200 free at seventh with a 1:56.41. She was ranked 15th in the world coming into the meet with a 1:56.92.
  • American Zach Harting came within three tenths of his best time and is seeded second going into the final of the 200 fly (1:55.26) behind Hungarian Kristof Milak, who blew away the field (1:52.96).
  • Lilly King pulled away from Yuliya Efimova to defend her 100 breast world title in 1:04.93, .80 seconds slower than her world record. Despite aa push during the second 50, the Russian Efimova was 1:05.49.

The Negatives

  • Obviously, we expected an automatic gold medal for Katie Ledecky in the 1500 and could not have predicted her pulling out with illness. At this point, all we can do is wish her a speedy recovery.
  • The United States was shut out from the men’s 100 back podium entirely. World record holder Ryan Murphy finished fourth by .01 (52.78) and veteran Matt Grevers finished just .04 behind him (52.82), in fifth. Murphy said before the meet that medal counts don’t really matter to him in this pre-Olympic year, and he maintained his world No. 4 spot from the lead-up to the meet (and we can’t really call the top three finishers – Xu Jiayu, Evgeny Rylov and Mitch Larkin – an upset. Grevers was ranked sixth in the world coming in an broke 53 for the first time this year.
  • A day after American men got shut out of the 200 free final for the first time in history, the same happened to the women for the first time since 2005. Without Ledecky, it was up to Allison Schmitt to make it, and she finished 14th in 1:58.27. She was 1:55.82 to qualify for this meet last summer.

North America Medal Table – Day 3

United States 3 2 2 7
Canada 2 2 4

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About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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