Ruta’s Back, Making Tomorrow’s 100 Breast Final an Instant Classic

2017 FINA WORLD SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS

EUROPEAN RECAP

Ruta Meilutyte is making her comeback, and she’s doing it in the face of some incredibly tough competition.

Meilutyte was the other young surprise in London (the one not named Ledecky), upsetting Rebecca Soni for gold in the women’s 100 breast back in 2012 at 15 years old. It’s not easy to come back after the Olympics and swim well at the subsequent World Champs, but Meilutyte did that and so much more, dropping her lifetime best for gold in Barcelona and setting the world record at 1:04.35. On top of that, though she ended up with the silver in the final, she broke the WR in the 50 breast during the semifinals in 2013.

She was well off of her top form, though, at the 2015 World Championships. Though she managed a silver in the 100 breast, she was two seconds off of her 2013 WR time, and she missed the podium in the 50. Then, she suffered an elbow injury after a bike incident and soon after underwent minor surgery. In 2016 at the Rio Games, though she was solid through the 100 breast semifinals, the magic just wasn’t there in finals, leaving her in 7th.

Meilutyte, who moved to live and train in Plymouth, England when she was 13, moved back to her home nation Lithuania early in 2017 to train with coach Paulius Andrijauskas. She’s only been back to training since December after a post-Rio break, but Meilutyte tonight in Budapest swam a very convincing 1:05.06 to qualify third into the final behind heated rivals Lilly King and Yulia Efimova. Remember, though, that King has not been the only person opposed to Efimova’s participation in major competitions. Meilutyte backed King in a Rio press conference last summer, referencing King’s quotes and saying that “she said what we all think [about Efimova].”

Moreover, King and Efimova will not be alone by the looks of Meilutyte’s swim tonight. The Lithuanian 20-year-old’s 1:05.06 was a fantastic sign for her, marking her fastest swim since 2013 when she was at the peak of her career. Meilutyte’s potentially successful return to the sprint breaststroke scene would spell continued years of great competition, with all of the charged doping-related tensions still at play.

In the 100 breast final tomorrow night, don’t forget that Meilutyte is still the world record holder. That WR may well go down at the hands of one, two, or even three women in the final, but it should be one of the most exciting races of these World Championships, and we are looking at a Ruta Meilutyte who is on the verge of a thunderous return to the top.

NATIONAL RECORDS, DAY 2

  • Russian record – Yulia Efimova – W 100 breast – 1:04.36
  • Russian record – Kirill Prigoda – M 100 breast – 59.05
  • Czech record – Simona Baumrtova – W 100 back – 59.65
  • Estonian record – Maria Romanjuk – W 100 breast – 1:08.81
  • Greek record – Theodora Drakou – W 100 back – 1:00.88
  • Lithuanian record – Ugne Mazutaityte – W 100 back – 1:02.02
  • Lithuanian record – Danas Rapsys – M 200 free – 1:46.56
  • Liechtensteinian record – Julia Hassler – W 1500 free – 16:19.16

EUROPEAN MEDAL TABLE

GOLD SILVER BRONZE
GBR 2 0 0
Hungary 1 0 1
Sweden 1 0 0
Italy 0 0 1
Netherlands 0 0 1
Russia 0 0 1
Ukraine 0 0 1

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5 Comments on "Ruta’s Back, Making Tomorrow’s 100 Breast Final an Instant Classic"

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most impressive swim of the night for me! comeback swim of the year! i am happy for her and her new coach!

She lost her best teens years with her previous coach. Even if she gets close to her best form… the swimming world didn’t stay still all these years. I will be very glad to see her on the podium tomorrow. But even if she doesn’t succeed with that it is nice to see a great Olympic champion in great mood.

Really impressed with Ruta. I didn’t expect her to swim that fast!

I love this girl ever since London where she drove me to tears. Great to see her back in great form.

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studies and swims at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and has been in the pool ever since. He misses Vine.

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