2017 EUROPEAN JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
The 2017 European Junior Championships saw the next generation of Hungarian talent make a big statement. While Russia has finished atop the medals table for the last 6 editions of this meet, Hungary stole the most headlines with their 21-medal performance that included 7 Championship Records.
Below, we’ve chosen the award winners for the meet, which have a heavily-Hungarian lean to them.
Female Swimmer of the Meet
Hungary’s Ajna Kesely won 6 gold medals, including individual wins in the 200 (1:57.85), 400 (4:08.25), 800 (8:31.81), and 1500 (16:11.25) freestyles. That included Championship Records in the 200, 800, and 1500. She was also part of Hungary’s winning 800 free relay and mixed 400 free relay.
- Polina Egorova, Russia – Egorova won 5 individual medals, including golds in the 100 (59.62) and 200 (2:08.97) backstrokes. Those swims were both Meet Records, and the 100 was a European Junior Record. She also took gold as part of Russia’s women’s 400 medley relay and an additional silver in the mixed medley for 7 total medals (3 golds, 4 silvers).
- Mona McSharry, Ireland – McSharry won gold medals in both the 50 and 100 breaststrokes, and came within a few tenths in each event of Irish senior National Records. She took silver in the 200 breaststroke, and her 2:27.44 was the fastest time ever by a swimmer representing Ireland at any age.
Male Swimmer of the Meet
Italy’s Nicolo Martineghi was dominant in the men’s sprint breaststrokes. He led an Italian 1-2 in the 50 with a 27.24, and in the 100 swam 59.23 to beat Russia’s silver medalist Evgenii Somov by almost two seconds. He picked up a 3rd gold in the men’s 400 medley relay, splitting 58.93, and broke World Junior, European Junior, and Meet Records in both that race and the 100 breaststroke.
- Kliment Kolesnikov won the 50 and 200 backstrokes but ironically was just out-touched by Poland’s Kacper Stokowski in the 100. He won 7 medals in total – 2 gold, 4 silvers, and a bronze.
- Hungary’s Kristof Milak won 6 medals of his own, which included the swim of the meet (more on that later) in the 200 fly, where he swam 1:53.79. That not only broke the official World Junior, European Junior, and Meet Records, but was faster than the ‘true’ World Junior Record done by Michael Phelps.
Female Performance of the Meet
Russia’s Polina Egorova broke the European Junior and Meet Records in the 100 backstroke with a 59.62. That gave Russia its 4th title in this event in the last 5 years, including her second title in the event (she also won in 2015). Russia went 1-2 in the event.
- Hungary’s Ajna Kesely won the 200 free in 1:57.85. While Hungary’s core of female swimmers are aging, she might just be able to sneak onto a medal-worthy relay with the likes of Katinka Hosszu, Boglarka Kapas, Evelyn Verraszto, and Zsu Jakabos. If not, Hungary has 4 swimmers born in the 2000s who have been 2:01.00-or-better already this year in the 200 free that could be ripe for medal-winning by Tokyo anyway.
- Speaking of which, the Hungarian 800 free relay broke the Meet Record with a 7:58.99 – even though Kesely was the only swimmer to perform really well on that relay. She was more than 3.5 seconds better than anybody else in that relay.
Male Performance of the Meet
As alluded to above, Kristof Milak‘s 200 fly time of 1:53.79 sent shockwaves through the world. Hungary has a powerful recent history in this event (Laszlo Cseh took silver in 2008, Tamas Kenderesi took bronze in 2016), and Milak took his spot in line on Friday. Milak’s time makes him the 2nd-fastest swimmer in the world, at any age, this year, and gives him both the official World Junior Record, and the fastest-known time by an 18 & under ever. For comparison, Phelps at the same age swam a 1:53.93.
- Coming into 2016, Moldova had only ever won a single medal at the European Junior Championships. In 2017, they won an incredible 4. That includes a 1:47.00 in the 200 free, which broke the World Junior Record in the event.
- Martinenghi swam 59.23, which is faster than the venerable American junior star Michael Andrew swam when he took 4th at last year’s Olympic Trials.