2023 WORLD JUNIOR SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS
- September 4 – 9, 2023
- Netanya, Israel
- Wingate Institute
- LCM (50m)
- Meet Central
- How To Watch
- Psych Sheets
- Live Results
- Day 1 Prelims Live Recap | Day 1 Finals Live Recap
- Day 2 Prelims Live Recap| Day 2 Finals Live Recap
- Day 3 Prelims Live Recap | Day 3 Finals Live Recap
- Day 4 Prelims Live Recap | Day 4 Finals Live Recap
- Day 5 Prelims Live Recap | Day 5 Finals Live Recap
- Day 6 Prelims Live Recap | Day 6 Finals Live Recap
The 2023 World Junior Swimming Championships had no shortage of exceptional swims across the board, as some established swimmers got the opportunity to shine on the international stage while we also saw some relative unknowns make a name for themselves with some breakout performances.
Below, find our top 10 swims of the meet:
1. MAXIMUS WILLIAMSON (USA), BOYS’ 200 IM
It didn’t take long for Maximus Williamson to make an impact in the boys’ 17-18 age group, as the 15-16 U.S. National Age Group Record holder became the fastest 17-year-old in history in the 200 IM one day after his 17th birthday, clocking 1:57.29 to win World Junior gold. He also moved into #2 all-time in the U.S. 17-18 age group behind only Michael Phelps (1:55.94), came within three-tenths of the World Junior Record held by Hubert Kos (1:56.99), and went faster than the runner-up at U.S. Nationals (and thus would’ve qualified for Worlds had he done it there).
2. MAXIMUS WILLIAMSON (USA), BOYS’ 100 FREE (RELAY LEAD-OFF)
Ranking not too far behind his 200 IM swim was what Williamson managed to do in the 100 free, with his lead-off leg of 48.38 from the mixed 400 free relay standing above the rest. The 17-year-old set a new National Age Group Record with his performance, lowering the mark established by Jonny Kulow (48.47) during the summer, and Williamson doubled down by going under the old record a second time in the individual event (48.45). It’s worth mentioning Williamson’s trio of 47-second relay splits here: 47.57, 47.74 and 47.78.
3. OLIVIA WUNSCH (AUS), GIRLS’ 100 FREE (RELAY SPLIT)
Australian phenom Olivia Wunsch was a star performer individually as she swept the girls’ 50 and 100 freestyle events, but her top performances of the meet came on the relays, led by her blistering 52.61 split on the girls’ 400 free relay. That swim came on the anchor leg, as the 17-year-old powered the Aussies to gold in the event over the Americans, with Wunsch’s split particularly notable given she had never broken 54 seconds from a flat-start coming into the meet (she won the 100 free in a PB of 53.71). She proved the split was no fluke on the final night of competition, anchoring Australia in 52.73 in the medley relay that ultimately won gold after the U.S. was disqualified.
4. TEAGAN O’DELL (USA), GIRLS’ 200 BACK
Sixteen-year-old Teagan O’Dell ran away with the gold medal in the girls’ 200 backstroke by more than two seconds in a time of 2:08.09, ranking her #5 all-time in the U.S. girls’ 15-16 age group behind the ultra-elite quartet of Missy Franklin, Elizabeth Beisel, Regan Smith and Elizabeth Pelton. O’Dell dropped exactly one second off her previous best time and neared the Championship Record of 2:07.48 set by Smith in 2017. The time would’ve comfortably made the final at the World Championships and finished 6th (though it took 2:05.77 to qualify at U.S. Nationals).
5. LEAH HAYES (USA), GIRLS’ 400 IM
Leah Hayes knocked off the Championship Record in the girls’ 400 IM by nearly a full second in a time of 4:36.84, dropping over a second and a half from her previous best to move into #6 all-time in the girls’ 17-18 age group in the United States. The 17-year-old used an impressive breaststroke leg to win an exciting battle with Canadian Ella Jansen, who also went under the old CR (Mio Narita‘s 4:37.78 from last year) in 4:37.35.
Hayes also went under the CR in the 200 IM in 2:10.24, though that fell short of her personal best set last summer at Worlds (2:08.91).
6. ALEXANNE LEPAGE (CAN), GIRLS’ 100 BREAST
In what has to be regarded as the upset of the meet, Canada’s Alexanne Lepage engineered a massive comeback to win gold in the girls’ 100 breast over Estonian Eneli Jefimova, clocking 1:06.58 for gold after trailing by more than a second at the halfway mark. Lepage entered the meet with a best time of 1:09.07, and Jefimova had set a new Championship Record in the semis (1:06.23), making the victory even more improbable. Lepage narrowly missed the Canadian 15-17 NAG record by five one-hundredths in the swim, though she did go on to take hold of the 200 breast mark later in the meet (2:24.70).
Jefimova’s semi-final performance also deserves recognition, though despite being faster, it falls shy of Lepage’s swim since it didn’t come in a final. (Read more on it here).
7. TOMOYUKI MATSUSHITA (JPN), BOYS’ 400 IM
Japan’s Tomoyuki Matsushita got a bit of redemption in the 400 IM after he was disqualified in the 200 IM final, as he stormed to gold in a time of 4:10.97, setting a new Championship Record. The 18-year-old dropped more than a second from his lifetime best to crush the previous meet record of 4:11.93 set by Greece’s Apostolos Papastamos in 2019, using a quick free split to run away from teammate Riku Yamaguchi. Matsushita had set the CR in the 200 IM prelims before being DQed in the final (where he initially touched 2nd).
8. JACLYN BARCLAY (AUS), GIRLS’ 100 BACK
Australia’s Jaclyn Barclay secured the gold medal in the girls’ 100 back with a new lifetime best of 59.47, earning victory over countrymate Iona Anderson and American Erika Pelaez as the three of them went head-to-head in both sprint backstroke events. Barclay, who won’t turn 17 until December, undercut her previous best of 59.81 to move into #3 all-time among 16-year-olds in Australia, overtaking Mollie O’Callaghan (59.59) and Kaylee McKeown (59.62).
9. ENELI JEFIMOVA (EST), GIRLS’ 50 BREAST
Jefimova had a hot start to the meet when she fired off a time of 30.19 in the prelims of the girls’ 50 breast during the opening session, missing her Estonian Record by 11 one-hundredths. The 16-year-old went on to win gold in the event, clocking 30.48 in the semis and 30.42 in the final, and despite the fact the swim largely flew under the radar, especially after she was upset later in the meet in the 100 breast, Jefimova’s 50 breast was still the top FINA point-scoring swim on the girls’ side.
10. ZHANG ZHANSHUO (CHN), BOYS’ 400 IM
There’s certainly an argument that this swim should be much higher (and maybe right at the top), though we’re ranking these performances on a relatively level playing field and not accounting for age too much (like we would for the World Championships). Despite all that, Zhang Zhanshuo‘s 400 IM swim couldn’t be left off the list, as the Chinese native became the fastest 16 & under swimmer of all-time in 4:12.44, using a Herculean freestyle split of 56.42 to move up from 4th at the 300 into the silver medal position. He entered the meet with a best time of 4:17.68. Despite Matsushita winning the event, Zhang’s swim still would’ve been fast enough to qualify for the World Championship final (4:12.85 cut-off).