The Artistic Swimming competition in the Hungarian capital counts 341 athletes representing 44 nations who will be contesting ten sets of medals over the next seven days in the Szechy outdoor pool on the magical Margaret Island. In the pool, named after legendary Hungarian water polo coach Tamas Szechy, Japan’s Yukiko Inui, Ukraine’s Marta Fiedina and Greece’s Evangelia Platanioti wrote their names into the history books in the Technical Solo event.
With 92.8662 points, Yukiko Inui, clinched Japan’s first-ever World Championship gold medal. Inui chose to swim her routine, “The legend of Phoenix” to the music she previously used for a Solo Free choreography by Japanese artist, composer, and musician Hideki Togi. Winner of the bronze medal in Gwangju 2019, today Inui made history in Budapest for herself, Japan, and for the sport of Artistic Swimming.
At just twenty years old Marta Fiedina is considered one of the most promising Artistic Swimming athletes. After barely missing the podium at the 2019 Gwangju FINA World Championships, Fiedina won the bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Her performance of the “Enchantress” routine swum to music by contemporary Hungarian composer Havasi Balazs, earned her a solid 91.9555, to claim her first World Championship medal as a soloist, and Ukraine’s first silver medal in the event.
Veteran Evangelia Platanioti brought Greece its first-ever medal at a FINA World Championships, a bronze. Platanioti, with three Olympic Games under her belt, has been representing Greece as a soloist since 2009. The emotional and unique music choice “Her and the Sea” by Sebastian McKinnon complemented Platanioti’s choreography as a “Sirene” beautifully earning her 89.5110 for this historic moment in Greece’s Artistic Swimming.
Two other preliminary rounds, the Free Combo and the Mixed Duet Technical events were contested today to determine the competitors for the finals which are scheduled for Monday, June 22 in the afternoon.
The finals of the Free Combo event will prove to be an exciting showdown for the top honors. With the absence of all previous winners except Japan, Ukraine, who finished first in the preliminary round, will have another opportunity to make history. The Combination teams from Italy, Greece, and Israel will all have to bring their very best to make it to the podium.
History was already made in the Mixed Duet Technical, just by the number of Mixed Duet participants. The increase in pairs, requiring a preliminary and a final round, shows the growth of the male participants and the Mixed Duet event. While veteran Italians Giorgio Minisini and Lucrezia Ruggiero are the most decorated pair in the field, the debutantes representing Japan, siblings Tomoka and Yotaro Sato, China’s Haoyu Shi and Yiyao Zhang, and USA’s Claudia Coletti and Kenneth Gaudet all will have the opportunity to reach the podium.
The programme for Sunday June 19th includes the preliminary rounds for the Team Technical as well as the Duet Technical Finals. Full results of the Championships can be found here as well as information for the live broadcasts.
Men’s 400 Freestyle – Elijah Winnington Ends Australia’s Gold Medal Drought With Thorpie-Like Finish
It had been nearly 17 years since Australia had a World champion in the men’s 400 freestyle. The Aussies had dominated the event, winning five straight World titles from 1994 to 2005 with the likes of Hall of Famers Kieren Perkins, Ian Thorpe, and Grant Hackett. For years, the Australians struggled to find the heir apparent – seeing success with Mack Horton’s Olympic gold in 2016, and with Jack McLoughlin’s Olympic silver last year. On Saturday though, their World’s gold medal drought finally snapped in Budapest with Elijah Winnington swimming a 3:41.22.
Winnington had taken the race out hard on the first 200, with the world leader Lukas Martens of Germany on his hip, as the pair were right on world record pace halfway through. Martens pressed the pace on the third 100, as he comes from a distance-based background under coach Bernd Berkhahn in Magdeburg. Martens looked ready to run away with the gold medal after appearing in his first Worlds final, and after the year he had – three world-leading times in the 400, 800, and 1500, this looked to be his moment.
But Winnington responded with a finishing kick that looked reminiscent of the greats Thorpe and Hackett before him, as the 22-year-old Gold Coast native roared home in 27.83, the fastest in the field, to touch in a 3:41.22, the fastest swim anyone has done in 10 years. It should come as no surprise though – Winnington comes from the same training pool as Ariarne Titmus with coach Dean Boxall.
Martens won his first international medal in his first final with a 3:42.85, while Brazil’s Guilherme Costa also reached his first podium with a 3:43.31 after overtaking Austria’s Felix Aubock at the last stroke – 3:43.58.
Women’s 400 Freestyle – Katie Ledecky Wins Fourth World Title With 15-Year-Old McIntosh Hot on Her Heels.
USA’s Katie Ledecky won her fourth World title in the 400 freestyle with a 3:58.15 – the fastest time she has ever swum at the World Championships.
This was Ledecky’s fourth World title in the 400 free as she has done so with three different coaches – most recently moving to the University of Florida to train with Anthony Nesty.
It wasn’t a walk in the park for Ledecky – she was pushed every step of the way by Canada’s Summer McIntosh, who became the fourth woman, and the youngest ever, to break the 4:00 barrier in the event.
McIntosh broke through with a 3:59.39, staying on Ledecky’s feet for the entire race – something so few have done. At just 15 years old, she joins the elite list that includes Titmus, Ledecky, and Federica Pellegrini as the only women to break 4:00, and is a year younger than Ledecky was when she broke through for the first time in 2013.
USA’s Leah Smith won her third straight medal in the event, adding to her silver in 2017 and bronze in 2019, but it is extra special for her after not making last year’s Olympic team for the United States. Smith was a constant on the USA team since making her debut in 2016 and was named a team captain for this trip to Budapest. After moving training bases to the University of Texas and coach Carol Capitani after the Olympic cycle, she picked up right where she left off with a bronze, joining Ledecky on the podium for the third straight Worlds
Men’s 400 IM – Leon Marchand Gets Closer Than Ever Before to Michael Phelps’ World Record
In the race of the night, France’s Leon Marchand did more than just take the 400 IM torch from Chase Kalisz and Daiya Seto’s hands. He nearly took down one of the most impressive world records on the books – racing to a 4:04.28 in the final of the 400 IM. It was the second-fastest time in history and the closest anyone has gotten to Phelps’ 4:03.84 in ten years.
The once-thought untouchable record by the greatest swimmer on the planet was in danger of falling on Saturday evening as Marchand turned a full second under world-record pace at 300 meters. It may not come too much of a surprise that Marchand was that close – he trains with Phelps’ long-time coach Bob Bowman at Arizona State University in the United States.
The 4:04 swim came as a shock to Marchand, who at age 20, had his eyes set long-term on the home Olympics in 2024.
Marchand won ahead of 20-year-old American Carson Foster, who trains with another legendary coach in Eddie Reese at the University of Texas. This was a long time coming for Foster, who won silver at 4:06.56. He was the world junior champ in this same pool in the 200 IM in 2019, and last year had the fastest time in the world in the 400 IM but was third at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Fellow American Chase Kalisz won the bronze at 4:07.47, which was faster than he won gold in Tokyo last year.
Marchand follows in his own family legacy – his father Xavier won silver in the 200 IM at the 1998 Worlds in Perth.
Marchand, like Foster, has also had success in the Duna Arena. He won bronze in this event at World Juniors in 2019, and also watched Kalisz win gold at the 2017 Worlds as a spectator.
Men’s 4×100 Freestyle | United States Flexes Its Muscles on Backs of Caeleb Dressel & Ryan Held
For the third straight Worlds, the United States closed day one with a gold medal in the men’s 4×100 free relay. With a completely different team than that of 2019, the quartet of Caeleb Dressel (47.67), Ryan Held (46.99), Justin Ress (47.48), and Brooks Curry (47.20) won gold with a 3:09.34, holding the lead the entirety of the race.
Dressel, who trains with Ledecky at the University of Florida, picked up his first gold of the week in what is going to be another busy week of racing for him.
With the experienced front half of Dressel and Held, who at one time were the new kids on the team in 2016 alongside the likes of future Hall of Famers Michael Phelps and Nathan Adrian, they paved the way for Ress and Curry as both of them swam on their first finals relay.
Australia won the silver medal on the strength of its back half, with Jack Cartwright (47.62) and Kyle Chalmers (46.60) taking the team from eighth to second for its highest finish in that relay since 2011. William Yang (48.41) and Matthew Temple (48.17) swam the first two legs to win the silver medal at 3:10.80.
Chalmers will not be racing the individual 100 free but proved here he is in good shape for the relays and the 100 butterfly the rest of the week.
The big question for the Australian team was how would its 4×100 free relay fare without the likes of all-time greats Emma McKeon & Cate Campbell on their relay? The answer was – did it even matter? The Aussies won with a 3:30.95, only seven-tenths off the championship record the Australians set in 2019 with both Cate and Bronte Campbell, and McKeon.
The team of Mollie O’Callaghan (52.70), Madison Wilson (52.60), Meg Harris (53.00), and Shayna Jack (52.65) proved the future is still bright in the 100 free in Australia.
Both O’Callaghan and Harris made their international debuts in Tokyo last year, gaining valuable experience on the relays at the sport’s highest stage. This year, they’re carrying the reigns in the individual events, along with Jack, as O’Callaghan will race the 100 and 200 free later in the week, with Jack in both the 50 and 100 free, and Harris in the 50.
O’Callaghan, age 18, looks to be one of the future stars in the sport and backed up her stellar Trials with a 52.70.
The Canadians won the silver medal, backing up their same position from Tokyo last year. The team of Kayla Sanchez (53.45), Taylor Ruck (52.92), Maggie Mac Neil (53.27) and Penny Oleksiak (52.51) just held off the Americans with a 3:32.15.
The American team of Torri Huske (52.96), Erika Brown (53.30), Kate Douglass (53.61) and Claire Curzan (52.71) won bronze at 3:32.58.
– Fina –