By Sharon Robb
GWANGJU, South Korea, July 21, 2019—The opening day of the 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships on Sunday at Nambu International Aquatics Centre crowned its first four world champions with some stunning surprises.
Brit Adam Peaty cracked the 57-second barrier to become the first swimmer to do so when he broke the world record in the semifinals. Peaty finished in an astounding 56.88, breaking his own world record by 0.22 sconds. He was on world record pace midway through the race. He will now go after the gold medal Monday night.
“There’s no real words, except for incredible,” Peaty said. “Obviously, I’ve been chasing that for years now. As soon as I touched that wall in Rio, I was like, ‘I could go faster’. It’s a very special journey that we’ve had and hopefully we’ll go a lot faster tomorrow. I said to all these guys down there, it’s still a semi-final. It would be a bit embarrassing to go world record and then not come away with a world title.”
Katie Ledecky, 22, opened worlds with a rare second-place finish. The American superstar lost for the first time on a major international stage, finishing second in the 400-meter freestyle. Aussie teenager Ariarne Titmus reeled her in on the final lap to knock off the five-time Olympic champion.
“I want to try to take it in,” Titmus told reporters, “because that’s not something that happens every day. Before the race my coach said to me just fight. I never thought I would find myself in a situation where I’d be mowing Katie down. She’s such a champion.”
The world record holder in the event was second in one of her strongest events in 3:59.76, 0.21 seconds behind the 18-year-old. She had won every major race at that distance since the 2013 worlds. U.S. teammate Leah Smith was third in 4:01.29.
“Obviously this stings a little,” Ledecky said. “It’s unfamiliar and different. But I need to rebound from this, and I need to get my fight back. I just need to continue to do the things I know I’m prepared to do. I’m prepared to swim fast at this meet. Tonight wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be.”
In the men’s 400-meter freestyle, China’s Olympic champion Sun Yang won gold in 3:42.44, a record fourth gold medal at worlds. Aussie Mack Horton was second in 3:43.17 and Italian Gabriele Detti was third in 3:43.23. American Zane Grothe was eighth in 3:45.78.
The U.S. won the men’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay in a championship record 3:09.06. Relay members included Clay High School and Bolles alum Caeleb Dressel, Blake Peroni, Zach Apple and Nathan Adrian. Dressel swam lead-off in 47.63. Russia was second in 3:09.97 and Australia was third in 3:11.22.
Dressel also broke the American and championship records in the 50-meter butterfly qualifier in 22.57.
Australia won the women’s 4×100-meter freestyle in 3:30.21 with Cate Campbell, Brianna Throssell, Madison Wilson and Bronte Campbell. The U.S. was second in 3:31.02 with Allison Schmitt, Abbey Weitzeil, Margo Greer ad Lia Neal. Canada ws third in 3:31.78.
South Florida Aquatic Club’s Nguyen Vien of Vietnam opened worlds with a 26th place finish in the 200-meter individual medley in 2:17.79 and 19th place in the 400-meter freestyle in 4:13.35.
Among Florida Gold Coast swimmers: Aruba’s Daniel Jacobs was 40th in the 400-meter freestyle in 4:00.69. Venezuela’s Isabella Paez was 36th in 100-meter butterfly in 1:01.27. Marcelo Acosta of El Salvador was 31st in the 400-meter freestyle in 3:55.06. Dylan Carter of Trinidad & Tobago was eighth in the 50-meter butterfly opener in 23.33 and 13th in 23.37 in semifinals to end his finals hope. Joseph Schooling of Singapore failed to qualify in the 50 butterfly finishing 20th in 23.73. Colombia’s Jorge Murillo was 33rd in 1:01.45. Izaak Bastian of the Bahamas was 58th in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:03.60. Will Pisani was 13th in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay swimming for Canada in 3:15.06.
The world championships has brought together a record 2,620 athletes from 194 countries and territories around the world with 76 sets of medals up for grabs in pool swimming, open water swimming, water polo, diving and synchronized swimming.
The meet will be streamed and televised by the Olympic Channel and live timing will be available.
Live Results: http://omegatiming.com
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com