Marchand, U.S. Women’s Relay Win; Dressel Drops Out Of Meet; Azura’s Morales Top FGC Finisher At FINA World Aquatics Championships

By Sharon Robb
BUDAPEST, Hungary, June 22, 2022–It was a crazy day at the 19th FINA World Aquatics Championships Wednesday at Duna Arena.

In the biggest news of the day, Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Caeleb Dressel withdrew from the rest of his events on the fifth day of the eight-day meet, a day after scratching out of the 100 freestyle for unspecified medical grounds.

“After conferring with Caeleb, his coaches and medical staff, a decision has been made to withdraw him from the FINA World Championships,” according to a USA Swimming. “Our priority is and will always be the health of our athletes and we will continue to give Caeleb the assistance he needs to recover quickly.”

Dressel, a Clay High School and Bolles Swim Club alum and 15-time world champion who won five golds at the Tokyo Olympics, scratched out of Tuesday’s 100 freestyle semifinals. He was also expected to race in Tuesday’s mixed 4×100 medley relay final before withdrawing. He didn’t have any events scheduled Wednesday.

Now, Dressel will also miss the 100 butterfly and 50 freestyle, events that start Thursday, and two more relays he was expected to be a part of (mixed 4×100 free and men’s 4×100 medley).

The top Florida Gold Coast finisher was Azura’s Yeziel Morales of Puerto Rico. He was 16th in 1:59.77 in the 200-meter backstroke morning prelims to advance into the semifinal round where he finished eighth in 2:01.47 in his semi and 16th overall. Swimming in Lane 8, Morales had the second fastest start (0.54) in the first semifinal.

In her world championship debut, Cayman Islands national record holder Jillian Crooks, who turns 16 on June 27, tied for 29th in the 100-meter freestyle in 57.24 with Peru’s Rafaela Erazo. The home schooler and TS Aquatics swimmer has the 50 freestyle left to swim on Friday.

There are 23 Florida Gold Coast swimmers competing on one of swimming’s biggest international stages.

FGC swimmers who competed on Wednesday:

Patrick Groters, 23, Aruba (NSU University School, Pine Crest Swim Club, University of South Carolina), 200 backstroke, 28th, 2:05.90.

Michaela Sierra, 17, Uruguay (South Florida Heat, Azura), 200 breaststroke, 27th, 2:39.05.

Jillian Crooks, 15, Cayman Islands (TS Aquatics), 100 freestyle, tied for 29th, 57.24.

Yeziel Morales, 26, Puerto Rico, (Azura), 200 backstroke, 16th, 1:59.77 in prelims; in the semifinals he was eighth in 2:01.47 and 16th overall.

FGC swimmers competing on Thursday are:

Olympic bronze medalist Bruno Fratus, 32, Brazil, (Coral Springs Swim Club), 50 freestyle.

Dylan Carter, 26, Trinidad & Tobago, (Plantation American Heritage, USC), 50 freestyle.

Esteban Nunez de Prado, 18, Bolivia, (Azura), 100 butterfly.

Jenebi Benoit, 19, Grenada, (Azura), 100 butterfly.

Leon Seaton, 18, Guyana (Azura), 50 freestyle.

Jordan Crooks, 20, Cayman Islands (TS Aquatics), 50 freestyle.

Steven Aimable, 23, Senegal, (Azura), 100 butterfly.

In Wednesday night’s final events:

200 WOMEN’S BUTTERFLY: Canadian teenager Summer McIntosh, 15, topped three Olympic medalists and broke her own world junior record to win in 2:05.20. She is the first Canadian to win the event at worlds. American Hali Flickinger was second in 2:06.08 and reigning Olympic champion Zhang Yufei was third in 2:06.32.

MEN’S 100 FREESTYLE: Romanian teenager David Popovici, 17, won in 47.58 out-touching Frenchman Maxime Grousset in 47.64 and Canadian Josh Liendo was third in 47.71. It was his second win of the meet.

WOMEN’S 50 BACKSTROKE: In a tight finish Canadian national record holder Kylie Masse won gold in 27.31. American Katharine Berkoff took silver in 27.39 for her first world medal. Frenchwoman Analia Pigree was third n 27.40, the first-ever French woman medalist in the event. American Regan Smith was fifth. 16/100ths of a second separated the top six swimmers.

MEN’S 200 IM: Frenchman Leon Marchand, 20, of Arizona State, swept the medley events, winning in a best time and national record 1:55.22. He also won the 400 IM earlier in the week. Marchand was third going into the breaststroke where he overtook the early leaders. American Carson Foster was second in 1:55.71 and Japan’s 2019 world champion Daiya Seto was third in 1:56.22.

“It’s a dream for me because five years ago, I was watching this race, and I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s amazing,'” Marchand said. “And now, I can win two titles, so it’s amazing.”

WOMEN’S 4×200 FREE RELAY: With two veterans and two youngsters, the U.S. women’s team pulled off an upset win in a championship record 7:41.45. Katie Ledecky swam third leg to pick up her 18th worlds gold medal, the most of any woman in meet history. Bella Sims, 16, swam anchor leg. Claire Weinstein, 15, and Leah Smith swam the first two legs. Australia was second in 7:43.86 and Canada third in 7:44.76.

“I think we always find a way to be in the mix,” Ledecky said. “I knew that going into tonight that no matter who’s going to be on that relay, no matter who makes those spots, they’re going to step up and swim well. This was awesome. It’s so easy to get up for these relays, to not think and go. I had so much trust in these three. I think we’re always counted out, and we always deliver so I’m proud of this group.”

In the 200 breaststroke semifinals, middle schooler Sua Moon of Korea was 16th in the semis in 2:26.64. The 13-year-old also swam 1:08.50 in the 100 breaststroke heats.

Thursday prelim events are men’s 100 butterfly, women’s 200 backstroke, men’s 50 freestyle, women’s 50 butterfly, women’s 800 freestyle and men’s 4×200 free relay.

The U.S. added four more medals to its tally of 11 gold, 6 silver and 9 bronze for 26. Australia is second with eight total (2 golds, 5 silver, 1 bronze).

The swimming runs through Saturday with the pool events. The aquatics championships that also features diving, water polo, high diving, open water swimming and synchronized swimming end July 3.

The Olympic Channel and Peacock, on the NBC platform, is televising the finals at noon each day. A highlights show will be on NBC at noon on June 26. The FINA facebook page is also posting competition news. Canada’s CBC will also broadcast the swimming.

There are huge cheers for any Hungarian swimmers from spectators at Duna Arena. FINA, the sport’s governing body, has asked fans each day to clap rather than cheer as a precaution against coronavirus infections. There were no other requests or restrictions.

Thursday, June 23: 100 women’s freestyle, 200 women’s breaststroke, 200 men’s backstroke, 200 men’s breaststroke, 4×200 men’s freestyle relay.

Friday, June 24: 50 women’s fly, 50 men’s free, 100 men’s fly, 200 women’s back, 800 women’s free, 4×100 mixed free relay.

Saturday, June 25: 50 men’s back, 50 women’s breast, 1500 men’s free, 50 women’s free, 400 women’s IM, 4×100 men’s and women’s medley relay.

Sunday, June 26: Open water, 6K team relay.

Monday, June 27: Open water, men’s and women’s 5K.

Wednesday, June 29: Open water, men’s and women’s 10K.

Thursday, June 30: Open water, men’s and women’s 25K.

Sharon Robb can be reached at