By Sharon Robb
BUDAPEST, Hungary, June 21, 2022–In front of an electric hometown crowd, Hungarian Kristof Milak broke the world record in the 200-meter butterfly Tuesday night at the 19th FINA World Aquatics Championships at Duna Arena.
It was Hungary’s first gold medal of the world championships.
The Olympic gold medalist set a blistering pace breaking his own world record in 1:50.34. His splits were 24.19, 27.70, 28.62 and 29.83.
“Now it hurts a lot. I can’t feel my legs,” Milak said. “I enjoyed it though, especially after the race, the atmosphere and how the fans reacted.”
Milak’s previous mark was 1:50.73 set at the 2019 World Championships. The only other swimmer to break 1:52 was Michael Phelps in 2009 (1:51.51). Milak, 22, now has eight of the 12 fastest times in event history.
“I can’t really recall my swim,” Milak said. “I think I pushed a bit harder over the first 100 meters. That’s why it was so painful at the end, but I really wanted this world record, more than anything. I mean, this is my home, my pool. I train here. I race here, lane four belongs to me. I really wanted to show something big for these fantastic people. The Olympic gold means a lot, but winning here, with a new world record, in front of 4,000 people, that eclipses everything. I was driven today by the crowd.”
Frenchman Leon Marchand of Arizona State was second in a national record 1:53.37 and Japan’s Tomoru Honda was third in 1:53.61.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist and University of Florida senior Bobby Finke of St. Petersburg, in his textbook comeback fashion, turned it on in the final 50 meters to win the 800-meter freestyle breaking his own American record in 7:39.36. Finke, in fourth place at the final turn, is the first American male to win the event at world championships.
“I was peeking to see how far Romanchuk was the last 100 because he started picking it up a little bit and I knew if I was going to run someone down I had to at least know kind of where they were,” Finke said.
“I was just happy I was able to hold on to a little position I had, enough room to get by them on the last 50. I think it’s just really that kind of mentality going into the last finish.”
Germany’s Florian Wellbrock was second in a national record 7:39.63.
Mykhailo Romanchuk of war-torn Ukraine took the bronze in 7:40.05 in an emotional moment for his country. During the medal ceremony, Romanchuk fought back tears and kept patting his heart.
“I hope this medal means a lot for Ukrainians because of the hard times and I show to all Ukrainians, to all people, that Ukrainians will fight to the end,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the situation, we will fight to the end and it doesn’t matter what will happen next.”
Cayman Islands national record holder Jillian Crooks, who turns 16 on June 27, makes her world championship debut in the 100-meter freestyle on Wednesday. The home schooler and TS Aquatics swimmer competed in the 100 freestyle at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where she finished 41st.
At the April 2022 CARIFTA meet she broke four Cayman records in the 50 freestyle, 50 backstroke, 200 backstroke and 100 butterfly and now owns six individual national records including the 100 freestyle and 50 butterfly. She also is a member of four women’s relay national records. Her older brother Jordan, tied for 21st in the 100-meter freestyle in 48.79 in Tuesday’s prelims.
Plantation American Heritage and USC alum Dylan Carter, 26, of Trinidad & Tobago was unable to get past the 100 freestyle semifinals on Tuesday but was still the top Florida Gold Coast finisher. Carter was 11th in 48.40 in prelims and finished 14th in a best time and national record 48.30 in the semifinals.
There are 23 Florida Gold Coast swimmers competing on one of swimming’s biggest international stages.
Other FGC swimmers who competed on Tuesday were:
Patrick Groters, 23, Aruba, (NSU University School, Pine Crest Swim Club, University of South Carolina), 200 IM, 28th, 2:04.58.
Dylan Carter, 26, Trinidad & Tobago, (Plantation American Heritage), 100 freestyle, tied with Aruba’s Mikel Schreuders for 11th, 48.40 in prelims and finished 14th in 48.30 in semifinals.
Esteban Nunez del Prado, 18, Bolivia, (Azura), 200 IM, disqualified.
Jayhan Odlum-Smith, 20, St. Lucia, (Azura), 100 freestyle, 61st 51.87.
Jenebi Benoit, 19, Grenada, (Azura) 100 freestyle, 89th, 57.03.
Julimar Avila, 25, Honduras, (Azura), 200 butterfly, 22nd, 2:17.40.
Leon Seaton, 18, Guyana, (Azura), 100 freestyle, 85th, 55.09.
Matheo Mateos, 21, Paraguay, (Azura), 200 IM, 30th, 2:04.73.
Steven Aimable, 23, Senegal, (Azura), 100 freestyle, 69th, 52.80.
Jordan Crooks, 20, Cayman Islands, (TS Aquatics, Tennessee), 100 freestyle, tied for 21st 48.79 with Carter Swift of New Zealand.
FGC swimmers competing on Wednesday:
Patrick Groters, 23, Aruba (NSU University School, Pine Crest Swim Club, University of South Carolina), 200 backstroke.
Michaela Sierra, 17, Uruguay (South Florida Heat, Azura), 200 breaststroke.
Jillian Crooks, 15, Cayman Islands (TS Aquatics), 100 freestyle.
Yeziel Morales, 26, Puerto Rico, (Azura), 200 backstroke.
In Tuesday night’s final events:
WOMEN’S 200 FREESTYLE: China picked up two medals in the event. Yang Junxuan won gold in 1:54.92 and Tang Muhan took bronze in 1:56.25. Aussie teenager Mollie O’Callaghan, 18, took silver in 1:55.22.
MEN’S 50 BREASTSTROKE: American Nic Fink pulled off a stunning victory in an American record 26.45. Italian Nicolo Martenenghi was second in 26.48 and American Michael Andrew won his second world individual medal placing third in 26.72. Fink is the first American to win a world title in the event.
MIXED 400 MEDLEY RELAY: The U.S. relay of Hunter Armtstrong, Nic Fink, Torri Huske and Claire Curzan won in 3:38.79. Australia was second in 3:41.34 and the Netherlands was third in 3:41.54.
In the men’s 100-meter semifinals, Roumanian teenager David Popvici, 17, broke a second world junior record in 47.13.
In the women’s 200-meter butterfly semifinals Canadian teenager Summer McIntosh, 15, broke the world junior record in 2:05.79.
Two-time defending champion Caeleb Dressel withdrew from the 100-meter freestyle semifinals for “medical grounds” according to Team USA officials.
According to an official statement, “A decision has been made by Team USA in consultation with Caeleb, his coach, and the team’s medical staff for him to withdraw from the 100-meter freestyle event on medical grounds. The team will determine his participation in the events later in the week.” He has the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly left to swim.
Wednesday prelim events are women’s 100 freestyle, men’s 200 backstroke, women’s 200 breaststroke, men’s 200 breaststroke and women’s 4×200 relay.
The swimming runs through June 25 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.
Wednesday, June 22: 200 women’s fly, 100 men’s free, 50 women’s back, 200 men’s IM, 4×200 women’s free relay.
Thursday, June 23: 100 women’s free, 200 women’s breast, 200 men’s back, 200 men’s breast, 4×200 men’s free 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 firstname.lastname@example.org