By Sharon Robb
BUDAPEST, Hungary, June 18, 2022–Did you really expect opening day of the 19th FINA World Aquatics Championships not to be exciting Saturday at Duna Arena?
Olympian Katie Ledecky, 25, didn’t regain her world record but she did win another world title in the 400-meter freestyle, winning her 16th world championship gold medal in a championship record 3:58.15. It was her fourth world title in the 400 after settling for silver in 2019.
Ledecky, grad assistant coach at University of Florida where she trains with head coach Anthony Nesty, was pushed for most of the race by Canadian 15-year-old Summer McIntosh, second in a Canadian record 3:59.29. At 14, McIntosh was the youngest member of Team Canada at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. American Leah Smith was third in 4:02.08. Reigning world record (3:56.40) holder, world and Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus of Australia is not competing at worlds, choosing instead to focus on next month’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The top Florida Gold Coast swimmer performance was turned in by Dylan Carter, 26, of Trinidad & Tobago in the 50-meter butterfly.
The Plantation American Heritage alum was fastest qualifier in prelims in a best time and national record 22.87. It was the first time Carter broke 23 seconds. He came back in a fast semifinal to qualify sixth despite a poor start in 22.98 for Sunday’s final. Brit Benjamin Proud was fastest qualifier in 22.76 followed by American Caeleb Dressel in 22.79.
In his opening prelim event, South Florida Aquatic Club Honduran Olympian Julio Horrego, 23, was 32nd in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:02.07. The top qualifying time was 58.69 by Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands. It was the first of two events Horrego is entered in. He swims the 50-meter breaststroke on Monday.
Carter and Horrego are among 21 Florida Gold Coast swimmers competing on one of swimming’s biggest international stages.
Other swimmers who competed on opening day with Florida Gold Coast ties are:
Izaak Bastian, 21, Bahamas, 100 breaststroke. (St. Andrew’s School and Florida State), 42nd, 1:03.95.
Jayhan Odlum-Smith, 23, St. Lucia, 50 butterfly. (Azura), 49th, 24.81.
Julimar Avila, 25, Honduras, 100 butterfly. (Azura), 22nd, 1:02.20.
Kito Campbell, 19, Jamaica, 100 breaststroke. (Azura), 52nd, 1:05.27.
Matheo Mateos, 21, Paraguay, 400 IM. (Azura), 27th, 4:30.20.
Nicole Frank, 18, Uruguay, 200 IM. (Azura), 28th, 2:17.78.
FGC swimmers competing on Sunday are:
Dylan Carter, 26, Trinidad & Tobago, 50-meter butterfly final, Plantation American Heritage.
Patrick Groters, 23, Aruba, 100-meter backstroke, NSU University School, Pine Crest Swim Club, University of South Carolina.
Nicole Frank, 18, Uruguay, 100-meter breaststroke, Azura.
Yeziel Morales, 26, Puerto Rico, 100-meter backstroke, Azura.
In Saturday night’s four final events:
MEN’S 400 FREESTYLE: With a burst of speed (26.50 split) in the final 50-meters, Australia’s Elijah Winnington, 22, won in 3:41.22, his first individual gold medal at worlds. He overtook leader Lukas Martens of Germany, second in 3:42.85. Brazilian national record holder Guilherme Costa was third in 3:43.31. American Kiernan Smith, one of 16 former and present University of Florida Gators competing for various countries in swimming and diving, was seventh in 3:46.43 and U.S. teammate Trey Freeman eighth in 3:46.53.
“I tried to have fun in the pool and enjoy this whole experience,” Winnington said. “In the last call room I heard the noise, the MC’s (master of ceremonies) voice and it was a total boost for me. I haven’t had this feeling for a long time.”
MEN’S 400 IM: French national record holder Leon Marchand, 20, a freshman at Arizona State, won in stunning fashion in 4:04.28, a Championship, European and French record. He was the fastest qualifier in 4:09.09. American Carson Foster was second in 4:06.56 and U.S. teammate Chase Kalisz was third in 4:07.47.
Marchand was third on the opening butterfly leg and second after the backstroke leg. He pulled away on the breaststroke leg and was on world record pace, flirting with Michael Phelps’ 2008 world record (4:03.84) with a 1:07 split. Marchand didn’t break the world record but it was the second fastest time in event history. Marchand is coached by Bob Bowman, Phelps’ former coach.
MEN’S 4×100 FREE RELAY: Heavy favorite Team USA won in 3:09.34, just a second off the world record with relay swimmers Caeleb Dressel (47.67), Ryan Held (46.99), Justin Ress (47.48) and Brooks Curry (47.20). It was their third straight title. Held’s split of 46.99 briefly put them on world record pace. The Aussies, eighth at the halfway mark, were second in 3:10.80 and Italians third in 3:10.95.
WOMEN’S 4X100 FREE RELAY: Another heavy favorite, Australia, even without their big names, came through winning the event in 3:30.95. The winning relay members were Mollie O’Callaghan, Madison Wilson, Meg Harris and Shayna Jack. Canada was second in 3:32.15. The U.S. took the bronze in 3:32.58 with Torri Huske, Erika Brown, Kate Douglass and Claire Curzan.
Team USA won six medals including two gold on opening night.
Sunday prelim events are women’s 1500 freestyle, women’s and men’s backstroke, women’s breaststroke, men’s 200 freestyle.
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 were huge cheers for any Hungarian swimmers from spectators at Duna Arena. FINA, the sport’s governing body, appealed for fans to clap rather than cheer as a precaution against coronavirus infections. There were no other requests or restrictions.
Sunday, June 19: 100 men’s breaststroke, 100 women’s butterfly, 50 men’s fly, 200 women’s IM.
Monday, June 20: 200 men’s free, 1500 women’s free, 100 women’s and men’s backstroke, 100 women’s breast.
Tuesday, June 21: 800 men’s free, 200 women’s free, 200 men’s fly, 50 men’s breast, 4×100 mixed medley relay.
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 email@example.com