By Sharon Robb
HANGZHOU, China, December 13, 2018—Swimmers from Russia and United States broke world records Thursday on Day Three of the 14th FINA World Short Course Championships.
Kirill Prigoda of Russia won the 200-meter breaststroke in a world and championship record 2:00.16. The previous record was 2:00.44 set by Germany’s Marco Koch in November 2016. Prigoda’s best finish before his record performance was a bronze in Doha in 2014.
Prigoda’s record swim was only the second individual world record of the meet.
“I didn’t think about breaking the world record before the competition,” Prigoda said. “When I was standing in front of the pool, my mind was clear and my eyes focused on the water. I just wanted to swim faster and faster. I am happy that my parents were both swimmers and that I am their son. But during the day-to-day training, I just try to swim fast. I think this is why I am here, why I am in swimming, and why I will be here tomorrow and next year”.
The U.S. mixed 4×50-meter medley team broke the second world record. The team of Olivia Smoliga, Michael Andrew, Kelsi Worrell Dahlia and Caeleb Dressel broke the previous U.S. world record of 1:37.17 in 1:36.40. The Netherlands was second in 1:37.05 and Russia was third in 1:37.33.
Four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson of South Florida Aquatic Club qualified third for the 100-meter individual medley final in 58.20. Hungarian world and championship record holder Katinka Hosszu is seeded first in 57.69 and Japan’s Runa Umai is second in 58.04. In addition to the 100IM, Atkinson also has the 100-meter breaststroke on Day Four.
In other Thursday finals:
In a thrilling showdown, South African Chad le Clos won his fourth consecutive gold medal beating American Caeleb Dressel in the 100-meter butterfly in 48.50. Dressel never challenged Le Clos to place second in 48.71. China’s Li Zhuhao was third in 49.25.
“It was the biggest race of my short course career,” Le Clos said. “I was up against the best field by far and this was the main event of the whole week. I am very grateful I got the gold, it was a tough race. I was anxious because I was waiting the whole day for this, the whole week and the past three months because I knew this one could come.
“After the first night, people thought I was winded and I have always told them that is the biggest mistake they can make because after I have lost I come back much stronger. Tonight was important. I needed the win tonight”.
Without American Katie Ledecky in the field, China’s Wang Jianjiahe breeze to the gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle in 8:04.35. The 16-year-old was under world record pace until the 350-meter mark. Simona Quadarella of Italy was second in 8:08.03 and American Leah Smith was third in 8:08.75.
Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands won the 100-meter freestyle in a championship record 51.14. Teammate Femke Heemskerk, the fastest qualifier, was second in 51.60. American Mallory Comerford was third in 51.63.
While Hungarian Katinka Hosszu faltered to fourth in the 200-meter backstroke, Americans Lisa Bratton (2:00.71) and Kathleen Baker (2:00.79) finished one-two. Aussie Emily Seebohm was third in 2:01.37.
“It is my first World Short Course Championships, I was nervous,” Bratton said. “After having to adjust my body from the long travel, I do feel good this week and expected to win a medal. I felt very excited tonight. I took these championships as an important experience to learn from those big names and to learn how to swim in short course”.
Other Florida swimmer results:
14. Dylan Carter, Trinidad and Tobago, American Heritage Plantation, 50-meter backstroke, 23.73; 34. 50-meter freestyle, 21.98.
30. Patrick Groters, Aruba, NSU University School/Pine Crest Swimming, 100-yard individual medley, 56.56.
55. Renzo Tjon-A-Joe, Surinam, Metro Aquatics, 50-meter freestyle, 22.52.
61. Jhonny Perez, Dominican Republic, Azura alum, 50-meter freestyle, 23.00.
The short course worlds are swum in short course meters and held in the years when FINA does not hold its world championships (currently this means in even years). The short course championship is swimming-only events where world championships feature all five aquatic disciplines.
A field of 960 swimmers, with several top names missing, from 178 countries are competing for 46 world titles over six days at the Hangzhou Olympic and International Expo Center Tennis Centre. The center is uniquely shaped like a lotus bowl with an 8,000-seat capacity.
Prelims are 9 a.m. in China, 8:30 p.m. EST in the U.S. Finals are 7 p.m. in China and 6 a.m. EST in the U.S.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com