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

Four World Records Go Down On Day 3 Of FINA World Championships; SOFLO’s Rojas Competes In Final Event

By Sharon Robb

Budapest, Hungary, July 25, 2017—In a showdown of the world’s top breaststrokers, American Lilly King broke the world and American records and won the world title Tuesday at the 17th FINA World Aquatic Championships.

In front of a cheering electric crowd at Duna Aquatics Arena, King won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:04.13 and held off arch rival Yuliya Efimova of Russia their first meeting since the 2016 Rio Olympics.

King broke the world mark set by Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte set in 2013 to earn her first world championship medal.

“It is amazing how the world gets faster,” King said. “I was very, very excited at my first world record. I am really excited to see now what happens next.”

The U.S. last won gold in this event in 2011 when Rebecca Soni won.

American teammate Katie Meili was second in 1:05.03 and Efimova faltered to third and settled for the bronze in 1:05.05.

“That race was always going to be a showdown, an exciting dogfight, I was just hoping I was going to come out on top,” King said. “We get a lot of rivalries like this in football, basketball, swimming where we see a lot of really nice people, being really nice.

“That’s great and all but it’s not my personality. I’m spunky, I’m confident and I’m not going to not be myself before a race.”

King, 20, has always voiced her displeasure over Efimova being allowed to compete at the international level despite being caught twice for using banned substances.

“I was really freaking out when I got to the pool, very nervous, and then I got in for warm-up and felt a lot better and really confident going into the race,” King said.

Three other world records, two by one swimmer, were broken on Day 3.

A day after winning the 100-meter breaststroke, Brit Adam Peaty, 22, became the first man to dip below 26 seconds in the 50-meter breaststroke. He won in 25.95, lowering his record mark of 26.10 from the morning prelims by 0.15 seconds. It was Peaty’s fourth world record in the 50 breaststroke.

“I was on such a high from this morning and it was so hard to ignore the fact that I did a world record and try to get myself emotionally ready,” Peaty said.

Canadian Kylie Masse won a world title in the 100-meter backstroke in a world record time of 58.10. American Kathleen Baker took silver and Aussie defending champion Emily Seebohm took bronze finishing just 0.01 seconds behind Baker.

Canada has never won a gold medal in the women’s 100 backstroke at worlds. Masse’s gold is the first medal for Canada since Cheryl Gibson won bronze in 1978.

“I am still in shock but I am super happy,” Masse said. “Excitement in general was the feeling I had. I trusted the whole process. I worked hard this season and it paid off. I hope we have inspired younger generations to get to swim.”

In other races:

Superstar Katie Ledecky made it look easy winning the 1500-meter freestyle by 19 seconds. She led from the start to win her third straight world title in the 1500 in 15:31.82. It was her 12th world championship gold medal, the most of all time for a woman breaking a tie with Missy Franklin. Spain’s Mireia Belmonte Garcia took silver in 15:50.89 and Italian Simona Quadarella won bronze in 15:53.86. The win was the fifth women’s 1500 title at worlds for the U.S.

Ledecky had a tough double coming back to earn the top seed in the 200-meter freestyle in the semifinals. Less than an hour after the 1500, she went 1:54.69 setting her up nicely for Wednesday’s semifinals.

“I just knew I had a big night tonight and I couldn’t be more happy about it,” Ledecky said. “I think compared to two years ago my schedule is different. I was very happy with my 1500, two years ago it was faster, but I felt pretty good. I knew I could do it again.”

Added Belmonte, “Katie Ledecky is on another planet, so the goal of the race was to win the silver medal. For me, it is gold.”

China’s Sun Yang won his first world title in the 200-meter freestyle in 1:44.39. American Townley Haas was second in 1:45.04 for his first individual medal in a major international meet and Russian Alexandr Krasnykh was third in 1:45.23. Sun won the 400 freestyle earlier in the week.

China won its first medal at worlds in the men’s 100-meter backstroke when Xu Jiayu knocked off Bolles alum Ryan Murphy and Matt Grevers to take the gold in 52.44. Grevers took silver in 52.48 and Murphy took bronze in 52.59. It was Grevers third straight medal in the 100 back at worlds. It was Murphy’s first individual medal at worlds.

Japan’s Daiya Seto earned the top seed in the 200-meter butterfly semifinals in 1:54.03.


In a rarity at the international level, two Florida Gold Coast swimmers, the Dominican Republic’s Marc Rojas of South Florida Aquatic Club and Aruba’s Jordy Groters of Pine Crest Swimming and Missouri swam side-by-side in the same heat of the 50-meter breaststroke.

Groters finished 42nd in a best time and Aruba national record in 28.40.

Rojas, making his international long course worlds debut, was 52nd in 29.84 in his second and final event of worlds.

Sharon Robb can be reached at