By Sharon Robb
BUDAPEST, Hungary, June 20, 2022–In an exciting finish, Italy’s Thomas Ceccon pulled off the shocker breaking the world record in the 100-meter backstroke Monday night at the 19th FINA World Aquatics Championships at Duna Arena.
Ceccon, 21, stunned the field that included the former world record holder by putting on the after burners in the final 25 meters to win in 51.60, bettering the previous record by 0.15 seconds set by American Ryan Murphy at the 2016 Olympics.
“I have no words for this,” Ceccon said. “There is an Olympic champion from 2016 so no I did not expect to win. The world record is not a simple thing. It’s a nice step I’ve taken.
“Yesterday I swam 52.1 very easy,” Ceccon said. “I am feeling good in the water and just doing my race, staying calm and focused on my race. And that’s it.”
Ceccon is only the second Italian to set a world record in long course swimming. Giorgio Lambert was the first in the 200 freestyle.
Murphy finished second, just 0.37 seconds off the winning pace in 51.97. Murphy has yet to win an individual world long course title. U.S. teammate Hunter Armstrong was third, 0.38 seconds behind in 51.98.
“Hats off to Thomas,” said Murphy, a Bolles alum. “That’s a really, really fast time. It’s going to be an exciting couple of years.”
Katie Ledecky of Gainesville won her 17th world title winning her fourth gold medal in the 1,500-meter freestyle. Ledecky led from start-to-finish to win in 15:30.15, just 10 seconds under her world record set in 2018. U.S. teammate Sixteen-year-old American teenager Katie Grimes was second, 14.74 seconds behind her in a best time 15:44.89. Aussie Lani Pallister was third in 15:48.96, also a best time.
“To share this moment with her is really special,” said Ledecky referring to Grimes, her future heir apparent. Grimes is the second youngest medalist in the 1,500 at worlds since Ledecky won it for the first time in 2013.
“It takes a lot of hard work,” said Ledecky, a grad assistant coach at University of Florida. “It’s about doing all the right things in and out of the pool to have that longevity. You can’t get complacent.”
Said Grimes, “I was really nervous leading up to it because it’s my first world championship and Team USA has been doing a great job. I wanted to keep that going.”
South Florida Aquatic Club Honduran Olympian Julio Horrego, 23, was disqualified in the 50-meter breaststroke in his final event at worlds. He has now been disqualified in three of his last four races in the U.S. and Hungary. Earlier in the meet, he was 32nd in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:02.07.
There are 21 past and present Florida Gold Coast swimmers competing on one of swimming’s biggest international stages.
Other swimmers who competed on Monday with Florida Gold Coast ties were:
Izaak Bastian, 21, Bahamas (St. Andrew’s, Florida State), 50 breaststroke, 32nd in 28.47.
Kito Campbell, 19, Jamaica (Azura), 50 breaststroke, 39th in 29.06.
FGC swimmers competing on Tuesday are:
Patrick Groters, 23, Aruba, (NSU University School, Pine Crest Swim Club, University of South Carolina), 200 IM.
Dylan Carter, 26, Trinidad & Tobago, (Plantation American Heritage), 100 freestyle.
Esteban Nunez del Prado, 18, Bolivia, (Azura), 200 IM.
Jayhan Odlum-Smith, 20, St. Lucia, (Azura), 100 freestyle.
Jenebi Benoit, 19, Grenada, (Azura) 100 freestyle.
Julimar Avila, 25, Honduras, (Azura), 200 butterfly.
Leon Seaton, 18, Guyana, (Azura), 100 freestyle.
Matheo Mateos, 21, Paraguay, (Azura), 200 IM.
Steven Aimable, 23, Senegal, (Azura), 100 freestyle.
In Monday night’s final events:
200 men’s free: Romania’s David Popovici broke his own world junior record to win gold in 1:43.21, 1.26 seconds ahead of the field. His previous record was 1:44.40. Korean teenager Hwang Sunwoo was second in 1:44.47 and Brit Tom Dean was third in 1:44.98.
100 women’s backstroke: American Regan Smith won gold in 58.22, 0.18 seconds ahead of Canadian two-time world champion Kylie Masse in 58.40. American Claire Curzan took the bronze in 58.67. It was the first time Americans won two medals in the event since the 2008 Olympics.
100 women’s breaststroke: The Italians’ success continued with teenager Benedetta Pilato, 17, winning a tight race in 1:05.93, 0.05 ahead of Germany’s Anna Elendt in 1:05.98 and 0.09 ahead of Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte in 1:06.02 for her first career world title. Pilato is the youngest Italian swimmer to win a gold medal at worlds. American two-time defending world champion Lilly King was fourth in 1:06.07. “It’s really a surprise,” Pilato said. “I’m obviously happy. I really didn’t expect it. It’s been my dream. Before I swam I watched Thomas’ swim and I was crying for him. Then I realized I had to race and ran to the call room.”
Tuesday prelim events are women’s 50 backstroke, men’s 100 freestyle, men’s 200 IM, women’s 200 butterfly and mixed 4×100 medley 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.
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