By Sharon Robb
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, December 21, 2021–The final day of the 15th FINA Short Course World Championships ended with the fourth world record of the meet Tuesday at Etihad Arena.
Germany’s Florian Wellbrock broke the world record in the 1500-meter freestyle in 14:06.88. Wellbrock pulled away from the field at the midway mark. The previous record was 14:08.06 set in 2015 by Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri, who was fourth in Tuesday’s race in 14:21.00. Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia was second in 14:10.94 and the Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk was third in 14:11.47.
Three other world records were set earlier in the week. Siobhan Haughey broke the 200-meter freestyle world record in 1:50.43. Margaret MacNeil broke the world record in the 50-meter backstroke and Sweden equaled the 4×50-meter medley relay world record.
The three individual swimmers and four relay swimmers earned an additional $50,000 in addition to their $10,000 first place prize money.
In addition, five world junior records and 11 meet records were broken. Swimmers from 28 countries earned at least one medal, the most countries ever awarded at a short course world championship.
“I want to thank everyone in the aquatics family, in particular the incredible athletes, for ending this challenging year with so many incredible performances during this historic FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi,” said President Captain Husain Al-Musallam.
“The world-class Etihad Arena and the beautiful shores of Yas Island have provided the ultimate environment for athletes to set world and national records and provide family-friendly entertainment for thousands of passionate swimming fans.”
In local short course world championship news, St. Andrew’s Aquatics Director and head coach Sid Cassidy was awarded the first Dennis Miller Award during the FINA Gala as an outstanding open water organizer.
In other championship final action:
Italy’s Alessandro Miressi held on to win the 100-meter freestyle in a national record 45.57 just ahead of American Ryan Held in 45.63.
American Emily Escobedo won the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:17.85, 3/100ths ahead of Evgeniia Chikunova of the Russian Swimming Federation. It was only the second individual gold medal of the meet for the U.S. women.
In another close race, Poland’s Radoslaw Kawecki surged in the final 50 to win the 200-meter backstroke in 1:48.68 ahead of American Shaine Casas in 1:48.81.
Canadian Maggie MacNeil won the 100-meter butterfly in 55.04. American Claire Curzan broke the world junior record in 55.39 and was third.
American Nic Fink won the 50-meter breaststroke in 25.53.
Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom won the 50-meter freestyle in a meet record 23.08.
The U.S. women won the 4×50-meter freestyle relay in 1:34.22 just ahead of Sweden in 1:34.54 with Abbey Weitzeil, Claire Curzan, Katharine Berkoff and Kate Douglass.
Italy won the men’s 4×100-meter medley relay in a meet record 3:19.76 ahead of the U.S. with swimmers Lorenzo Mora, Nicolo Martinenghi, Matteo Rivolta and Alessandro Miressi.
FINA paid out $2.8 million in prize money, a 50 percent increase in prize money for individual swimmers. There was also a $50,000 bonus given to any swimmer who breaks a world record.
The top eight individual payoffs for first through eighth place were $10,000, $8,000, $7,000, $6,000, $5,000, $4,000, $3,000 and $2,000.
There were 943 swimmers from 183 countries competing. The 16th FINA World Swimming Championships will be held Dec. 17-22 , 2022 at the Aquatics Palace in Kazan, Russia.
FINA and Myrtha Pools also announced the renewal of their long term partnership that will see Myrtha continue as one of FINA’s Official Partners for the next four years through 2025.
FINA also confirmed the meet had 37 positive COVID-19 cases including 15 athletes. Seven nations including Singapore and Nigeria were also forced to withdraw because of the restrictions.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org