Horton King, Meilutyte Queen, Australia Wins Meet
Mack Horton, of Australia, and Ruta Meilutyte, of Lithuania, were crowned king and queen of the 4th FINA World Championships with a meet-mark victory apiece in the curtain-closing session of the six-day event in Dubai. If Horton’s 14:56.60 dominant triumph in the 1500m, for a fifth gold in finals and sixth overall counting a relay heats swim, came as little surprise, then Olympic 100m breaststroke champion Meilutyte now has another string to her bow: in 25.10 she claimed the 50m freestyle title.
The meet was won by Australia with 10 golds in 18 medals, ahead of Russia, with 9 golds, 8 silvers in 26 and the USA, with 9 golds, 7 silvers in 28. There were 47 championship records set in 41 events over six days.
Meilutyte’s victory was the first in six finals in the closing session of the meet not to produce a championship record. By the time Horton was set to walk out for a crack at an unprecedented 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m sweep, meet marks had fallen to Caeleb Dressel (USA) in 48.97 in the 100m freestyle; Viktoriya Solnceva (UKR) in 2:23.12 in the 200m breaststroke; Luca Mencarini (ITA) in 1:57.92 in the 200m backstroke; and Svetlana Chimrova (RUS) in 58.34 in the 100m butterfly.
Horton was next out. That he would win the 30-lap challenge was in little doubt before the start and by the time he was seven strokes in, he had hit the front. From then on, the 17-year-old maintained a consistent edge on the rest, turning first at the 100m turn with a clear advantage in 56.78. On 58.91 at that stage, Jan Micka (CZE) was closest to the victor by the close, on 15:08.43 for silver, the bronze going to Pawel Furtek (POL) in 15:17.48.
- 27.04 56.78 (29.74) 1:27.04 (30.26) 1:56.79 (29.75) 2:26.50 (29.71) 2:56.52 (30.02) 3:26.44 (29.92) 3:56.55 (30.11) 4:26.76 (30.21) 4:56.84 (30.08)
- 5:26.86 (30.02) 5:56.92 (30.06) 6:26.92 (30.00) 6:57.18 (30.26) 7:27.65 (30.47) 7:57.92 (30.27) 8:28.23 (30.31) 8:58.32 (30.09) 9:28.41 (30.09) 9:58.46 (30.05)
- 10:28.61 (30.15) 10:59.07 (30.46) 11:29.15 (30.08) 11:59.24 (30.09) 12:29.08 (29.84) 12:59.23 (30.15) 13:28.96 (29.73) 13:59.05 (30.09) 14:28.43 (29.38) 14:56.60 (28.17)
Horton, coached by Craig Jackson at Victoria’s Institute of Sport, missed the cut for world seniors this year by a whisker when he cracked 15mins for the first time at trials for Barcelona. In Dubai he has enjoyed a sensational week: gold in the 400m and 4x100m, then the 200m and with the three trickier targets out of the way, next came the 800m and last the 1500m in finals. In the midst of it all, Horton also raced in the mixed relay heats, the final won by Australia and therefore granting him another gold under FINA rules. Count that one or not, he was the most titled swimmer of the championships – the most titled of all four championships held so far.
“This week has been insane, I have set times in races that I never thought I could and it feels amazing. I guess I’m a more confident swimmer now, if I had gone to Barcelona I would have only had the one race, whereas here I was able to test my speed and gain more experience in a number of events.”
Coached by Jon Rudd at Plymouth Leander in England, Meilutyte, the 50 and 100m breaststroke and 20m medley crowns in her growing treasury, added yet another string to her bow with a 25.10 victory in the 50m freestyle ahead of favourite and champs record setter in semis on 25.02, Rozaliya Nasretdinova. The Russian clocked 25.16 in the final, bronze going to 100m champion Siobhan Haughey (HKG), on 25.38. Haughey later raced to 4th in the 200m freestyle, her name unknown in international world waters before this meet. Meilutyte’s tally of four golds and a silver helped lift Lithuania to 4th on the medals table behind the three big hitting nations at the helm.
The first four finals of the evening before the 1500m also produced a championship record. The boys’ 100m free final gave a hint of battles to come down the years at the start of a duel between Caeleb Dressel (USA) and Luke Percy (AUS). The American took first blood in a meet mark of 48.97, 0.09sec ahead of the Australian’s 49.06, the bronze going to Evgeny Sedov (RUS) in 49.47.
On his way to cracking a Michael-Phelps US age record, Dressel won from the front in 23.03 at the turn and 25.94 coming home. While Percy gained ground in the hunt for the wall, a 23.21 at the turn left him needing more than the 25.85 he came home in. No others in the race cracked 24sec on the way out. Sebastian Szczepanski (POL) was the last boy home inside 50, on 49.98.
The ‘duel’ at the helm will extend to multiple challenges the moment the best boys reach senior waters and face the likes of James Magnussen (AUS), Nathan Adrian (USA) et al … and close age peer Cameron McEvoy (AUS), under 48sec a fingernail shy of the medals at Barcelona world titles a few weeks back as the fastest teen in history.
On her world senior titles debut in Barcelona, Viktoriya Solnceva (UKR), born in 1998, followed up by dominating the girls’ 200m breaststroke with a 2:23.12 meet mark off the following splits:
- 33.67 1:11.55 (37.88) 1:48.49 (36.94) 2:23.12 (34.63)
Solnceva had company to the 100m mark, teammate Anastasiya Malyavina on 1:11.61, just 0.06sec away from the leader, and Italy’s Silvia Guerra on 1:12.03. On the third 50m, the champion-to-be managed a speed that those closest to her could not match and by the last turn had an advantage of more than a second. Britain’s Molly Renshaw and Guerra turned into the last lap ahead of Malyavina but the second of Ukraine’s challengers refused to be denied, fought back and took silver in 2:27.46, 0.05sec ahead of the Italian, Renshaw denied a medal by an agonising 0.01sec.
Luca Mencarini (ITA) was the next to restrict the mounting medals tallies of the AUS, RUS and the USA. He took the 200m backstroke crown in 1:57.92, a meet mark, off a split of 59.58, well down on Connor Green (USA), who turned in 57.87, with Keita Sunama (JPN) on 58.86. By the last turn, Green still had the race in his grasp, on 1:27.91, Mencarini now past Sunama 1:29.24 to 1:29.33. The early pace then told on Green, whose last lap of 30.51 left him nursing bronze, Sunama on 1:58.21 for silver, Mencarini the boy made man of the moment.
Favourite Svetlana Chimrova (RUS) swam to form just shy of her Russian record in a meet mark of 58.34 for gold in the 100m butterfly. The silver went in 58.73 to Liliana Szilagyi, the Hungarian who dedicated her medal to her late grandfather, who passed away last week. Jemma Schlicht (AUS) claimed bronze in 59.08.
In the boys’ 200m butterfly, the USA was back in the top slot it if often accustomed to celebrating: Andrew Seliskar set a champion mark of 1:56.42 for gold 0.4sec ahead of Japan’s Masato Sakai, the bronze going to Alexander Kudashev in 1:58.57, Britain’s James Guy just locked out in 1:58.80.
The splits compared
- 26.50 56.67 (30.17) 1:25.71 (29.04) 1:56.42 (30.71) Seliskar
- 25.65 55.36 (29.71) 1:25.92 (30.56) 1:56.82 (30.90) Sakai
- 26.70 56.90 (30.20) 1:27.31 (30.41) 1:58.57 (31.26) Kudashev
- 27.17 57.24 (30.07) 1:28.36 (31.12) 1:58.80 (30.44) Guy
Just shy of the champs mark he set in heats, Peter Stevens (SLO) claimed the 50m breaststroke crown in 27.98 ahead of Japan’s Kohei Goto, on 28.09, and Russia’s Vsevolod Zanko, on 28.18.
Next up, the girls 200m free meet mark of 1:58.93 set in 2001 by Canada’s Brittany MacLean survived an assault from Italy’s Diletta Carli, on 1:58.94 for gold, a 29.74 last lap delivering the verdict for those who followed her home. The silver went to Maria Baklakova (RUS) in 1:59.51, the bronze to Quinn Carrozza (USA) in 1:59.69, Hong Kong’s Haughey just locked out in 1:59.94. Carli adds to Italy’s strength in 200m free, the most helpful of domestic targets Federica Pellegrini…
The concluding medley relays went to Japan among boys and Russia among girls. In a championship record of 3:38.13, Keita Sunama (55.47), Kohei Goto (1:00.56), Takaya Yasue (52.20) and Toru Maruyama (49.90) produced a dominant performance to keep at bay Russia (Grigory Tarasevich, Vsevolod Zanko, Alexander Kudashev, Evgeny Sedov), also inside the previous meet mark on 3:38.72, and the USA. Then came news of more woe for the American men in medley relays this summer: the USA senior men finished first in the world senior final in Barcelona before being DQ’d for a false start – then the USA junior team suffered the same embarrassment. Butterfly swimmer Matthew Josa left his blocks 0.21sec too soon. The bronze therefore went to South Africa (Chris Reid, Jarred Crous, Ryan Coetzee and Caydon Muller) in 3:42.01.
The final final of the six-day event saw Russia set a meet mark of 4:04.48 for gold in the 4x100m medley for girls, courtesy of Daria Ustinova (1:01.29), Anna Belousova (1:08.74), Svetlana Chimrova (58.65) and Rozaliya Nasretdinova (55.80). The silver went to Great Britain in 4:05.42 (Jessica Fullalove, Sophie Taylor, Emma Day and Grace Vertigans) and the bronze to the USA in 4:05.76 (Kathleen Baker, Olivia Anderson, Courtney Weaver and Cierra Runge). The USA topped the meet points table based on finishing ranks in each race.
The Medals – Top 10
- AUS 10 6 2 18
- RUS 9 8 9 26
- USA 9 7 12 28
- LTU 4 3 0 7
- JPN 2 3 5 10
- ITA 2 1 3 6
- GBR 1 4 2 7
- UKR 1 2 1 4
- HKG 1 0 1 2
- GRE 1 0 1 2
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