Ok, so yesterday we had a break due to the wedding I attended in the evening. I watched the swims but right after the final one – the women’s 100m breaststroke final – I went to the wedding, BTW, the groom – Roman, who is an old friend of mine, used to be a competitive swimmer himself, and is one of the very few people with whom I used to discuss the swimming events. Roman, if you’re reading this – mazal tov! Anyway, yesterday was amazing but I can’t really write about it, since it would take much time I don’t really posses. So without Freddy Adu, let’s move on to today’s events. I promise to make up for the lost time in two years.
Men’s 100m Freestyle – Semifinals
Really interesting swims we had here. First of all, the champion of the last two Worlds – the great James Magnussen, is absent, which is a Peaty (I made a funny again!). The French juggernauts – Stravius and Gilot – didn’t manage to qualify for the final. Nathan Adrian – the Olympic champion, qualified only fifth. Vlad Morozov, the very good Russian, was disqualified in his semi for a blatant false start, which the Russian commentators on Eurosport tried to explain by the fact the perhaps the false-starting rules are falling behind his reactions and thus it’s not that he false-started – it’s just that his reactions are so fucking fast. Jesus fucking christ. I almost switched to the Israeli channel after this. Anyway, Aussie Cameron McEvoy looked great and qualified with the best time. He’s the sure bet for the final tomorrow, although I wouldn’t rule out Adrian. Also, Ning.
Women’s 50m Backstroke – Semifinals
Once again we were treated to Kirsty Coventry, one of the only top-level female swimmers who are still older than me. However, she didn’t make it through to the final. Neither did Fesikova-Zueva, the Russian champion at the event from 4 years ago. Fastest was Fu Yuanhui from Poland?, no – Egypt?, China. I like the chances of Nielsen from Denmark as well – and btw she’s a new member on our All-Prettiest Team of the Championships. And of course you don’t wanna rule out the awesome Emily Seebohm, although I don’t know how much of a sprinter she is.
Men’s 200m Butterfly – Final
Le Clos, the Olympic and the World champion, started out really strong. I feared that it was too strong, and indeed – Laszlo Cseh caught up with him during the third 50m. Le Clos faded, and I thought “all right!”. I really like Le Clos (and his awesome dad!), but come on – how can you root against Cseh, the ultimate and eternal second-third place? It’s really cruel how he specialized in exactly the same events as Phelps. He’s been with us for such a long time and one simply can’t not wish him to break the second place barrier once in a while. And if someone doesn’t wish it they should unwish that. Or… Wait. I got confused here. Fuck. Nevermind, you catch my drift.
Anyway, during the last 50m Le Clos, who I thought was finished, suddenly started to pick up speed and started closing down on Cseh. His dad went bonkers in the stands, and I urged Cseh to hold on to the leade. It was really close at the wall, but eventually it ws Laszlo who touched it first, 20 hundredths before Chad. Phew! The time – 1:53.48, still far from Michael’s WR. Third came the very surprising Jan Switkowski, with the fastest final 50m of everyone in the pool.
Women’s 200m Freestyle – Final
THE swim of today. Wow, was this a treat or what?! On the one hand – the wonder girl, Katie Ledecky, on her quest for a quadruple of individual titles (200-400-800-1500), and who showed yesterday in the semis that she can swim the 200m well even 15 minutes after setting a kick-ass WR in the 1500m. On the other hand – the great Federica Pellegrini, my favorite female swimmer of all-time, twice world champion at this event, medalist at every World Championships starting from 2005, possessing a killer finish and the captain of the All-Prettiest Team of the Championships. On the other other hand – Missy Franklin, who all of a sudden became a former wonder girl at only 20 years of age. This female Michael Phelps, winner of 6 golds just two years ago and both the World champion and the Olympic champion in this event. And on the other other other hand – Katinka Hosszu, the iron lady. I betted on Ledecky before the final, but secretly hoped that Pellegrini will somehow manage to pull off a sensational win, or at least a medal to keep her streak alive.
And they were off. Ledecky didn’t have the best of starts, but that’s nothing compared to Pellegrini, who was sixth at the 50m and the 100m. However, we all know that Federica is the Yuriy Borzakovskiy of swimming and I was hoping that her finish would do its job like its being paid to. Femke Heemskerk started out strong – too strong, in fact. She led after the 50m, 100m, and the 150m, but everyone including everyone knew that this was crazy and that she’s losing her speed. And indeed, she swam each successive 50m slower than the previous one. Ledecky was keeping close to the leaders, never leading herself, until the final 50m. Then she kicked in. And also Missy Franklin. AND Pellegrini, finally!
At the 170m mark the three girls were almost neck-to-neck. Here I thought that Ledecky will surely win. Indeed, she pulled forward, and it looked like the victory is hers, but wait! Pellegrini moved in a bit closer… closer… closer… I was already on my feet, as Federica displayed her marvelous finish at its finest and recorded the fastest final 50m. And… they touch the wall! Ledecky first! Pellegrini second! Missy Franklin third! The time differences – 0.16 between 1st (1:55.16) and 2nd, 0.17 between 2nd and 3rd. Wow, what a race! Third gold medal to the amazing Ledecky, sixth medal in the event for the phenomenal Pellegrini, who even at her advanced age (she turned 27 today! Happy B-Day Federica!) showed the young bloods she can still swim with them all. And Missy Franklin, oh boy… what the hell happened to this already all-time great swimmer?! 2 bronze medals in three events… damn Africa, what happened?
The event lived up to the hype. It was truly amazing, just like the men’s 200m freestyle earlier this week. We finally got the duel between Ledecky and Franklin, and the younger girl came out on top. She is without a doubt the greatest female swimmer in the world today. Boy I can’t wait for the Olympics final in this event next year!
Men’s 50m Breaststroke – Final
This one was predictable as fuck. Copy-paste from the 100m. Again Cameron van der Burgh started out strong and again Peaty closed the gap and then kept the lead until the finish. Another gold for Peaty – the best breaststroker today, another silver for Cameron. No WR this time, as Peaty swam 9 hundredths of a second slower than in the final. The bronze went to Kevin Cordes, who touched ze vall 0.01 of a second before the stocky Felipe Franca Silva.
Women’s 200m Butterfly – Semifinals
Probably the most boring event in the pool today. I really didn’t relate to it. And the times are so far from Zige Liu’s WR from 2009… The most interesting part was watching Katinka Hosszu, who suddenly turned out to be one of the main attractions of the Championships. Alas, she swam poorly and finished only 13th, without a final berth. Her Japanese sister from another mister (I actually though I invented this, until I saw that it’s a pretty known expression…), Hoshi, recorded the fastest time in the semis, and I guess she’s the favorite, although I’m really not that familiar with the names here. So let’s move on, shall we? Cool.
Men’s 200m Individual Medley – Semifinals
Allright, Yakov Toumarkin once again! The talented Yakov swam very goodly and quite fasty, set a new PB, but finished 11th and didn’t qualify for the final. However, this is not his main event. Look out for him in the 200m backstroke, where he made the Olympic final 3 years ago and recorded the best result evar for an Israeli swimmer, finishing 7th.
This event has Lochte’s name written all over it, although his lazy-ass finishes really piss me off. He just seems to drift there in the water for the final few meters. I really want him to succeed, and I think here is his best chance of winning an individual gold. He looked so much better than the rest of the field (although the finishing times don’t reflect it, because of the aforementioned lazy-ass finish) that I would bet on him with my eyes closed. Hey, why does closing your eyes should affect your betting policy? Is it because you no longer see the odds? Shun Wang can pose an early scare, and so does Thiago Pereira from Brazil. Hey, did you notice that Brazil have a lot of swimmers here as well? It looks like they really invested in their swimming programs for the Olympics. You go, Brazil!
Men’s 800m Freestyle – Final
No Ryan Cochrane?! Inconceivable! But yeah, he fucked up the heats, finishing only 10th and not making it to the final. Sun Yang swam in the same heat and did win it, but did it in a not-such-an-awesome time, and so he only got the 7th lane in the final. Unfamiliar territory, but I was certain that he will overcome this minor flaw and win the gold.
Spoiler alert: he did.
For 700m he used Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri as a pace maker, and moved in for the kill. His finishing abilities are unmatched, and when he kicks in with the leg-work he’s like MC Hammer (because nobody can’t touch him! Ha ha ha 😦 ). He finished with a good time – 7:39.96, but still almost 8 seconds off the WR. When will he finally make the move on the WR? Do it Sun Yang, it won’t be able to resist you, you have nothing to be shy about!
Paltrinieri (I hope I wrote his name right) finished second, and third was Mack Horton, the 19 year old Australian.
Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay – Final
What is this abomination?! Seriously, this morning was the first time I’ve seen this event. Weird as fuck. I don’t like it. The Russians were the only idiots ones who started out with two female swimmers, which I could tell from the start was such a huge mistake that I’m surprised Julia Roberts didn’t mention it in “Pretty Woman”. The whole game is so much different when you must chase someone who is so far ahead of you! I wonder how Yuliya Yefimova felt when she dived second into the pool, ages after everyone has made their change already, and knowing that she still have to chase down men – not women, which means that she’s not thinking about shortening the gap but about losing the least amount of seconds… When the Russians finally sent their first male swimmer, they were trailing the 7th place by almost 6 seconds and the first place by 16 seconds! Male swimmers or not, this is just too much of a gap to close. Stupid tactic and I’m glad they lost.
The other, rational teams, didn’t stand a chance against Team GB. I dunno whether the Americans fielded their strongest team (I reckon they didn’t), but it’s their fault. The awesome British team consisting of Chris Walker-Hebborn, Adam Peaty, Siobhan Marie O’Connor and Fran Halsall was too hot to handle, and they won easily, setting a new (and meaningless) WR in the process. Third gold already to Adam Peaty! Damn, someone better call the firemen because we have a cat stuck on a tree here. And damn, are those Brits rule or what? They are having such a superb Championships so far! Second came the Americans, and ze Germans were third.
So all in all, a very good fourth day it was. Now we’re at the middle point of the Championships. Still more great things to come, stay tuned!