The morning sessions today had a couple of surprises in them, the main one being Sun Yang in his 1500m heat, where he finished only 3rd, well behind Paltrinieri and even behind Connor Jaeger. Could it be that he was simply saving his efforts for the final? I really hope so. Because it was really unnatural seeing him like this. After winning both the 400m and the 800m, I can’t imagine him losing the 1500m… but who knows. The second surprise was a personal one, when Israeli swimmer Guy Barnea failed to qualify for the 50m backstroke semifinals, after featuring in the final two years ago. Anyway, evening sessions – the stage is yours.
Women’s 50m Butterfly – Final
Sarah Sjostrom is now officially one of the greatest stars of the championships. A second gold medal for her, and she also has the silver in the 100m freestyle. And she won this one by a large margin as well! 24.96 for this amazing Swedish girl, 0.38 of a second ahead of Jeanette Ottesen, who I noticed always has that melancholic look, and one cannot not feel for her, since it’s her second silver here. Bronze medal went to Lu Ying, making this podium identical to the 100m butterfly. Wow. That’s something unusual :). Fran Halsall, the awesome Brit, disappointed by finishing sixth, and Inge Dekker demonstrated some old school moves by finishing 4th. But above all – Sarah Sjostrom, who officially became one of my favorite females swimmers and a strong candidate for a Hall Of Fame induction sometime in the future.
Men’s 50m Freestyle – Final
A really predictable win for Florent Manaudou, who completes a sprinting double here, together with his triumph at the 50m butterfly. Nathan Adrian rehabilitated himself after his bad 100m final, by winning the silver, but he was miles behind Florent, who finished with a great time of 21.19, only 28 hundredths of a second slower than Cesar Cielo’s WR, which was achieved with those space suits back in 2009. Brazilian Bruno Fratus saved some of his country’s prestige at the event by winning the bronze. Vlad Morozov, the Russian sprinter, dived into the pool for the first of three times this evening, but finished only 4th, 0.01 of a second behind Bruno… Please keep that in the back of your head as you read the post.
Women’s 200m Backstroke – Final
I was rooting for Missy Franklin here. She started out good, and led at the halfway mark, with Emily Seebohm (I can write that name 10 times a day, it’s so lovely!) and Katinka Hosszu completing the top 3. 50m to go, Franklin’s lead over second place Hosszu was almost a second, and I thought that this is it! Missy’s turn for the final 50m was great and she extended her lead. I thought Katinka would be her number one rival and so after she fell so much behind I thought that finally Missy will get the individual gold she craves. But I didn’t take into account Emily Seebohm! The great Aussie swimmer turned on the NOS with 25m to go and as she came closer to Missy I knew the battle is lost. Seebohm passed her and won with a result of 2:05.81, a time which Missy wouldn’t even look at two years ago. But alas, 2015 Franklin is not the 2013 Franklin and sadly she is not even the 2015 Seebohm. Missy finished only second, 0.53 of a second behind Emily, and Katinka came third. So the podium was pretty much the way I thought it would be, but with a different medals’ distribution. Much kudos for Seebohm, winner of the backstroke 100m/200m double, and together with Mitch Larkin the Australians claim real dominance in the backstroke events. BTW, this is Emily’s third gold here, and she has a good chance for a fourth medal at the medley relay tomorrow. Not a gold one, probably, wlthough who knows… A fourth medal for Missy, but without an individual gold…
Women’s 50m Breaststroke – Semifinals
I’m really tempted to bet on Ruta Meilutyte here, she looked great today and recorded the best time both in the heats and in the semis, and she’s the WR holder. But after what happened in the 100m I’m not counting out Yuliya Efimova and her abilities. Efimova, twice champion at this event, including in the last Championships when she beat Ruta, also looked good and I reckon she’ll want to compensate for her disastrous 200m. I was glad to see Jessica Hardy, owner of perhaps the best smile in the Championships and also twice champion at this event, including back in 2007 (and a medalist from a fucking decade ago) – qualify with the third best tome. I think I can live with a podium of these three ladies.
Men’s 100m Butterfly – Final
What a great final! I was sure Chad Le Clos would start out strong as always and lead at the halfway mark, but no – he was only second. The surprising leader was Joseph Isaac (is he jewish?!) Schooling from Singapur. I was sure that he’ll fade in the second 50m, and he did, but he held on to win the bronze medal! What a surprise! But hey, what about the top 2 spots? Le Clos was second at the 50m, and then moved to first at the 75m mark. However, he has this tendency to sometimes fade in the final meters and so I thought that perhaps Laszlo can catch him. But no, this time he couldn’t. Gold for Le Clos with a result of 50.56, silver for Cseh. Le Clos and Cseh simply switched their medals from the 200m. 12th (!!!) World Championships medal for Cseh, who managed to win medals in all the butterfly events here, great success! Tom Shields – who I thought will also be on the podium, finished only fourth. It was worth to give the gold medal here to Le Clos just to see his dad losing it in the stands 🙂 What an awesome dad!
Women’s 50m Freestyle – Semifinals
What a final we can expect here! Sjostrom vs. the Campbell sisters, Part II! And also Kromowidjojo! And Vanderpool-Wallace from the Bahamas can also win a medal on a good day. The only one missing is Jeanette Ottesen, who finished with the 9th best time and missed the final by 0.09 of a second. Damn I’m really excited about this one. All the aforementioned swimmers looked great, and I’m really happy for Ranomi, who won her semi with a very good time – 24.23, 0.01 slower than Sansa Stark, a.k.a. Cate Campbell, who won the second semi. Can someone on a good day come close to Britta Steffen’s WR (23.73)? I doubt it… But I reckon we might see a sub-24.10 time in the final.
Men’s 50m Backstroke – Semifinals
Another Israeli in the semis! Jonatan Kopelev, the 2012 European champion at this event and a finalist from two years ago. He didn’t make it to the final this time, finishing 11th. No finals for Israel this year, although Gal Nevo have a small chance to make it tomorrow at the 400 medley. Booo.
Camille Lacourt, captain of the All-Handsome Men Team of the Championships, looked awesome, and he also swam very well, recording the best time – 24.27, miles ahead of the second best (Matt Grevers). A defending champion, and already a silver medalist here at the 100m, he is the favorite tomorrow. Look out for Mitch Larkin, though! The already double champion here can win a medal tomorrow, albeit not a gold one in my opinion. He was the second fastest Aussie in the semis, btw, after Ben Treffers. Also look out for the WR holder, Liam Tancock, twice champion and 4-time medalist at this event. Oh, and this was the second afternoon swim for Vlad Morozov, who despite specializing in the sprint events – also qualified for the final here.
Women’s 800m Freestyle – Final
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to “The Ledecky Show”! This day will go down in history. Not only did Ledecky win her 5th gold medal at these Championships, something that was bettered only once before (Missy Franklin in 2013, wow does this seems like some ancient history now or what?), she also completed the never-done-before 200-400-800-1500 quadruple! WOW. The only question was who was going to win silver and bronze. No one doubted that Ledecky will win the gold medal. I also didn’t have a doubt she will set a new WR, after coming very close to the 800m WR DURING THE 1500M FINAL!!! She set this as her goal right from the start, and was well ahead of the WR time much of the race. I mean – fuck, she reached the 400m mark at a time of 4:03.22, a result which would have won her a bronze medal here at this event!!! She accelerated at the final 50m, to beat the WR to a pulp, recording a time of 8:07.39, annihilating the previous WR by 3.61 seconds!!! I can’t write enough WOW’s here to express the astonishment and the reverence I feel when I watch this truly phenomenal girl. Her margin from second place (Lauren Boyle, winning her second silver here)? Over 10 whole fucking seconds! Third came Jaz Carlin the Brit. Lotte Friis? I don’t know what happened to this lovely Danish girl, a champion at the 1500m from 2011 and the silver medalist from last year. She didn’t have a good Championships and finished only 5th here.
I hoped you enjoyed watching Katie Ledecky as much as I do. She will be heavily featured in the summary I’ll write about these Championships when it will end, but for now – let’s just stand and applaud her.
Mixed 4x100m Freestyle Relay – Final
Another mixed relay, but this time it wasn’t like the abominational one. Also it was more pleasant to watch since all the teams decided on the same strategy and started out with two male swimmers before switching to the females. Even the Russians! And speaking of the Russians, guess who jumped first into the pool for them? Vlad Morozov! My dad joked before the final that he’ll either false-start or finish fourth here. Hold that thought, dad.
As a matter of fact, Morozov swam beautifully and was second at the first 100m, after the surprising Italian Canadian Santo Conorelli. Ryan Lochte was USA’s first swimmer, but he didn’t have a good swim, coming only fifth. BTW, when the Netherlands’ team was announced, I thought that they have a real chance of winning a medal, since they fielded Sebastian Verschuren as one of the male swimmers, but their real strength was in the female duo – Kromowidjojo and Femke Heemskerk. In terms of the female duo, they had the best one, hands down. The question was – how much will the women will have to catch up?
Nathan Adrian had a great 100m split, 47.29, bringing the Americans to second place at the 200m mark, only 0.07 behind the Russians, who also had a very good second leg (Alexander Sukhorukov, 47.74). The Canadians were third by that point and the Dutch 6th. But never underestimate the power of Kromowidjojo. She jumped into the pool and torched the water with a 52.48 split, the fastest among the women! At the 300m mark the Dutch were already 4th. The Russians still led, but now only 0.01 of a second before USA. Missy Franklin was the last USA swimmer, and she quickly overcame the Russian last swimmer, but only to be overtaken herself by Heemskerk!
I thought this is over. Franklin is a colossal swimmer but she’s not the sprinter Heemskerk is. Little did I know… Franklin started to reduce the gap during the last pool, but it still looked like a Dutch victory. 10m before the finish, Franklin was still second and the gap looked too big. 5m to go… 3m to go… Franklin closed the gap… they dove together for the wall! I didn’t believe Franklin can win until I saw it in the official results – USA 1st, 3:23.05, Netherlands 2nd, 3:23.10! A margin of 0.05!!! WOW! What a finish! And what a great performance by Missy! Finally, a great performance by Missy! Amazing, truly amazing. The Dutch girls had the fastest and the second fastest splits in the final, and it was almost enough for the win, but only almost… A great performance by them nonetheless.
But what about the bronze medal? As it turned out, the Canadians used the fact that the last Russian female swimmer had the second worst final leg, and pushed them to fourth place. The Russian’s bad luck continues! And just as my dad said – Vlad Morozov with another fourth place. Two 4th places and one false-start, what a Championship for him… You wanna bet where he’ll finish in the 50m backstroke final tomorrow? 🙂
So, a fifth medal here for Missy, and a second gold. And she has a great chance for a sixth one tomorrow.
So, this was the penultimate day. This is quite sad, but tomorrow will be even sadder. And on that optimistic note we’ll finish for today.