The Championships is over. As always, I ask “already?!”. And as always I feel sad when it’s done, knowing that it’ll be a full year until I will see again the likes of Ledecky, Sjostrom, Sun Yang, etc… Luckily, it’s only a year. When the 2013 edition ended we had to wait two fucking years! Anyway, The morning heats had the usual amount of Russian incompetence. The women’s quartet missed the medley relay final, paying the price for going out with not their strongest quartet, and the men as well! Well, no, actually the men’s relay team made it, but only because the Hungarians were DQ’d (and rightfully so). But still – had they not been disqualified, no Russian team would have been present in the medleys final! What an embarrassment. Anyway, let’s see what the final afternoon session of the Championships had to offer…
Men’s 50m Backstroke – Final
Camille Lacourt (who I think was clean-shaved for the first time here) looked great in the semis, and he simply copy-pasted that to the final. He won easily, with a result of 24.23, 0.38 seconds ahead of Matt Grevers, thus repeating his triumph from 2 years ago. Grevers also repeated his performance from Barcelona, winning the silver, while the bronze went to the Australian swimmer that is not Mitch Larkin – Ben Treffers. Vlad Morozov decided to make things a bit more interesting, and thus finished 5th instead of his usual 4th.
Women’s 50m Breaststroke – Final
A real shock this one was. Meilutyte started out really strong and had a big lead at the 25m mark, but just as in the 100m, Efimova chased her down. Unlike in the 100m, Efimova was also passed near the end, by Alia Atkinson from Jamaica and Jennie Johansson from Sweden. Atkinson’s silver was her second medal here, after the bronze in the 100m, so perhaps it’s not that much of a shock, but Johansson’s gold was totally unexpected. I mean, she’s a good swimmer, but she never really won anything at the international (not European) level, despite being 27 years old already. It was a real shocker, and her reactions were accordingly – she actually shed some tears in the pool after the victory, an uncommon and yet awesome sight with triumphant swimmers. Great job, Jennie! Efimova won only the bronze, which was Russia’s fourth and final medal of the Championships, but at least it was better than poor Meilutyte, who was left without a podium finish… I wonder what happened to her. In the final she swam the 50m in 30.14, waaay slower than yesterday in both the heats and the semis. Is there some psychological issue? Also saddening was the 5th place finish for Jessica Hardy, she of the loveliest smile in the Championships.
Men’s 400m Individual Medley – Final
This event wasn’t really interesting. Daiya Seto repeated his gold medal from two years ago, albeit with a result that Phelps would look at and then snigger and walk away, afraid that it might stick to him (4:08.50, almost 5 seconds slower than his WR). David Verraszto from Hungary won the silver. His last name sounded familiar, but only after the commentators mentioned it did I remember that he has a sister who is also a world class sister – Evelyn. The bronze went to Chase Kalisz from USA, who downgraded his silver medal from two years ago.
Women’s 50m Freestyle – Final
I was really looking for this one! Ranomi Kromowidjojo had a terrific start, while Sansa Stark (a.k.a. Cate Campbell) simply fell asleep on the starting blocks. However, by the 25m point Bronte Campbell already caught up to Ranomi and then surged further forward. I had no doubt (don’t speak, I know what you’re thinking) that Bronte will emerge victorious. I only hoped that Ranomi and Sjostrom will be there on the podium as well. And indeed, Bronte touched the wall first, 24.12, still a far cry from Brita Steffen’s WR (23.73). Kromowidjojo managed to get there second, 24.22, and Sarah Sjostrom has officialy written her name into everyone’s hearts (I’m already in love with her) with 24.31 and a third place. Cate Campbell awoke during the race and finished 4th with a time of 24.36. If it wasn’t for her disastrous reaction time (0.78), she could totally win a medal here as well. Just take away 0.1 of a second for a reasonable RT, and there she is – on the podium.
But this is Bronte’s day, not Cate’s. A double sprint title for Bronte, and a third gold here overall. What a Championship! She officially took the “Best sprinter on the planet” title from Kromowidjojo, and will be the woman to beat next year in Rio. Lets hope that Ranomi, the Olympic champion, will return to her top form, because then we’ll get fireworks. And what about Sarah?! Fourth medal here! No matter what will happen next, she already became the second greatest female swimmer of these Championships. Oh, and I reached a conclusion that Bronte might make the All-Prettiest Second Team of the Championships. In fact, both sisters can make it.
Men’s 1500m Freestyle – Final
Can Sun Yang show his true form in the final?! Or will it be Paltrinieri who will repeat his win over him in the heats? And will Ryan Cochrane add another medal to his enormous collection of silvers and bronzes?
But wait, where the fuck is Sun Yang?!?! He didn’t come out of call-room! It appeared as if it is a really late-minute notice and not something planned in advance, because there was no alternate swimmer to take his place. What a shock! Only later I started to hear explanations for his absence from the commentators. At first they said that a medical examination found something wrong with his heart. Then another rumor started circulating that he hit some female Brazilian swimmer. I don’t know which one of these is true, or perhaps there’s also some third, real, explanation.
What is known for sure is that the final suddenly lost about 80% of its appeal and became really dull. Without Sun Yang’s presence, Paltrinieri’s path to the gold was an easy one, and indeed, he won it comfortably, despite a late surge from Connor Jaeger, who really should have started it earlier. Paltrinieri’s time – 14:39.67, a good time, but I believe Sun Yang would have pushed him for an ever better one, had he swam. The bronze medal? Come on, do I really need to state the obvious? I don’t and I won’t.
Women’s 400m Individual Medley – Final
Here everything was ready for “The Katinka Show”, the only question remaining is whether she can beat Ye Shiwen’s notorious WR from London, where she swam the final 50m faster than Lochte did in his victory in the parallel men’s event. Ye’s final freestyle 100m were otherworldly, and Katinka had no fucking chance of swimming in the same time. So she had to build up her advantage in the first 300m. At first it looked as if it might work. She had a great backstroke 100m, a super butterfly 100m and a killer breaststroke 100m. She was ahead of the WR by over 3 seconds! I really thought that’s possible!
But alas, Ye Shiwen’s impossible freestyle is impossible, and the WR red line caught up with Katinka right about the 25m mark of the 100m… Wow… The red line then proceeded to win and leave Karinka with the silver. So no WR, and Katinka even swam slower (4:30.39) than her winning time in Berlin 2009 (4:30.31), but still – a second gold medal here, and a double medley title, the same as in Barcelona two years ago. She is truly the queen of the medley. Let’s hope she will bring her A-Game to Rio! Maya Di Rado from USA won the silver medal, and Canadian Emily Overholt – the bronze.
BTW, I wonder which family member is the best in these Championships – Chad Le Clos’ dad or Katinka Hosszu’s husband? Hmmm…
Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay – Final
This was supposed to be a very good swim. USA had a great team, but I thought that Team GB can really give them a run for their money, with Peaty and Guy and Proud. And what about Australia, with Larkin and McEvoy? And France, with Lacourt and Gilot? My bet was USA – 1st, GBR – 2nd, and Australia/France – 3rd.
Larkin started great for Australia, clocking a 52.41, just the time he won with in the individual event (52.40). Lacourt was second and Ryan Murphy (USA) – third. I was waiting to see where GBR are – they were 6th. And then Peaty started doing his thang. It was a marvel to behold, he sliced the water like it was water, and had an amazing split of 57.74, over a second faster than the second best one (Cordes, USA). He brought GBR to first place after 200m. Next was James Guy – a sensational swimmer, but… in the freestyle. Here he swam the butterfly. It was good, but they went down to second after 300m. USA was in the lead. And their last swimmer was Nathan Adrian. I was looking for a showdown between him and McEvoy, but the Aussies were fourth and it was a long time Cameron had to make up for. But he did! McEvoy swam an amazing leg, 46.60! He closed down on Adrian, who actually had a very good leg of his own – 47.41. McEvoy edged closer and closer, but the pool ended too soon for him. If only they had another 10m, the Australians would have won the race. But as it didn’t, USA won by 0.15 of a second. Third came the French, anchored by Gilot, who passed the last British guy – Proud (didn’t have a good leg). So, third medal in these Championships for both Lacourt and Larkin and Cameron McEvoy. But we’ll do the final medals tally in a different post…
Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay – Final
The final event of the Championships! What a Peaty! Thankfully, it was a great one. There were several teams I fancied their chances of winning a medal. USA, of course, with Missy Franklin, Hardy, and Simone Manuel; The Australian girls, with Emily Seebohm, Emma McKeon and the great Bronte Campbell as anchor; Sweden, which now featured two World champions in the likes of Jennie Johansson and the great Sjostrom; Denmark with their three medalists here (Nielsen, Pedersen and Ottesen. Is it merely a coincidence that the only member of their quartet who is not a medalist – Pernille Blume, doesn’t have a name ending with –en? I don’t think so!!!), and China, with Lu Ying and Fu Yuanhui.
And they were off. Franklin swam a terrible first 50m, but it was good compared to her second 50m! Oh boy… she was only 5th! WTF?! @#$#@^% Emily Seebohm led after the first 100m, with China in second place and Denmark with Nielsen in third. Next up – 100m breaststroke. Here Johansson of Sweden, still probably with the adrenalin rush from winning the 50m earlier, had a terrific leg and brought the Swedish girls to 4th position, paving the way for Sjostrom’s attack. Jessica Hardy also swam well, and the Americans were second after 200m – with China taking over as the leaders due to the Aussies’ weak breaststroke swimmer.
Sjostrom dove into the pool, and it’s as if it was her first swim of the Championships and she needed to prove herself – she annihilated everyone else and recorded the fastest split by a margin of over a second, bringing the Swedish ladies to second place, a mere 0.24 behind the Chinese. Where the fuck are the Americans, I yelled at the unyielding TV screen. The answer – they were only fourth, after Denmark, whom Ottesen brought to the third position. I thought that perhaps Simone Manuel can perhaps close the gap, but then I remembered that Bronte Campbell was the last Aussie swimmer and I ended this absurd thought. The Australians were 5th after 300m, when Bronte dove into the pool. She tore the opposition, swimming a marvelous 51.78 split, winning Australia the broinze medal. Up in the front, Shen Duo, the last Chinese swimmer, was too much for the last Swedish girl to handle, thus securing a surprise gold medal for China. Sweden won the silver, earning Sjostrom her fifth (!!) medal of these Championships, and Australia the bronze, earning Bronte Campbell and Emily Seebohm their fourth. USA? Only fourth, who would have thought they won’t even be at the podium! When you look at their splits, the major disappointment is of course Franklin. What a terrible Championships she’s having. True, she collected several medals, but after all that was expected of her – it’s a real disappointment. With great power come great expectations. Or something like that.
And suddenly it was all over. No more Kazan 2015. I have a couple more posts to come, one summarizing the Championship and another about the updates that must be done in the all-time medals table. But this post has come to its end.