Swimming, Day 2: Ledecky, Sjostrom and Hosszu set three WR

Kazan 2015 - SW

Katie Ledecky (USA), Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) and Katinka Hosszu (HUN), by this order, marked the second day of the swimming competition at the 16th FINA World Championships Kazan 2015, by setting new World Records in the 1500m free, 100m butterfly, and 200m IM, respectively. It all started in the morning preliminaries, when the North American star improved her own global best mark in the longest event of the programme, stopping the watch at 15:27.71. In August last year, Ledecky had clocked 15:28.36 at the Pan Pacs, and on Day 1 here in Kazan she won the 400m free, but could not better the WR in an event in which she is also the fastest in the world.

In the afternoon, it was Sjostrom’s turn to improve her time of the semis in the 100m butterfly, winning the decisive race in a new WR of 55.64 (0.10 faster than in the previous day). Sjostrom was also the winner in 2013 and 2009, being now the only swimmer with three world titles in this event. Jeanette Ottesen, from Denmark, was her most direct challenger, but finished with the silver, in a “distant” 57.05. Lu Ying (CHN) completed the podium in 57.48.

The third World Record of the day came in the very last final of the session, when “Iron Lady” Katinka Hosszu comfortably won the 200m IM in a new WR of 2:06.12, slightly improving the previous best global mark (2:06.15), set by US Ariana Kukors at the 2009 edition of the FINA World Championships in Rome (ITA). The Magyar star, already world champion in 2013, collected her seventh medal at the Worlds and was more than two seconds faster than silver medallist Kanako Watanabe (JPN, 2:08.45). Siobhan Marie O’Connor (GBR) earned bronze in 2:08.77.

After the second day of competition, the Kazan rendezvous counts already four new World Records, all in women’s events. The hope for a new best mark among men was a legitimate target in the 100m breaststroke, where three Championships Records had been set during heats and semi-finals – two from Adam Peaty (GBR) and one from Cameron van der Burgh (RSA). The British swimmer holds the WR in 57.92, however, the decisive race proved to be too tactic and the winner ended up being Peaty in 58.52, far from his best global mark, and also from his CR of 58.18 in the second semi-final.

Adam Peaty (GBR) - © Andrea Masini for Deepbluemedia

Van der Burgh, the 2012 Olympic champion, started very fast, touching at the 50m-mark under the WR pace in 26.79, but the second part of his race was not so successful, and he had to content with silver, in 58.59. If Peaty (20 years old) wins his first medal at this level here in Kazan – his major success so far was the Commonwealth Games title in this same event in 2014 -, the South African had been seven times on the podium in the history of FINA’s major event. In 2013, he was also the silver medallist, at the time behind Australia’s Christian Sprenger.

The bronze went to the second representative of Great Britain in the final, Ross Murdoch, finishing in 59.09. Murdoch, 21 years old, is also a newcomer to World Championships’ podiums, having ranked also third at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The last final of the day, the men’s 50m butterfly, wasn’t also a surprise in terms of the winner: swimming in lane 4, Florent Manaudou (FRA) confirmed his fastest time of the semis and got the gold in 22.97, the only sub-23 second effort in the decisive race. It was the second gold for the French champion in the event, after his success on Day 1 as part of the winning French 4x100m free relay team. Nicholas Santos, from Brazil, fourth two years ago in Barcelona, got this time the silver (his first podium presence at this level) in 22.97, while Laszlo Cseh, from Hungary, shared the bronze in 23.15 with Poland's Konrad Czerniak. Cseh has been a reference in Magyar swimming for many years, and his career was sometimes unfairly reduced to the fact that he was for many races and international events the runner-up of Michael Phelps (namely in the 200m and 400m IM). In Kazan, Cseh appeared in this short 50m butterfly event and the choice paid off, with the Hungarian champion (29 years old) winning its 10th medal at world level. Cesar Cielo, the second Brazilian of the final and winner two years ago, was this time sixth, in 23.21.

In another highlight of this second day, the semis of the women’s 100m breaststroke were a real appetizer for tomorrow’s decisive race, with Yulia Efimova (RUS, 1:05.60), Ruta Meilutyte (LTU, 1:05.64) and Alia Atkinson (JAM, 1:06.21) being the fastest so far. The WR (1:04.35) is held by the Lithuanian star since Barcelona 2013, but Efimova and Atkinson will definitively try to upset the 2012 Olympic champion. In the men’s 200m free, the semis were won by Ryan Lochte (USA, 1:45.36), in front of very distinguished contenders, namely Chad Le Clos (RSA, fourth), Sun Yang (CHN, fifth) and Paul Biedermann (GER, sixth, and the present WR holder, in 1:42.00).


Adam Peaty (GBR, gold, men’s 100m breaststroke):
“It was a tough race, a tough fight. I'm happy that I came atop, 25 metres before the finish, I saw that Cameron started to struggle, came out of rhythm and that was my chance”.

Cameron van der Burgh (RSA, silver, men’s 100m breaststroke): “It was a World Championships final, everyone wants to win the race, I tried to give my best but have to settle for silver today. Adam had a pretty strong finish, all credit to him, this is the way of winning the title here”.

Ross Murdoch (GBR, bronze, men’s 100m breaststroke):
“My strongest event is the 200, but I've developed a lot for the 100 which is good for the 200. I was not expecting a medal here”.

Sarah Sjostrom (SWE, gold, women’s 100m butterfly): “I felt the nerves before since this was a final, after all. The last five metres were really tiring, much more than yesterday, I was happy not to have five more metres as I had no power left. However, the first 50 metres were stronger this time; that was needed to break the record again. I'm really happy with the gold medal and that I was able to improve my best again”.

Nicholas Santos (BRA, silver, men’s 50m butterfly): “It’s difficult to be competitive in this age (35), still, I try my best to train and race together with the youngsters. The only way to achieve this is to stay very disciplined, have a good diet, strictly control the off-sport hours. This keeps me shape and among the top swimmers in Brazil and in the world. Today I made a mistake at the finish, but it’s till OK and I’m happy with my medal. And of course, next year comes Rio!”

Laszlo Cseh (HUN, bronze, men’s 50m butterfly):
“It was an adventure as I never really raced in any sprint events. Still, it was quite a success and I’m happy with this medal – but it’s just a great message that I’m in a good shape, I have a good speed, after all, it’s not a disadvantage if you can swim a bit faster in the 200m fly either”.

Katinka Hosszú (HUN) - © Giorgio Staccioli for Deepbluemedia