Swimming, Day 5: Successful China gets six medals

Kazan 2015 - SW

In the first day without World Records, the fifth finals’ swimming session at the 16th FINA World Championships in Kazan (RUS) consecrated the strength of China (six medals, with at least one podium presence at each event), provided the first medal ever for Argentina and the first female award for Brazil. Katie Ledecky, closing the US quartet in the 4x200m free relay, collected her fourth gold medal, while Ryan Lochte earned his 24th medal at Worlds and first in Russia, winning the men’s 200m individual medley. 

In one of the most awaited finals of the day, the men’s 100m free, Ning Zetao (CHN), 2014 Asian champion in the event, upgraded to a world level gold (his first success at this level), stopping the clock at 47.84. He is the first Chinese (and Asian) swimmer to ever win this event, with the record of triumphs (six) going to USA. However, since 2003, non-US swimmers have always prevailed in the 100m, with the last two editions (Shanghai 2011 and Barcelona 2013) being won by Australia’s James Magnussen. The record of three victories in this distance is held by Alex Popov (RUS).

Ning Zetao (CHN) - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

Cameron McEvoy got the silver for Australia in 47.95, and his first podium at Worlds, after being fourth two years ago, 2014 champion in the Pan Pacs and silver medallist also last year in the Commonwealth Games. The bronze went to Federico Grabich, from Argentina, who gets the first medal ever for his country at swimming events at the FINA World Championships. The 25-year-old South American swimmer finished his race in a time of 48.12 and has previously been 11th in the semi-finals of the 200m free in Kazan.

In the first final of the session, the men’s 200m individual medley, Ryan Lochte (USA) won a fourth consecutive title, a new record for this event, touching for victory in 1:55.81. He is now better than his compatriot Michael Phelps, who had also triumphed three consecutive times in 2003, 2005 and 2007. It is the medal number 24 for Lochte at Worlds (only Phelps is better, with 33) and his first podium presence here in Kazan. The 31-year-old star is also one of the most decorated swimmers at Olympic level, with 11 medals.

Ryan Lochte (USA) - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepblumedia

The silver went to Thiago Pereira, from Brazil, in 1:56.65, his best result at a World Championships, after getting bronze in Barcelona 2013 in this same event and in the 400m IM. He is now the best Brazilian swimmer in FINA’s major showcase, behind Cesar Cielo, who has six podium presences. The last place in the podium was occupied by Wang Shun (CHN), touching in 1:56.81. He is the first male swimmer of his country getting a medal in a medley event and his best result so far had been also the bronze in the 200m IM at the 2014 Asian Games.

Since 2011 dominated by China, the final of the women’s 200m butterfly had two of its representatives on the starting blocks: Zhang Yufei and Zhou Yilin. However, after an initial “push” from US Katie McLaughlin, who led until the 150m-mark, Natsumi Hoshi, from Japan, accelerated in the last length of the pool, to get the gold in 2:05.56, the first victory for Japan not only in the event but in any female swimming race in the history of the FINA World Championships. Hoshi is, however, not unknown from the swimming world, having earned bronze in this event at the 2012 Olympics in London. In Barcelona, two years ago, she was at the podium’s door, finishing fourth.

The minor medals went to US Cammile Adams (silver in 2:06.40), also her first podium presence at this level, and to Zhang (bronze in 2:06.51). For the Chinese, 17 years old, her best result so far had been a silver medal in this event at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing (CHN).

Natsumi Hoshi (JPN) - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

Silver medallist two years ago in Barcelona, Fu Yuanhui continued the Chinese successful harvest in this fifth session, by getting the gold in the women’s 50m backstroke. Touching home in 27.11, the 19-year-old champion obtained the third success for her country in the history of this event (a record), after the wins of Zhao Jing in 2009 and 2013.

Etiene Medeiros, from Brazil, already one of the revelations at the 2014 FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Doha (QAT), where she became the first female swimmer of her country to win a gold medal in that competition, continued to shine in Kazan, earning silver in 27.26. It is also the first podium for Brazil in female events at the Worlds, after almost (she was fourth) getting a medal in Barcelona 2013. The bronze (27.58) went to the second Chinese swimmer among the finalists, Liu Xiang, her best international result so far.

In the 4x200m free relay, the US team had won five times in the last six editions of the FINA World Championships, only losing to China in 2009. In Kazan, the Swedish quartet first took the initiative of the race, with Sarah Sjostrom, Louise Hansson and Michelle Coleman leading the operations until the 600m-mark. The North Americans, always second until then, had in Katie Ledecky their last winning card and the choice paid off. With Ida Marko-Varga swimming on the European side, the US star clocked 1:55.64, largely enough to cope with the 2:00.35 effort of the Swedish athlete. The North Americans touched first in 7:45.37, and Ledecky got her fourth gold medal in Kazan.

The Italian quartet, in fifth at the last turn, counted on a super-fast (1:54.73) Federica Pellegrini to recover precious positions and take silver in 7:48.41, the first podium presence for Italy in women relays at the Worlds. The bronze went to China in 7:49.10, collecting their sixth medal of the day.


Ning Zetao (CHN, gold, men’s 100m free):
“This evening is the one I will never forget. To finish first among the best swimmers in the world is simply amazing. I didn’t come here expecting any medal, not even dreamed of it. When I touched the wall I didn’t think I could come first so it was huge to see it on the board”.

Cameron McEvoy (AUS, silver, men’s 100m free):
“I'm excited, this is the best individual placing I've got in major competitions. There is still room for improvement, general fitness, training techniques, all these little things which make the difference”.

Federico Grabich (ARG, bronze, men’s 100m free):
“Two weeks ago I had a good performance at the Pan Americans. I thought I could reach the final here but to have a medal is truly amazing. This is the first medal for Argentina in long-course, but for next year, in Rio, the cards will be reshuffled”.

Natsumi Hoshi (JPN, gold, women’s 200m butterfly):
“When Katinka Hosszu didn’t make the final and other big names were also missing from the best eight I knew I had a chance here and I lived up to it. But I’m aware that in Rio it’s going to be a totally different event and I know I have to work harder to improve and keep up with the others”.

Ryan Lochte (USA, gold, men’s 200m IM):
“I’m definitely really humbled to get that win tonight. All credits to Katie Ledecky and the others who could get things rolling and I’m happy to contribute to some extent to the success of Team USA. Katie is so great, whenever she hits the water she breaks the world record, today I could win, perhaps we keep on that rolling for the team until the end of the meet”.

“It’s an honour to go down in history together with such a great swimmer as Grant Hackett [previously won the same event – 1500m – 4 times at the Worlds, just as Lochte did in the 200m IM]. Making history is the coolest thing, I will also remember forever when I broke the world record in this event in 2011”.