2013worldsspeedo Kosuke Hagino
Courtesy of: Joan Marc Bosch
Commentary by Jeff Commings

PHOENIX, Arizona, August 16. WE are 10 days from the start of FINA's junior world championships in Dubai, nestled in the heart of the United Arab Emirates. For many of the teenagers set to compete in the event, this could be the first time outside of their country's boundaries. For others, they have been a part of respective junior squads and are looking to make some serious statements that they are going to be in the mix for various Olympic rosters in 2016.

Since the first world junior championships in 2006 in Rio de Janeiro, each meet has featured several swimmers that became Olympic medalists. While we might not have suspected that many of these swimmers would go on to be world record holders, Olympic champions or senior international championship finalists, it's clear that the junior world championships has become the prime meet for many to use as a springboard to senior-level success.


Below is a list of athletes from the past three world junior championships that have won medals at the Olympics or "senior" world championships, or swam in an Olympic final. While my research was exhaustive, someone was likely left off the list, and I hope you will let us know who was missed in the Reaction Time comments section below.

From the 2006 junior worlds in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:

Mireia Belmonte, Spain. Won two medals in 2006. Won two silver medals in 200 fly and 800 free at 2012 Olympics. Collected two silver (200 fly, 400 IM) and one bronze (200 IM) at 2013 world championships.

Tyler Clary. No medals in 2006. Olympic champion in 200 backstroke at 2012 Olympics. Silver medal in 400 IM at 2009 and 2011 world championships. Bronze medal in 200 back at 2009 and 2011 world championships.

Ophelie-Cyrielle Etienne, France. Won two medals in 2006. Bronze medalist in 800 free relay at 2012 Olympics.

Sergey Fesikov, Russia. Won two medals in 2006. Bronze medalist in 400 free relay at 2012 Olympics. Former world record holder in short course meters 100 IM.

Dinko Jukic, Austria. Won two medals in 2006. Competed in 200 butterfly final at 2012 Olympics, finishing fourth.

Caitlin Leverenz, USA. Won three medals in 2006. Bronze medalist in 200 IM at 2012 Olympics. Also competed in Olympic final of 400 IM.

Camille Muffat, France. Won two medals in 2006. Olympic champion in 400 free at London Olympics, silver medalist in 200 free, bronze medalist in 800 free relay.

Daniela Schreiber, Germany. No medals in 2006. Participated in the 2009 and 2011 world championships, winning medals in the 400 free relay and 400 medley relay.

Tang Yi, China. Won one medal in 2006. Bronze medalist in 100 freestyle at 2012 Olympics. Medals in 400 medley relay and 800 free relay at 2011 world championships.

Giedrius Titenis, Lithuania. Won one medal in 2006. Bronze medalist in 200 breast at 2009 world championships. Competed in the Olympic final of the 100 breast in 2012 Olympics.

Anastasia Zueva, Russia. Won two medals in 2006. Silver medalist in 200 backstroke at 2012 Olympics and 100 backstroke finalist. Four medals in 2009 and 2011 world championships, including gold in 50 backstroke in 2011.

From the 2008 junior worlds in Monterey, Mexico:

Kasey Carlson, USA. Won one medal in 2008. Bronze medalist in 100 breast at 2009 world championships.

Luca Dotto, Italy. Won three medals in 2008. Silver medalist in 50 freestyle at the 2011 world championships.

Andrew Gemmell, USA. Won one medal in 2008. Earned silver in the 10K swim at the 2009 world championships, and gold in the 5K team event at the 2011 world championships.

Yuya Horihata, Japan. Won one medal in 2008. Bronze medalist in 400 IM at 2011 world championships. Competed in the Olympic final in the 400 IM at the 2012 Olympics.

Danila Izotov, Russia. Won two medals in 2008. Silver medalist in 800 free relay at 2008 Olympics. Bronze medalist in 400 free relay at 2012 Olympics. Bronze medalist in 200 freestyle and 400 free relay at 2013 world championships. Bronze medalist in 200 free at 2009 world championships, as well as silver medals in 400 free relay and 400 medley relay.

Radoslaw Kawecki, Poland. Won one medal in 2008. Won the 200 backstroke at the 2012 short course world championships and silver in the 200 back at the 2013 world championships.

Dagny Knutson, USA. Won three medals in 2008. Gold medalist in 800 free relay at 2009 world championships.

Marco Koch, Germany. Won two medals in 2008. Silver medalist in 200 breaststroke at 2013 world championships.

Silke Lippok, Germany. Won one medal in 2008. Bronze medalist in 400 free relay at 2011 world championships.

Florent Manaudou, France. No medals in 2008. Won the 50 freestyle at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Elizabeth Pelton, USA. Won two medals in 2008. Won gold medals in the 400 free relay and 400 medley relay at the 2013 world championships.

Megan Romano, USA. Won one medal in 2008. Gold medals in 400 free relay and 400 medley relay at 2013 world championships.


From the 2011 world juniors in Lima, Peru:

Bronte Campbell, Australia. Won two medals in 2011. Silver medalist in 400 free relay at 2013 world championships.

Chelsea Chenault, USA. Won one medal in 2011. Gold medalist in 800 free relay at 2013 world championships.

Fu Yuanhui, China. Won two medals in 2011. Silver medalist in 50 backstroke at 2013 world championships.

Kosuke Hagino, Japan. Won four medals in 2011. Bronze medalist in 400 IM at 2012 Olympics. Two silver medals in 400 free and 200 IM at 2013 world championships.

Chase Kalisz, USA. No medals in 2011. Silver medalist in 400 IM at 2013 world championships.

Brittany MacLean, Canada. Two medals in 2011. Competed in the Olympic final of the 400 freestyle, finishing seventh.

Simone Manuel, USA. No medals in 2011. Gold medalist in 400 free relay at 2013 world championships.

Cameron McEvoy, Australia. Won three medals in 2011. Silver medal in 400 medley relay at 2013 world championships.

Lia Neal, USA. Won three medals in 2011. Bronze medalist in 400 free relay at 2012 Olympics.

Gregorio Paltrinieri, Italy. Won two medals in 2011. Bronze medalist in 1500 freestyle at 2013 world championships. Won gold in the 1500 free at the 2012 short course world championships. Competed in the Olympic final of the 1500 free in 2012, finishing fifth.

Akihiro Yamaguchi, Japan. Won three medals in 2011. Current world record holder in 200 breaststroke.


Clearly, this meet is a breeding ground for future talent, and that list didn't include Jack Conger, Ryan Murphy and Jacob Pebley. These three are knocking on the door of senior international competition in the backstroke events for the United States, and the 2011 junior worlds served as their individual and collective introductions.

Little did we know that Muffat would become an international sensation six years later, or that Yamaguchi would become the best 200 breaststroker in history just one year after racing in Peru. That is what will make this year's meet so exciting. We could pick apart each country's roster until our eyes bleed, but what good would that do? As you can see above, Kalisz won no medals in 2011. Based on that logic, no one would have picked him to be in the 400 IM final at the 2012 Olympic Trials, or racing toward the silver medal in the 2013 world championships. All we can do is marvel at the talent we're about to witness, and anxiously await the future.

Jeff Commings was a member of two USA Swimming national junior teams, and wishes a world junior championships existed when he was a teenager. You can reach him at jeffc@swimmingworld.com.