The last night of pool swimming from the 2017 World University Games featured eight finals as the competition wrapped up from Taipei on Saturday.
The United States’ women claimed three individual golds. Caroline Baldwin started off the night with a come-from-behind victory in the 50 freestyle; she was joined on the podium by teammate Katrina Konopka, who claimed the bronze. Andrea Cottrell proved victorious in the 50 breaststroke, while Ella Eastin finished the gold streak with her dominating performance in the 200 butterfly.
The stand-out performance of the evening for the women was that of 400 freestyle champion Sarah Koehler of Germany, who earned the new meet record mark and also broke her national record in the process.
On the men’s side, Finland’s Ari Liukkonen shocked the sprint field with his 50 freestyle victory. The race to watch for the men proved to be the 400 IM. Daiya Seto of Japan ran away with the race for the meet record time of 4:11.98. The first half of his race was under world record pace. Seto was joined by teammate Kosuke Hagino on the podium.
The relays closed out the meet on a high note. In the women’s competition, Japan and the United States fought for gold until the end, with Japan ultimately edging out the U.S. team. In the men’s race, the United States owned the field, thanks to a versatile squad.
Schedule of Events:
- Women’s 50 Free
- Men’s 50 Free
- Women’s 50 Breast
- Women’s 200 Fly
- Men’s 400 IM
- Women’s 400 Free
- Women’s 400 Medley Relay
- Men’s 400 Medley Relay
Women’s 50 Free
In a surprising finish, the United States’ Caroline Baldwin took away the gold. Russia’s Mariia Kameneva, the top seed in the event, battled for most of the race with Katrina Konopka of the United States. Baldwin, however, fought hard in the second half to come back for gold in 25.02. Kameneva was close behind in 25.08, while Konopka settled for bronze in 25.21.
The next top finisher proved to be Brazil’s Graciele Herrmann, just five hundreths behind Konopka in 25.26. The other four finishers were similarly close; Japan’s Kaho Okano in 25.29, Lucrezia Raco of Italy in 25.30, Marchio Harrison, Hermann’s teammate, in 25.38, and Japan’s Chihiro Igarashi in 25.47.
Men’s 50 Free
A surprising men’s race came down to the final hundredths at the wall to decide the podium. Ultimately, Finland’s Ari Liukkonen got his hand to the wall first in 22.02. Not far behind, Brazil’s Amaral Duarte Garof found silver in the same time as Japan’s Katsumi Nakamura–25.08.
The next top finisher, in fourth, was Italy’s Lorenzo Zazzari, who stopped the clock in 22.13. Only five hundredths behind Zazzari, Aleksei Brianskii of Russia laid claim to fifth in 22.18. David Cumberlidge (22.39) of Great Britain and Ryan Held (22.39) of the United States tied for sixth, despite Held making an early charge in the race. The final finisher was Konrad Lukasz of Russia with a 22.41.
Women’s 50 Breast
The women’s 50 breast turned out to be yet another close contest for gold. The title belonged to Andrea Cottrell of the United States, who hit the touchpad in 30.77 for gold. Just behind Cottrell, Australia’s Leiston Pickett claimed silver in 30.82. The final position on the podium went to two competitors–Finland’s Jessica Eriksson and Ukraine’s Mariia Liver, who were the first women over 30 with their 31.50.
Dominika Sztandera of Poland (31.59) and Miranda Tucker of the United States (31.60) were good for fifth and sixth, respectively. Meanwhile, Jessica Steiger of Germany found seventh in 31.92, while Hyejin Kim of South Korea took eighth place with a 32.03.
Women’s 200 Fly
The fly was the property of Ella Eastin of the United States. Eastin brought home the gold with a large margin and a 2:08.21. The next closest finisher, Martina van Berkel of Switzerland, touched over three full seconds behind Eastin with her 2:11.32. Just eight hundredths of a second behind, Turkey’s Nida Ustundag laid claim to the bronze in 2:11.40.
The other competitors remained similarly tight, as Italy’s Aurora Petronio snatched fourth place in 2:11.50, followed by South Korea’s Jinyoung Park in 2:11.75. Sixth place went to Klaudia Nazieblo, who posted a 2:12.47. The heat was rounded out by Isobel Grant of Great Britain (2:12.72) and Laura Taylor of Australia (2:12.74).
Men’s 400 IM
The much-anticipated men’s 400 individual medley belonged to Japan’s Daiya Seto, who took the gold in a meet record time of 4:11.98. Seto dominated the field, swimming under world record pace until the second half of the event. His teammate, Kosuke Hagino, found the silver in 4:15.44, while Russia’s Aleksandr Osipenko grabbed the bronze in 4:16.63.
Hungary’s Gergeley Gyurta settled for fourth in 4:17.70, while Poland’s Dawid Szwedzki and Sweden’s Adam Paulsson remained in the 4:18-range, with 4:18.11 and 4:18.83, respectively. A pair of Americans, Sean Grieshop (4:21.60) and Jonathan Roberts (4:25.50) finished out the final in seventh and eighth.
Sarah Koehler of Germany annihilated the field in the event; she led from the first 100 meters and never faltered. She brought back the meet record in 4:03.96 and also set her own national record, breaking the previous mark from 1989.
The next top finisher was Joanna Evans of the Bahamas, who stayed close enough to Koehler’s pace to tie up the silver in 4:08.52. Sierra Schmidt of the United States took care of the third spot on the podium with her 4:09.82. Italy’s Simona Quadarella earned the fourth-place finish in 4:10.49, just touching out Kaersten Meitz of the United States (4:10.84).
The final finishers in the final proved to be Kiah Melverton of Australia (4:12.42), Julia Hassler of Liechtenstein (4:13.20), and Kennedy Goss of Canada (4:13.88).
Women’s 400 Medley Relay
The final women’s event of the meet produced a photo finish between Japan and the United States. Japan led with a decided margin after the breaststroke leg, 0.48 seconds ahead of the United States. However, Caroline Baldwin of the United States, fresh off of victory in the 50 freestyle, made a charge during the first 50 meters of her anchor leg. Baldwin ultimately could not quite make up the difference, and Japan surged to take away the gold during the final ten meters of the race.
Japan garnered gold in 4:00.24, while the United States stopped the clock for silver in 4:00.49. Italy snatched up the bronze in 4:02.40.
The men’s race was not quite as close as the women’s race, but it was nonetheless impressive. The United States easily won gold in 3:33.27. Each of the four relay legs were headed by victors in the 100 meter stroke events, and particularly of note was a powerful performance by anchor Ryan Held.
The silver went to Russia in 3:34.85 in an outside lane. Japan touched just behind, also in an outside lane, in 3:34.88, to snatch up the bronze and close the meet.