DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, August 31. A shocking disqualification by the United States, and a strong 1500 freestyle by Mack Horton rounded out competition in Dubai at the long course junior world championships.
Boys 100 freestyle
As expected, the race for gold was between Australia’s Luke Percy, the meet record holder with a 49.14, and the top qualifier, Caeleb Dressel of the USA. Both were even at the start and broke away from the pack at the 50-meter turn. It was Dressel who got the win and his first trip to the top of the medal podium in Dubai with a new meet record of 48.97. More importantly, Dressel broke the 17-18 national age group of 49.05 held by Michael Phelps since 2004.
Percy captured silver with a 49.06, a lifetime best for the incoming freshman at the University of Tennessee. Though he’s an Australian, it’s notable that the 18-year-old Percy almost beat out the 18-year-old Phelps as well. Third place went to Russia’s Evgeny Sedov with a 49.47, also his fastest swim.
Also racing in the quick final were: Sebastian Szczepanski of Poland (49.98), Regan Leong of Australia (50.02), Caydon Muller of South Africa (50.17), Nicolangelo DiFabio of Italy (50.21) and Ivan Kuzmenko of Russia (50.50).
Girls 200 breaststroke
A strong final 100 meters helped Viktoriya Solnceva of Ukraine capture gold in the event and capture the meet record with a time of 2:23.12. The former meet record was held by fellow Ukranian Olga Detenyuk with a 2:25.19 from the 2008 meet. The time is just a little bit off the swim of 2:23.01 that Solnceva swam at the Barcelona world championships to place fifth there.
Teammate Anastasiya Malyavina was on pace with Solnceva at 100 meters but settled for a distant second with a 2:27.46. Silvia Guerra of Italy was third in 2:27.51, while Molly Renshaw of Great Britain just missed the medal podium with a fourth-place time of 2:27.52.
Justine MacFarlane of South Africa (2:28.47), Jenna Strauch of Australia (2:29.07), Marlene Huther of Germany (2:31.49) and Bethany Leap of the USA (2:32.87) also raced in the final.
Boys 200 backstroke
Connor Green of the United States played the role of the rabbit in the final, taking the field out in a quick 57.87 at 100 meters. He couldn’t hold that lead, with italy’s Luca Mecarini and Japan’s Keita Sunama passing him in the final 50 meters for gold and silver, in times of 1:57.92 and 1:58.42, respectively. Green was third with a 1:58.42. It’s Green’s first time under 1:59, as his best time stood at 1:59.01 from the US Open last month. For Mecarini, it was a new meet record, beating Jacob Pebley’s 1:58.73 from 2011.
Alexander Katz of the United States also broke two minutes with a fourth-place time of 1:59.10, off his lifetime best of 1:58.83 from junior nationals. Also competing in the finals were: Danas Rapsys of Lithuania (1:59.10), David Foldhazi of Hungary (1:59.80), Christopher Reid of South Africa (2:00.80) and Axel Pettersson of Sweden (2:02.86).
Girls 100 butterfly
The championship-record run continued with Svetlana Chimrova of Russia lowering her own mark of 58.75 from semifinals with a winning time of 58.34. It’s just off her Russian national record of 58.22 from nationals in June. Liliana Szilagyi of Hungary challenged Chimrova but came up a little short, taking silver with a 58.73, also under the former meet mark. Bronze went to Australia’s Jemma Schlicht with a 59.08.
Lucie Svecena of the Czech Republic (59.94), Katie McLaughlin of the USA (1:00.16), American Courtney Weaver (1:00.16), Misuzu Yabu of Japan (1:00.33) and Claudia Tarzia of Italy (1:01.28) also raced in the final.
Boys 1500 freestyle
Mack Horton was on a mission to prove he could have been a medal contender at the “senior” world championships in Barcelona. The 17-year-old Australian was left off the senior team after placing second at the world championship trials in April with a 14:59.66, but fell about a second short of the qualifying time Australia had put in place for the event. That time would have placed sixth in the final in Barcelona.
The race was on to challenge the top swimmers in the world from the start, and Horton’s winning time of 14:56.60 is a lifetime best and would have placed sixth in Barcelona, about three seconds behind fifth place and 11 seconds away from the bronze medal-winning time. It ranks seventh in the world, behind the five athletes who swam faster than Horton at world championships, as well as countryman Jordan Harrison’s 14:51.02 from the world trials. It also keeps Horton in seventh place in Australia’s all-time rank in the event. Unsurprisingly, it beat Evan Pinion’s meet record of 15.11.03 from 2011. Horton employed a Sun Yang-style strategy, holding 1:00 for most of the race before employing a 57.55 in the final 100.
Jan Micka of the Czech Republic found his groove early in the race and held on to second for the entire swim, finishing with a time of 15:08.43 for another silver medal behind Horton to also beat Pinion’s meet record. Pawel Furtek, also bronze in the 800, took bronze here with a 15:17.48.
Also placing in the top eight in the timed-final event were: Mykahalio Romanchuk of Ukraine (15:18.81), Joris Bouchat of France (15:19.18), David Heron of the United States (15:22.81, a lifetime best), Wojiech Wojdak of Poland (15:22.93) and Ahmed Abbas of Egypt (15:24.00).
Girls 50 freestyle
Ruta Meilutyte wrapped up her heavy week of racing with a fourth gold medal in the splash-and-dash, taking the win with a 25.10. The time didn’t beat Rozaliya Nasretdinova’s record of 25.02 from semifinals, but still a step forward for the Olympic champion in the freestyle event. Incidentally, the time is a new Lithuanian record, with Meilutyte previously holding it with a 25.19 from semifinals. Nasretdinova of Russia placed second with a 25.16, while 100 free winner Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong got third with a 25.38.
Giorgia Biondani of Italy (25.42), Abby Weitzeil of the United States (25.48), Cloe Hache of France (25.65) and Shayna Jack of Australia (25.87) all registered official times. Fernanda Delgado of Brazil was disqualified for a false start.
Boys 200 butterfly
With American Justin Lynch qualifying ninth in the preliminary heats, Andrew Seliskar was the sole swimmer to carry the Stars and Stripes with him in this race. Also possibly stinging from the fourth-place finish in the 200 IM on Tuesday, Seliskar powered home to collect his first medal of the meet, and it happened to be gold with a meet record 1:56.42. Kenta Hirai, now on the Japanese senior team, held the record with a 1:57.16 from 2011. It’s an improvement on his best time by 12 hundredths of a second, and tonight’s time would have placed second at U.S. nationals last June. (Seliskar was fifth at that meet with a 1:57.48.) The time bumps Seliskar, just 16 years old, into the top 20 in the 2013 world rankings, sitting in 19th place.
Masato Sakai tried to keep the event title in Japanese hands, leading at 100 meters, but could not overcome Seliskar’s pace at the end, posting a 1:56.82 that is just outside the top 25 globally. Well back in third was Alexander Kudashev with a 1:58.57, just beating out James Guy of Great Britain (1:58.80) and Luiz Melo of Brazil (1:58.89) for a place on the medal podium.
Mitchell Pratt from Australia (1:59.58), Isaac Jones of Australia (2:00.20) and Dominik Ciezkowski of Poland (2:01.80) also competed in the final.
Boys 50 breaststroke
Peter Stevens of Slovenia gave the tiny country a big win today, taking the sprint breaststroke title with a 27.98. It wasn’t as fast as the meet record of 27.74 that he set in semifinals, though it sends a good message to countryman Damir Dugonjic, who placed in the top four in the breaststroke events at the Barcelona world championships, that Slovenian breaststroke is on the rise.
Japan’s Kohei Goto, the bronze medalist in the 100 breast, upgraded to silver with a 28.09, while 100 breast runner-up Vsevolod Zanko of Russia was bumped down to third with a 28.18.
Rounding out the field included Brazil’s Pedro Cardona (28.37), Uzbekistan’s Vladislav Mustafin (28.39), USA’s Carsten Vissering (28.46), and Poland’s Krzysztof Tokarski (28.58) and Maciej Holub (28.83).
Girls 200 freestyle
The final individual event of the meet featured a strong final 50 meters by Italy’s Diletta Carli to win the 200 free in 1:58.94. While a best time for Carli, it falls short of the meet record of 1:58.93 held by 2012 Olympian Brittany MacLean of Canada by the slimmest of margins. Five swimmers were in the hunt for medals, with Russia’s Mariia Baklakova taking silver in 1:59.51 and Quinn Carrozza of the United States taking a bronze back home with a 1:59.69, but a little more than a second off her best time of 1:58.31 from junior nationals. Siobhan Haughey, the 100 free winner from Hong Kong, had a big lead after 100 meters but fell back to fourth with a 1:59.94. Australia’s Alanna Bowles, the 800 free winner, was fifth with a 2:00.28.
Canada’s Kennedy Goss (2:01.22), Australia’s Chelsea Gillett (2:01.97) and Kathrin Demler of Germany (2:02.41) also swam in the final.
Boys 400 medley relay
The United States was disqualified after touching third in the final boys’ event of the meet, eliciting stinging reminders of the DQ that took place in Barcelona that denied the USA gold at the “senior” worlds. Officials indicate that butterflyer Matthew Josa left the blocks .21 seconds too early. (In Barcelona, breaststroker Kevin Cordes was 04 early off the blocks.)
Japan decidedly took gold, though, in a meet record time of 3:38.13, taking down the American record of 3:39.65 from 2011. That foursome included Keita Sunama (55.47), Kohei Goto (1:00.56), Takaya Yasue (52.20) and Toru Maruyama (49.90). Russia held off the USA to get to the wall second with a 3:38.72 also under the meet record, featuring Grigoriy Tarasevich (55.57), Vsevolod Zanko (1:00.49), Alexander Kudashev (53.37) and Evgeny Sedov (49.29). With the disqualification, South Africa moved up to bronze with a 3:42.01. That team included Christopher Reid (56.29), Jarred Crous (1:01.45), Ryan Coetzee (55.56) and Caydon Muller (48.71).
The remainder of the field included Australia (3:42.33), Germany (3:43.51), Poland (3:43.82) and Canada (3:44.45).
Girls 400 medley relay
No disqualifications in the final race of the meet, as Russia finally got a relay gold medal with a meet record time of 4:04.84, featuring Daria Ustinova (1:01.29), Anna Belousova (1:08.74), Svetlana Chimrova (58.65) and Rliya Nasretdinova (55.80).
Great Britain was second with a 4:05.42 with a team of Jessica Fullalove (1:02.12), Sophie Taylor (1:07.78), Emma Day (1:00.96) and Grace Vertigans (54.56). The United States completed the podum with a third-place time of 4:05.76 with Kathleen Baker (1:01.10), Olivia Anderson (1:09.62), Courtney Weaver (1:00.37) and Cierra Runge (54.67).
Rounding out the final event of the meet were Australia (4:07.55), Italy (4:08.44), Germany (4:10.74), Japan (4:10.82) and Canada (4:13.64).
Mack Horton and Ruta Meilutyte were the top male and female swimmers of the meet. Horton finished with five gold medals (200 free, 400 free, 800 free, 1500 free, 400 free relay) and one silver medal in the 800 free relay. Meilutyte took four gold (50 and 100 breast, 200 IM, 50 free) and two silver medals (400 mixed medley relay, 100 free).
The United States was the clear winner in the team scores, taking the girls’ team title with 517 points ahead of Australia’s 374 and Russia’s 316. On the boys’ side, the USA scored 410 points to Russia’s 358.5 and Australia’s 332.
Final medal totals
The United States will go home with the most medals between both genders, taking 25 total (eight gold, six silver, 11 bronze). Russia was a close second with 24 medals (eight gold, eight silver, eight bronze), and Australia will take 18 medals back Down Under (10 gold, six silver, two bronze).
On the boys’ side, Russia was the top medal winner with 14 medals (three gold, five silver, six bronze), well ahead of the United States’s 10 (eight gold, two silver) and a tie for third between Australia and Japan with nine medals each. Australia won eight gold and two silvers, while Japan collected two gold, three silvers and four bronzes.
Remaining list of boys’ medal winners:
Great Britain (3): One gold, two silver
Czech Republic (3): Two silver, one bronze
Greece (2): One gold, one bronze
Italy (2): One gold, one bronze
Poland (2): Two bronze
One silver medal each: Brazil, Hungary, Trinidad and Tobago, Lithuania, Germany
One gold medal: Slovenia
One bronze medal: South Africa
On the girls’ side, it was the United States who had the highest medal count, taking 16 (five gold, five silver, six bronze). Russia was second in the medal tally with 10 (five gold, three silver, two bronze) and Australia claimed eight medals (two gold, four silver, two bronze).
Ruta Meilutyte was the sole individual medal winner for Lithuania’s women’s team, ranked fourth among nations with her five total medals (four gold, one silver).
Remaining list of girls’ medal winners:
Great Britain (4): Two silver, two bronze
Italy (4): One gold, one silver, two bronze
Ukraine (4): One gold, two silver, one bronze
Canada (2): Two bronze
Hong Kong (2): One gold, one bronze
Hungary (2): Two silver
New Zealand: One gold
Japan: One bronze
Czech Republic: One bronze