PHOENIX, Arizona, August 30. TODAY’S swimming at the junior world championships was filled with 50s and 100s, with a 1500 free and 400 IM thrown in as well. The boys 400 IM turned out to be the most exciting of the day, as Gunnar Bentz and Semen Makovich renewed their battle from the 200 IM earlier in the week. And the 400 IM played out in the same way the shorter race turned out. Makovich was in the lead convincingly for 350 meters before Bentz put on a 27.74 final 50 meters to win with a 4:14.97 to Makovich’s 4:15.89. To put Bentz’s freestyle split of 57.36 into perspective, it’s faster than everyone split at the London Olympics last year, so there’s plenty of potential there if Bentz can make bigger strides in the first 300 meters.
The United States also won gold in the 1500 freestyle, as Becca Mann took control at the outset and never relinquished it. Isabella Rongione was comfortably in second for most of the race but was overtaken by Linda Caponi of Italy for the silver medal.
Caeleb Dressel will be the top seed for tomorrow’s 100 free final after posting a 49.57 in semis, but the man he’ll have to keep an eye on is Australia’s Luke Percy who posted a 49.14 in leading off Australia’s freestyle relay on the first day of competition. Paul Powers of the United States was part of a three-way tie for eighth place and had to compete in a swimoff. Powers finished second in that swimoff to Ivan Kuzmenko, so he’s the first alternate for the final.
Tomorrow is the final day of the meet, and it will feature Mack Horton of Australia in the 1500 freestyle, going for another time that could put him in the top 10, or even top five, of the world rankings. The 17-year-old posted the fifth-fastest time of the year in the 800 free earlier this week and has been aiming for redemption in the 1500 free after being left off the world championship team in that event.
The medley relays will complete competition tomorrow, and the United States men’s team will be looking for a relay win after coming up short in the freestyle relays to Australia in the 400 free and Great Britain in the 800 free. As for the women, it’s Australia who hasn’t won a relay in that gender among the top countries in Dubai, and will be looking to pick up gold to close out the meet.
Yesterday we reported Diana Nyad’s intention to swim from Cuba to Florida, and on her website today, she wrote that the boats have departed for Havana, and all systems are still go at this point. Weather is going to play a factor in getting the swim started, and her extensive Extreme Dream team is monitoring everything to find the best time for Nyad to start the swim. It could be tomorrow, it could be Sunday, it could be Monday. Mother Nature will decide.