Final Night of 2017 FINA World Junior Championships Highlighted by World Junior Record-Setting Relays

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The sixth and final night of competition at the 2017 FINA World Junior Championships was full of thrilling races. Highlights include both the men’s 1500-meter freestyle and the women’s 200-meter breaststroke that saw American teammates go head-to-head and end up with the gold and silver medals, as well as two World Junior record-breaking relays to cap off a week of fast swimming.

Andrew Abruzzo completed a sweep of the distance events with his win in the 1500-meter freestyle. Rikako Ikee managed to set championship records and win gold medals in two events on one night.

Italian Nicolo Martinenghi held off Michael Andrew in the men’s 50-meter breaststroke, and teammate Alessandro Pinzuti put up a strong race for the silver medal.

Hugo Gonzalez of Spain won his third gold medal of the meet in the men’s 200-meter backstroke, while Zoe Bartel won her first in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke. Taylor Ruck stepped up to out-touch Ajna Kesely by 0.02 for gold in the women’s 200-meter freestyle.

Kristof Milak came extremely close to his own World Junior record in the men’s 200-meter butterfly, while the Team USA men and Canadian women smashed Russia’s previous 4×100 medley relay World Junior records in exciting final races.

See below for full event-by-event coverage of the evening.

Schedule of Events:

  • Men’s 100m freestyle final
  • Women’s 200m breaststroke final
  • Men’s 200m backstroke final
  • Women’s 100m butterfly final
  • Men’s 1500m freestyle fastest heat
  • Women’s 50m freestyle final
  • Men’s 200m butterfly final
  • Men’s 50m breaststroke final
  • Women’s 200m freestyle final
  • Men’s 4x100m medley relay final
  • Women’s 4x100m medley relay final

Men’s 100 Free Final

Russia’s Ivan Girev kicked off the first event of the last day of finals of the 2017 FINA World Junior Championships with a gold medal and a new championship record in the men’s 100-meter freestyle. Girev blasted a 48.33 to stand atop the podium, breaking Kyle Chalmers‘ 2015 championship record of 48.47.

The silver medal went to Hungary’s Nandor Nemeth, who touched second as the only other competitor under the 49-second mark in 48.95.

Americans Matthew Willenbring and Daniel Krueger dropped time to move up in the ranks again, with Willenbring bringing home the bronze for Team USA with his time of 49.17. Krueger was fourth in a respectable 49.35.

Fifth place went to Jordan Brunt of Australia, who finished in 49.42. Right behind him in sixth was Breno Correia of Brazil.

France’s Maxime Grousset (seventh, 49.95) and Brazil’s Lucas Peixoto (eighth, 50.12) rounded out the top eight junior swimmers in the world in the event.

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Women’s 200 Breast Final

It was a case of deja vu in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke final, with the Team USA women claiming the first and second spots atop the podium (as did Daniel Roy and Reece Whitley in the men’s event). Zoe Bartel of Team USA took home her first individual gold medal, after claiming the bronze in the 100-meter breaststroke earlier in the meet. Touching in 2:25.68, she won the event generously over teammate and silver medalist Ella Nelson, who finished with a time of 2:27.04.

The bronze medal was claimed by Great Britain’s Annabel Guye-Johnson with her swim of 2:27.42. 100-meter breaststroke champion Mona McSharry of Ireland just missed the podium, finishing with a time of 2:27.67.

Fifth place went to Amy Bell of Great Britain in 2:28.40, while Canada’s Faith Knelson finished in 2:28.53.

Tereza Muselova of Czechoslovakia’s time of 2:29.67 was good for seventh place in the final heat, and Sweden’s Hannah Brunzell rounded out the heat in eighth place with her time of 2:29.97.

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Men’s 200 Back Final

Spain’s Hugo Gonzalez won his third gold medal of the meet in the men’s 200-meter backstroke final, as well as set a World Junior championship record in the race with his time of 1:56.69. The time is over a second faster than Luca Mencarini‘s championship record set way back in 2013.

15-year-old American Carson Foster was close behind to secure second place and a silver medal for Team USA, as he finished the race in 1:57.87.

Russia’s Nikita Tretyakov went out hard in search of the gold medal, with the fastest first 50 split, but faded to finish in 1:58.72 for the bronze medal. Fourth place went to Romania’s Daniel Martin in 1:59.02.

Czechoslovakia’s Tomas Ludvik finished a little less than half a second later in 1:59.43 for fifth place, while Great Britain’s Brodie Williams claimed sixth place with his time of 1:59.68.

Conor Ferguson came charging home with a quick last 50 to place seventh in 1:59.86 over Great Britain’s Elliot Clogg, who touched in 2:00.41 for eighth place in the final heat.

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Women’s 100 Fly Final

Rikako Ikee, the ace sprinter from Team Japan, let loose yet another championship record and gold medal, this time in the women’s 100-meter butterfly. Ikee’s time of 57.25 is almost a full second faster than her own championship record of 58.11 set yesterday, and is less than a second off of Penny Oleksiak‘s World Junior record.

As Oleksiak did not swim the 100 fly, Rebecca Smith of Canada stepped up to claim the silver medal and swim under Ikee’s previous championship record mark of 58.11, touching in 58.07.

Ikee’s teammate Suzuka Hasegawa claimed another medal for Japan, touching in 58.60 for the bronze. Great Britain’s Emily Large was close behind, just off the podium in 58.62.

Sweden’s Sarah Junevik touched in fifth place with her swim of 58.89. 15-year-old American backstroker Regan Smith proved her versatility by finishing in sixth place in 59.03, 0.27 faster than her semi-finals swim.

Seventh place went to Russia’s Polina Egorova in 59.09, while Mabel Zavaros of Canada took eighth in 59.81.

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Men’s 1500 Free Final

Team USA’s Andrew Abruzzo faced a tough competitor in teammate Michael Brinegar during the final heat of the men’s 1500-meter freestyle, but managed to sprint the last 100 yards, splitting a 28.71 on the last 50, to claim the gold medal and solidify his sweep of the distance events. Abruzzo’s winnng time of 15:06.48 was less than three seconds faster than Brinegar’s – the two stayed neck and neck during most of the exciting race, with Brinegar finishing 15:09.00 for the silver medal.

The race for silver/bronze was also an extremely close one, as the bronze went to Russia’s Iaroslav Potapov with his time of 15:09.18, just 0.18 behind Brinegar. Hungary’s David Lakatos posted the next best time, 15:18.07, for fourth place.

Australia’s Jacob Vincent, who swam in the earlier heats during prelims, managed to place fifth with his time of 15:18.84. Sixth place went to Marcos Gil Corbacho of Spain in 15:20.14.

Also having swum in the earlier heats was Tatsuki Shoike, who finished seventh in the final rankings with his time of 15:26.01. Eighth place went to Nathan Robinson of Australia with his time of 15:27.38.

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Women’s 50 Free Final

Ikee, who holds the World Junior record in the women’s 50-meter freestyle, was just off of her best time at this evening’s final, sprinting to a 24.59 for the gold medal. The time lowered her new championship record set yesterday, however, by almost 0.20 seconds.

Team USA’s captain Grace Ariola challenged Ikee as the only other athlete under the 25.00 mark, stopping the clock in 24.82 for the silver medal. Ikee’s teammate Sayuki Ouchi took the bronze in 25.07.

Czechoslovakia’s Barbora Seemanova just missed out on the podium by 0.01, touching in 25.08 for fourth place. Angelina Kohler of Germany and Denmark’s Julie Kepp Jensen tied for fifth place in a time of 25.19.

Canada’s Kayla Noelle Sanchez, who has been a member of both Canada’s gold medal-winning women’s relays, placed seventh in the final heat with her time of 25.33.

Rounding out the top eight was Slovenia’s Neza Klancar in 25.49.

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Men’s 200 Fly Final

Kristof Milak of Hungary set a new championship record in the men’s 200-meter butterfly this evening, sprinting to a 1:53.87 for the gold medal. As he is the current World Junior record holder in the event, he has been just a bit faster at 1:53.79. Nevertheless, he was light years ahead of the rest of the field – the silver medal went to Yuya Sakamoto of Japan in 1:57.05, while bronze went to Bulgaria’s Antani Ivanov in 1:57.54.

Ukrainian Denys Kesyl‘s time of 1:57.93 was good for fourth place, while Team USA took fifth and sixth in Andrew Koustik (1:58.15) and Nick Albiero (1:58.17).

Jacob Peters of Great Britain won seventh with his time of 1:58.40, while Spain’s Francisco Javier Chacon Mateos stopped the clock in 2:00.46 for eighth place.

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Men’s 50 Breast Final

Italy’s World Junior record holder in the men’s 50-meter breaststroke Nicolo Martinenghi did not disappoint in the final heat of the event, touching in 27.10 for the gold medal. It’s who came after him that was cause for amazement: dark horse Alessandro Pinzuti dropped a half-second from his semis time to touch just after teammate Martinenghi in 27.19 for the silver medal.

Michael Andrew, three-time American gold medalist at this meet alone, settled for the bronze medal with his time of 27.39, which was a substantial time drop from semi-finals as well. USA teammate Reece Whitley, although he finally dipped under the 28.00 mark, missed the podium with his fourth-place time of 27.71.

Fifth place was snapped up by Russia’s Vladislav Gerasimenko in 27.82, while Germany’s Philipp Andrew Brandt swam a 28.11 for sixth place.

Michael Houlie of South Africa sprinted to a seventh-place time of 28.28, and Canada’s Gabe Mastromatteo finished up with a 28.51 for eighth place.

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Women’s 200 Free Final

Canada’s Taylor Ruck, having hung back in semi-finals, dropped over three seconds from her seed time to clinch her second individual medal and lower her own championship record in the women’s 200-meter freestyle final. Her gold-medal time of 1:57.08 was almost 0.80 seconds faster than her previous 2015 championship record.

Perhaps the reason Ruck dropped so much time from semi-finals was the competition she faced from 400-freestyle champion Ajna Kesely of Hungary, who touched just 0.02 behind her in 1:57.10 for the silver medal.

The top two women won comfortably, as the bronze medal was claimed by Irina Krivonogova of Russia with a time of 1:58.51. Germany’s Isabel Marie Gose touched in 1:59.65 for fourth place, while Anastasiia Kirpichnikova of Russia was close behind in 1:59.72 for fifth.

Canada’s Rebecca Smith was the last athlete in the heat under 2:00.00, stopping the clock in 1:59.88 for sixth place. Rounding out the wide-open heat were Seemanova (2:00.01) and Korea’s Easop Lee (2:01.19).

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Men’s 4×100 Medley Relay Final

The men’s 4×100-meter medley relay was a nail-bitingly close race for gold, silver, and bronze, with Team USA coming out on top over Russia and Italy. The top three teams were also all under or tied with the existing World Junior record.

Drew Kibler, Whitley, Cody Bybee, and Willenbring combined to bring home relay gold for Team USA, ending the meet triumphantly by breaking the World Junior record and championship record set by Russia in 2015 by 0.29, touching in 3:36.15.

Tretyakov, Evgenii Somov, Egor Kuimov, and Girev put up a tough fight to touch second in 3:36.30, under their own World Junior record but just shy of the Americans.

The Italian team of Thomas Ceccon, Martinenghi, Federico Burdisso, and Davide Nardini stopped the clock right at the previous World Junior record of 3:36.44 for the bronze medal.

Australia’s team claimed fourth place in 3:38.39, ahead of Poland’s fifth-place swim of 3:39.14.

France (sixth, 3:41.89), Brazil (seventh, 3:42.35), and Japan (eighth, 3:43.55) rounded out the final heat of men’s relays.

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Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay Final

The women’s last event of the meet, the 4×100-meter medley relay, was just as exhilarating as the men’s. Canada, Team USA, and Japan all battled for the gold medal, with the Canadian women eventually coming out on top to secure their sweep of the relay events.

Similar as well to the men’s race, the first three women’s teams to touch the wall touched under the World Junior record of 4:01.05 set by Russia in 2015.

50-backstroke gold medalist Jade Hannah, Knelson, Oleksiak, and Ruck combined for a time of 3:58.38 to destroy the existing record and claim a third relay gold for Canada.

Team USA, made up of Smith, Bartel, Lucie Nordmann, and Ariola as anchor once again, was close behind for the silver medal in 3:59.19. Smith led off the fastest out of any backstroker in a blistering 28.46.

Japan’s familiar names of Natsumi Sakai, Miku Kojima, Ikee, and Ouchi stopped the clock in a time of 3:59.97 for relay bronze.

Fourth place for the women’s relay was claimed by Great Britain in 4:01.30, while Russia slipped in at fifth with their time of 4:05.11. Sixth place went to Australia’s team in 4:09.47.

Italy’s women combined to put together a seventh-place time of 4:11.09, while Turkey grabbed eighth place with their time of 4:12.05.

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Author: Ailish Dougherty

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Ailish Dougherty is a sophomore at Tufts University where she is majoring in Child Study and Human Development on the pre-med track. She swims distance freestyle for their Division III program in the NESCAC.

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