Franko Grgic Moves Into Top Ten in World in 800 Free; Jade Hannah Doubles Up With Gold in 200 Back at World Juniors

Jade Hannah won the gold medal in the 200 back for her second gold of the meet. Photo Courtesy: lan MacNicol / Swimming Canada

World Junior Swimming Championships (Jade Hannah Doubles)

Budapest 2019

Day Three Finals

The third night of finals at the 2019 FINA World Junior Swimming Championships concluded with some of the best 18 and under swimmers on display in Budapest, Hungary.

Canada’s Jade Hannah got her second gold of the meet in the 200 back, just about 24 hours from winning gold in the 100 on Wednesday. Russia’s Andrei Minakov also won his first individual medal of the meet with a gold in the 100 fly. USA’s Gretchen Walsh just missed the meet record in the 100 free for a US 1-2 with Torri Huske before helping the USA mixed freestyle 4x100m relay claim gold in world-junior record time.

Croatia’s Franko Grgic won the 800 free timed final event with an impressive 7:45, moving into the top ten in the world. Mack Horton‘s 2013 championships mark survived – just: 7:45.67.

Progress is often placed on fast-forward at the interface between boy and man. Grgic’s best 800m a years ago was 8:05.95. In March this year, he cracked that back to 7:59.63 and then 7:53.75. Today he finds himself at the edge of senior, world-class contention.

In 2020, the men’s 800m freestyle will take on a competitive edge that it has never had before: the event joins the Olympic program and the realm of ‘ultimate prizes in the pool’.

Women’s 200 Back

  • World Junior Record: 2:03.35, Regan Smith, USA (2019)
  • Championships Record: 2:07.45, Regan Smith, USA (2017)

Canada’s Jade Hannah took control of the 200 back final early and never relinquished her lead as she doubled up with backstroke gold medals after winning the 100 final nearly 24 hours prior to winning the longer distance. Hannah won with a 2:09.28 after feeling the pace a touch down the last lap. Delighted Austrian Lena Grabowski took silver in 2:10.27.

Hannah’s fast early pace suggested that she would challenge the meet record of 2:07.45 that American Regan Smith set two years ago. The standard lived to fight another day. Smith set the world record last month at the World Championships in Gwangju and since she is still 17, the time counts as the world junior record as well and was the second youth standard she set in Korea, having established the world junior mark in prelims.

“I had a rough start to the beginning of the season after coming off an injury, but I worked with our mental performance consultant, the coaches and support staff so I thank them all 1,000 times for all of their help,” the 17-year-old Halifax native said moments after winning the women’s 200-m backstroke title.

“I could not have done this without them,” she added. “Because I was able to come back like this, I have a new appreciation for swimming now. I don’t take anything for granted,” she said.

Hannah is now 18th in the world for 2019 and is also the third fastest Canadian. She will have her work cut out for her if she is to get past Tokyo2020 medal contenders Kylie Masse and Taylor Ruck at Olympic Trials next year but for now she can celebrate two gold medals at the World Juniors. Grabowski won the silver medal for the first medal for the Austrians in these championships as she moved up to 32nd in the world just ahead of Erika Gaetani, who won the bronze medal.

Gaetani was a 2:10.52 for the Italians as she was quicker at the European Juniors where she won the gold there, but was still able to pick up another medal to cap off a successful summer.

Hungary’s Eszter Szabo-Feltothy finished in fourth for the second time in these championships as the Hungarian was in the same heart breaking position in the 400 IM on the first night of the meet. Szabo-Feltothy was a 2:10.92 for fourth, which puts her in the top 50 this year and makes her the third fastest Hungarian.

Australia’s Tahlia Thornton (2:12.01), USA’s Natalie Mannion (2:12.26), Poland’s Zuzanna Herasimowicz (2:13.15) and Israel’s Aviv Barzelay (2:14.37) also swam in the final.

1 HANNAH Jade Canada CAN 2:09.28
2 GRABOWSKI Lena Austria AUT 2:10.27
3 GAETANI Erika Italy ITA 2:10.52
4 SZABO-FELTOTHY Eszter Hungary HUN 2:10.92
5 THORNTON Tahlia Australia AUS 2:12.01
6 MANNION Natalie United States of America USA 2:12.26
7 HERASIMOWICZ Zuzanna Poland POL 2:13.15
8 BARZELAY Aviv Israel ISR 2:14.37

Men’s 100 Fly

  • World Junior Record: 50.62, Kristof Milak, HUN (2017)
  • Championships Record: 51.08, Kristof Milak, HUN (2017)

Russia’s Andrei Minakov arrived in Budapest as a huge favorite to collect a large medal haul as he won the silver medal in the 100 fly at the World Championships last month in Gwangju with a 50.83, just a few tenths shy of the world junior record by Kristof Milak. It would be a tall task to ask Minakov to get under the world junior record nearly a month later, but the championships record that Milak set in 2017 was certainly in jeopardy when Minakov lined up behind the blocks.

Milak set that meet record about a month after winning the silver medal at the World Championships in 2017. Nearly two years later, Minakov found himself in almost the exact same situation, but Minakov was just shy of the meet record this time around, scoring a 51.25 for the gold medal. It was almost the exact same difference from the world junior record a few weeks ago as one of the sport’s future stars picked up his first individual medal of the championships.

Minakov will remain third in the world in the 100 fly this year with his time from the World Championships.

Minakov finished ahead of Italy’s Federico Burdisso (51.83), who is also a future star in this sport. Burdisso should be dangerous in the 200 fly later in the meet as he will do battle with USA’s Luca Urlando, who did not make the 100 final. Burdisso moved up to 23rd in the world with his swim and is the fastest Italian this year.

Russia’s Egor Pavlov (51.90) won the bronze medal just ahead of Bulgaria’s Josif Miladinov (51.96), who actually had the lead over Minakov at the 50 and faded on the final 25 to fourth place and off the podium.

Brazil’s Bernardo Bondra de Almeida (52.37), USA’s Blake Manoff (52.49), Canada’s Josh Liendo (52.51) and Germany’s Bjorn Kammann (52.71) also swam in the final.

1 MINAKOV Andrei Russian Federation RUS 51.25
2 BURDISSO Federico Italy ITA 51.83
3 PAVLOV Egor Russian Federation RUS 51.90
4 MILADINOV Josif Bulgaria BUL 51.96
5 BONDRA DE ALMEIDA Bernardo Brazil BRA 52.37
6 MANOFF Blake United States of America USA 52.49
7 LIENDO Joshua Canada CAN 52.51
8 KAMMANN Bjorn Germany GER 52.71

Women’s 100 Free

  • World Junior Record: 52.70, Penny Oleksiak, CAN (2016)
  • Championships Record: 53.63, Taylor Ruck, CAN (2017)

USA’s Gretchen Walsh was virtually untouched in the 100 free final as she gave the meet record a scare with a 53.74 to claim the gold medal ahead of USA’s Torri Huske (54.54). Walsh was just a tenth off the meet record that Taylor Ruck set in 2017 at 53.63 as the American moved up to 24th in the world and is now the fourth fastest American this year, giving her a chance to make her first Olympic team next summer. Walsh is entering her junior year of high school and is a potential future star in swimming.

“I wasn’t even expecting to break 54 [seconds] by that much, so I was really excited and happy with it,” Walsh said. “I definitely knew I had it in me, there was just so much energy and talent in the heats so I fed off of that. I went out as fast as I could and tried to hold everyone off in the end and I was really happy when I saw my time.”

Huske is a year younger than Walsh and also has a bright future. She was recently on the cover of Swimming World as the 2019 high school swimmer of the year and is going to only be a sophomore this fall. Huske is more known as a sprint flyer, swimming butterfly on the world junior record setting mixed medley relay last night, but she has a strong 100 free, as evident by her silver medal 54.54 swim tonight.

“I think that this is a pretty good season,” Huske said. “I’m really happy about it. It’s a good indication for the future that I’ll keep improving.”

She won ahead of Australia’s Meg Harris, who won the bronze at 54.58.

Huske was a 54.52 last night in the semi finals as she is 50th in the world and is 11th in the United States. Harris was a 54.48 earlier in the year and is the 10th fastest Australian. Fellow Aussie Mollie O’Callaghan (54.84) finished in fourth.

South Africa’s Aimee Canny (54.93), Russia’s Ekaterine Nikonova (55.19), Japan’s Nagisa Ikemoto (55.30) and Germany’s Zoe Vogelmann (55.39) also swam in the final.

1 WALSH Gretchen United States of America USA 53.74
2 HUSKE Torri United States of America USA 54.54
3 HARRIS Meg Australia AUS 54.58
4 O’CALLAGHAN Mollie Australia AUS 54.84
5 CANNY Aimee South Africa RSA 54.93
6 NIKONOVA Ekaterina Russian Federation RUS 55.19
7 IKEMOTO Nagisa Japan JPN 55.30
8 VOGELMANN Zoe Germany GER 55.39

Men’s 800 Free

  • World Junior Record: 7:45.67, Mack Horton, AUS (2013)
  • Championships Record: 7:45.67, Mack Horton, AUS (2013)

Croatia’s Franko Grgic had a huge statement swim in the 800 free in the timed final event as he was the lone junior swimmer to break into the top ten in the world on Thursday night with a massive 7:45.92. That swim for the Croatian would have put him in the final at the World Championships last month and would have put him seventh. Grgic has already solidified his spot on Croatia’s Olympic team next year and today just missed Mack Horton’s championships record that he set in 2013 at 7:45.67.

Nonetheless, Grgic has plenty of reason to celebrate as he will also be a force in the 1500 later in the week. He took control of the race early and never looked back with Russia’s Ilia Sibirtsev (7:48.05) and Australia’s Thomas Neill (7:48.65) picking up the minor medals.

Sibirtsev also made an impact on the world rankings as he is now 13th in the world for 2019 and is the fastest Russian. He was the European Junior champion earlier this summer and improved on that with a silver at the World Juniors. The Russians always have a strong junior team and 2019 proves to be no different as Sibirtsev picked up the fourth medal for them on night three. Neill finished in third as he ranks just behind Sibirtsev in 14th in the world and is also the second fastest Australian.

The Aussies have a rich tradition in men’s distance freestyle races with Olympic gold medals from the likes of Grant Hackett,  Kieren Perkins and Murray Rose, among others. But the Aussies have not won a gold medal in a men’s distance race since Hackett in 2005. But with a guy like Neill on the rise, that drought could come to an end within the next decade. Neill just out-touched Tunisia’s Ahmed Hafnaoui (7:49.09) for the bronze medal as the Tunisian is 17th in the world.

Russia’s Aleksandr Egorov, who came into the meet as the top seed, never quite got into the groove and finished in fifth at 7:52.19. France’s Tommy-Lee Camblong (7:53.59) finished in sixth as he swam in an earlier heat and squeaked into the top eight. USA’s Jake Mitchell (7:54.70) and Arik Katz (7:57.23) finished seventh and eighth overall.

2019 World Rankings:

  1. 7:39.27, Gregorio Paltrinieri, ITA
  2. 7:41.28, Henrik Christiansen, NOR
  3. 7:42.08, David Aubry, FRA
  4. 7:42.49, Mykhailo Romanchuk, UKR
  5. 7:42.64, Jack McLoughlin, AUS
  6. 7:43.03, Florian Wellbrock, GER
  7. 7:43.83, Gabriele Detti, ITA
  8. 7:45.01, Sun Yang, CHN
  9. 7:45.92, Franko Grgic, CRO
  10. 7:47.20, Domenico Acerenza, ITA
1 GRGIC Franko Croatia CRO 7:45.92
2 SIBIRTSEV Ilia Russian Federation RUS 7:48.05
3 NEILL Thomas Australia AUS 7:48.65
4 HAFNAOUI Ahmed Tunisia TUN 7:49.09
5 EGOROV Aleksandr Russian Federation RUS 7:52.19
6 CAMBLONG Tommy-Lee France FRA 7:53.59
7 MITCHELL Jake United States of America USA 7:54.70
8 KATZ Arik United States of America USA 7:57.23

Mixed 4×100 Free Relay

  • World Junior Record: 3:26.65, Canada (2017)
  • Championships Record: 3:26.65, Canada (2017)

The United States remained perfect in relays at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Budapest as the team of Luca Urlando (49.66), Adam Chaney (48.25), Amy Tang (54.18) and Gretchen Walsh (53.83) swam a 3:25.92 to break the world junior record. This was a tough record to break since Canada’s 2017 team was anchored by Taylor Ruck and Penny Oleksiak, who both came home in under 53 to get that record two years ago to set the record at 3:26.65.

This is Urlando’s third medal of the competition after winning gold in the 200 free and men’s 4×100 free relay. Chaney also was on the gold medal winning 4×100 free relay team on the first night of the meet and Walsh also picked up her third gold of the meet after winning the 100 free and anchoring the mixed 4×100 medley relay team last night.

“It was definitely a hard double, but it was so worth it,” Walsh said. “I know winning a gold individually is incredible but getting a world junior record and winning a gold with other members on the USA team is just awesome and having that honor is amazing. It was a really great experience and I didn’t even know we were going to break the world junior record, but once I heard it, I was like ‘USA, we rule’, so it was a great experience.”

Russia and Italy were leading the pack at the halfway point, needing to have a big lead over the US since they were being anchored by 100 free gold medalist Walsh, who was almost a full second ahead of any of the other women in the individual 100 free. The Americans were so strong they elected not to use 100 free silver medalist Torri Huske on the third leg in favor of Washington state native Amy Tang.

“I saw [I was pulling ahead] a little bit, I was breathing to the left, so I saw that I was a little bit ahead of the other girl,” Tang said. “It’s been really new, but it was amazing. I feel like I’ve learned so much and just being with everyone is really cool.”

The Russians had the early lead with Aleksandr Shchegolev (49.03) leading the way and 100 fly gold medalist Andrei Minakov (48.21) swimming the second leg. The Italians were a close second with 100 fly silver medalist Federico Burdisso (49.17) and 100 back champion Thomas Ceccon (48.65) on the front end. But neither the Russians nor Italians had the women to compete with the Americans and they were left in their wake, with the Russians claiming silver at 3:27.72 while the Italians claimed bronze at 3:29.12.

Canada (3:30.23) and Australia (3:30.32) finished in fourth and fifth while China (3:32.11), Israel (3:32.62) and Turkey (3:33.07) also competed in the final.

1 United States of America USA 3:25.92, WJ, CR Urlando, 49.66, Chaney, 48.25, Tang, 54.18, Walsh, 53.83
2 Russian Federation RUS 3:27.72 Shchegolev, 49.03, Minakov, 48.21, Trofimova, 55.40, Nikonova, 55.08
3 Italy ITA 3:29.12 Burdisso, 49.17, Ceccon, 48.65, Tarantino, 55.43, Cocconcelli, 55.87
4 Canada CAN 3:30.23 Liendo, 50.20, Pratt, 50.11, Douthwright, 55.50, Henderson, 54.42
5 Australia AUS 3:30.32 Ireland, 50.64, Quach,  49.98, Harris, 55.59, O’Callaghan, 54.12
6 People's Republic of China CHN 3:32.11 Huang, 50.22, Hong, 50.05, Chang, 56.42, Qian, 55.42
7 Israel ISR 3:32.62 Cohen, 50.23, Polonsky, 50.78, Polonsky, 57.94 Gorbenko, 53.67
8 Turkey TUR 3:33.07 Unlu, 50.46, Gulsen, 50.99

Semi Finals Wrap

By Craig Lord.

Women’s 50 Fly Semi Finals

  • World Junior Record: 25.46, Rikako Ikee, JPN (2017)
  • Championships Record: 25.46, Rikako Ikee, JPN (2017)

After Claire Curzan and USA teammate Torri Huske led the first semi in 26.07 and 26.24 respectively, Anastasiya Shkurdai, of Belarus, went a tad faster still at the helm of the second line-up, on 25.85.

She was followed home by Naele Portecop, of France, on 26.40, and Miriam Sheehan, of Puerto Rico, 26.74. The top five qualifiers were set, the rest of the final completed by Italians Helena Biasibetti (26.75) and Constanza Coccocelli (26.87), and in the middle of them Mexican Athena Kovacs (26.78).

1 SHKURDAI Anastasiya Belarus BLR 25.85 Q
2 CURZAN Claire United States of America USA 26.07 Q
3 HUSKE Torri United States of America USA 26.24 Q
4 PORTECOP Naele France FRA 26.40 Q
5 SHEEHAN Miriam Puerto Rico PUR 26.74 Q
6 BIASIBETTI Helena Italy ITA 26.75 Q
7 KOVACS Athena Mexico MEX 26.78 Q
8 COCCONCELLI Costanza Italy ITA 26.87 Q
9 DELGADO Anicka Ecuador ECU 27.01
10 OZKAN Aleyna Turkey TUR 27.04
11 RYAN Michaela Australia AUS 27.08
12 SATTAROVA Iana Russian Federation RUS 27.37
13 POTOCKA Tamara Slovakia SVK 27.46
14 KAN Cheuk Tung Natalie Hong Kong, China HKG 27.53
15 PEINIGER Gabriella Australia AUS 27.57
16 PADRON Beatriz Costa Rica CRC 27.60

Men’s 50 Free Semi Finals

  • World Junior Record: 21.75, Michael Andrew, USA (2017)
  • Championships Record: 21.75, Michael Andrew, USA (2017)

David Curtiss, of the USA, set the pace at a swift 21.95 as the sole conqueror of the 22sec mark at the helm of the first line-up. Vladyslav Bukhov, of the Ukraine, was the only one who came close, as leader of the second line-up on 22.09.

Singapore had two in the fight, with Jonathan Eu Jin Tan through third fastest on 22.47 and Mikkel Lee closing the door to the final on 22.80.

American Adam Chaney went through fourth fastest on 22.49 as second to the wall behind Bukhov, with Kiwi Michael Pickett next home and through, in 22.51.

Sweden’s Robin Hanson clocked 22.65 for a place in the final, which will go with three nations each getting two swimmers in the showdown, Ukraine’s Illia Linnyk on 22.68.

1 CURTISS David United States of America USA 21.95 Q
2 BUKHOV Vladyslav Ukraine UKR 22.09 Q
3 TAN Jonathan Eu Jin Singapore SGP 22.47 Q
4 CHANEY Adam United States of America USA 22.49 Q
5 PICKETT Michael New Zealand NZL 22.51 Q
6 HANSON Robin Sweden SWE 22.65 Q
7 LINNYK Illia Ukraine UKR 22.68 Q
8 LEE Mikkel Singapore SGP 22.80 Q
9 KEBLYS Jokubas Lithuania LTU 22.81
10 BARSEGHYAN Artur Armenia ARM 22.82
11 LEBUKE James Canada CAN 22.88
12 JASSO ESCOTO Mariano Mexico MEX 23.00
12 NORTJE Gawie South Africa RSA 23.00
14 HUANG Junyi People's Republic of China CHN 23.03
15 ORLICZ Filip Poland POL 23.25
16 IRELAND Kalani Australia AUS 23.26

Women’s 100 Breast Semi Finals

  • World Junior Record: 1:05.39, Ruta Meilutyte, LTU (2014)
  • Championships Record: 1:06.61, Ruta Meilutyte, LTU (2013)

European junior champion Kayla van Der Merwe, of Britain, watched Russian Evgenia Chikunova clock 1:07.18 as pacesetter in the first semi, before taking lane 4 in the final tomorrow on 1:07.17.

Russia was the first of two nations to claim two berths in the final, when Anastasia Makarova followed the Brit hope in 1:07.64 as the last of the sub-1:08s.

American Kaitlyn Dobler followed Chikunova home in 1:08.29 for fourth place through to the final, teammate Ellie Andrews closing the door to the top eight in 1:08.52.

The finals was completed by Hungarian Eszter Bekesi (1:08.34), Ukraine’s Kotryna Teterevkova (1:08.45) and the youngest in the battle, Italian winner of the dash yesterday, Benedetta Pilato, 14 (1:08.46).

1 VAN DER MERWE Kayla Great Britain GBR 1:07.17 Q
2 CHIKUNOVA Evgeniia Russian Federation RUS 1:07.18 Q
3 MAKAROVA Anastasia Russian Federation RUS 1:07.64 Q
4 DOBLER Kaitlyn United States of America USA 1:08.29 Q
5 BEKESI Eszter Dora Hungary HUN 1:08.34 Q
6 TETEREVKOVA Kotryna Lithuania LTU 1:08.45 Q
7 PILATO Benedetta Italy ITA 1:08.46 Q
8 ANDREWS Ellie United States of America USA 1:08.52 Q
9 BLOMSTERBERG Thea Denmark DEN 1:08.61
10 ZHENG Muyan People's Republic of China CHN 1:08.94
11 WISEMAN Avery Canada CAN 1:09.03
12 LAHRACH SANCHEZ Sara Spain ESP 1:09.42
13 POWELL Georgia Australia AUS 1:09.64
14 ISHIHARA Mei Japan JPN 1:09.65
15 POLONSKY Lea Israel ISR 1:09.73
16 STEPANKOVA Lydie Czech Republic CZE 1:09.99

Men’s 50 Back Semi Finals

  • World Junior Record: 24.00, Kliment Kolesnikov, RUS (2018)
  • Championships Record: 24.63, Michael Andrew, USA (2017)

Wyatt Davis, of the USA, set the pace in the first semi, on 25.16, and ended up in lane 4 for the final, the second line-up of challengers topped by Italy’s record-setting champion in the 100m yesterday, Thomas Ceccon on 25.20, Jan Cejka, of the Czech Republic, just 0.02sec away for lane 3 in the showdown as third man through.

Russia’s Nikolay Zuev followed Davis with a 25.44, the second American through on 25.60, courtesy of Adam Chaney, a man claiming a second berth in finals this evening after qualifying fourth fastest for the 50m freestyle at the start of the session.

Indonesia Srihari Nataraj (25.52), Poland’s Krzysztof Radziszewski (25.61) and Pavel Samusenko (25.62), the second Russian through, completed the final.

1 DAVIS Wyatt United States of America USA 25.16 Q
2 CECCON Thomas Italy ITA 25.20 Q
3 CEJKA Jan Czech Republic CZE 25.22 Q
4 ZUEV Nikolay Russian Federation RUS 25.44 Q
5 NATARAJ Srihari India IND 25.52 Q
6 CHANEY Adam United States of America USA 25.60 Q
7 RADZISZEWSKI Krzysztof Poland POL 25.61 Q
8 SAMUSENKO Pavel Russian Federation RUS 25.62 Q
9 COETZE Pieter South Africa RSA 25.68
10 DAHLER Marvin Germany GER 25.74
10 RINCON VELASCO Anthony Colombia COL 25.74
12 ZOMBORI Gabor Hungary HUN 25.75
13 MIGLBAUER Marvin Austria AUT 25.91
14 FARJADO DA MOTTA Pedro Brazil BRA 25.99
15 MOSCICKI Jakub Poland POL 26.07
16 SOMERSET Sebastian Canada CAN 26.27


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